For years, having a growing family required parents to abandon self-respect and purchase a soul-destroying minivan. The 2022 Hyundai Palisade Elite Diesel shows there is another, more fashionable way.

There comes a time when every fertile Catholic must admit that their mid-size sedan simply isn’t big enough to accommodate their rapidly growing family.

Once upon a time, these people had no choice but to abandon self-respect and purchase a soul-destroying van. While this was a highly rational and undoubtedly practical decision, it inevitably resulted in many family men and women losing their will to live in the process.

Today, manufacturers have realised that practically need not come at the expense of style. Enter the 2022 Hyundai Palisade Elite.

The Palisade is Hyundai’s premium SUV, otherwise (unofficially) known as ‘The Expensive One that can Hold Many Things’. Available in both seven and eight-seat configurations, the Palisade rivals cars like the Mazda CX-9Kia Carnival, and even Hyundai’s own Staria minivan. The Elite model tested here sits in the middle of the three-pronged Palisade lineup and can be spec’d with either a 3.8-litre V6 petrol and front-wheel drive for $61,500, or a 2.2-litre diesel with all-wheel drive for $65,500. Hyundai loaned us a seven-seat Elite in rainforest green with the diesel and, having lived with it for the best part of a week, it might just be the engine of choice. More on that later.

For years the name ‘Hyundai’ brought to mind images of cheap plastic and landfill. Not anymore. When you first sit in the Palisade, it is difficult to not be impressed by the flowing design of the dashboard and large swathes of space. More importantly, the Palisade feels like a quality item. The steering wheel is soft and comfortable to hold; the dashboard buttons and air vents are metallic and cold to touch; and the seats are superb. 

The headrest is particularly comfortable, cradling your head like the lap of a nun – snigger all you want but this is no small point. After a hard day at work, the last thing you want is to be resting your head on is something approximating a chunk of granite wrapped in fabric. Small details matter and Hyundai understands this. The reclining cinema-spec second-row seats are also a lovely place to spend some time, while the third row is best reserved for children and adults of Tom Cruise’s stature. Should you need to strap in a smaller child, the Elite also comes with various ISOFIX points and tether anchors in the second and third rows.

Storage is aplenty. With all seating rows in position, boot space starts at 311 litres. Stow the third row and this grows to 704 litres. Need more space? Fear not – you can lay the second-row seating flat to offer a gargantuan 1297 litres of space. Ample.

While the base Palisade comes with an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen display, the Elite steps things up with a slick 10.25-inch unit. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is standard and allows for seamless wired smartphone mirroring. Satellite navigation is standard on the Elite as well, but offers a little-to-no benefit over Google or Apple Maps.

Then there is the Elite’s 12-speaker Infinity sound system which is phenomenal and easily the best I have experienced in a car valued at under $100,000. Why? Megan Trainor put it best – it’s all about the bass. Listening to “Knife Talk” by Drake almost rendered me unconscious the first time I heard it in the Palisade, such was the immense power of the Infinity system. Yes, if you have sensitive ears (i.e. you’re a sooky la-la) you can turn down the bass boost via the car’s in-built equaliser that offers fine-tuned control over the characteristics of the sound. The Palisade Elite also comes with Hyundai’s ‘Sounds of Nature’ track selection that allows you to listen to calming sounds of rain, waves other soothing soundscapes. It’s a gimmick, yes, but an amusing one at that.

Despite the aforementioned accolades, the longer you spend in the Palisade Elite’s interior the more you notice finicky details that dampen an otherwise brilliant cabin. The lack of a digital instrument binnacle is borderline inexcusable in a car of this price, the door handles feel cheap, and the thick borders of wasted space around the centre screen pained my inner Marie Kondo. Regardless, it is a cracking place to spend some time.

There is no getting away from the size of the Palisade – it is a cruise liner with wheels, though it plays the role of a land yacht surprisingly well. While the Palisade misses out on an Australian-specific suspension tune unlike other vehicles in the Hyundai line-up, the suspension soaks up all but the worst conditions Melbourne’s roads could throw at it.

Furthermore, while the steering isn’t dripping with feedback, it is pleasantly light and allows for easy manoeuvring. All feedback from the road is communicated through the floor and the driver’s seat. This can initially leave the Palisade feeling a little aloof and may reduce driver confidence, however, I quickly grew accustomed to it. Had I been in charge of Hyundai’s engineering division, I would have asked for more feedback through the wheel and less through the seat of my pants.

