Hyundai Palisade premium SUV coming to SA

Palisade01

In a somewhat unexpected development, Hyundai Automotive SA is planning to launch the brand’s flagship SUV in South Africa next year. The 7/8-seater Palisade, which was previously only made in LHD guise, will slot in above the redesigned Santa Fe and effectively compete with the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and other premium SUVs.

It’s reported that the right-hand-drive version of the Palisade was developed primarily for Australia and although Hyundai's South African subsidiary says the luxury SUV (which is built at the Ulsan plant in South Korea) will only be sold in small numbers, it’s confirmed to arrive in Mzansi in 2021.


The Palisade is an eye-catching "big-rig" luxury SUV that's clearly designed to appeal to the North American market.

Whereas Hyundai focused its SUV new-model introductions at the more affordable end of the market in the past year (such as the Venue and all-new Creta compact family cars), the Korean firm has big plans for its medium to large SUVs in 2021. Apart from the futuristically styled Tucson family car and the N3-platform Santa Fe, the Palisade will see Hyundai Automotive SA enter a segment that it hasn’t contested before.  

The Palisade is the cousin to the 2020 World Car of the Year winning Kia Telluride and although it looks like a rival to the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and yes, does offer an HTRAC Advanced AWD system replete with Multi-Terrain Control (albeit exclusively on turbodiesel derivatives), it’s not a body-on-chassis off-roader designed for hardcore bundu-bashing, but a spacious, comfort-oriented and liberally specified large unibody family car – although its bold, squared-off styling, replete with a large grille and LED lighting elements, will certainly attract a lot of showroom traffic.  


The Palisade looks like a purpose-built off-roader, but its more of a full-sized luxury family car.

In Australia, the Palisade is offered with a choice of a 217 kW/355 Nm 3.8-litre V6 GDi petrol engine with front-wheel drive, or a 147 kW/440Nm 2.2-litre 4-cylinder CRDi turbodiesel engine with all-wheel drive, both in combination with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

At this stage, it’s not confirmed which versions of the new model Hyundai will offer in South Africa, although if we use the current line-up of the Santa Fe range as a yardstick, it is likely diesel- will be favoured over petrol derivatives in the local market.

Wired for many devices

In terms of practicality, the default seating configuration for the newcomer is 8 (2 in front, 3 in the middle and 3 at the back), although the highest spec versions feature a 7 seater layout, with the 2nd row comprising of a pair of individual chairs that are both heated and ventilated. As standard, there are 2 roof-mounted vents for the 2nd and 3rd occupants and up to 16 cup- or bottle holders positioned around the cabin.


This cutaway image shows the spacious Palisade in its standard 8-seater configuration.

Hyundai claims 1 120/1 077/798 mm of legroom for front-, 2nd- and 3rd-row occupants; the back row splits 60:40, can recline by 10 degrees and, apart from a boarding step and 220 mm of foot clearance to aid entry/egress, walk-in switches are availed to control the middle row’s slide function.

The Palisade’s luggage capacity with all 3 rows in place is snug (311 litres), but expands to 704 litres when the 3rd row is stowed. The 2nd-row seatbacks can be folded flat by pressing electric release buttons in the load bay and, in top-spec versions, the tailgate is electrically operated.


There is no shortage of leather trim, wood-look inserts and satin chrome finishes in the Palisade's cabin.

Up front, a wireless charging pad is available, but there are plenty of other avenues to charge electronic devices… The Palisade’s cabin includes no fewer than 7 USB ports and, should you require even greater charging capability, Hyundai avails a quartet of 12V electric from the front to the rear.

Luxuriously appointed

To ensure that the Palisade’s cockpit looks and feels suitably upmarket, Hyundai has applied swathes of plush leather, wood-look inserts (also on the door lining) and satin chrome trim. The sweeping dashboard features a 7-inch TFT colour supervision cluster in the instrument binnacle, which is flanked by a fascia-mounted 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility), while the elevated bridge-style centre console comes equipped with a climate control panel, a shift-by-wire transmission selector and a drive mode rotary controller.


