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Toyota Highlander vs. Hyundai Palisade

This is a black Hyundai Palisade on display at a car show.

When it comes to SUVs, sometimes the ones that you choose are the ones that are almost impossibly large. The Toyota Highlander is a midsize SUV that is both company and sleek. At the same time, its competitor, the Hyundai Palisade, is a midsized SUV that many consider being slightly too large for the name.

The Toyota Highlander is a newly refreshed midsize SUV that has proven its worth with its 3.5-liter engine and hybrid engine. Hyundai has made the Palisade both competitive and extremely strong with its 3.8-liter engine that has outperformed most competitors.

These SUVs have everything they need in them at the base and then add even more features to the vehicles as you move up the packages. Choosing which one is the best for you depends on what you want as a standard in your SUV and how you will be treating it.

On The Outside

This is a black Toyota Highlander parked at the front of the house.

When looking at the two SUVs next to each other, it is clear which, with the Palisade, has a large bending grill that has become its signature look. With larger fog lights than headlights, this SUV has become as recognizable as almost anything else on the road for what it is.

The Toyota Highlander has a much sleeker design that focuses on reducing overall drag across the body as much as possible. Moving away from the traditional box shape that SUVs tend to have, small fog lights at the bottom with smooth lines that easily run from the front to the rear.

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Both SUVs offer a height nearing 70 inches from the ground and a wheelbase that is 114 inches for the Palisade and 112 for the Highlander. Further, the Palisade can be fitted with a roof rack to enable you to transport almost anything you can safely tie onto it easily.

The SUVs have full alloy wheels that make them desirable and customizable when you choose your package, giving everyone the chance to make something unique. We have seen both the Palisade and the Highlander in various colors, with both companies allowing for easy customization.

Step Inside

Once we get inside both of these SUVs, we realize just how large they are, as the vehicles have more than enough space to keep the entire family happy. Further, you will find that the SUVs’ infotainment and controls are far above many of their competitors.

Seating And Upholstery

This is a close look at the Toyota Highlander rear seats.

Both the Palisade and the Highlander have several different levels of upholstery options that allow you to choose from leather, cloth, or faux leather. The Palisade offers a trim level that extends to the dashboard and the door handles, making for a complete look.

Both of these SUVs can be fitted with up to eight seats in total, meaning that everyone, including grandma and grandpa, can join in on family road trips. These SUVs can easily be fitted with a few different things where the third row of seats is if you desire something else.

Cargo Space

This is the trunk cargo space of the Toyota Highlander.

With all the seats folded down, the Palisade boasts a respectable 86.4 cubic feet of space for large items, while the third row of seats folded only provides 45.8 cubic feet. With all three rows of seats raised, the Palisade offers a decent 18 cubic feet of storage space for small things.

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However, the Highlander has only 84.3 cubic feet of space with all rear seats folded down, while it offers a nice 48.4 cubic feet of space with the third row down. It only provides 16 cubic feet of space with all three rows of seats raised, creating limited storage space.

Features And Infotainment

This is a close look at the dashboard infotainment center of the dashboard of a Toyota Highlander.

The Palisade offers a full list of Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and every other infotainment system that you may ever need, all at the base model. While Highlander offers the same systems, with the added benefit of having built-in Wi-Fi, making it a very attractive option.

Both of these SUVs have some of the best infotainment systems currently on the market, allowing anyone to be relaxed and connected. The Highlander and the Palisade have both been refreshed for the 2021 year, which is part of what has made them so feature-rich.

Under The Hood

Mechanically the two SUVs have wildly different options, with Hyundai sticking to the older, trusted method of only providing a standard engine. However, the Highlander offers a 2.5-liter hybrid engine that can make things unfair, which is why we always measure up against the normal petrol engine.

Engine, Drivetrain, And Transmission

This is a close look at the Hyundai Palisade's Interior drive mode selector.

The Palisade has a standard 3.8-liter V6 engine that provides an underwhelming 291 horsepower to the wheels. This means a slightly larger engine that provides less overall power, creating a beast with an almighty roar that is beaten by other smaller SUVs on the market.

The updated and technology-rich 3.5-liter V6 engine that has been fitted in the Highlander is capable of providing a comfortable 295 horsepower. These engines have been coupled with a fully automatic gearbox to make power delivery fluent and easy.

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Performance

This is a look at a Hyundai Palisade speeding up on the road.

The engines and the SUVs can easily provide enough power to pull more than 5000 pounds at the rear. However, both are too heavy and too large to properly be used on any track or raceway, making them fun to drive on the highway but uncompetitive with faster SUVs.

At The Pumps

This is a close look at the gas pumping in a gasoline station.

The Palisade has long been known as one of the most fuel-inefficient SUVs on the road, with the 3.8-liter engine only getting 19 mpg inside the city. The big SUV does not fair much better on the open road, only reaching 26 mpg when it is up to speed and flicked onto cruise control.

Without the hybrid engine, the Highlander has become one of the leaders in fuel efficiency, getting 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg when on the highway. Further, choosing the hybrid model easily reaches 35 mpg in all sectors, ensuring nothing can properly compete.

Safety First

As both vehicles have been refreshed in 2021, they have received five-star ratings for their safety, with both including airbags everywhere. With the rear seats having skirt airbags, the front passenger and driver also having skirt airbags and standard dashboard airbags.

Pricing Comparison

This is a black Hyundai Palisade on display at a car show.

The Palisade starts at a respectable $33k that includes most infotainment systems and all the required safety features—reaching a top of only $48 when you have chosen the top model of the Palisade, with the SUV including everything that Hyundai built into the vehicle.

This is a black Toyota Highlander on display at car show.

The Highlander starts at the reasonable price of $35k, without a hybrid engine, and jumps up to nearly $50k when you have both the hybrid engine and every other feature added. Making the two vehicles highly competitive with each other.

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And The Winner Is…

If you aren’t looking at the hybrid options from Toyota, there is no clear winner here, as the two vehicles are remarkably similar in features. With the shape of the Palisade appealing to others, while the Toyota Highlander has a more sleek design that many prefer.

However, because the Palisade only has a few trim options, the Highlander wins the race, with the 3.5-liter V6 and the Hybrid engine having multiple trim levels. This allows anyone to find a vehicle with everything they may need without paying for expensive add-ons.

References:

U.S. News & World Report: Compare 2022 Hyundai Palisade vs. 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Kelley Blue Book: 2021 Hyundai Palisade vs. 2021 Toyota Highlander Comparison

Compare Cars at Edmunds: Toyota Highlander vs. Hyundai Palisade

Baierl Toyota: 2021 Toyota Highlander vs 2021 Hyundai Palisade

Car Buying Strategies: 2021 Hyundai Palisade vs Toyota Highlander. Which is Better?

Cars News: 2020 Hyundai Palisade Vs. 2020 Toyota Highlander: Family SUVs Duke It Out