FIRST DRIVE | 2021 Hyundai Palisade is a supersized kilometre-cruncher
Hyundai has added to its line-up with the Palisade, an SUV that accommodates seven or eight passengers. Either configuration is available at the same price.
Bigger than the Santa Fe, the 4,980mm-long Palisade is aimed at a niche market that has a vast array of alternatives, including the rugged band of Japanese land marauders, such as Toyota’s various Land Cruisers, but minus the diff-locking mechanisms and science-fiction gadgets.
The tough but suave-looking Palisade has a ground clearance of 203mm and comes with full-time all-wheel drive (AWD). The base engine is a 2.2l four-cylinder turbo-diesel motor with outputs of 142kW and 440Nm and fitted exclusively with a button-operated, eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Palisade rides on 20-inch rims with a 2,900mm wheelbase, which is longer than the Land Cruiser 300 but 205mm shorter than the seven-seater BMW X7.
The spacious and airy cabin has comfy and foldable leather-clad seats. The third-row bench seats three but the elevated floor means it's more suited to children than adults. However, adults can stretch out on the two middle row seats which, like the front pair, are individual, electrically operated and heated. The eight-seater has three seats in the middle row.
With all the seats propped up there is still enough room at the back for groceries and mid-sized luggage.
Hyundai has gone for a premium feel in the cockpit. There’s a 20.3cm touch-operated command centre with navigation, rear parking camera, and the capability to pair two Bluetooth devices. It also has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a wireless charging pad, and musical streaming with a rear seat quiet mode — a system that allows the music to be muted for passengers in the second and third rows.
Safety features include blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, safe exit assist, and rear occupant alert, six airbags, and two Isofix anchors (the international standard for attachment points for child safety seats) in the second seat row and one in the third seat row.
The first drive of the hulking Palisade reveals an easy steer with great views of the world passing by.
It has a surprisingly responsive motor, with enough low-down torque not to flinch when hauling its 1,952kg bulk with its quota of passengers. It also operates smoothly and quietly on both tarred and dirt roads and it doesn’t heave inside corners, pointing to excellent damping measures and confident, comfortable kilometre crunching.
The Hyundai Palisade comes with a seven-year/200,000km manufacturer’s warranty and a seven-year/105,000km service plan.
Palisade R2.2 7-seater Elite (auto) R 999,900
Palisade R2.2 8-seater Elite (auto) R 999,900