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The new 2020 Ford Explorer puts up a good fight in the mid-size segment, even more than the year model that just ended. For some deciding between the Explorer and Palisade might be tough, so hopefully this comparison from motortrend helps:

2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2020 Hyundai Palisade: Three-Row New Kid in Town
Hyundai’s newcomer takes on the family SUV that started it all

Duncan BradyWordsWes AllisonPhotos
Oct 2, 2019

Ford was hot off the rampant success of the Taurus sedan when it launched the first Explorer for the 1991 model year, but the new sixth-generation model arrives in a very different context. Ford has halted most car investment as a way to capitalize on the modern SUV boom, which includes the 6-7 passenger 2020 Explorer. Hyundai, however, is pretty new to the three-row SUV game.

The Palisade isn't the first Hyundai-engineered three-row SUV; that designation goes to the Veracruz of the mid-2000s. From there, the Korean automaker's three-row offerings have consisted of little more than long-wheelbase versions of the smaller, two-row Santa Fe. The Palisade was built as a three-row from the ground up—alongside the Kia Telluride—and aims square at segment stalwarts including, you guessed it, the Ford Explorer.

We've driven both SUVs on the road, in the dirt, though the sand, and on the test track. Let's see how they stack up, shall we?

Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, And MPG
These SUVs make power in very different ways. Our base-engine Explorer tester gets its motivation from a turbocharged four-cylinder that develops 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. (hybrid V-6 and twin-turbo V-6 options are also available.) It's paired with the 10-speed automatic that's become ubiquitous across Ford's lineup.

The Palisade changes gears with an eight-speed auto, and it only has one engine choice: a non-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 making 291 horses but only 262 lb-ft of twist, 48 lb-ft less than the Explorer. Torque is the real game-changer here. Not only does the Explorer's smaller turbocharged engine develop 18 percent more of the stuff, it does so without working as hard.

Neither engine provides neck-snapping acceleration, but remember, these are big, three-row people-movers we're talking about. That being said, the Explorer's torque is low in the rev range and its relatively intuitive 10-speed auto has plenty of ratios to keep the engine on boil. It's quicker to 60 mph by 0.3 second; the Explorer does the deed in 6.8 seconds, the Hyundai 7.1.

In the Palisade, passing maneuvers and highway merging require a heavy foot on the throttle and a downshift or two from the transmission. I enjoyed revving out Hyundai's V-6—there's a great noise and power changeover above 5,000 rpm—but not all buyers would. Both of these powertrains are just adequate.
Ford does have the fuel economy advantage here. The Explorer delivers an EPA-estimated 20-21/27-28 mpg city/highway (RWD-AWD) compared with the Palisade's 19/24-26 mpg (FWD-AWD). That's right: The more powerful engine uses less fuel.

Driving: On- And Off-Road

Our Palisade tester sends power to all four wheels, whereas our Explorer is rear-wheel drive. It's offered with AWD, and we asked for it, but unfortunately it was not to be. Driving sane speeds on a dry road, you're unlikely to notice a difference. Both cars exhibit safe, conservative understeer when pushed hard. The Hyundai's steering is a touch quicker, and its suspension mitigates head toss and gut jiggle better than the Ford's. It also felt noticeably more composed crossing over a pair of railroad tracks. Most editors preferred the Explorer's handling to the Palisade's, but the Hyundai's more leisurely driving experience feels better fitted to the segment.

The Palisade was surprisingly adept off-road, having few problems with our dusty obstacle course. It did get stopped a couple times, but backing up and powering back through was an easy solution. As for the Explorer, one editor got the rear-drive Explorer stuck in a sand pit, but Trail mode and traction control generally kept us in good shape. As for other AWD Explorer testers such as the ST and Hybrid, most editors found the SUVs handled our off-road course well.

Interior: Infotainment, Seating, And Features

These cars are closely matched in terms of mechanical bits and driving impressions, but this is where the Palisade really pulls away. The interior of the big three-row Hyundai in Limited trim is thoughtful, handsome, and executed on par with cars that cost $15,000 more.

