Why Hyundai’s next big SUV will be a hit with South Africans


Hyundai's next SUV could provide all the luxuries without the hardcore, unused 4x4 bits.

The Palisade could rival BMW's X7.

All-wheel drive turbodiesel option could be a perfect choice combination for SA.

Hyundai has a strange history of large SUVs in the South African market. Many years ago, its Terracan was considered to be a budget Land Cruiser alternative by seasoned off-roaders.

Despite its strange exterior design, the Terracan built a strong reputation and dedicated following among South African off-road enthusiasts. 

Since the Terracan's departure, Hyundai has never featured a truly massive SUV, with proper three-row seating and luggage space. This is all set to change as the Korean company increases the production of its impressive new Palisade SUV, in right-hand drive. 

Unlike the Kia Telluride, with which it shares a common platform, the Palisade is being configured for right-hand drive markets. That means it becomes a product candidate for Hyundai's South African vehicle portfolio.

Hyundai Palisade (Hyundai Media)

2020 Hyundai Palisade (Hyundai Media)

Like a 200 in size

The Palisade is a big vehicle, measuring only 10mm shorter than Toyota's Land Cruiser 200 and 5mm narrower. It is far larger in size than any of Hyundai's other passenger vehicles, with the exception of the brand's H1 van range. 

If Hyundai is going to confidently market a vehicle approaching R1m in the price range for the South African market, the Palisade is an excellent candidate, offering what could be considered fair value to its rivals. 

The right-hand drive Palisade is available with two engine options. There is a 3.8-litre naturally-aspirated V6 engine, good for 213kW and 355Nm. Perhaps better suited to its purpose as a family gravel touring vehicle, is the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, boosting 147kW and 440Nm. 

Although both engine options are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, Hyundai is only offering all-wheel drive with the turbo-diesel engine, which would be the choice combination for South African customers.

hyundai palisade

2020 Hyundai Palisade (Hyundai Media)

The idea of a really big soft-roader 

Whereas the Terracan had a ladder-frame chassis and low-range transfer case, Hyundai's Palisade is less of a rock crawler and more of an all-terrain touring vehicle. In the South African context, it would also have very few rivals in terms of size and configuration.

Seven- and eight-seater SUVs of nearly five metres in length, without low-range, are quite rare in the local market. BMW's X7 would theoretically be a rival, although the price differential would be substantial. 

Hyundai's product researchers have learnt that most luxury SUVs with considerable off-road ability, never engage their low-range transfer cases or differential locks. These 4x4 components add mechanical drag, weight and complexity, without any ever being used. 

With the Palisade, customers get all the space and gravel driving ability of a luxury SUV, without the added intricacy of a hardcore 4x4 drivetrain, that they will never use. All things considered, the Palisade is a very cleverly conceived vehicle concept from Hyundai. 

The Terracan was an unexpected hero for Hyundai South Africa in the 2000s. Palisade could prove much the same if the brand manages to launch it successfully into the local market in 2021. 

Hyundai Terracan

Hyundai Terracan (Hyundai Media)

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