Despite baddie looks the Hyundai Palisade is a fine and comfy people mover. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
Despite baddie looks the Hyundai Palisade is a fine and comfy people mover. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

Hyundai’s take on the seven-seater SUV niche is bolder than most when it comes to styling. In my eyes, the Palisade’s large and in-your-face grille, a slanted C-pillar and rectangular tail lamps mimics a Cadillac Escalade.

It’s off to a good start with a cabin trimmed with the same neatness and quality materials the Korean brand is weaving in most of its high-end cars, and I quite like the push-button transmission selector, not only because of its rarity but also because it’s a winner for ergonomics.

There are no individual trim levels to choose from. The Palisade comes with a standard equipment roster and as such you can only choose between this seven-seater test model or the eight-seater, at no extra cost.

The cabin is dominated by airy space and an array of digital and analogue displays. It’s a modern interior design that earns praise in tidiness, quality materials and good ergonomics, while the menus in the large digital infotainment hub are not complicated.

On-board tech is sufficient, and among my favourites were the 8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless cellphone charging and multiple simultaneous Bluetooth connections and seven USB outlets. It also has roof-based diffuser vents to spread hot or cool air down the 2,900mm long aisle, with a second row of individually heated seats with hand rests and safety belts.

The eight-seater adds a seat in the middle of the second row with the rearmost three-seat bench with a raised floor being strictly for children.

Limited luggage space is the achilles heel of the seven-seater SUV concept, but the Palisade, at nearly 5m long, has a better-than-average boot for the class. Luggage space is quoted as 509l behind the third row that swallows most day-to-day shopping, but you have to flop down the rearmost seats to create holiday-suitable load capacity.

A modern looking and minimalist command centre. Picture: SUPPLIED
A modern looking and minimalist command centre. Picture: SUPPLIED

A brawny V8 motor would seemingly better fit the look of this giant-grilled car, but instead  the Palisade is powered by a sensible 2.2l four-cylinder diesel with outputs of 142kW and 440Nm, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

It’s a strong engine with eager performance and parsimony at the pumps. Acceleration isn’t jaw-dropping but the Palisade feels sprightly and tractable to cope when all of the seats are filled with people, without hurting fuel consumption. It consumed 9.9l/100km during its stay.

It’s not the sharpest car to drive and do expect a smidgen of body wallow when being unreasonably quick in the bends. 

Though it never comes close to emulating premium brand seven-seaters with their full pot of safety acronyms there is plenty to admire.

Road and wind noise is properly muffled and you hardly hear the diesel engine clatter when cruising.

The Palisade is fitted with Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel-drive system with a variable torque split between the axles. This means ample traction on the roads, and it has Comfort, Eco, Snow, Smart and Sport modes along with hill descent control.

A raised 203mm ride height gives some gravel road clearance and there is an AWD locking-differential function for challenging traction situations.

The Palisade looks good from all ends but there's not much loading space with all seats up. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
The Palisade looks good from all ends but there's not much loading space with all seats up. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

Tech Specs:

ENGINE

Type: Four-cylinder diesel

Capacity: 2.2l

Power: 142kW

Torque: 440Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: Eight-speed automatic

DRIVETRAIN

Type: Permanent AWD

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 190km/h

0-100km/h: 10.5 sec

Fuel Consumption: 8.2l/100km (claimed) 9.9l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 196g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

Dual sunroof, rain sensor wipers, USB ports front and rear, keyless access, park distance control with camera, climate control, Bluetooth, LED lights with daytime driving running lights, auto on/off lights, cruise control, front fog lamps, electric windows, multifunction steering wheel controls, ABS brakes, six airbags, tyre pressure monitor, lane change & blind spot warning, hill descent control

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Warranty:  Five years/150,000km

Maintenance plan: Seven years/105,000km

Price: R999,900

Lease*: R21,339 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Hyundai Palisade 2.2D 4WD Elite 7-seater

WE LIKE:

Looks, interior, build quality

WE DISLIKE:

Boot space behind third row not big enough for holidays

VERDICT:

The coolest car on the school run 

MOTOR NEWS

Star rating

*****Design

***Performance

****Economy

****Ride

***Handling

****Safety

****Value For Money

****Overall

Competition

Haval H9 2.0T 4WD Luxury, 180kW/350Nm — R669,900

Ford Everest 2.0Bi-Turbo 4WD Limited, 157kW/500Nm — R833,500

Toyota Fortuner 2.8GD-6 4x4 VX, 150kW/500Nm — R837,100

Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3.3D GX-R, 225kW/700Nm — R1,283,200

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