You’d be forgiven for thinking the Hyundai Palisade is excessive in many ways.
Not only is it one of the few eight-seat SUVs going around — meaning it’s plenty big — Hyundai already had the popular Santa Fe in the large SUV segment.
But the brand reckons many buyers found the Santa Fe too small, so it convinced global HQ to make the Palisade in right-hand drive to serve as its new SUV flagship Down Under.
The result is certainly large-scale motoring, especially in the top-spec Highlander variant we had for a week.
Aside from its imposing exterior presence — it looks like something Tony Soprano would get around in — most obvious is the space inside, particularly the width.
It’s the automotive version of having a king bed to yourself: you can really stretch out in comfort.
Buttons replace a conventional gear changer, which helps create a massive storage space consisting of a centre cubby and two big shelves, the top incorporating retractable cup holders and wireless phone charging.
There are charging ports everywhere, including in rows two and three.
In fact, those who miss out on riding up front won’t be too upset.
The second row gets its own temperature controls, heated outward seats and doors with two cup holders and bottle storage.
Seats six, seven and eight get cupholders and air vents.
Access to the back is pretty hassle-free, with the 60/40 split second row folding and sliding easily.
Adjusting the second row means adults can fit in all three rows at once but, despite the Palisade’s width, three adults in the third row will be squished.
But even if the rearmost seats are unlikely to be used, the Palisade has appeal.
There’s a handy 311 litres with all three rows in place, or a cavernous, deep 711 with the third row folded.
And there’s a lot of fruit if you opt for the Highlander: head-up display, heated and cooled front seats, digital radio, a blind-spot camera display when indicating, two sunroofs, electric hands-free tailgate, suede roof lining, Nappa leather and more.
It doesn’t quite feel at luxury SUV levels, but still largely feels a bit special and deserving of its $70k price tag.
The lounge room-like comfort continues on the road with plush seats and a cushioning ride.
Some may find it a tad soft, but this is an eight-seat SUV, so expectations of sportiness need to be tempered, despite the presence of a sport mode.
There’s also comfort, eco and — our preference — smart mode, which will adjust car behaviour to how you’re driving.
The powertrain feels a tad dated in the V6 petrol models, however.
You can feel the front wheels doing all of the work and traction is rather easily lost.
It’s also a thirsty mill, sucking up north of 14L/100km over our week.
Opting for the diesel all-wheel-drive version costs an extra $4000 though, so many would understandably stick with the petrol despite its flaws.
The width of the vehicle can also raise issues in carparks with narrow spaces, particularly when loading children.
The Palisade is big and bold with a price tag to match, but also offers huge amounts of practical space and heaps of gear to feel worth it. Those not needing eight seats can still apply, but the petrol is thirsty and the diesel might be a better option if the budget allows.
2021 HYUNDAI PALISADE HIGHLANDER SPECIFICATIONS
- Price $71,000
- Engine 3.8-litre V6 petrol
- Outputs 217kW/355Nm
- Transmission Eight-speed automatic, FWD
- Fuel economy 10.7L/100km