From a tailgate with an express setting to vents designed specifically so you won’t feel the wind in your hair, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade SUV offers some of the oddest new features I’ve experienced this year.
Arriving in dealerships now, the Palisade is a big seven- or eight-seat SUV, that’s the Hyundai brand’s flagship. Prices run from $31,550 to $46,400, heady territory for Hyundai. The Korean automaker expects to win some well-heeled buyers from vehicles like the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. It pulled out all the stops to make the big SUV special, including three features I’ve never seen before:
- Express tailgate
- No-draft air vents
- Dual rear-facing cameras to view bike lanes and approaching vehicles.
None of them changed my world, but they give Hyundai’s big SUV some unique bragging points.
Here’s how they work and why Hyundai thinks customers will want them.
A fearless tailgate
You wouldn’t think people could be divided over how a power tailgate works, but research convinced Hyundai there are two types of customers. One group, generally older, is nervous about technology, specifically getting conked in the head by a power tailgate run amok. They want the tailgate to open and close slowly, so they have time to react.
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Others, mostly younger, get impatient. In what may be the first-world problem of the year, they can’t figure out why it takes so long for the tailgate to open and close.
Hyundai’s answer: two settings. For the cautious, the slow setting opens or closes in 6 seconds. In a hurry? The express setting trims that to 4.5 seconds. Needless to say, the tailgate has pinch-protection safeguards so nobody gets bashed if their attention wanders.
Like many SUVs, the Palisade has vents in the ceiling to heat or cool passengers in its second and third rows of seats.
The round vents have the usual louvered shutters that you can use to open, close or direct airflow, but a second setting unique to Hyundai uses “diffusion holes” around the vent’s rim to provide a subtler airflow that cools or heats but is quieter and doesn’t blow air directly in your face. I found them effective on a recent hot, sunny day.
The Palisade also has ventilated second-row seats to keep passengers comfortable on long drives. Ventilated front seats are increasingly common, but I’m not aware of any other SUVs that offer the feature in their second row of seats.
Twin rear cameras
In addition to sensors to tell the driver when a vehicle approaching from behind is in their right or left blind spot, the Palisade has dual cameras to provide an image of what’s behind to the left or right when you use the turn signals. The view is projected on the instrument panel immediately in front of the driver, replacing a gauge on the left or right, depending on which turn signal is on. Hyundai calls it the blind view monitor.
It’s not a true blind-spot alert, because it’s passive, not doing anything unless a turn signal is activated. However, it provides a clear, potentially useful image, including of bike lanes in which oncomers can approach quickly while the Palisade is stopped at a traffic light and possibly about to turn across the bike lane.
Because images in the instrument cluster are nearly in the driver’s line of sight, Hyundai’s blind view monitor is less distracting and easier to focus on than a similar system Honda offers on the passenger side of some vehicles.
You can disable the feature if you find it distracting, as I suspect I would.
The Palisade has a number of other interesting features, including the ability to simultaneously connect to two Bluetooth devices, one for music, the other for phone calls. Its all-wheel drive system senses temperature, windshield wiper use, and other factors to adjust traction before the wheels begin to spin. Hyundai builds the Palisade in Ulsan, Korea.
Contact Mark Phelan at 313-222-6731 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Read more on autos and sign up for our autos newsletter.