As large as possible, the deepest black with equally dark tinted windows – the weapon of choice for an endless array of politicians whose measure of their own fondly imagined importance is the number of smaller, but equally black vehicles they can surround themselves with and how many motorcycle outriders with blue lights flashing it needs to go to a meeting.
So, it was with some sense of glee I took command of the darkest black Hyundai Palisade – complete with tinted windows – and sallied forth into the Durban traffic where, lo and behold, taxis willingly gave way, their overcrowded interiors a sea of faces scanning to see which ‘important’ personage was on the move.
Other traffic also hopped smartly out of the way, probably with huge feelings of resentment when they realised it was ‘lil ol me’ behind the wheel of Hyundai’s behemoth SUV.
That said, after a week behind the weel of the biggest vehicle in the Korean automaker’s stable, I was rather enjoying the ride and found, from the driver’s seat, it did not feel as big as it looks – this really only becoming noticeable when parking alongside mere mortal cars in a crowded shopping centre.
In that environment, it is also impossible to ‘lose’ the car by forgetting where you parked since it stands out in the crowd like Roman Rock lighthouse on a foggy night.
Hyundai South Africa has stepped into uncharted territory with the introduction of the big, bold and brash Palisade luxury SUV that nudges the R1-million and which, the company believes, will attract a new legion of buyers to the Korean brand.
The Palisade – with an overall length just short of 5 meters – takes its place in the local Hyundai SUV line-up next to its slightly smaller sibling, the Santa Fe, as well as the Tucson, Creta and the compact Venue.
As Hyundai’s flagship SUV, the Palisade offers a host of technology features ideal for family road trips, including an 8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions, wireless cell phone charging, multiple simultaneous Bluetooth connections, seven USB outlets, ventilated front and second-row seats in the 7-seater derivative, heated front and second-row seats in both derivatives, shift-by-wire and roof-based diffuser vents. Hyundai’s SmartSense safety technology also comes standard.
It is powered by a R2.2 CRDi engine, linked to an 8-speed automatic transmission and the 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine delivers 142 kW maximum power at 3 800 r/min and 440 Nm maximum torque from 1 750 to 2 750 r/min.
This 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine meets Euro 6 emission standards and returned an average combined fuel consumption of 8,5 l/100 km.
The engine delivers its power to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission with a multi-plate torque converter and offers HTRAC four-wheel-drive configurations. Gears can also be selected manually with paddle shift controls behind the steering wheel.
For touring purposes, even taking the odd off-road excursion, this power and torque are ample for the job and, should the need arise – like, say you join a blue light convoy – will provide more than ample top end and passing acceleration.
A rotary knob on the centre console provides a shift between driving modes as well as options for the type of terrain being traversed. Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart modes are offered.
The HTRAC AWD system was developed as a multi-terrain mode system, providing an electronic, variable torque split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles.
Through its Terrain selector, the Palisade’ offers Sand, Mud and Snow modes, with special traction tuning for each road condition. Each selected Terrain mode adjusts front and rear torque distribution, left and right wheel slip control, engine torque and shift patterns according to available traction levels. In addition, Palisade’s AWD HTRAC system includes an AWD locking-differential function for challenging traction situations.
Hyundai like to refer to the styling of the Palisade as ‘understated’ – however, with that monster grille up front, ‘in-your-face’ is a more apt description. Yet, the proportions and style lines on the vehicle work nicely together to create a pleasing-to-the-eye package that does not look cumbersome.
The vertical headlights add a unique touch.
Full volume over-fenders and body sides provide muscular detailing. The rear view emphasises a wide tance via a vertical LED rear taillamp design. Panoramic rear glass coupled with a cutaway roof provides a generous sense of spaciousness to rear passengers. The big 20-inch alloy wheels further fill out the Palisade’s flagship presence.
The Palisade’s design features have aerodynamic benefits as well, with a 0,33 coefficient of drag (Cd).
The interior design of the Palisade screams luxury and the One-Touch second row seat allows one-touch movement of the seat forward and out of the way for easy access in and out of the third-row seats. Second-row captain’s chairs were fitted to our 7-seater derivative.
Every Palisade seating row offers USB outlets for all passengers, for a total of seven available USB outlets. Even more, a wide-angle conversation mirror allows the driver to clearly see passengers in the rear.
The audio and navigation display is an 8-inch touchscreen, coupled with a 7-inch TFT LCD instrument cluster for the driver. Two Bluetooth devices can be connected simultaneously to the infotainment system, with one for a mobile phone connection and the other for audio streaming.
The Palisade come standard with a shift-by-wire transmission that also includes automatic park logic that shifts the vehicle into park when the engine is off and the driver opens the door.
The interior features seven available USB outlets, including front-seatback-based USB outlets for the second-row occupants and mini-pockets for digital devices of all kinds.
The Palisade offers abundant technology, including navigation display on the infotainment system’s screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. To eliminate the need for a charging cord, there’s a wireless charging pad for compatible Android devices and Apple iPhones. When it comes to audio technology, the premium sound system is well-suited to the Palisade’s upscale interior.
For me two things were missing – a front passenger grab handle and autonomous braking. With regard to the latter, Hyundai did indicate at the launch the refresh of this model due in a couple of years will probably have that feature included.
The grab handle should be easy to rectify – and is useful to aid getting in and out of the car.
The Palisade also offers a Rear Seat Quiet Mode system that allows the driver’s row to listen to their selected audio without that same audio being transmitted to the second- and third-row audio speakers, so that potentially sleeping passengers will not be disturbed.
The Palisade offers several standard advanced safety technologies, including Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Safe Exit Assist, and Rear Occupant Alert.
Hyundai’s Rear Cross-Traffic Alert enhances driver awareness to the rear of the Palisade. Using the Blind Spot Detection system’s radar sensors when backing up, the system warns the driver if vehicles approach from the rear side.
Rear Occupant Alert (ROA) monitors the rear seats using an ultrasonic sensor that helps to detect the movements of children and pets. The system first reminds drivers to check the rear seats when exiting the vehicle with a message on the center instrument cluster display. If the system detects movement in the rear seats after the driver leaves the vehicle and locks the doors, it will honk the horn and flash the car’s lights. The system is designed to prevent children and pets from being forgotten in the car, but it also helps in case children accidentally lock themselves in.
The Palisade also features a Safe Exit Assist system which uses radar to detect cars approaching from the rear and cautions passengers that are about to exit the vehicle. If a passenger attempts to open the door when a car is approaching from behind, a visual and acoustic warning on the center cluster will alert the driver. In addition, if the driver attempts to deactivate the Electronic Child Safety Lock feature, Safe Exit Assist will override the driver and ensure the rear doors remain locked until the approaching vehicle has passed. Once the road is clear, the driver can then deactivate the Electronic Child Safety Lock and successfully unlock the rear passenger doors.
In addition, the Palisade has six standard airbags: dual front, dual side, and roll-over sensing side-curtain crash bags. The Palisade uses a full-length large side curtain crash bag that includes third-row seating coverage for enhanced rear occupant protection in the event of a collision. Tire pressure monitoring with individual position display, two Isofix anchors in the second seat row and one in the third seat row, and a rearview camera are also standard on the Palisade.
Included in the package is a 7-year / 200 000 km manufacturer’s warranty; a 7-year / 105 000 km service plan; and roadside assistance for 7 years or a distance of 150 000 km.
As they say in the classics – go big or go home.