The Kia is boxy and bold, looking trail-ready, even though it’s not an off-roader (nor will it ever see much off-roading beyond a grass parking area at the soccer complex). Hyundai’s counterpart, however, softens the edges as bit, rounding things off. And while both have interiors that belie their pricing, Hyundai’s is more modern minimalist than what’s on offer in the Kia.
Both feature a 3.8-liter V6 that makes 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Both have an eight-speed automatic transmission, and both are available with all-wheel drive. Both can seat seven or eight, both can tow up to 5,000 pounds, and both are similarly equipped and price. They’re even just about the same size.
The biggest difference, aside from exterior and interior design, is the on-pavement handling experience. Power feels about the same, and the transmission holds on to gears like a kid clutching his or her favorite toy. Both vehicles have similarly smooth rides, but the Hyundai is a tad silkier.
The Hyundai’s steering is a bit less artificial in feel, and the Palisade is a bit more engaging, relative to the type of vehicle it is, when challenged by a curving off-ramp. Differing spring and damper rates account for this.
Like the Telluride, the Palisade charmed me. It’s just a well-done family crossover in all respects. Relatively engaging to drive, comfortable, and well-equipped for the price.
If you told me 10 years ago that Kia and Hyundai would be the brands building arguably the two best three-row crossovers on the market, I’d look at you like you’d just told me life in 2020 would be halted by a pandemic. Hell, if you told me that two years ago, I’d look at you as if you’d just told me a president of the United States said drinking bleach was a way to cure a virus.
The timing is interesting, too. Both these vehicles launched in 2019, and so did the newest generation of Ford’s Explorer. I found the Explorer to be overpriced on my first drive, and I recently had a Highlander through the house (not literally). While I found it to be quite nice, its on-road behavior wasn’t quite as pleasing as what the Kia, and especially the Hyundai, offer.
One of my major complaints – a complaint many a car reviewer shares – about this business is that too many times, automakers send us top-trim vehicles for evaluation. Fully loaded models instead of the trims that sell in the best volume.
That wasn’t the case with the Palisade Hyundai shipped me. This one was a mid-trim SEL, including standard features such as forward-collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, driver-attention warning, rear-occupant alert, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, safe-exit assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, 18-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights, high-beam assist, a trailering package, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, captain’s chairs, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, heated front seats, multiple USB ports, adaptive cruise control, and lane-following assist.
A $2,200 Convenience Package replaced the 18-inch wheels with 20s, and added auto-leveling rear suspension, LED taillights, front park distance warning, power liftgate, wireless phone charger, ultrasonic rear occupant alert, third-row USB, rear window sunshades, and 7-inch digital gauge-cluster screen.
For $2,400 more, you get the Premium Package, which includes leather seats, heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, and power fold/recline third-row seats. A second-row bench replaced captain’s chairs at no cost, and $900 paid for a sunroof.
A $1,250 Drive Guidance option added factory nav, highway-drive assist, satellite radio, in-car intercom, BlueLink connected technology, and a BlueLink-based remote start. Carpeted floor mats added $160.
With the $1,045 destination fee, the $35,200 base price went to $43,155. Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway/21 mpg combined.
Hyundai and Kia have come up with strong entrants in a crowded, competitive class. The Telluride will appeal to those who want to project a tough, masculine image, while the Palisade appears to be the more urbane of the two.
Which one you pick will be up to your style sensibilities, but either one will do the trick.