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The 2020 Hyundai Palisade comes in front- and all-wheel-drive configurations, with AWD models offering six distinct driving modes, including AWD lock. (Hyundai)

2020 Hyundai Palisade: New chassis, Atkinson V6

The three-row 2020 Hyundai Palisade’s strong, stable and quiet body structure serves as the starting point for ride quality, roll control and a quiet cabin. “We put a lot of resources toward this vehicle knowing it was going to be Hyundai’s flagship SUV,” Michael O’Brien, vice president of product, corporate and digital planning for Hyundai Motor America, said at a recent media ride-and-drive program. 

With more headroom and legroom, larger exterior dimensions and more cargo volume than the three-row, 7-passenger Santa Fe XL it replaces, the 8-passenger Palisade is a newcomer to the segment that includes the all-new, 6th-generation Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder and Volkswagen Atlas.

Stiff body a priority
With a vehicle structure comprised of 59% advanced high strength steels (AHSS), the Palisade outpaces the former Santa Fe XL (42%) and the Ford Explorer (25%) in using AHSS. “Palisade also has 18 suspension components made of AHSS, and those parts are hot-stamped for even further rigidity and strength,” O’Brien said. To help achieve its torsional body stiffness increase of 34.4%, the Palisade uses lateral hoop-type structure reinforcements around the cowl section, the B- and C-pillar sections and the tailgate section, as well as longitudinally in the front-door section. “These reinforcing hoop-type sections contribute to a strong, quiet, and stable body structure,” said O’Brien.

Ride quality also gets an improvement via a reinforced sunroof structure. “Vehicles with sunroofs tend to not be as stiff as vehicles with a solid roof,” O’Brien said. The previous Santa Fe XL had a 6.2% torsional stiffness drop-off in the sunroof body-in-white versus the solid-roof body-in-white. “We wanted to close that torsional stiffness gap,” O’Brien said, noting the Palisade only has a 1.5% torsional-stiffness decline for the sunroof body-in-white.

Quiet cabin
Noise-reduction techniques were another focal point for the Palisade’s body-in-white. “Our vehicle body engineers worked simultaneously with our NVH engineers to develop an optimized floor stamping pattern to help reduce the noise that enters the cabin,” O’Brien said.

Palisade has foam-filled pillars, anti-vibration floor pads and dash, tunnel, floor and other sound insulators—as well as an acoustic windshield and side glass, according to Chahe Apelian, vehicle test and development director for HATCI (Hyundai America Technical Center Inc). “You can’t eliminate noise paths, but you can isolate noise and vibration to make it very transparent,” said Apelian.

Smart AWD
Palisade’s available HTRAC all-wheel drive (AWD) system provides an electronic, variable torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. “Part of our AWD tuning is about giving better driver confidence and better control in normal conditions as well as outstanding capability in rough weather or rough road conditions,” said O’Brien.

Unlike AWD systems that react when the tires start slipping or when yaw occurs, the HTRAC is a predictive system that uses 50 vehicle inputs from the driver, the engine, the transmission, the electronic stability program (ESP) and the environment to calculate the torque split 100 times per second. In a Hyundai AWD application first, the system also links to six drive modes (eco, comfort, sport, smart, snow, AWD lock). The snow mode, new for any Hyundai vehicle, launches with the transmission in second gear with a front-to-rear torque distribution of 80:20 or 50:50, depending on vehicle inputs.

Powertrain punch
A gasoline direct injection (GDI) 3.8-L V6 produces 291 hp at 6000 rpm and 262 lb-ft (355 Nm) at 5200 rpm. The Palisade has Hyundai’s first V6 with Atkinson-cycle operation, according to Jerome Gregeois, senior manager for eco and performance powertrain at HATCI. “If you want power, the engine is in Otto-cycle. If you’re driving in a mild way, then the engine is in Atkinson-cycle,” said Gregeois.

The Lambda-series engine mates to an in-house developed 8-speed automatic transmission, and that powertrain combination provides the front-wheel drive (FWD) Palisade with 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/22 combined mpg; for AWD models, it’s 19 city/24 highway/21 combined. “We’re always trying to find the best way to deliver fuel economy, so that’s the core reason for the Atkinson-cycle on the V6,” Gregeois said.  

DNA sharing
Palisade shares its engineering fundamentals with its sibling, the 2020 Kia Telluride. The two SUVs differ via exterior sheetmetal as well as tunings and calibrations, wheels and tires. Palisade is assembled in Ulsan, South Korea, while the Telluride is assembled at Kia Motor Manufacturing Georgia in West Point, Georgia. Both SUVS are dealership available in summer 2019. The base Hyundai Palisade SE model has a MSRP of $31,550 with the top-of-the-line Limited model having an MSRP of $44,700.   

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