The 2nd-row occupants are availed their own climate control console, plus seat heating and ventilation on top-spec versions.

In the Australian market, even the standard Palisdae derivatives feature a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (including lumbar support), 3-zone climate control and a 12-speaker Infinity premium audio system, as well as keyless entry with push-button start and an electric parking brake.

The top-spec versions additionally feature Nappa leather, a suede headliner, a wireless charging pad, 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (with memory) and an 8-way power-adjustable passenger seat. The front seats offer both heating and ventilation, with the comfort of a heated steering wheel. Second-row seats also offer heating, with added ventilation on 7-seater derivatives.


A dual-panel sunroof with tilt function (for the front pane) is offered on top-of-the-range Palisade derivatives.

Other luxury accoutrements on flagship derivatives include 20-inch alloy wheels, a dual-panel sunroof (with tilt function for the front pane, combined with a rear sunblind), a head-up display, an electrically-powered hands-free tailgate, as well as blind-spot view- and surround-view monitors.

Extra family-friendly features

To enhance the Palisade's merits as a full-sized luxury family vehicle, Hyundai has fitted a quartet of features that help adults manage young occupants either while the vehicle's in transit or shortly after it has arrived at a destination...

A Driver Talk feature uses a high-definition microphone and the audio system to allow the driver to speak to 2nd- and 3rd-row occupants (through the speakers mounted in the C-pillars) without raising their voice.


A pair of contoured chairs are fitted in the 2nd row of the 7-seater Palisade. 

Quiet Mode, in turn, mutes the speakers in the rear and sets the front speakers’ volume low to allow rear occupants a quieter environment to talk to one another – or to get some sleep on long-haul journeys.

Rear Occupant Alert utilises an ultrasonic sensor in the headlining to detect movement in the cabin to prevent the unintentional leaving-behind or locking-in of children or pets in Palisade.

And lastly, top-spec versions feature Safe Exit Assist (SEA). To reduce the likelihood of occupants exiting Palisade when the surroundings make it unsafe to do so, SEA works in conjunction with the radar sensors on either side of the rear bumper to detect vehicles approaching from the rear. 

If a door is opened while an approaching vehicle is detected, the SEA system will issue an audible alert and display a message in the instrument cluster to warn the exiting occupant(s) to “watch for traffic”.


The rearmost seats offer better-than-usual accommodation for aft occupants, including a recline function.

A plethora of safety features

In addition to 6 airbags, including side-curtain airbag protection for all 3 rows, as well as the usual array of braking- and stability system-related safety features, the Palisade comes equipped with, inter alia, High Beam Assist, Smart Cruise Control (adaptive) with Stop & Go, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Driver Attention Warning (with Leading Vehicle Departure Alert), Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance-Assist, Lane Keeping- and Lane Following Assist, as well as Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist.

Top-spec versions additionally incorporate a blind-spot review monitor and a surround-view monitor.


The Palisade comes equipped with a raft of active safety technologies that befit a benchmark premium SUV offering.

Eight-seat derivatives feature 5 top-tether child-seat anchors (4 tether points in 7-seat versions), as well as a pair of ISOfix mounting points in the 2nd row, with an additional mounting point in the 3rd row.

And to conclude, the HTRAC all-wheel-drive system (on diesel derivatives) features an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the axles. Hyundai says AWD versions have approach, departure and break-over angles of 18.5-, 21.2- and 16.3 degrees.


The luggage capacity is marginal with all 7 or 8 seats in place, but there's enough space for a pair of golf bags.

As in other Hyundai top-end models, the Palisade’s Drive Mode system allows users to select a powertrain configuration that best suits their driving style (Comfort, Eco, Sport and Smart). In AWD derivatives, a Multi-Terrain Mode system offers Snow, Sand and Mud traction control calibrations.

And lastly, the Palisade has a 2 200 kg braked-trailer tow rating, aided by the Trailer Stability Assist system and Trailer connecting guidelines on the rear-camera image assist the driver with trailer hitching.

We will bring you specific details of the Palisade's local line-up, specifications and pricing as soon as they become available.

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