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Autoblog’s long-term loan of a 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD — the same one that convinced me to purchase an almost identical one as a daily driver for my wife — has made its way back to my snowy, icy driveway after a run-in with hungry rodents. Unlike the Snyder Palisade, which is still rolling on the standard all-season tires, the Autoblog steed had a set of Michelin X-Ice Snow winter tires mounted. Having driven both of these many miles in often severe winter weather, I’ve come to appreciate a few things about the model, noticed differences in the drive experience, and found one point of minor but repeated irritation.

Let’s start with the good. The Palisade is a great vehicle in the snow, even with the factory all-season tires still on it. The Snow mode is quite useful. Turn the drive mode dial all the way clockwise, and the car adjusts its behavior to better suit slippery surfaces. In Hyundai’s words, “The Drive Mode System’s Snow Mode adjusts front and rear torque distribution, left and right wheel slip control, engine torque and shift patterns according to available traction levels.” It also starts the vehicle off the line from second gear to help prevent wheelspin. It made pulling out of my icy driveway or pulling away from a stoplight a very stable and controlled maneuver, without me really having to put extra thought and effort in controlling the accelerator.
We also used the Palisade’s hill-descent control for the first time this winter. One particularly snowy ski weekend up north, we visited friends staying in a house at the top of a steep, winding, snow-packed drive. Pressing the button to engage what the owner’s manual refers to as “Downhill Brake Control,” holds the vehicle to a slow speed for a steady descent. It worked great, turning what could have been a fraught exit into a calm cruise down the hill. My wife, who was driving at the time, was pleased not to worry about careening into the woods.

Speaking of skiing, the Palisade is a good compatriot for it. Lower the 60/40-split third row’s 60 portion and the skis slide into the space between the second-row captain’s chairs. There was still plenty of room for a weekend’s worth of cargo for the whole family, including a large dog kennel (not the collapsible kind), cooler, Pack ‘n Play and jogging stroller. Even better, when approaching the rear of the vehicle with the fob, the liftgate will automatically open for you, which is great when your arms are loaded with unwieldy gear.

We didn’t get a set of winter tires for the Snyder Palisade this year, but after testing them on the Autoblog Palisade, our family will be making the investment before the next snow season. The Michelin X-Ice Snow tires provided a distinct advantage in two arenas: braking and cornering. The extra grip created a much higher threshold before the anti-lock brakes kicked in, making for shorter braking distances in the snow. When things were really slick, the all-seasons’ lateral grip could be overcome carrying too much speed in a corner. The winter tires helped prevent understeer, tracing well-controlled arcs aiming exactly where intended. All-wheel drive and Snow mode are great, for sure, but some of the most important winter driving dynamics can only be improved by what rubber you put to the surface of the road.

My one complaint about the Palisade’s winter duty cycle came when it was time to clean the snow from the vehicle. When at rest, the windshield wipers hide below the deep cowl at the bottom of the windshield. If much snow or ice falls or gets pushed down there when brushing the car off, it will pack below the wiper blade arms. If, say, you try to shortcut the windshield snow removal by pushing it off with the wipers (or if you left the wipers on when you turned off the car), that snow prevents the wipers from returning completely to their resting position, and they’ll just give up entirely. They might twitch, here and there, but they’re as good as dead until you get that snow out (this happened on both Palisades, indicating it wasn’t a one-off issue).

Furthermore, the wipers can’t be moved by hand. They’re locked in place, and the cowl blocks you from lifting them off the glass. Combined with the depth of the cowl and the height of the hood, it’s difficult to reach in with gloves to dig the snow out from below the wiper arm. I spent many more minutes than I’d have liked trying to grasp what snow and ice I could from under that damn cowl.
Some forum users with similar complaints suggested just lifting the hood to get to the packed snow. One user, however, pointed to the owner’s manual, where I could find this clever solution:

That’s now step one in my snow removal process, and it makes life easier. It also allows me to unblock the washer fluid nozzles, which also reside below the cowl. It’s still more steps than just being able to lift the wipers manually, and wipers that had more of a tolerance for snow would be ideal, but moving them from under the cowl could undo Hyundai’s work to suppress wind noise and resistance. Still, cleaning the snow from the Palisade now takes less time (and less cursing), and I’ll know exactly what to do when it comes time to change the wiper blades.

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