The bold and the beautiful

A nip here and a tuck there have seen the Palisade gain a fresh and modern persona that makes it worthy of its status as Hyunday’s flagship SUV in South Africa. With a new interior treatment and exterior design cues, new infotainment and safety features and advanced driver assistance features, LIANA REINERS believes that it just might be one of the best luxury SUVs out there at the moment.

In recent years I have found myself falling in love with the look of just about every new vehicle launched in South Africa. But before you brand me as a car hoe, let me explain. Apart from a few ghastly exceptions, there aren’t really ugly vehicles on the market anymore. Sure, there are quirky ones, less traditional ones, conservative ones, flashy ones, dramatic ones, simplistic ones and even completely over the top ones… but truly ugly? Not really. In most cases branding a vehicle as ugly has more to do with market bias than with the actual design of the vehicle. It’s all a matter of taste really.

This brings me to the recent launch of Hyundai’s 2023 Palisade SUV, which bowled me over with its rugged good looks, luxurious and comfortable interior and solid performance. Explained Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa at the launch event: “The 2023 Palisade is now, more than ever, a perfect luxury family vehicle for daily use as well as memory-making road trips. The design, fit and finish of the Palisade are of a very high standard.”

There are two Palisade derivatives available, the only difference between the two being the number of seats – either seven or eight. Both are equipped with Hyundai’s H-Trac all-wheel drive system and a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine with 142kW and 440Nm of peak torque on tap. It is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Bold new exterior

The new Palisade has undergone several design treatments that give it a premium, bold appearance. Of these, the most notable are a new front and rear bumper fascia, a new front grille, new headlamps and daytime running lights, and a new multi-spoke alloy wheel design.

The wider, cascading black chrome grille certainly draws attention and is cleverly framed by the headlights that feature new vertically connected LED composite lights to create a modern and cutting-edge look. The rugged demeanour of the Palisade is accentuated by a lower front skid plate element and an extended hood profile, while vertical LED taillamps and lower fascia skid plate details round off the well-proportioned rear.

Comfortable and intuitive interior

Hyundai’s designers and engineers also went all out on the interior of the Palisade and the result smacks of luxury and utility. Among the goodies in the cabin are a new instrument panel, driver’s instrument gauge cluster and audio interface design, a new steering wheel design and new seating surfaces and materials.

The infotainment system and technological features have also been thoroughly upgraded. New in the Palisade is a wider high-definition infotainment display screen (with a split-screen function), USB-C ports with quicker charging, enhanced wireless device charging and dynamic voice recognition, and an Infinity 12-speaker sound system.

Of course, all the regular bells and whistles are there, making the cabin a really great place to be, not just for the driver but for all passengers. A really nifty feature is the fact that two Bluetooth devices can now be connected to the infotainment system at the same time.

New safety and convenience features

It goes without saying that the 2023 Palisade is packed to the hilt with advanced driver assistance systems and innovative technologies, including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist; Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist; Safe Exit Assist, Driver Fatigue Detection and Driver Attention Warning; High Beam Assist; Smart Cruise Control; Lane Departure Warning and Lane Following Assist; Highway Driving Assist; Rear Cross-Traffic Alert; Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist; and Reverse Parking Collision- Avoidance Assist.

Space doesn’t permit me going into too much detail around the standard features, but believe me when I tell you there’s a lot! While I wouldn’t exactly call the Palisade a bargain at R1 099 900, it does represent great value for money – especially if you consider that the price includes Hyundai’s seven-year/200 000km warranty (consisting of a five-year/ 150 000km manufacturer’s warranty, with a two-year/50 000km powertrain warranty extension), seven-year/150 000km roadside assistance, and a seven-year/105 000km service plan. Service intervals are set at 15 000km.

The verdict

The refreshed Hyundai Palisade certainly impressed me, from both a driving comfort and specification level perspective. Yes, it’s not cheap, but the rather decent 203mm ground clearance, coupled with 2 200kg braked and 750kg unbraked towing capacity, makes the Palisade a serious – and, with ample cargo space, very spacious – contender as roadtrip partner.

Safety tech explained

• Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist helps to avoid collisions with objects in front of the vehicle while driving.

• Lane Keeping Assist helps to keep the vehicle within the lane while driving.

• Lane Following Assist helps to keep the vehicle centred in the lane while driving.

• Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist helps to avoid collisions with a rear-side vehicle when changing lanes.

• Blind Spot View Monitor momentarily uses a rear camera to display an image in the instrument cluster before changing lanes.

• Safe Exit Assist can help avoid collisions with a rear-side vehicle detected when exiting the vehicle.

• Driver Fatigue Detection can pick up indications that the driver might be tired by analysing the driver’s inputs or lack thereof.

• High Beam Assist can help switch high beam lights on and off at night for approaching vehicles in the oncoming lane.

• Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist can help avoid collisions with oncoming vehicles detected on the left or right side of the vehicle while reversing.

• Highway Driving Assist helps to maintain a set distance and speed from the vehicle ahead when driving on a highway and helps centre the vehicle in the lane, even when driving through curves.

• Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist can help avoid collisions with rearward objects detected while reversing.

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