DriveLife were originally booked to drive the Palisade in mid 2021, and I was planning a road trip to test out its space and comfort. Much to our disappointment, we went into a national Covid lockdown and the Palisade booking was cancelled.

Fast forward to early 2022 and the Palisade was back in the calendar. I already had a road trip to Taranaki booked, for a family camping trip, and what better vehicle to take camping in a remote paddock than a luxury SUV with a cream interior?

What We Like and Dislike About The 2021 Hyundai Palisade Limited

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Big inside
Ride and handling
Interior features

What’s In The 2021 Hyundai Palisade Range?

There are five models of Palisade available in New Zealand in two trim levels: Elite with 8 seats, and Limited with 7 seats. Then there are two engines: the first is a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel making 147kW of power and 440Nm of torque. The second is a little more old-school: a 3.8-litre petrol V6 making 217kW of power and 355Nm of torque. All models use an 8-speed automatic transmission. The diesel models have HTRAC All-wheel drive whereas the petrol models are front-wheel drive.

3.8 V6 GDi Elite A8 2WD 8 Seater$99,990
2.2R CRDi Elite A8 AWD 8 Seater$106,990
3.8 V6 GDi Limited A8 2WD 7 Seater$107,990
2.2R CRDi Limited A8 AWD 7 Seater$114,990
2.2R CRDi Limited A8 AWD 7 Seater with Nappa Leather$119,990

2021 Hyundai Palisade Standard Equipment Highlights

Elite spec includes

  • Paddle shifters
  • Normal, Eco, Sport & Smart mode
  • Snow, Mud, Sand modes (AWD only)
  • 20” Alloy wheels
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) with auto hold
  • Forward Collision Avoidance assist (FCA)
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
  • Lane Following Assist (LFA)
  • Blind-spot Collision Avoidance assist (BCA)
  • Rear Cross-traffic Collision Avoidance (RCCA)
  • High Beam Assist (HBA)
  • Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with stop & go
  • Driver Attention Alert (DAA)
  • Safety Exit Assist (SEA)
  • Rear Occupant Alert (ROA)
  • ABS braking with Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD)
  • Brake Assist System (BAS)
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)
  • 6 Airbags (Dual Front, Side, Curtain Airbag)
  • Front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters
  • 3-point tether child seat anchor points
  • 3 x ISOFIX child seat anchor points
  • Height adjustable seatbelts (front)
  • Power operated child safety rear door locks
  • Electro Chromatic rear-view Mirror (ECM)
  • Automatic dusk sensing headlights
  • Rain sensing wiper system
  • Front and Rear park assist system
  • Reversing camera
  • Power operated tailgate
  • Heated, electrically adjustable folding side mirrors
  • Bi-LED headlights (low & high beam)
  • LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
  • LED tail lights
  • Solar Privacy glass
  • Laminated acoustic windscreen
  • Leather interior trim
  • Premium cloth pillar & roof lining
  • Driver seat 10-way electric adjustment
  • Passenger seat 8-way electric adjustment
  • Heated 1st & 2nd row seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Wireless smartphone charging
  • Heads-Up Display (HUD)
  • Proximity key with engine start / stop button
  • Keyless entry with anti-theft alarm
  • 10.25″ touch screen multimedia system with satellite navigation, radio, MP3 functionality
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility
  • Infinity 12 speaker including subwoofer premium audio system
  • Tri-zone climate control air-conditioning including 2nd row control centre
  • Bi-directional air conditioning vents for all 3 rows
  • 7.0″ colour TFT driver information display
  • 7 x USB inputs (3 x front, 2 x 2nd row and 2 x 3rd row)
  • 16 x cup and bottle holders
  • 8 seats (3 x 2nd & 3rd row seats)

The Limited spec adds

  • Blind-spot View Monitor system (BVM)
  • Surround View Monitor (SVM)
  • Twin pane sunroof with blinds
  • 7 seats (2 x captain style 2nd row seats & 3 x 3rd row seats)
  • Driver seat 12-way electric adjustment
  • Driver Integrated Memory Seat system (IMS)
  • Ventilated 1st & 2nd row seats
  • LED interior lighting

The Limited Nappa spec adds

  • Nappa leather interior trim 
  • Suede effect headlining & pillar finish

Available colours are

  • Sierra Burgundy
  • Lagoon Silver
  • Moonlight Cloud (dark blue)
  • Rain Forest (metallic green)
  • Steel Graphite
  • White Cream
  • Taiga Brown
  • Timeless Black

For a full list of specs and options available for the Hyundai Palisade jump on over to the Hyundai New Zealand website 

How Does The 2021 Hyundai Palisade Limited Compare To Its Competition?

This is a tricky one. I looked at 7-seat large diesel SUVs but there aren’t that many. The Palisade is a bit on its own, the cheaper cars don’t offer the same level of interior luxury and space, but the premium brands are way above in cost.

