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The Ideal, Modestly-Priced Mid-Sized SUV With Third-Row Seating: Part 10, Hyundai Palisade

With the third-row SUV market practically overflowing with options, you didn’t really think Part 9 was the finale, did you? When Hyundai broke into the three-row, mid-size market in 2018 and brought its 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty with it, a lot of SUV buyers flocked to the South Korean automaker’s latest product. We found ourselves doing the same last week, but not just for the industry-leading warranty or the enticing complementary scheduled maintenance for the first three years (or 36,000 miles) of ownership. After catching a glimpse of the new Calligraphy trim Palisade online, we knew it was a contender in the looks department. But how did everything else measure up?

Cargo space matches the Explorer, Durango, Ascent, Grand Cherokee L and XC90 we’ve taken a look at, available 8-passenger seating is available and the 291hp V-6 under the hood means it’s not the slouch we were worried it would be. A high-strength steel body, a Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS, a 5-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and all the right standard driver-assist features definitely opened our eyes to Hyundai—a manufacturer we didn’t even initially acknowledge when we set out on this journey. Now we’re very interested and here’s why.

Accommodations For 7 Or 8

Third Row SUV Hyundai Palisade

Advertised as offering a first-class ride no matter which row you’re sitting in, the Hyundai Palisade does deliver on third-row leg room—it’s not quite as tight as it was on most of the other mid-size SUV’s we’ve tested in this series. Eight passenger seating, made possible by way of 60/40 split bench seats in both the second and third rows, is standard on base SE models and also available on SEL. Beginning with SEL (where it’s optional) and coming standard on both Limited and Calligraphy trim, second-row captain’s chairs and seven-passenger seating enter the picture.

Standard On Cargo Space

Cargo Space Hyundai Palisade

We don’t know which make and model created the yardstick for this segment, but Explorer, Durango, Ascent, Grand Cherokee L, XC90 and Palisade are all very close in overall cargo capacity (we’ll note that Traverse and Atlas were substantially more spacious). With both the second and third rows folded down, Hyundai’s Palisade boasts 86.4 cubic feet of space, and 45.8 cubic feet available with just the third-row out of use. Space tightens up to just 18 cubic feet with the second and third rows upright.

291HP All-Aluminum V-6

Hyundai Palisade V6 Gasoline Engine

It’s not packing a turbo-four or a thumping Hemi V-8, but the Palisade’s lone V-6 engine option holds its own against most others in the segment. Comprised of an aluminum block and heads, the naturally-aspirated, 231 cubic inch (3.8L) packs 13.0:1 compression, gasoline direct injection, dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder and continuous variable valve timing. It turns out a respectable 291 hp at 6,000 rpm, 262 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm and is mated to an eight-speed ShiftTronic automatic transmission with manual shift mode. The powertrain propels Palisade from 0 to 60 mph in seven seconds flat and allows for mid 15-second quarter-miles, which mirrors the Mazda CX-9 we tested back in March.

Safety Accolades & Standard Driver-Assist Features

2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy

Palisade’s safety reassurances include a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a 5-star Overall Safety Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). Add to that driver-assist features such as lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-following assist and automated emergency braking as standard equipment and even the base model SE looks appealing for the safety-minded. Full disclosure, more advanced driver-assist features become available as you climb the trim ladder.

Confident Lane-Changing

Blind Spot Monitor Hyundai Palisade

On Limited and Calligraphy models, you get Hyundai’s blind-spot view monitor (or BVM). The system uses side view mirror-integrated cameras to display a live video feed of the vehicle’s blind spots, viewable on the instrument cluster, when the turn signals are on. If the turn signal is on and another vehicle is detected, an audible alert will immediately tip off the driver. Just make sure you use your blinkers. The technology doesn’t work without them.

High Strength Steel Body

High Strength Steel Body Hyundai Palisade

Throughout the course of our search, we’ve noticed that Hyundai is one of the only automakers to routinely highlight the Palisade’s body construction. Advanced high strength steel (AHSS) is employed in specific suspension and crash areas to give the SUV increased tensile strength. According to Hyundai, the use of AHSS allowed the manufacturer to produce a lighter overall vehicle with greater strength and rigidity without incurring the excessive costs associated with using more exotic lightweight materials. Hyundai’s work on the Palisade body is a big reason why it won the aforementioned IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and NHTSA’s 5-star Overall Safety Rating.

Our Ideal Palisade

Limited Hyundai Palisade 2021 SUV

While all-wheel drive adds $1,700 to the MSRP of any Palisade, even the highest trim AWD Calligraphy starts at $47,900—within our $50,000 budget. For our money, we would lean toward a Limited model ($46,975). It comes with the 20-inch wheels we’d prefer, heated and ventilated Nappa leather seats in all rows, a dual panel sunroof, hands-free smart lift gate, second and third row HVAC vents, a heated steering wheel and heated side view mirrors. Limited trim also comes with the blind-spot monitoring feature we mentioned earlier. An 8-way power adjustable driver seat and power-folding third-row don’t hurt matters. For reference, an AWD base SE model starts at $34,375 and the next level trim, SEL, begins at $37,025 in AWD. Those are very attractive price points in the mid-sized, third-row world.

Calligraphy Hyundai Palisade Third Row Crossover

In case you missed any of the previous Ideal, Modestly-Priced Mid-Sized SUV With Third-Row Seating articles, here are links to the entire series:

Part 1: Overview

Part 2: Ford Explorer

Part 3: Dodge Durango

Part 4: Subaru Ascent

Part 5: Chevrolet Traverse  

Part 6: Mazda CX-9

Part 7: Volkswagen Atlas

Part 8: Grand Cherokee L

Part 9: Volvo XC90

Part 10: Hyundai Palisade

Part 11: Kia Telluride

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