2021 Hyundai Palisade Highlander 7What is it?

Go big or go home. It’s one of my favourite expressions.

It means if you’re planning to do something, do it properly or don’t bother doing it at all.

And that is exactly what Hyundai has done with the introduction of the new, bigger Palisade, a ‘full-size’ family SUV to use the parlance of American pickup manufacturers.

Palisade is Hyundai’s largest model to date, a big, American-designed and built SUV that can seat seven or eight people in comfort, in a plush loungeroom-like environment — the 4XL of SUVs.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Highlander 6

What’s it cost?

Palisade gets going from $60,000 for the two-wheel drive petrol model.

The diesel which adds all-wheel drive to the mix is priced from $64,000.

Top of the line Highlander, the subject of our review, is priced from $74,876.

Premium paint is $695 with any model or grade.

Palisade is targeted at buyers of large SUVs who want a more car-like driving experience than that offered by traditional 4WDs, with a that sits on top of a ladder chassis.

They’re good for going off-road, but let’s face it, very few of these vehicles ever leave the bitumen — so comfort is more important.

Shoppers of people movers who want eight seats, but prefer the style, flexibility and driving qualities of an SUV — will also be attracted.

Leather upholstery is standard, as well as a power-adjustable driver’s seat, three-zone air-conditioning and 12-speaker Infinity premium audio.

Electric release buttons in Palisade’s cargo area allow users to fold the second-row seat backs flat with at the press of a button.

Also handy, seven USB ports and 16 cup-holders can be found scattered throughout the cabin.

Highlander adds Nappa leather upholstery with suede headlining, 12-way power adjustable driver’s seat with memory function and 8-way power adjustable passenger seat.

The front seats offer both heating and ventilation, with the comfort of a heated steering wheel.

Second row seats also offer heating, with seven-seat variants adding ventilation.

There’s a dual sunroof, wireless Qi phone charger, Head-Up Display (HUD), powered hands-free tailgate and 20-inch alloy wheels.

Safety comprises six airbags, as well as Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW) and Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance-Assist (BCA) systems.

There are also Lane Following Assist (LFA) and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA) systems, and Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go.

Highlander also gets Blind Spot View Monitor (BVM) and a Surround View Monitor (SVM).

2021 Hyundai Palisade Highlander 2

What’s it go like?

For a big vehicle, it’s surprisingly quick and agile.

A 3.5-litre petrol V6 with 217kW of power and 355Nm of torque powers the entry offering, but is going to suck mucho gas.

The 2.2-litre turbo diesel in our test vehicle produces 147kW and 440Nm of torque, together with an eight-speed auto that directs power directed to all four wheels — and presents as a much better proposition.

The auto by the way comes with gear change paddles, in case you suddenly feel the urge to shake a leg.

You get all this with fuel consumption that is a claimed 7.3L/100km (we recorded 9.3L/100km by the end of our tenure).

Service costs are however higher for the diesel at $469 versus $399 per 15K visit.

Palisade sits a shade under 5.0 metres in length, with a dry weight of 2060kg and wheelbase of 2900mm (distance between axles).

It’s this last figure that ultimately determines the amount of legroom you’ll find inside a vehicle.

Compared to say Toyota Kluger, it has a 50mm longer wheelbase, while it matches the Nissan Pathfinder — but has 30mm less than Mazda CX-9.

Five or four top tether child seat anchors are provided, depending on whether it’s the seven or eight-seat version.

There’s also two ISOFIX anchors in the second row and a third in the third row.

Driver Talk uses the audio system to  allow the driver to speak to second- and third-row occupants without raising their voice.

While Quiet Mode mutes the speakers in the rear and sets the front speakers to seven or below — to allow rear occupants the hush needed to talk to each other or to get some sleep.

A steering ratio of 2.87 turns to lock makes the big wagon relatively feel easy to handle and it feels smaller than it actually is. 

You don’t need to constantly check and adjust the steering they way you do in some big SUVs.

The driver faces a pair of round, analogue style dials with an info screen that sits between them.

This screen changes to a side-view camera when the indicators are activated.

I guess this model predates the fully digital instrument panel found in other models?

Putting the car in gear is a matter of simply pushing a button — Drive, Neutral or Reverse — with a separate button for Park.

It also has push-button start and an electric parking brake, with different drive modes — Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Smart.

It also has Multi-Terrain Control system, with settings for Snow, Sand and Mud.

Smart mode is where you’re going to leave it, because like its name suggests — it makes the decisions for you.

Although Hyundai tunes the ride and handling of its vehicles for Aussie conditions, it reckon that after evaluating the setup of Palisade there was really no need to change anything.

Hmmm . . . I’ve gotta say though it’s pretty good, soaking up the bumps quickly and easily, but firmimg up nicely to sit stable in corners.

A full-size alloy spare is secured underneath the rear of the vehicle.

There endeth the lesson.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Highlander

What we like?

  • Big
  • Serene
  • Comfy like a lounge room
  • Bright cabin with room for the tribe

2021 Hyundai Palisade Highlander 16

What we don’t like?

  • Push-button gear selector
  • Wood trim looks like contact paper
  • Off white upholstery not really kid-friendly

2021 Hyundai Palisade Highlander 3

The bottom line?

Parked side by side, Palisade makes the Santa Fe look small.

That’s the long and short of it. There’s not much to dislike about Palisade.

If you’re looking for something bigger — look no further.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Highlander 4

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Hyundai Palisade Highlander AWD 2.2 diesel, priced from $74,876
  • Looks - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Performance - 8/10
    8/10
  • Safety - 8/10
    8/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
    8/10
  • Tech - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
7.8/10
Hyundai Palisade: Go big or go home

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.