Make/ ModelEnginePower/
SeatsFuel L/100kmTowing
Capacity (braked)
Land Rover Discovery D300 R-Dynamic SE3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbo diesel221/65077.835001137$139,900
Audi Q7 45 TDI3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbo diesel170/50077.135001955$133,900
Hyundai Palisade Limited Nappa2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel147/44077.32200311$119,990
Toyota Landcruiser Prado2.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel150/50077.93000553$95,290
Isuzu MU-X3.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel140/45078.335001119$80,990
Ford Everest Titanium2.0-litre 4-cylinder twin-turbo diesel157/50077.031001050$80,490

First Impressions Of The 2021 Hyundai Palisade Limited

It’s… imposing. The Palisade certainly has presence, with the huge silver grille, linking to the narrow headlights at the top and the grey trim at the bottom to make a huge X-shape. Somehow even though the front is almost all grille, it works, and looks, well, kinda handsome. Move to the side and the headlights blend into a horizontal crease all along the shoulder, ending at the rear lights. There are big creases around the arches to make them look even bigger and it makes those 20” wheels look just right.

There’s a subtle black B-pillar blending into the tinted rear windows, then a fat, kicked-forward C-pillar to break up the side profile, leading into the rear window with a black D-pillar to give a floating roof effect. It’s a little bit of Range Rover combined with a little bit of Escalade, and a lot of attitude. From the rear there’s a lot more metal than glass, with the name spaced across the back. The full-sized alloy spare is slung underneath, and there’s a smart twin-exit exhaust at the other side.

Overall, it’s a bold, smart, un-fussy design and it works really well on a car this size.

What’s The Interior Like In The  2021 Hyundai Palisade Limited?

Our review car was the top-of-the-range Nappa Limited, meaning it had the 7-seat configuration arranged in as 2-2-3 seats in each row front to rear. And all clad of course in cream Nappa leather. The Elite has 8 seats in a 2-3-3 configuration, losing the luxurious centre row captain’s chairs. The Nappa spec also has a suede-effect fabric on the pillars, roof and sun visors, and it’s awesome. Soft to touch, and it looks excellent. You might think the cream interior would mark or show wear, but our Palisade still looked like new after 10,000km.

Like the outside, the inside of the Palisade is big. The front seats look fantastic in cream leather with black piping, and a diamond-stitched shoulder section. There’s a generously-sized centre console between them with ample arm-resting space and a big cubby inside. There’s a large box space in front of the armrest with two pop-out cupholders, a Qi wireless phone charger and space for all of your bits and pieces, road lollies, masks etc. There’s also a sliding cover for security. Though the pop-out cupholders are clever and cool they are a little too deep for a standard coffee cup so make sure you buy a large size for the drive.

Above the storage are controls for the heated and cooled seats and heated steering wheel, push-button gear selectors and knob for drive mode and off-road modes. There are also physical buttons and knobs for the climate control, stereo, and various screen menus in the 10.25” central touch screen. The screen is running Hyundai’s familiar UI which is simple to use, and the screen is integrated into the piano-black dash surround rather than being tacked-on.

The screen runs the 360-degree camera system and has excellent resolution. The camera system is great for easy parking or making sure you have this big wagon inside the car park lines.

The driver’s cluster has two large analogue dials for speed and revs, and in between is a 7” colour screen, nicely curved at the edges to meet the dials. This screen is mainly used for trip computer and various other functions, but also integrates the Blind-spot View Monitor system, our 2021 Gadget of the Year runner-up. When you indicate, it displays a backward-facing view from the camera on that side so you can check your blind spot without needing to look over your shoulder. Simple but clever.

There’s a heads-up display which shows speed, current road speed, cruise and satnav information when needed. The current road speed comes from the car’s interior maps database rather than from reading road signs so it can’t always be relied upon 100%.

The steering wheel is Hyundai’s standard leather-clad wheel. It looks good, it feels good, it has all of the buttons you need, in logical places. 

Moving to row two we have two captain’s chairs, looking similar to the fronts but with smaller side bolsters and individual armrests. They are manually adjusted, with various buttons and levers to move them back and forth, fold the backs forward for third row access, or fold them flat for loading. There’s a decent-sized aisle space between them, enough for an adult to climb into the back easily without moving the centre seats at all.

The captain’s chairs are heated and cooled, the first time I’ve seen this in a second row. There’s a third climate zone for the rear with its own controls on the back of the centre console, as well as USB ports in the sides of the front seats. There are generous storage pockets in the back of the front seats, two cup holders in each side door, and pull-up sun blinds. My daughter has never travelled in such luxury! If you have younger kids who like to mess around with buttons when they shouldn’t, you can lock the rear window buttons and activate child locks from a button on the driver’s door. You can also lock out rear climate controls from the main screen.

The third row has three seats, and though you can get three adults in there they need to be good friends as it’s pretty tight. Leg room and angle is better than a lot of third rows, you don’t get that knees-up seating position. The third row gets USB ports, cup holders and adjustable aircon vents in the ceiling.

There’s even some boot space with the third row up, as well as a large pocket under the boot floor in which I managed to fit three folding camping chairs as well as the load cover.

There are two large glass sunroofs in the Palisade Limited, the rear with an electric sun blind, the front one a manual blind.

