Peyton or Eli? Serena or Venus? Oldsmobile or Buick? Each is a legendary sibling rivalry not unlike the one happening now on the front lines of the three-row-SUV segment. The all-new Hyundai Palisade, brother to Kia's hot-selling Telluride, goes on sale now to compete with its corporate stablemate. And though these fraternal twins may not look alike, their DNA remains largely the same.
The Palisade is powered by the same direct-injected 3.8-liter V-6 that motivates the Telluride. Coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission that's also shared with its Hyundai twin, the engine's 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque are adequate for this application and should push it from zero to 60 mph in about 7.4 seconds. Unlike the Telluride, the Palisade's transmission can be manually shifted with steering-wheel-mounted paddles. The gearbox shifts smoothly on its own, but there's some busy shuffling of the ratios when climbing hills. All-wheel drive is available for $1700 and will deliver up to 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels. The Palisade can tow up to 5000 pounds when equipped with the Towing package.
Ride quality and body control are tuned perfectly for the segment, and the Palisade feels more relaxed over broken tarmac than the Telluride. Steering response is precise and there's appropriate heft to the wheel, which increases in Sport mode. Hyundai boasts about the Palisade's abundant sound-deadening materials, but what it really needs are better door seals-wind noise cuts obtrusively through the cabin at highway speeds.
If there's anything controversial about this latest three-row, it's the SUV's styling, which awkwardly appends Hyundai's octagonal corporate grille to this large two-box. Mounted low in the front fascia, the Kia's headlamps help it bear a resemblance to Family Guy character Jake Tucker's upside-down face. A chunky C-pillars hinder visibility and interrupt the arched chrome trim, depriving the Hyundai of its sibling's clean side profile. Front and rear LED lighting is standard on the range-topping Limited model and optional on the midrange SEL.
The Palisade replaces the Santa Fe XL in Hyundai's lineup and boasts a significantly larger interior than the XL does. All three rows provide generous comfort and space. A power-operated third row that's standard on Limited trims and optional on SEL models helps separate the Palisade from the Telluride. Cloth seating is standard fare on the base car, but the Limited’s surfaces are defined by yards of nappa leather. And if eight-person seating is a must, buyers can opt for a no-cost second-row bench seat on the top trims.
Limited-trim models offer quilted-leather door-panel inserts, a faux-suede headliner, and heated and ventilated first- and second-row seats. A 10.3-inch infotainment screen surrounded by piano-black trim and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that's not available in the Telluride help modernize the space. The Palisade's floating bridge center console is no longer an original idea, but the large climate-control buttons are refreshingly easy to use. Five drive modes (on all-wheel-drive models) are selected using a knob, but the push-button gear selector is no more convenient or appealing here than it is in a Honda Pilot.
The same safety tech that adds to the Telluride's allure-adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist-are included in the base Palisade for $32,595. Stepping up to the SEL for $34,545 adds self-leveling rear dampers, a power sunroof, and blind-spot monitoring. But it's the all-in Limited with all-wheel drive for $47,445 that offers the most compelling features-a 360-degree camera system and Harman/Kardon audio. That Palisade, however, is priced at a $700 premium over a similarly equipped Telluride SX. So this family feud-like many that have come before it-is largely a matter of taste.
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