Stephanie Wallcraft: We apperceive what you’re thinking. And on the surface, you’re right: it doesn’t assume fair to pit a three-row SUV from the added affordable end of the affluence articulation up adjoin article from a boilerplate brand, and a cast that prides itself on value, its big people-mover priced to be attainable to a added thrifty audience.
In the beginning, this wasn’t the plan. We’d hoped to put Driving’s abiding Hyundai Palisade up adjoin one of the abiding bestsellers in the segment, the new Ford Explorer , which is beginning off a redesign and loaded with avant-garde features. However, there was an adventure alfresco of Ford’s ascendancy and they had to cull the Explorer at the aftermost minute. We’ll accept to reschedule that accurate throwdown; with the Explorer’s contempo redesign, it promises to be a actual absorbing one.
But in the meantime, we had a top-of-the-line 2020 Hyundai Palisade Ultimate on our easily – with 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm from a artlessly aspirated 3.8-litre V6 to go with its Nappa covering seats, microfibre suede headliner, and a accomplished lot of added exceptional appearance — and annihilation to pit it against. That is, until Jonathan came beyond an alternating option.
Jonathan Yarkony: Anytime aback I aboriginal slipped into the Palisade’s quilted, perforated Nappa covering seats, I’ve acquainted that this accurate Hyundai punched aloft its chic in agreement of luxury. And aback one of our Youtube admirers asked us whether the Hyundai Palisade was as quiet as an Acura MDX or Mercedes GLE, it anchored the abstraction in my apperception that car shoppers will cantankerous boutique this Hyundai with acceptable affluence brands. And if anytime there was a absolute affluence crossover for us to compare, and for Hyundai to benchmark, it is the Acura MDX, which endemic the three-row affluence SUV bazaar for over a decade based on its value, acumen and quality. Was it anytime as adequate as the options from BMW, Audi and Mercedes? Not in my eyes, but it was consistently good, it drives well, it’s a arrangement and all-around a accursed accomplished crossover.
With the admission of crossovers in every admeasurement and segment, the Acura is aggress on all abandon and its ascendancy is starting to slide, and the Palisade seems to be to the MDX what the MDX acclimated to be to the German seven-seaters. Abundant value, abundant practicality, and a cast that has started earning assurance in agreement of believability and quality.
And already I looked at the numbers, there was no agnosticism in my apperception that Hyundai looked continued and adamantine at the MDX. Both use a acceptable V6 commutual with an automated transmission, ability and torque are aural audible digits of anniversary other, ammunition burning is abutting abundant that it is statistically negligible, and key ambit like breadth and amplitude are around identical. It’s about awesome how abutting they are in assertive respects aback beheld on paper.
SW: Paper never tells the accomplished story, though, and there are a few things that accomplish these acutely altered in all-embracing feel. While both cars bear ability able-bodied at lower revs acknowledgment to their transmissions — an 8-speed auto in the Palisade, and a 9-speed in the MDX — the Acura is 77 kilograms lighter (close to 200 pounds), which equates to added a active and active administration appearance that’s helped by a almost annealed abeyance setup. The Palisade is all-around added airy in allegory with added accord in the auto-levelling abeyance and beneath absolute council (which you mentioned you don’t apperception while we activated these, Jonathan, but I begin it grated on me).
But what’s alike added audible is how altered these cabins feel to absorb time in. You’d anticipate the MDX ability cull advanced actuality accustomed its bulk premium, but the Palisade Ultimate’s ample windows and sunroof, exceptional materials, and ample and adequate seats (right bottomward to the second-row captain’s chairs, which are both acrimonious and ventilated!!) accomplish its autogenous assume absolute abundant abutting to the MDX’s aphotic and, frankly, dated-looking finishes.
And to acknowledgment that YouTube commenter’s catechism about the calmness of the interiors: We both agreed that no, the Palisade doesn’t absolutely hit the levels of ataraxia that the MDX does. The bulk exceptional for affluence pulls its weight here.
JY: Added than the advancing agent beef and wind noise, the Palisade absolutely captures the added adequate experience, but I anticipation the MDX delivered on the adventurous affair it was activity for. This was, afterwards all, the A-Spec trim, and I alone admired the atramentous alcantara seats with allegory red leather, and Acura puts the V6’s bark to acceptable effect, aural agog rather than artificial as the revs climb. And like you said, the ablaze weight and active administration fabricated it feel a akin sportier than the Palisade, after actuality backbreaking or impractical. In fact, acumen has consistently been what fabricated the MDX angle out from the affluence midsize SUV army it lives in, accepting an added row of basement that the Mercedes GLE, Lexus RX, and BMW X5 did not accept at all or did not accord the absorption it deserved.
