Photo: Sasha Exeter
As a modern mom on the go, I rely on the car I drive to take me from meetings to play dates and everything in between. I recently test-drove the new 2020 Hyundai Palisade for a week and after getting well-acquainted with it, I have two words to describe it: refined luxury.
Today, families looking to make a new purchase are looking for more from their vehicle. More seats. More room. More power. More comfort. More safety. More technology. Even more cup holders. The new Palisade meets those needs and is packed with a healthy suite of driver assistance tech and bold design to make it a clear front-runner in its category and an attractive option for families on the go.
As soon as I opened the door for the first time, my eyes were immediately drawn to the nappa leather seats in every row with beautiful quilted detailing that even extends onwards to inside on the door panels. As a mom to a toddler, there was a brief moment of panic thinking how it was going to hold up against mess and spills. While these messes surprisingly wiped clean easily, the crumbs on the ground from Goldfish snacks were inevitable. Dual sunroofs let tons of light into the cabin, which is great on a summer day, but not always ideal when there’s a child napping in the back. Second row window shades and a rear sunroof that closes turned out to be the perfect combination for nap time on the road.
If you’re in the market for a three-row SUV, comfort and cargo space will no doubt be high on your priority list. The Palisade can seat up to eight with the bench seat option as the middle row. Our luxury loaner accommodated seven due to the upgraded second row captain seats. And here’s the thing: regardless of which row you’re sitting in, there’s always enough legroom. So, if any parent needs to ride with their kid in the back, rest assured there’s enough space for you back there. In most vehicles this size, the third row is a place nobody wants to be in since it’s often difficult to access. However, the Palisade makes this back row easily accessible with just the touch of a button. “The idea was to make the way-back seats easy enough to get in and out of that a kid could do it by themselves,” explained the Hyundai employee who gave me a guided walk-thru of the vehicle. The second-row seats have two, big, kid-friendly buttons that mini passengers can reach. Tap one and the seat swiftly leans and slides forward.
Driving with kids, whether it’s to the mall or to the cottage, means you’re always going to need a ton of room for all the necessary things that have to come with you. For my partner Réjean and I, it means having enough room for our second stroller (which we always keep in the trunk) and for the equipment and props we use for work. There is 18 cubic feet of space behind the third row, which is actually quite generous. There is ample room for a stroller and a handful of bags after a grocery run. There’s even a secret sub-trunk where you can stash smaller items or the cargo cover if you’re not using it. However, with the third row down, that’s where the magic happens: with almost 46 cubic feet of space, there’s no longer any need to doubt whether or not you’ll have sufficient space after your Costco or Ikea haul. Win.
The exterior holds its own, too, and is what makes people’s heads first turn when they see the Palisade. Its sleek lines, bold design and its massive, patterned front grille looks quite sophisticated, making it hard to miss on the road.
The technology in the Palisade was enough to turn my jaded self into a real Hyundai believer. The top-level trim has a dreamy digital dashboard and infotainment center. The 10.25-inch touch screen display is where you’ll find everything from navigation to media and everything in between. It also hosts the innovative and thoughtful features that make parents’ lives on the road with kiddos easy and wait for it…even enjoyable.
Safety trumps everything now that I am carrying precious cargo. Driving in the hectic city with a kid screaming in the back can sometimes be overwhelming. Having the Palisade’s tech-forward safety features definitely made driving in rush hour less chaotic. I especially loved the blind view monitor that streams a live visual of your blind spot directly on the dash cluster whenever you attempt a lane change. There’s a slew of other features within the Hyundai SmartSense package that help keep your family safe and your mind at ease like the Rear Occupant Alert, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Safe Exit Assist, Driver Attention Warning, and Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keeping Assist. And for us Canadians, the Multi-Terrain Control modes are especially helpful as they help you expertly navigate the terrain ahead whether it be snow, sand or even mud.
Here are some of the things I couldn’t stop talking about:
Driver Talk: Have you ever driven a large vehicle and felt like you had to scream for the passengers in the back to hear you? Driver Talk is an intercom that allows you to project your voice to the passengers in the very back without having to yell. It’s a brilliant little feature that I’m sure was developed by a parent. Trust me, everyone in the SUV will appreciate the more civilized communication.
Quiet Mode: Driving with kids that often nap in transit means it can sometimes compromise the entertainment of the driver and front passenger. I loved the fact that this feature allowed me to still enjoy my music, while my kid dozed off to sleep in the back with the muted rear speakers.
Outlets For Everyone: Never in my life have I seen as much power charging capability for devices in one SUV. As a working mom on the go, this was a welcomed luxury. The center console had a wireless charging pad compatible with the latest iPhone, so I could keep my phone charged, even if I forgot the cable at home (which happens more often than not). Plus, the three USB power outlets upfront and two in the second and third rows means that whenever my team was rolling with me, every laptop, iPad and cell phone stayed charged (and there was never any fighting over outlets).
In short, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade has the looks and premium feel to rank high in its segment. It made a great first impression with me as a mainstream model with luxury aspirations, especially with the interior. Hyundai really nailed it with this SUV. They have found a way for luxury to be affordable and its design, room and vast technology offering make this the perfect vehicle for the growing modern family.
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