Features editor Scott Evans said of the Palisade, "Near-luxury? You bet. The style, materials, and feature content are enough to go toe to toe with anything Buick or Acura can offer." I'll add Cadillac to his list. I'd much rather spend time in the Palisade's interior than that of the $73,000 Cadillac XT6 we tested.

The gauge cluster is fully digital. When you activate a turn signal in either direction, the digital gauge on the corresponding side of the screen displays a camera feed, showing what may be hiding in your blind spot. (It's sort of like Honda's LaneWatch, except it doesn't take up the entire infotainment screen and it works on both sides of the car, not just the passenger side.)

You select a gear by pressing one of four metallic buttons, which, unlike a traditional shifter, allows for storage space under the center console. Senior production editor Zach Gale is a huge fan of this kind of packaging wizardry, saying, "On a test drive, you won't think much of it, but over time? Trust me." A similar space in our long-term Acura RDX has served him well.

Comfortable captain's chairs in the second row are heated and cooled. There are grab handles to ease passengers into the third row but because the floor is a little high, folks with longer legs will get intimately familiar with their knees. Head room is tight, too. If you do have kids in the way-back, take advantage of the in-car intercom which uses the Bluetooth microphones up front to amplify your voice through the speakers in the third row.

The Explorer's interior is a notable step down. It feels built to a price—driver and passengers will find themselves surrounded by black plastic (adding AWD to our XLT tester would have brought the as-tested price to about $2,000 below the Palisade). There are some metallic trim pieces and detail stitching, but this is a significantly lower-quality cabin than the Hyundai's; our interior criticism unfortunately holds true with more expensive 2020 Explorers, too.

Paddle shifters mounted behind the wheel are thin plastic bits that wiggle in place. There's a center console hard-mounted to the floor between the second-row seats, and it, too, is black plastic. You have to step over it to get to the third row, where the bench is barely padded and headroom is comparable to the Palisade.

Up front, the Explorer's seats feel like they're constructed with a lot more padding than the seats in the Hyundai, but our editors were split on which thrones were more comfortable. An 8.0-inch touchscreen sits in the center of the Ford's dash. It's smaller and has a wider bezel than the Hyundai's 10.3-inch unit, but we'll note that Ford's latest version of Sync is the best yet (ST and Platinum offer a 10.1-inch vertical touchscreen).

Explore No More

If it wasn't clear by now, the Hyundai Palisade wins this comparison. The new Explorer should be lauded for its return to a rear-drive platform, and its powertrain is slightly better than that of its competitor, but a cost-cutting interior and lack of innovation through thoughtful user-friendly features holds it back.

Though it's not as efficient or as powerful as the Explorer, Hyundai's first fully baked entry into the three-row market should be considered a success.

2020 Ford Explorer XLT2020 Hyundai Palisade HTRAC (Limited)
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUTFront-engine, RWDFront-engine, AWD
ENGINE TYPETurbocharged I-4, alum block/head60-deg V-6, alum block/heads
VALVETRAINDOHC, 4 valves/cylDOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT138.1 cu in/2,264 cc230.5 cu in/3,778 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO10.0:113.0:1
POWER (SAE NET)300 hp @ 5,500 rpm291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET)310 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm262 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
REDLINE6,500 rpm6,750 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER14.6 lb/hp15.3 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION10-speed automatic8-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO3.58:1/2.58:13.65:1/2.36:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REARStruts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll barStruts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO16.5:115.6:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK3.12.8
BRAKES, F; R13.6-in vented disc; 12.6-in disc, ABS13.4-in vented disc; 12.0-in disc, ABS
WHEELS8.5 x 20-in cast aluminum7.5 x 20-in cast aluminum
TIRES255/55R20 107H M+S Pirelli Scorpion Zero All Season245/50R20 102V M+S Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE119.1 in114.2 in
TRACK, F/R66.9/66.9 in67.2/67.6 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT198.8 x 78.9 x 69.9 in196.1 x 77.8 x 68.9 in
GROUND CLEARANCE7.9 in7.9 in
APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE20.1/22.0 deg18.5/21.2 deg
TURNING CIRCLE38.7 ft38.7 ft
CURB WEIGHT4,367 lb4,459 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R50/50%56/44%
TOWING CAPACITY5,300 lb5,000 lb
SEATING CAPACITY67
HEADROOM, F/M/R40.7/40.5/38.9 in39.3/38.3/37.2 in
LEGROOM, F/M/R43.0/39.0/32.2 in44.1/42.4/31.4 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/M/R61.8/61.9/54.6 in61.2/60.8/55.2 in
CARGO VOLUME, BEH F/M/R87.8/47.9/18.2 cu ft86.4/45.8/18.0 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-302.2 sec2.5 sec
0-403.53.8
0-505.05.1
0-606.87.1
0-709.19.1
0-8011.811.3
0-9015.514.5
0-100
PASSING, 45-65 MPH3.63.7
QUARTER MILE15.3 sec @ 89.6 mph15.3 sec @ 89.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH121 ft129 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.81 g (avg)0.74 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT27.7 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)28.3 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH1,600 rpm1,700 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE$37,770$47,445
PRICE AS TESTED$43,415$47,605
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROLYes/YesYes/Yes
AIRBAGS8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee7: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee
BASIC WARRANTY3 yrs/36,000 miles5 yrs/60,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY5 yrs/60,000 miles10 yrs/100,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE5 yrs/60,000 miles5 yrs/Unlimited miles
FUEL CAPACITY19.2 gal18.8 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON20/27/23 mpg19/24/21 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY169/125 kW-hrs/100 miles177/140 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.86 lb/mile0.93 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUELUnleaded regularUnleaded regular
 