However, in this matchup, the Palisade gets the bend for a added accessible third row (even admitting it has alone one atom to ballast a abounding adolescent seat). Both additional rows are ample and ample abundant alike for adults, but the Palisade afresh offers added allowance and legroom, and that amplitude is abstract by the accompanying captain’s chairs instead of coffer seating. If best basement accommodation is not a concern, the MDX additionally offers second-row captain’s chairs to accord beneath cartage greater comfort, and although acrimonious in Tech Additional trims and aloft they do not action cooled additional row seats in any trim like the Palisade. However, I adulation that the MDX disciplinarian seats slides aback and the council caster moves advanced aback you about-face it off, authoritative it easier to get in and out.
In agreement of burden practicality, the Palisade does accept an bend with a bit added amplitude in the block abaft the third row (509 litres to 447), and abaft the 2nd row with the aback coffer bankrupt (1,297 L vs 1,230 L), but it takes an aeon for— that ability coffer to bundle or return at atomic you can airing abroad and get a cup of coffee while it is accomplishing it and you don’t accept to authority on to the button the absolute time as you do in some models. But still, actuality as abrupt as I am, I’d booty the artlessness and acceleration of the Acura’s quick absolution and easy-to-raise third row, and the MDX does accept a chic little hidden accommodation beneath the block floor. For best burden capacity, the MDX somehow leaps advanced with 2,575 L compared to the Palisade’s 2,447. If you charge added than either of those, get a minivan.
SW: The Palisade pulls added into the advance aback you attending at technology. The MDX is activity into its seventh year in this generation, and its age shows in the blueprint of the infotainment system. The dual-screen bureaucracy does put a lot of advice in advanced of the disciplinarian at once, but it can be ambagious to assignment out area to attending for what and what knob, awning or button to columnist for the quickest admission to the appropriate advice or function. Plus, the resolution on the screens is almost low, and the touchscreen isn’t abnormally responsive.
The Palisade, by contrast, carries Hyundai’s newest adaptation of its infotainment system, which is quick and accessible to use, additional the 10.25-inch awning that’s included on the top two trims gives accurately brittle angle from the all-around-view parking camera.
Both cars appear with a appropriate cardinal of assurance technologies as accepted equipment, but the Palisade has some added family-oriented appearance that aren’t accessible on the MDX. Rear addressee active is a big one: you achievement you’ll never be that ancestor who forgets your kid in the aback seat, but the Palisade helps by reminding you to attending if you opened the rear doors aback you started your trip. There’s additionally Hyundai’s safe avenue assist, which prevents the adolescent assurance locks on the rear doors from actuality deactivated (and appropriately the doors actuality opened) if cartage is abutting from behind. The new blind-spot adviser uses exoteric cameras to accord you a appearance of your dark spots in the agenda barometer array aback you actuate your about-face signals. (I adopt to use the ancillary mirrors over these sorts of features, and so my favourite allotment about this one is that it’s inobtrusive. But those who do tend not to glance in their mirrors ability acknowledge it added deeply.)
Still, these two cars are acutely advised for altered audiences, and there will be buyers who are appropriate for anniversary of them. But for my money — and there’s almost $7,000 on the table actuality with the Palisade Ultimate priced at $55,904 with bales and PDI and the MDX A-Spec advancing in at $63,065 — I’d be advancing out of this antagonism with a Hyundai Palisade. It provides a arresting bulk of bulk for its price.
JY: I can’t altercate with you there. Dollar for dollar, the Palisade aloof puts added on the table, and the bulk is absolutely beauteous for the agreeable you get and the ample acumen and active experience. The MDX still has its charms and offers audibly altered trims for altered tastes, additional a amalgam adaptation in the lineup, but the affluence and crossover articulation delay for no brand, so Acura needs to accompany the MDX up to acceleration in a bustle to break relevant.
The Palisade, on the added hand, is so alluringly packaged and priced, it seems like it was attempt out of a cannon, accumulation a akin of absorption (I accept absent calculation of how abounding times bodies in the artery accept asked me, “Hey, is that the new Hyundai?” and capital to apperceive added about it. While it is not after flaws, namely in the clarification of the active experience, it is practical, adequate and affordable for families and anyone that wants a bit added affluence and amplitude in their agent after breaking the bank.