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2020 Hyundai Palisade Is a Three-Row Flagship with Luxury Looks

Enlarged dimensions and upscale style mark the new big SUV

Hyundai is upping its sport-utility game with the all-new three-row Palisade, which is making its debut at the Los Angeles auto show. The 2020 Palisade replaces the Santa Fe XL, leaving the facelifted-for-2019 Santa Fe—previously known as the Santa Fe Sport—as the marque’s mid-size two-row. Got that?

Along with ditching the Santa Fe XL name, the Palisade is longer, taller, and wider than that model, and it features Hyundai’s new cascading grille design flanked by projector-beam headlamps. Hyundai says the Palisade’s “flush surfacing” recalls Cadillac’s recent SUV design language, and indeed its upside-down L-shaped taillamps also recall those of Cadillac SUVs, especially the XT5’s. LED illumination is optional out back.

The all-wheel-drive system incorporates a torque-vectoring function, as well as Comfort, Smart, and Sport modes. Front-wheel-drive is standard. The Palisade’s only engine at launch is the company’s 3.8-liter Atkinson-capable direct-injection V-6 rated for 291 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 262 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm. It’s not yet known if Hyundai will add more powertrains to the mix. Standard towing capacity is 5,000 pounds, and there’s an optional Class III hitch with two-inch drawbar.

Hyundai’s designers have pushed the Palisade’s instrument panel down for a low cowl in order, they say, to create more cabin space and improve outward visibility. A shift-by-wire gear selector sprouts from the center console, the third-row seat features power reclining and folding, there’s an in-car intercom, and the center stack is punctuated by a 10.3-inch touchscreen.

Typical for the segment, eight-passenger seating with a center-row bench is standard, while a seven-passenger version with second-row captains’ chairs is available. A safe-exit assist feature uses the blind-spot warning system to lock the doors if another vehicle or, say, a bicyclist is about to pass.

As mentioned, the Palisade is bigger than the vehicle it replaces. To be specific, overall length is up 3.0 inches versus the ’19 Santa Fe XL, to 196.1 inches, while width is up 3.6 to 77.8 and height up 2.4 to 68.9. The wheelbase also increased, by 4.0 inches to 114.2.

The Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, Ford Explorer, and Chevrolet Traverse are among the mainstream three-row crossover SUVs that will be in the Palisade’s sights when it goes on sale next summer.

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