Style, Space, Comfort: 2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD Test Drive

2020 Hyundai Palisades SEL

It’s upscale, but not over the top. It drives well, but it isn’t an overachiever. It can also seat up to eight people, and a well-appointed version will cost you under $45k. This is the 2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL, and it's the third row SUV that we’d always hoped Hyundai would one day build.

For the full 2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD review, specs, pricing, and data read on.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD Exterior

When I first laid eyes on the 2020 Palisade all I kept thinking was, “This is a Hyundai?” I mean let’s face it; Hyundai has done a great job with the exterior of this thing. Sitting on a 114.2-inch wheelbase and with an overall length of 196.1 inches, the Palisade falls right in line with such competitors as the Ford Explorer, Volkswagen Atlas, Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot. In the looks department though, I feel as though it has eclipsed them all.

A bold front end utilizes a massive brushed grille and quad-projector beam headlamps with LED surrounds. The lower fascia, with its black and brushed trim, then flows up and around the wheel arches, down the rockers, and then into the rear bumper. Large LED taillights fill the rear corners, while integrated roof rails, a large rear tailgate spoiler, and large 20-inch alloys that wear 245/50-series all-season tires, complete a very stylish package.

With three different variants to choose from (SE, SEL, Limited) that range in price from $31,550 to a starting price of $44,700 for the SEL, the Palisade lineup includes attainable models that prospective buyers can outfit to their liking. Giving the Palisade such bold and modern styling was a gamble by Hyundai, but it’s one that I think will pay them back in spades.

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD Interior

Climb into the cabin of the 2020 Palisade and you’ll immediately notice that a fair amount of thought has gone into making this a special place. Our SEL was nicely optioned and came to us sporting such features as heated leather seating surfaces for both front and second-row passengers, a heated steering wheel, as well as a dual-zone climate control HVAC system. Set dead center of the dash lies a massive 10.25-inch color touchscreen that serves as the entry point for an infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, access to Sirius Satellite Radio, the navigation system, Bluetooth controls, along with all of the vehicle settings. A combination of large analog gauges and a large 7-inch high-resolution display are set inset in the dash and provide ancillary information such as tire pressure, fuel economy, drive settings, as well as access to the stereo, and other functions.

A keen eye will notice the absence of a traditional shift lever or rotary knob for the transmission. Instead, Hyundai has utilized a push-button gear selection system that’s combined with a rotary knob that lets one choose between the Palisade’s drive modes. The system is well thought out and while unconventional, worked well from an ergonomic standpoint.

Optioned with the double rear bench seats, out SEL was capable of carting around eight people. Both the front and second-row seats were comfortable, however, third-row passengers may find themselves to be a bit cramped. Drop the second and third-row seats though, and the Palisade is downright cavernous with storage space coming in at 18.0 / 45.8 / 86.4 cu ft., with the second and third-row seats folded flat. Those with children can also breathe a sigh of relief, as there are ample amounts of cup holders and charging ports located throughout the cabin.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD Performance

All 2020 Palisade models are powered by a 3.8-liter GDI V6 that produces 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque through eight-speed automatic transmission. Both front and all-wheel-drive models are available, with each offering five different drive modes (Smart, Sport, Comfort, Eco, Snow). All-wheel-drive models are also treated to a locking center differential and downhill brake control. Punch the throttle from a standstill and the Palisade will accelerate to 60 mph in just under seven seconds. It’s no rocket ship, but for a large SUV with a curb weight of 4,284-pounds, it moves along nicely.

On the road, we found that the ride quality was quite good thanks in part to MacPherson struts with coil springs up front, and an independent multi-link rear, however, we did notice that the cabin was a bit noisier than we expected. Those with weekend toys will also be glad to hear that the Palisade can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. In regards to fuel economy, our SEL trimmed model was EPA rated at 24 mpg on the highway, 19 mpg in the city, and 21 mpg during combined driving. It should also come as no surprise that the Palisade drives more like a large sedan than a large SUV.

Not only was it comfortable, but thanks to large windows and a low beltline, outward visibility was great.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD Safety

The 2020 Palisade SEL AWD comes to us with Hyundai’s SmartSense safety technology that incorporates such standard safety features as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, driver attention warning, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, airbags throughout the cabin, a standard backup camera and more.

Additional safety features can be seen over at

2020 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD Overall

With a base price of $35,200 and an as-tested price of $43,155, the 2020 Palisade SEL exceeded our expectations. Not only was it very well equipped with excellent road manners, but also we feel it’s going to make many folks rethink what a luxury SUV should cost. Now make no mistake, there are others out there with offerings that are superior from a materials and drivetrain standpoint. However, for those looking for an economical eight-passenger luxury SUV with loads of tasty features, and an upscale feel, the 2020 Hyundai Palisades is going to be hard to beat.

Drop by your local AutoNation Hyundai dealer today to check one out!

*Fuel economy values (mpg) are EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary and depends on several factors including, driving habits and vehicle condition.
**Vehicle MSRP of $43,155.00 excludes taxes, title, transportation, options, and dealer fees.
Categories: Test Drive Reviews