Hyundai New Zealand already has quite the range of SUVs in their line up, from the small Venue to its segment leading Santa Fe, well we’ve just attended the launch of their new Palisade and it’s big – so was the launch.
The Palisade was created in part to appeal to the very critical and demanding US market so that should give you an instant understanding of both its size and luxury – it doesn’t disappoint. The 7 or 8 seater ‘upper-large’ SUV sits on an expansive 2.9m wheelbase and although it’s a shade under 5m long, it boasts a width of 1.98and a height of 1.75m, all that size becomes apparent when you step inside. However before we go there…
Taking pride of place up front is Hyundai’s new wide cascading grille complete with a broad frame, the new SUV’s vertical headlights and DRLs bookend the grille and accentuate the near 2m width. It could come across as imposing but somehow to me it just looks rather stately. 20-inch wheels are standard and are shrouded in muscular arches (not of the golden type). From its profile, the large SUV’s bonnet is equally balanced by the panoramic glass that sits behind the C-pillar which when combined with the glass on the tailgate offers ample light to those sitting in the 3rd row.
The rear exterior itself showcases vertical LEDs, dual exhaust tips, a well-thoughtout and well-spaced Palisade lettering and a rear skid plate should you decide to venture off the sealed stuff.
The interior is both up-market (to match its upper-large size) and loaded with tech. All furniture is bathed in leather (Nappa if you choose the Special Edition) and the trim offers soft-touch materials and contrast highlights. When it comes to seating the mind boggles. Those in the front (depending on variant) get multiway electric adjustment, heating and ventilation – the leather wheel is heated too. The 2nd row comes as either two ‘captain chairs’ or regular three ‘bench-type’ and there’s room in the back for three ‘little-uns’. Access to the 3rd row is one-touch and gives you 220mm of non-squeeze entry. Surprisingly, there’s a fair amount of leg and headroom back there too (959mm). And space is the name of the game for the Palisade, even 6-footers will find comfort and luxury inside wherever they opt to sit.
Huyndai haven’t just made room for people either, they’ve crammed in tons of labour and life saving aids too. Infotainment comes via a 10.25-inch touch screen and comes with Navigation (with 10-years free map update), access to the SUVs raft of Smartsense safety assists and oodles of apps. For some, lots of room equals lots of noisy kids, thanks to ‘driver talk’ your voice can be amplified through the 10-speakers dotted around the cabin so no need to raise your voice, what’s more, should they finally fall asleep, you can mute all sound (apart from just your speaker) at the touch of a button too. Well we’re talking about sound, the NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) of the Palisade has been dialed right up, it’s a quiet, soft comfortable ride regardless of the rough and rugged NZ terrain below.
To eliminate blind spots the Limited option comes with a digital BSVM (Blind Spot View monitor) that when indicating displays that side of your vehicle on the digital screen in the instrument cluster, and the adaptive cruise works very well, quickly picking up vehicles that join the traffic in front of you.
The New Zealand launch began at Hyundai Head Office in Mt Wellington where we loaded up and headed to Parihoa Farm in Muriwai. I actually like launches where you get a taste of the vehicle before the press talk, it helps me relate. Anyway, first impressions were of comfort and silence, even on our open pore tarmac road noise is minimal and the engine sound of (in our case the 2.2L diesel) was virtually non-existent. The suspension is soft and absorborbing, however should you decide to corner harshly, it does remind you that it’s not a sportscar and therefore doesn’t have a low centre of gravity. Don’t panic though, there are plenty of traction devices there to support any miscalculated zeal.
The 600 acre working farm acted as a threefold location. Firstly details of the Palisade and what Hyundai NZ has been up to delivered by the GM Andy Sinclair and the team. Secondly, a chance to take the large SUV ‘off road’ (actually have a bit of a play in fields) using the terrain modes and downhill descent button. And last but by no means least, be served a four course meal thanks to Hyundai NZ’s ambassador Chef Al Brown – local oysters, duck, whitebait and a take on a lemon tart – yummy.
Next up, a long drive to Tauranga and a chance to get properly acquainted with this big tourer. Although I would have happily rested my eyes in the 3rd row or relaxed in the captain’s chair, it was my turn to drive, and when I say drive, I mean engage all the driver assists and steer the Palisade to the beach.
As I’ve said several times before, the Palisade is a big vehicle and yet even on NZ roads it doesn’t behave that way. It’s manageable and not overbearing, in fact, it’s just a luxurious good people-moving SUV that drives like an SUV.
Our accommodation for the night was at Eagle Ridge Estate, it’s primarily a high-class wedding facility that’s not only stunning, it offers the lavish hospitality and attention of a honeymooning couple. The guest house is all-American and the near 360-degree views are glorious (coincidently the Palisade has a 360-degree camera). Following another sumptuous mean, we ended up ‘glamping’ on the homestead and actually getting a great night’s sleep.
The drive back the next morning included a coffee and chip stop at the Falls Retreat (highly recommended) and a Palisade procession through the Karangahake Gorge which, thanks to the traffic, was slow enough to enjoy the view and more importantly, enjoy the ride.
Aside from the top of the range Special Edition (with Nappa leather) Hyundai New Zealand are launching the Palisade in two spec levels, the Elite and Limited. Both come with 7 or 8 seat options and both come with your choice of 3.6L Petrol with FWD or 2.2L diesel AWD – prices start at $10 under $100k and top out at $114,990 (plus $5k for the Nappa). It’s a lot of SUV and flies the flag of upper-large luxury and space well – it leaves your regular people mover in its rear view mirror.