R1-million Hyundai Palisade – First-drive impressions – TopAuto
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R1-million Hyundai Palisade – First-drive impressions

The 8-seater Hyundai Palisade recently went on sale in South Africa at a starting price of R999,900 – and we got to drive it.

The Palisade stood out from the barrage of vehicle launches we saw in 2021 – not only because it launched locally for the first time, but because it has almost no direct competitors in terms of capabilities and size.

There are plenty of large SUVs on sale in South Africa, but these compete with the Palisade’s smaller sibling, the Santa Fe.

Through its size, features, and price, the Palisade is forging its own path in the new-vehicle segment in South Africa – and it may do so quite convincingly.

What you need to know

The Hyundai Palisade is available in two specifications – one with seven seats, and one with eight seats.

Apart from the number of seats, the only other factor setting apart the SUVs is that the seven-seater has second-row heated and ventilated seats, whereas the eight-seater’s second row only features heating.

Standard equipment comprises LED lights, a dual sunroof, leather seats, tri-zone climate control, a wireless charger, rear window curtains, an electric tailgate, and electrically-adjustable, heated, and ventilated front seats.

In addition, it comes with a 7-inch display in the instrument cluster and an 8-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.

In terms of safety systems, the Palisade offers all-round parking sensors, a rear-view camera, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, rear-seat occupant alert, safe exit assist, downhill brake control, and six airbags.

Providing power in this SUV is a 2.2-litre, turbo-diesel engine that generates 142kW and 440Nm, paired to an eight-speed “shift-by-wire” automatic transmission.

Drive is sent to all four wheels via a front-wheel-bias, all-wheel-drive system – and 100km/h is reached in 10.5 seconds.

Luggage capacity for the Palisade then comes in at 509 litres in eight-seater mode, 1,297 litres in five-seater mode, and 2,447 litres with only the front seats up. A maximum braked towing capacity of 2,200kg is supported.

This healthy amount of space is thanks to a body that measures 4,980mm long, 1,975mm wide, and 1,750mm tall – and weighs in at a kerb weight of 1,952kg.

The drive

I spent 300km behind the wheel of the new Hyundai Palisade to get a better idea of what this SUV is capable of, and I was left with mixed feelings.

It looks premium both inside and out, and it has the build quality to match.

However, the Palisade is a sensible and practical SUV for consumers buying cars with their heads and not their hearts.

As a car fanatic, this is hard to ignore. As a car journalist, it is clear to see that Hyundai has built a great SUV for people who need lots of seats or storage space.

Thanks to its colossal dimensions, it is also easy to get into and provides plenty of cabin space.

Surprisingly, however, on the road, the Palisade feels much more compact and agile than its size would have you expect.

I navigated busy highways and tricky intersections, and not once did I experience the SUV to be cumbersome or unwieldy.

It performed well through bursts of acceleration and under sudden braking, and even handled a few dirt roads with comfort.

For an SUV of this size, I would’ve liked the Palisade to have a bit more power – as overtaking other cars can become a laborious task if Sport mode isn’t engaged.


On the road, I had a chance to test out more of its abilities.

The infotainment display responded quickly and was in high definition.

The seats, which were in full ventilation mode during the 30-degree-celsius day, were comfortable and cool.

The sizeable screen in the otherwise analogue gauge cluster provided heaps of useful information, too, and even showed which wheels were pulling the hardest at any point in time.

The Palisade also has the loudest driver assistance programmes I’ve ever encountered, and I was firmly reminded that there was a vehicle in my blind spot each time I switched on my indicators prematurely.


The Palisade is a tricky vehicle to place.

It competes against the likes of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and Toyota Land Cruiser 300 in the size and equipment departments – but unlike these SUVs, the Palisade costs a lot less and offers all its features as standard.

It’s therefore showing the customers of its competitors that their buying criteria can be met elsewhere, and for much cheaper.

Overall, the Palisade is a great option for someone who wants value for money and eight seats. It is not the most exciting car, but for a large SUV it is arguably the most sensible.

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