Looking for your next SUV but not looking to splurge? Some mainstream SUVs are as good as, if not better than, their luxury counterparts. If you were eying a brand-new Lincoln Aviator, for example, you might get more bang for your buck with a Hyundai Palisade instead.
The 2021 Lincoln Aviator
Almost anyone would love a brand-new luxury vehicle. And it’s understandable if you’ve been drooling over the Lincoln Aviator. It’s a sweet ride with a distinctive exterior design. Touches include a floating roofline, chrome detailing, and beautiful paint colors like Iced Mocha, Infinite Black, Magnetic Gray, Pristine White, Red Carpet, and Silver Radiance.
This three-row midsize SUV packs a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission, along with rear-wheel drive. The base model harnesses 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a speedy 5.4 seconds. It also gets 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. But the all-wheel-drive option has slightly worse fuel economy at 17/24 mpg city/highway.
Inside the Aviator, you’ll find a lush interior with copious legroom in all rows, even with all seven seats occupied. There’s also a good deal of cargo space. You’ll get 18.3 cubic feet with all rows upright, 41.8 cubic feet with the third row folded down, and 77.7 cubic feet with the second and third rows down.
Expect a 10.1-inch infotainment system, a 12.3-inch cluster display, USB ports, and Wi-Fi capability. Advanced safety features include automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alerts. The Aviator’s design and safety features have helped this SUV earn a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and top scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
You get all of these features for a starting MSRP of $51,100. But higher-level trims can run up to $90,000. Notable trims include the hybrid Aviator Grand Touring (starting around $70,000). It adds a 13.6-kWh battery and 75-kW motor to its V6 to give you 494 hp, 630 lb-ft of torque, and 21 miles of all-electric travel before recharging. The Reserve trim adds a panoramic sunroof, 14-speaker sound system, and four-zone climate control for around $58,000. And, of course, there’s the top-of-the-line Black Label (also available in a hybrid model), with rich leather upholstery, a whopping 28-speaker sound system, adaptive cruise control, and more.
The 2021 Hyundai Palisade: First-class accommodations at a more affordable price
Not everybody has nearly six figures to spend on their next vehicle. And you shouldn’t have to. An affordable alternative to the Aviator is the latest Hyundai Palisade. Also adorned with chrome detailing and available in similar colors, the Palisade starts at nearly $18,000 less than the Aviator, MotorTrend reports. Though the Palisade’s base model is less powerful than the Aviator’s, it still packs a punch. Its 3.8-liter V6 produces 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. But its fuel economy is a little better, at 19/26 mpg city/highway with standard front-wheel drive and 19/24 mpg with optional AWD.
The Hyundai Palisade also is nicely styled inside, with many luxurious features available on higher trims. You’ll get an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth compatibility on the base model. And like the Aviator, the Palisade offers plenty of cargo room. You get 18 cubic feet with all rows up, 46 cubic feet with the third row down, and 86 cubic feet with the second and third rows down. But unlike the Aviator, the Palisade seats eight.
And not only did the NHTSA award the Palisade 5 stars, but the IIHS also gave its coveted Top Safety Pick+ distinction. That’s thanks in part to a bevy of standard features like automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
Notable higher trim levels include the SEL, with the convenience and premium packages. For about $40,000, you’ll be treated to leather upholstery, a heated second row and steering wheel, a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with built-in navigation, multiple USB outlets, and more. Of course, you could shell out $45,000 and get a 12.3-inch digital cluster display, Nappa leather upholstery, and other perks for less cash than a standard Aviator.
The Hyundai Palisade’s luxury for less
Ultimately, the Lincoln Aviator Black outclasses the Palisade in terms of luxury. The Hyundai’s top-level Limited trim is less feature-rich than the Lincoln. And the Palisade’s features aren’t as impressive (for example, it comes with 12 speakers, not 28). The Aviator also outperforms the Palisade in horsepower and torque and handles better. On the whole, the Aviator provides a superior luxury SUV experience.
But if you’re in the market for an upscale family-friendly SUV and want to avoid shelling out $90,000, the Palisade is a great option. For about half the price, you can still treat your friends and loved ones to an upscale riding experience.
And if you do have 90 grand earmarked for your next vehicle purchase, consider this: You could buy two Hyundai Palisades for that money.