We’re climbing out of Hobart, skirting the southern slopes of kunanyi/Mt Wellington towards Ferntree, when 9-year-old Ava pipes up, “What does Palisade mean, anyway?”
“Good question”, says her mum Nancy, while quickly checking the internet.
“A palisade,” Nancy begins, “is a fence of wooden or iron stakes fixed to the ground, creating a ring of defence or fort”.
Ava, looking perplexed, returns to staring out the window at the thickly forested slopes.
A Palisade is also Hyundai’s first entry into the large SUV people-mover market, and the car we’re testing today on a daytrip into Tasmania’s far south. The six of us are certainly feeling protected as Ava’s dad, Ben, directs the big Korean-made vehicle effortlessly around the mountain bends.
While stopped at the roadside to pluck blackberries and soak in views of the beautiful Huon Valley, Nancy and Ben – both architects – consider the exterior of the Palisade. Ben feels that he’s seen American SUVs with similar styling; to Nancy it could be a Transformer robot.
Beyond the front-end styling, however, there’s little else robotic about the Palisade’s design. The dash is stylishly pared back, resembling a highend European brand. Nancy and Ben both love its seven-inch touch screen, finding it easy to use and glare-free.
As we head south towards our first planned stop in pretty riverside Franklin, Ava and her sister Remi amuse themselves by counting the cup holders and USB ports.
With everybody joining in, we arrive at 16 holders and 7 charge points, including two built into the rear of the leather front seats.
All three girls are instantly sold on the Palisade. Claiming the third row of seats, Ava and Remi gift Vera and I the entire second row.
“While I like our current car because it’s compact, after a while they start to bicker because there’s not enough space and it’s hot,” says Nancy. Today, her three-, six- and nine-year-old are clearly enjoying the Palisade’s extra space and rear air con.
“We can also hear and talk to each other easily. It’s that quiet,” Nancy observes.
Pulling over near Franklin’s Wooden Boat Centre, a family of ducks draws the girls’ interest while Ben and I make a break to check out the historic yachts.
Before long we’re all feeling the sun, being a rare hot day at the end of this cooler-than-average La Niña summer. Consulting Google, Nancy announces that the famous Masaaki Sushi is open in Geeveston just onward.
Everyone enthusiastically piles back into the Palisade and we continue alongside the majestic Huon River to the former logging town that has reinvented itself as a gateway to the far south.
Picking up enough of Masaaki’s handmade edible art to feed half the town, we head to Geeveston’s Platypus Park for a picnic. When every sushi roll has disappeared, Ben suggests we drive on to Hastings Caves and its hot springs.
On the increasingly windy highway south, Ben grapples a little with the Palisade’s lane-assist technology as it intervenes to keep the car centered on the gravel-sided road. Behind the wheel, he is still getting used to the size of the Palisade. “It does occupy a lot of the road”, Ben says. “But overall, it handles really well and is a joy to drive”.
By the time we’re on the road into Hastings Caves, rolling farmland has given way to primordial rainforest. It feels like we’ve travelled back a million years; the girls are captivated.
As it’s such a beautiful day, Nancy suggests we skip the caves for a swim in the hot springs and a rainforest walk, then drive to nearby Southport for another dip.
It’s a popular suggestion and we see off the rest of the afternoon getting salty on the perfect white sands and in the brisk Southern Ocean, surrounded by classic Tasmanian holiday shacks.
With the beating sun finally setting, Nancy takes over the driving, pointing the Palisade north for the long drive back to Hobart.
Within minutes, there’s not a peep coming from beside me or the third row. Ava, Remi and Vera are obviously so comfortable in the Palisade that, much like their parents, they won’t want to give it back.
Pricing: Driveaway $69,626
Safety: ANCAP testing pending at time of printing
Engine type: Four-cylinder Diesel Turbo CRDi
Engine capacity: 2.2L
Max. torque: 440Nm @ 1750–2750 rpm
Max. power: 147kW @ 3800 rpm
Body style: Wagon
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive type: AWD
Fuel consumption: 7.3l/100km (Combined); 9.2l/100km (Urban)
0-100km/h: 10.5 seconds