Up until driving the Palisade, I considered diesel engines necessary evils. I wrote them off as engines designed exclusively for industrial machinery and serious off-road vehicles – or at least I did before the Palisade showed me the light. Torque-rich (440Nm from 1750-2750rpm) and smooth, the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel paired well with the eight-speed torque converter auto and allowed the Palisade to waft along with aplomb. As a long-distance cruiser, it was brilliant, and not once in my general day-to-day use did it feel stressed or out of its depth. Even when I called upon every one of its 147kW to propel me forward, the four-pot seemed willing and eager to oblige – albeit with a drizzle of turbo lag. Fuel consumption was also fairly impressive having managed 9.3L/100km over 430km, which included many stop-start trips and a few spirited drives – Hyundai itself claims 7.3L/100km on the official combined cycle.

Yes, the Palisade has a Sport mode (one of seven drive modes in total) which sharpens the throttle response and allows the Palisade to hold on to gears for longer – however, the Palisade is emphatically not a performance car. This becomes particularly apparent when braking into tight corners from speed. The Palisade Elite weighs about the same as one of Saturn’s moons (kerb weight: 1990kg) and most of its bulbous mass is distributed over the front tyres. As such, the Palisade tends to push wide at the extremes and leans heavily on its front axle when braking into tight hairpins – though considering the Palisade is designed primarily for the school run and not the Nürburgring, this is hardly a dealbreaker.

Downsides? The gearbox is unhurried (only a weakness when pushing hard) and the so-called ‘Manual Shift Mode’ is not what it seems – venture too close to the redline when using the paddle-shifters and the Palisade it will change up automatically. It also refuses to change down on occasion – something which irked me initially, but then realised it to be something of an insurance life-saver when I tried changing down when approaching a right-hand corner unaware that I was already in second gear. Could have been an expensive mistake.

If you do bollocks-up a corner, the Palisade Elite has been designed to keep you and your precious cargo safe. There are six airbags, including side-curtain airbag protection for all three rows, as well as a range-standard suite of accident preventative technologies. These include multi-function Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Driver Attention Warning and Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance-Assist systems. There are also Lane Following Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist systems, and Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go. Note, though, that at the time of publishing, the Palisade was yet to be ANCAP crash-tested.

Hyundai has ensured the Palisade is not simply an on-road show-pony. Our car came equipped with ‘H-TRAC’ all-wheel drive and the Multi-Terrain Control system that help the Palisade tackle most of the challenges life can throw at it. Additionally, the Palisade comes complete with a full-size spare wheel and a 2200kg tow rating.

Prior to having lived with the 2022 Hyundai Palisade Elite, I knew it would be a good SUV. Though I did not expect to enjoy driving it as much as I did. I adored its assured road-holding prowess and the feeling of superiority it imbued within me as I towered over the peasants of the world in smaller machinery.

It wasn’t perfect, mind you. Most notably, the lack of a fully digital instrument cluster is a sore point and my tester had a small panel gap situated near the rear bumper. Nevertheless, small grievances aside, the Palisade Elite is a superb piece of kit. Take into consideration that Hyundai offers the Palisade with a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty and lifetime capped-price servicing and you have an enticing ownership proposition that punches above its circa $70k price tag.

A well-rounded machine, the Palisade Elite was a genuine joy to live with. In fact, I rather miss it. I have never wanted to convert to Catholicism more in my life.

2022 Hyundai Palisade Elite 2.2D (7 Seat) List Price: $65,500 | As Tested: $66,195
  • 7.5/10
    Performance - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Ride & Handling - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Tech & Features - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Practicality - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Value for Money - 7.5/10

Pros: Luxurious interior, cushioning ride, torquey diesel engine, not a van
Cons: No digital instrument cluster, panel gap on test car, a few cheap interior touchpoints

In a nutshell: The 2022 Hyundai Palisade Elite is the car for the parent who isn’t willing to give up their dignity to buy a van. It has a brilliant interior, rides supremely well, and you don’t have to wear a paper bag over your head when driving it. I want one.

Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Hyundai Motor Company Australia for five days with a full tank of fuel. Toll costs were covered by Hyundai Motor Company Australia.

Noah Charalambous
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