The new Hyundai Palisade may be just the answer

The first thing you notice when you look at Hyundai’s new Palisade is the massive 3D chrome mesh grille that cascades into a trio of stacked headlights/LED daytime running lights and striking LED side mirror lights.

Together these pack an impressive if not oversized front for the newcomer, however, as soon as you move to the side view, it all seems to become beautifully balanced.

The Palisade is big … real big. It measures just short of five metres long and its width is close on two metres. 20” alloy wheels and a full-size spare are standard.

Now, moving inside, the benefits of the length of this vehicle become evident very quickly. There are umpteen seat configuration options, for instance. You can fold both the second and third rows down and can then fit in a coffin. I don’t know if this is of any value to you, but it does open sales to a larger market. If you don’t partake in any unusual extramural activities, then it just means tonnes of luggage space.

You can also fold the second and third rows in a 60/40 split on your chosen side or just fold the third row down. If you have a large family with all three rows upright, you can fit in up to eight people. I worked out that two of those should be children aged 12 or under, taking into account the average size of a 12-year-old. It has electric front seats with 12-way driver memory and cushion extender for your neck. In the seven-seater, the front and second rows of seats are heated and ventilated, while in the eight-seater, the front and second rows are heated, but only the front seats are ventilated.

There is an eight-inch Infotainment system with Apple Carplay and Android Audio, multi-Bluetooth connection, a wireless charger for your phone in a centre storage box with lovely, deep cup holders. Furthermore, there is a rear-seat quiet mode and a rear door curtain for when the kids are asleep, whether you have the human or the furry kind. The Palisade has something I personally have never come across and I don’t know why – it makes so much sense: a conversation mirror that takes up half of the visor so you can keep an eye on what’s going on in the back without having to turn your head. I think it would be great for sing-alongs. The kids can see the expressions on your face and in your eyes, and behave immediately. An automatic air conditioner with rear climate control and diffusion-type roof air vents that can shoot out a focused stream of air whenever desired is another stand-out feature.

There are dual sunroofs, both of which can be opened, or you can opt just to open the cover and get some sunlight in. But my favourite feature is the Rear Occupant Alert, just in case you forget either your sleeping dog, baby or mother-in-law in the back. An alarm sounds, your front lights flash and a message is sent to your phone. So now you can’t pretend anymore.

The engine is a 2.2 L diesel, which produces 142kW and 440Nm, more than adequately, and overtaking on the motorway is a breeze. It’s coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission that is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. You hardly notice gear changes. Oh, and you can choose from various terrain settings on a centre dial. There is Eco, Comfort or Sport Setting for tarmac, and when you leave the beaten track you can choose between Sand, Mud and Snow. Or you can leave it in Smart, something smart people like me did, and the vehicle automatically adjusts the driving mode to the conditions, be it on- or off-road. The Palisade also has H Track all-wheel drive. Having rolled an SUV during a test on a dirt road years ago, I am somewhat hesitant of driving faster than 80km/h on sand, but I must say, even at 120 the vehicle handled beautifully. Not once did I feel out of my depth or unsafe. Another killer feature is Downhill Brake Control, which stops you from sliding downhill, another of my pet peeves.

If, like me, you’re uneasy with vehicles that are too long for comfort and are worried about rigidity, roll-over and handling, this should put your mind at ease as it had done mine. Hyundai used hot stamping steel plates and ultra-high tension steel plates in 17 strategic places around the vehicle cage, which raises the average tensile strength and in turn, minimises deformation during collisions. Now, to give you an example of hot stamping, if you’ve ever watched an episode of Forged in Fire on DStv, then you already have a pretty good idea.

Just like the bladesmiths heat-treat their fragile blades and then quench them in oil to harden them, Hyundai engineers heat the plates to an undisclosed temperature, stamp them and then quench them using exactly the same method. This hot-stamping has resulted in the Palisade getting a five-star rating in Korea’s NCAP and was rated first class overall. And it becomes evident when you drive the vehicle.

Of course, the Palisade has a multifunction steering wheel, front and rear park assist with a full rear-view camera and guidelines, Push Button Start, Smart Power Tailgate and LED rear-light clusters. Blind Spot Detection and rear cross traffic alert comes in handy when reversing out of parking bays. And should any of your passengers, heaven forbid, have to get out of the vehicle in traffic, it has safe exit assist.

Look, this vehicle is full-house plus a few extras that more pricey competitors don’t have, but you can check it out for yourself. Colours include Moonlight Blue, Graphite Grey, White Cream, Abyss Pearl Black and Shimmering Silver.

I think the new Hyundai Palisade is going to ruffle some of the competitors’ feathers, as it is highly specced with a longer manufacturer warranty and a lower price tag. It comes in just under a million rand at R999 900, compared with Toyota’s Landcruiser Prado 2.8 D AT, Volkswagens Touareg 3L V6, which retails for just over R1.23m, and Mercedes Benz’ GLE 300 D LWB, which weighs in at close to R1.5m.

Photos: QuickPic

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