2020 Hyundai Palisade long-term update: Road trip joy and a painful crack
A long-distance road trip to the Outer Banks proves this SUV's mettle, but a dealer service experience frustrates.
Chris PaukertFormer executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015.
Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
As is true with most relationships, it's often easier to criticize than to praise when it comes to new vehicle reviews. Especially when it comes to evaluating practical everyday models, it's the rough edges that stand out the most -- the stuff that works well tends to be more easily forgotten, if only because those attributes tend to fade into the background. That in mind, despite seeing thousands of miles through the windshield of our long-term 2020 Hyundai Palisade Limited, only a few things have really stuck out in recent months of driving. That's not a bad thing; this three-row SUV is so darn good overall.
An August drive to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a socially distanced family beach-house vacation reinforced what we've already come to know about Hyundai's largest crossover -- it's a masterful long-distance cruiser, with enviable seat comfort, capacious cargo space, helpful tech and really solid fuel economy. The route to the OBX from suburban Detroit isn't a particularly interesting one, especially if you stick to the interstates for most of it. That said, our Palisade is a long-distance champ and an overnight stop in suburban Washington, DC, at my sister's home proved to be an opportune moment for Roadshow's long-term Palisade to meet its near doppelgänger. (After having a good experience with a Kona for her kids, my sister replaced her current-generation Acura MDX with her own Big Hyun and hasn't looked back.)
Despite loading up our long-term Palisade to the sills with beach and kitchen gear (we wanted to minimize grocery runs and didn't enter a single restaurant) and despite setting the Palisade's well-behaved, lane-centering adaptive cruise control at a speed rather north of the posted limit, I had no trouble averaging 23.4 miles per gallon for over 1,900 miles. Those figures include a brief standstill freeway tailback, plus some idling and stop-and-go traffic in DC and North Carolina, much of it in hot (80-plus degree) temperatures. The Palisade's official fuel-economy rating calls for 24 mpg highway on all-wheel-drive models and I have absolutely zero trouble believing it's possible to improve upon this vehicle's EPA estimates easily.
Two problems cropped up during my road trip -- only one of which could reasonably be blamed on Hyundai. The first is that I had upwards of a dozen instances where the infotainment system failed to properly recognize when I plugged in my Apple iPhone to the center-console USB-A outlet. While my and my passenger's phones would consistently charge (we tried two, an iPhone 11 Pro and an 11 Pro Max using an official Apple cord), the system didn't always allow for the playing of music, let alone activating Apple CarPlay to use apps like Waze. There hasn't seemed to be a rhyme or reason to this issue, but turning the vehicle all the way off usually solves this annoyance. During this time period, our Palisade visited our local dealer (Suburban Hyundai of Troy, MI) to deal with another issue and an oil change ($61.59), and all of the SUV's software was confirmed as up-to-date, yet this problem has persisted on an intermittent basis.
The second problem? Yes, it has something to do with that dealer visit. Less than 30 miles from home, after dozens of hours on the road venturing to North Carolina and back, our Palisade took a rock to the windshield. A substantial crack formed immediately, spreading to the approximate size and shape of a candy cane within a few miles, before spreading further over time. Mercifully, the crack was right at the bottom center of the windshield, so it didn't impair visibility and it wasn't a safety issue, but there was no way the glass could be repaired -- it would have to be replaced.
Unfortunately, replacing the windshield would prove to be a rather drawn-out and frustrating process. With the Palisade still being a relatively new model at time, it's unsurprising to learn that our local dealer didn't have a spare windscreen in stock. Given the model's red-hot sales and COVID-19's impact on the auto industry's supply chain and vehicle production, it's also not surprising that Palisade windshields have been in short supply. Even so, we didn't anticipate an estimated delivery time of over a month to source some replacement glass, nor the other dealer-level frustrations that would accompany it.
Due in part to the cost associated with calibrating the windshield-mounted camera for the adaptive cruise control and other ADAS features, the estimated cost to replace our windshield from Suburban was a breathtaking $2,466.55 -- nearly the same as our corporate insurance deductible. That price included $1,477.59 for the glass itself, plus $36.81 for molding and a whopping $783 in labor for recalibrating the windshield camera (five hours at $156.60/hour). Add in a $169.25 sublet fee for the actual windshield installation (the dealer contracts out to a local glass-replacement specialist), $34.97 for "shop supplies," plus taxes and the estimate ends up at just shy of $2,500. Our Palisade Limited may look and feel like a luxury SUV, but we didn't expect for the windshield to be priced like a premium brand, nor did we expect to have as long of a wait. Weirdly, Suburban offered to expedite a replacement windshield for an additional cost, which didn't make us feel any more confident about the process.
TL;DR? Suburban didn't get our business for the replacement windshield.
Instead, we went with a third-party outfit, our local Safelite AutoGlass, which had a replacement Palisade windshield in stock. They installed the new glass in our driveway for a grand total of $761.87. Of course, that cost didn't include the calibration cost for the windshield camera, which Safelite was understandably unable to perform. For that service, we went to Elder Hyundai in Macomb, MI, and they charged us $299.95 -- less than half what Suburban estimated for this labor process. That means that all-in, a replacement windshield cost $1,061.82 -- certainly not cheap, but also not unreasonable in this ADAS-equipped day and age.
The takeaway? Do yourself a favor: No matter what car you drive, shop around for the best price if you need a replacement windshield. Hyundai dealerships are independent franchises, so parts and labor pricing can vary substantially and there's little that the automaker can say about it. Our other experiences servicing other vehicles at Suburban have all been very favorable, but this time, the smart move was to go to the aftermarket -- and another dealer's service department.
That windshield drama aside, the rest of our long-term Palisade experience has been darn near flawless. This isn't just one of the best midsize SUVs on the market, it's one of our very favorite new vehicles on the market, full stop. We've got lots more miles ahead and we'll be back with another update soon.