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I was just reading this review this morning. As much as I respect the Explorer, the price difference is staggering for how much you can get in the Palisade.
 

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I was just reading this review this morning. As much as I respect the Explorer, the price difference is staggering for how much you can get in the Palisade.
I agree. If you pick an Explorer trim at the same price point as the Limited Palisade, you get significantly less equipment and the interior is nowhere near as nice as the Palisade's. As to the top trim levels of the Explorer (ST and Platinum), they're insanely expensive (and still look cheap). You can top $60K with an Explorer. That should remain Lincoln's territory, not Ford's. The only saving grace of the Explorer's top trims is the much more powerful engine (and decent handling since the new Explorer platform is RWD). But boy, do you pay a hefty price for that.
 

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Interesting. While the Explorer is more powerful, that advantage is erased by 70mph and by 90mph the Palisade is a full second ahead? That 10speed is helping the Explorer accelerate quicker to 60 and most likely gain a few ticks on mileage.
 

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Interesting. While the Explorer is more powerful, that advantage is erased by 70mph and by 90mph the Palisade is a full second ahead? That 10speed is helping the Explorer accelerate quicker to 60 and most likely gain a few ticks on mileage.
Yeah I found that very interesting as well. It makes me want to see them drag race haha.
 

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I agree. If you pick an Explorer trim at the same price point as the Limited Palisade, you get significantly less equipment and the interior is nowhere near as nice as the Palisade's. As to the top trim levels of the Explorer (ST and Platinum), they're insanely expensive (and still look cheap). You can top $60K with an Explorer. That should remain Lincoln's territory, not Ford's. The only saving grace of the Explorer's top trims is the much more powerful engine (and decent handling since the new Explorer platform is RWD). But boy, do you pay a hefty price for that.
So true, for the Explorer to command that kind of price from me Ford really has to step it up. As for the engines it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for thousands in savings.
 

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I also considered the new Explorer but it’s more expensive for the features I wanted. I still don’t think Ford reliability is as good as Hyundai. Hyundai also has a better warranty. I didn’t need the more powerful engine.
 

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we just ditched a 2015 explorer for the new palisade, wasn't even close when we compared the interiors of both cars. Ford is cheap Faux leather and doesn't hold a candle to the Palisade
 

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The Explorer still outsells the Palisade. When more Americans trust the quality and resale of the Hyundai the sales will follow. The Ford is way overpriced compared to content and warranty.
 

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The Explorer still outsells the Palisade. When more Americans trust the quality and resale of the Hyundai the sales will follow. The Ford is way overpriced compared to content and warranty.
It’s got nothing to do with that. Ford is American so it will sell more than Hyundai. You’ll never see a Hyundai outselling a Ford in the US.
 

