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The 2020 Hyundai Palisade lacks its cousin's charm 

The Palisade, Hyundai's roomy, three-row SUV, rides high

The Palisade, Hyundai's roomy, three-row SUV, rides high and offers luxury and plenty of new features.  Credit: TNS/Drew Phillips

The Palisade is Hyundai's answer to the new Kia Telluride. It's a three-row SUV that rides high and offers spaciousness, luxury, and plenty of new features, and both were new for the 2020 model year, although they made their road debuts early in the cycle.

Unfortunately, the Palisade is missing much of the charm of the Kia cousin.

The Palisade's straight-line acceleration should make any potential buyer quite happy. The 3.8-liter V-6 creates 291 horsepower and gets to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, according to Motor Trend. And plenty of power is available for passing and other speed-enhancing maneuvers.

I've often remarked that Hyundai is the fluffier version of Kia, with softer handling but a smoother ride. But it's been a few years since twin models were this obvious about it.

The Palisade's handling is far inferior to the Telluride. When I hopped in the Telluride, I remember just thinking "Oooooh." It glided over the twists and turns of my home territory with more ease than any three-row SUV had the right to, even before I made any adjustments.

The Palisade, on the other hand, lumbered through those same stretches, bouncing me around and sending me on a desperate quest for the Sport mode. But even that didn't improve the handling noticeably.

In fact, with five drive-mode choices, a perfect blend should be available, but alas it is not.

Handling remained adequate at best, and choppy at worst. The Palisade most reminded me of the old Expedition or Sorento.

The eight-speed transmission worked pretty quietly under the hood, keeping the momentum. It's operated through a Honda-style series of buttons.

The Nappa leather seats included in the Limited trim are kind of firm, and also slippery; when I set the bolster full on to try getting myself comfortable, I could feel myself shifting from corner to corner. But overall the seats were not too bad.

The view of the dashboard was clear, although the steering wheel doesn't telescope as much as I might have liked.

Among the gizmos are cameras on both sides that show the view of the nearby lane when the turn signal is switched on. The left side of the instrument panel displays the view to the left and to the right. Nice idea; a little hard to see. 

The third-row seat is snug, with little knee room because it sits so close to the floor. But overall, it's not bad for what it is, unless you try cramming three adults back there. 

Cargo space is 85.4 cubic feet with two rows folded; 45.8 with one down; and 18 behind the third row, all fairly healthy, but still little more than half a Sienna.

The Harmon Kardan premium audio operated pretty easily. Dials control volume and tuning, while a row of buttons gets around main functions.The heater controls are mixed into a panel with the traction control, and it all becomes a little overwhelming. Dials control the temperature settings and buttons control the other functions.

I averaged about 20 mpg in the usual range of Philadelphia region testing, pre-COVID-19. Built in Ulsan, South Korea, you can feed the Palisade whatever type of gas you prefer.

Consumer Reports predicts its reliability to be a four out of five.

In the end: There's a lot to like about the Palisade, but I'd definitely take the Telluride instead.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

Base price: $31,775

EPA fuel economy estimates: 19 mpg city, 26 highway

Power: 8-liter V-6, 291 hp

Acceleration: 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds

Competitors: Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander

Bottom line: Friendly and affordable

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