Hyundai Canada entrusted Auto123 with a 2023 Palisade Ultimate Calligraphy so that we could inspect it from every angle and report back to you. This is the fifth chapter our long-term review.
This time, we take a look at the all-wheel drive system and its capabilities of Hyundai's biggest SUV.
Does the Hyundai Palisade offer AWD?
Yes. In fact, all three models (Preferred, Urban and Ultimate Calligraphy) sold in Canada include four-wheel drive as standard. In the United States, on the other hand, our neighbors can buy a Palisade with traction is provided solely by the front wheels.
Which makes sense when you consider that four-wheel drive is certainly less of a necessity in many southern states. No so here! You could be in Halifax, in Charlevoix or in the foothills of the Rockies, there are times during the year when an all-wheel drive system is more than welcome, it’s almost a necessity.
How does AWD work on the Palisade?
This system, which Hyundai calls HTRAC (the H of Hyundai coupled with the first letters of the word Traction), is always active. You don't have to worry about activating it. Its mission, like many tried-and-tested systems of its kind, is to vary the distribution of engine power according to the grip of each wheel.
This can be modulated by selecting one of the three drive modes, accessible via by the thumbwheel on the lower central console.
In Comfort mode, the system transfers up to 30 percent of torque to the rear wheels. In Sport, this can rise to 50 percent to support rapid acceleration (and lo and behold, the sides of my driver's seat automatically tighten on me, readying me for action!). In Eco mode, to improve fuel economy, the opposite is true, with the front wheels getting most of the available power.
Finally, when you select Smart mode, you're letting the Palisade know that you're relying on it to decide on the ideal torque distribution according to road conditions, but also according to the kind of driving the main driver seems to enjoy.
Is the Hyundai Palisade's HTRAC system at ease on any surface?
Thanks to an algorithm buried deep within the vehicle's cold technological innards that oversees a program called Terrain, the same thumbwheel allows you to specify to HTRAC the kind of ground the Palisade is embarking on: sand, mud or snow.
Essentially, this automatically modulate the V6's power and the operation of the transmission and brakes to adapt traction to the type of surface encountered.
In snow, for example, the gas pedal won't be as sensitive as usual, and the transmission will work at a higher ratio, all to prevent the vehicle sinking into the white stuff.
Can the Hyundai Palisade tow?
Yes, but for this you don’t use the central knob, but rather the Tow switch to the left of the steering wheel on the dashboard. From now on, gear shifting will be modified according to the load to be towed.
With trailer brakes (i.e. when the trailer is equipped with its own braking system), the Palisade can tow up to 2,268 kg (or 5,000 lb). Without the appropriate equipment, it’s limited to 750 kg (1653 lb). And when towing mode is activated, the Drive and Terrain programs take over.
If you don't have anything to tow, it's useful to know that the Palisade can carry 730 kg (1605 lb) on its own without buckling. This includes the weight of the occupants (up to seven, recall), a full tank of fuel, luggage, etc. This is actually the vehicle's payload capacity, a statistic provided by the manufacturer that also takes into account the weight of the vehicle itself.
To reduce the impact of these loads on the vehicle's overall handling, Hyundai had the good idea of equipping the rear suspension with self-levelling shock absorbers. Once the Palisade has rolled a few hundred feet with its load, the shock absorbers will adjust to ensure that the vehicle is perfectly level with the ground. Because who wants a sagging back end, amiright?
Does the Palisade really encourage off-roading?
No point kidding ourselves. I'm willing to bet that those who go for the Ultimate Calligraphy model with its nice white interior, don't really dream of expeditions through thick mud. But if they wanted to, they could.
The all-wheel-drive system allows the Palisade to take on much more than a gravel path to the cottage. For example, it's also equipped with Hill Descent Control.
We've been familiar with this gizmo ever since Land Rover popularized it. It ensures that the driver can descend a steep incline without having to touch the brake pedal. The system takes care of the braking while all you do is guide the steering wheel. And learn to trust.
That said, since the start of this long-term test, I've come across several other Palisades on the road. I've yet to see one that was dirty. Not one that bore the marks of a forest expedition. Which tells me that, despite the SUV’s obvious off-road capabilities, the vehicle and its owner get along mostly by pampering each other.