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It’s got nothing to do with that. Ford is American so it will sell more than Hyundai. You’ll never see a Hyundai outselling a Ford in the US.
I don’t know that I agree with that, I believe that Hyundai sold more sedans for example. Accents, Sonata and if we’re talking Hyundai motors we can add Genesis and Kia sedans as well. In fact I think this year Hyundai Motors sedans will outsell all Ford and Lincoln sedans in the US.

They‘ll need to continue working on quality, longevity and resale to stop US buyers from buying their 2nd, 3rd, 4th Explorer. Loyalty is a tough thing to cultivate.
 

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I don’t know that I agree with that, I believe that Hyundai sold more sedans for example. Accents, Sonata and if we’re talking Hyundai motors we can add Genesis and Kia sedans as well. In fact I think this year Hyundai Motors sedans will outsell all Ford and Lincoln sedans in the US.

They‘ll need to continue working on quality, longevity and resale to stop US buyers from buying their 2nd, 3rd, 4th Explorer. Loyalty is a tough thing to cultivate.
Ford doesn’t sell any sedans in the US any longer. So yes, Hyundai will outsell Ford’s sedan sales of... zero. Maybe compare apples to apples. :rolleyes:

And it’s not just loyalty. Some people might be on their first car and will pick Ford or GM because they’re American. Doesn’t matter how good the others are. It’s the same in every country with car manufacturers originally from there.
 

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Focus, MKZ, Continental....final year. Just showing that the argument of American cars sell more is not exactly true. Accords and Camrys have been outselling the US equivalents for years. Suggests there’s more to it than simply saying US cars will always outsell. Hyundai just needs to work on quality, longevity and resale. Definitely getting better though.
 

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For some, they would never consider buying anything BUT American. Funny, but the American parts content of a Ford can be less than the American parts content of a Toyota (for example), but many people are fiercely loyal to the American nameplate, even though their Ford has less American parts and was assembled in Canada or Mexico compared to a competing Toyota or Honda.

the value proposition between the Palisade and the Explorer isn't in the same league
 

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Focus, MKZ, Continental....final year. Just showing that the argument of American cars sell more is not exactly true. Accords and Camrys have been outselling the US equivalents for years. Suggests there’s more to it than simply saying US cars will always outsell. Hyundai just needs to work on quality, longevity and resale. Definitely getting better though.
Focus isn't sold any longer. It's the Fusion that's ending with MY 2020. Lincoln doesn't apply, it's not a luxury brand, not mainstream like Ford/Hyundai.

The point is, Ford isn't marketing its Fusion, or promoting it, because they're done with it. Hyundai is actively working on sedans. Of course, they're going to sell more sedans than Ford. That's still comparing apple and oranges.

As to the Camry and Accord, those 2 are probably the only 2 exceptions to this. The fact that you can count on 1 hand how many models have managed to outsell their american counterparts speaks volumes.
For some, they would never consider buying anything BUT American. Funny, but the American parts content of a Ford can be less than the American parts content of a Toyota (for example), but many people are fiercely loyal to the American nameplate, even though their Ford has less American parts and was assembled in Canada or Mexico compared to a competing Toyota or Honda.

the value proposition between the Palisade and the Explorer isn't in the same league
Yeah, that's what happens, even though it's not entirely logical. That's the point I was trying to make.
 

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American trucks are pretty darn good, especially the new Rams. I think JDPower just had Dodge and Ram jumping up. Sadly Hyundai is way down this year. Still better than BMW though.
 

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The new Ram is compelling. I just have a hard time trusting my money with Fiat. hahahah

Love the idea of the Stelvio too, but again, spending my money on an Italian car company with awful reliability is a scary thought. I wouldn't be surprised to see Alfa eventually fail here again. The Fiat 500 is already effectively dead in the water.

But that Ram full size is a good looking truck with a really nice interior.
 

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I talked my neighbor out of a clearance ‘deal’ Alfa and into a Z06, He's never been happier and knows he dodged (get it) a bullet. The Rams though appear to be the real deal. Love the new interior and seriously though about getting one.Still may.
 

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how is a z06 and any alfa even in the same conversation? hahahah

was he considering an Alfa 4C? One is a lightweight canyon carver and one is a high hp track beast.
 
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