What’s The 2021 Hyundai Palisade Limited Like To Drive?

Our first week with the Palisade was using it as a daily drive around Wellington, and like the similarly-sized Highlander GXL we’d had the previous week, it was a bit too big for Wellington’s tighter roads and small-ish parking spaces. But something the Palisade had over the Highlander was the 360-degree parking camera system. The top-down view in a car this size is an absolute godsend in tight car parks, or when parallel parking.

When driving around, occasionally the Hyundai will pipe up and warn you of an upcoming speed camera “Speed camera ahead, 600m, speed limit 100 kilometres per hour”. It will also make a “Bing-bong” sound occasionally, presumably at hazard spots or places where speed cameras might be. There’s no further explanation by voice or on any screens. This is a bit of a Hyundai thing.

Our long weekend camping in Taranaki was upon us, and we loaded up the Palisade. And I mean loaded, we did not travel light! The whole car was full almost to the roof apart from three of the seats, with camping gear, air beds, kitchen gear, not the kitchen sink but pretty much everything else!

When we set off I was expecting lots of rattles from the stuff in the back, but the Palisade’s comfortable suspension meant that we hardly noticed a thing. And it is a very comfortable ride. Road noise is very well damped, even on rough chip seal, and engine noise from the 2.2-litre turbodiesel is barely there except when accelerating up a steep hill. This really is a luxury SUV.

Somehow despite the excellent ride comfort, they have engineered in some decent driving dynamics as well. There’s minimal body roll, no bounciness or wallowing, and the handling is really impressive. I thought the Highlander was good for a 2-ton SUV but this is better still. Maybe it’s because it weighs 100 kilos less, or maybe Hyundai’s engineers just have the edge over Toyota. And when you’re moving, the Palisade seems to shrink around you, belying its true size.

The cruise control is also better than Toyota’s, though it can be a bit slow to react, losing speed before shifting down on hills. It also sometimes locks onto the car in front and brakes as they slow down to turn even when you’re already starting to pass them. It’s a behaviour that’s probably deliberate for safety reasons but you find yourself overriding it sometimes. On the Palisade, Hyundai have refined the lane departure warning system and it’s better than on other Hyundais I’ve recently driven. New Zealand roads can be inconsistent with line markings and all modern cars read them incorrectly sometimes and beep at you for crossing old lines, or steer you the wrong way. Well, the Palisade didn’t do that once. The beeping has been replaced with a subtle vibration through the steering wheel which is much better than a beep, and less intrusive. I left the system on the whole time, which I never normally do.

Similarly the rear cross-traffic alert warns you first with a slight vibration before taking action if it thinks it needs to. It did this once when I was reversing out of my drive, and it braked more softly than a lot of these systems do. Just enough to do the job. Often they do a full panic stop and it makes you think you actually hit something.

The Palisade performed brilliantly the whole time I had it, and was a great camping weekend vehicle. I tried out the hill descent control on a rocky track. It wasn’t very steep but the system worked really well.

The only thing that mildly irritated me was a few times when I wanted to move the car at the camp site and it refused to take the parking brake off for something being open, displaying the message “To release the electronic parking brake, close the doors, the hood and the tailgate and fasten seatbelt”. Yes, a great safety feature and the brake could be released using the switch but when you just want to jump in and move the car forward a metre it feels a bit too nannyish.

With almost two weeks of use and a camping trip, we covered almost 2,000km in the Palisade, and achieved a respectable 8.5 litres per 100 km, especially considering the car was fully loaded for most of the camping trip. Hyundai quoted 7.3 litres so we weren’t too far off.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Limited Specifications

Vehicle TypeLarge SUV
Starting Price$119,990
Price as Tested$119.990
Engine2.2 litre 16 valve twin overhead cam with common rail direct injection and variable geometry turbocharger
Power, Torque
Transmission8-Speed Automatic
Spare WheelFull-size alloy
Kerb Weight, Kg1,948
Length x Width x Height
4980 x 1975 x 1750
Cargo Capacity,
(seats up/seats down)
311 – third row down
704 – second row down
Fuel tank capacity,
Fuel Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.3
Real-World Test – Combined – 8.5
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Turning circle
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty10 year / 200,000 km anti perforation corrosion body warranty
3 year / 100,000 km mechanical warranty
3 year / 100,000 km roadside assistance package
Safety informationANCAP Rating – not yet rated – 5 Stars – NJE387

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Rob Clubley
I love everything about cars! Driving, looking at them, modifying. It's great to see what people do with cars, the different car cultures. If I was rich, my garage would be bigger than my house!
2021-hyundai-palisade-limited-car-reviewThe Palisade made a great first impression then continued to build upon it. It’s luxurious, practical, comfortable, big inside with more amenities than you need. It really is excellent all-round. This car is a step-up in luxury and quality for Hyundai, but along with that comes a step-up in price. If you’re comparing to Korean or Japanese brands, just short of $120k for an SUV looks like a lot of money. But if you’re comparing to the luxury brands like VW, Audi or Lexus, it looks like amazing value. I’m just not sure how well the Hyundai badge can pull this off.


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