The Hyundai Palisade Literally Stinks: Owners

The Hyundai Palisade and its sibling the Kia Telluride are so popular the two automakers can barely keep up with demand. But that may soon change, as many owners have taken to forum pages to report odours of “smelly socks” and even garlic.

The smells have been so bad, one forum member claimed that they have to crack the SUV’s windows every time they park it in the garage to keep it bearable when they go to leave again. That’s not a great, uh, smell for your up-market family seven-seater (though we can’t rule out if it’s just smelly kids in these cars, yet).

As pointed out by AutoBlog, the editorial team over at Cars.com also experience foul smells with their Palisade test vehicle:

There’s an occasional wretched smell coming from the beige interior of the 2020 Hyundai Palisade Limited we bought in December 2019 that might just be the interior itself. To those of us who have gotten the more severe attack on our nostrils (and it hasn’t been everyone), it’s a sharp chemical odor with a dash of something organic like garlic or rotten produce, and it started at the arrival of 90-degree days in the Chicago area, where Cars.com is headquartered.

A Hyundai spokesperson reported to The Drive that it was now aware of the potential issue and investigating a remedy:

“We are aware of the concern and are currently in the midst of the investigation, which includes identifying and validating a fix.” Hyundai said in a statement to The Drive. “Once a repair method is confirmed effective a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) will be released to provide direction to our dealer body on how to resolve the concern.”

It’s not exactly unusual for new cars to, well, smell. That’s where “new car smell” comes from. But usually automakers are sort of aware of this beforehand and can make sure that the materials applied in the interior, from everything like the leatherette chosen to the glue used on the headliner, don’t smell like shit.

I’ve never found “new car smell” to be particularly good, I think it’s probably just a physiological reaction to spending a lot of money on a giant metal piece of your identity. Usually it fades away after, in the worst cases, a few months. But high temperatures and direct exposure to sunlight can have a varying and unpredictable impact on the interior materials. I’ve been in plenty of cars that smell like waxy crayons, for example.

According to Cars.com, their local dealership’s potential solution for the smelly issue was to replace the headrests, which many owners claim seems to be the source of the odor, often in conjunction with high-temperature weather. From Cars.com:

A batch of Palisade Limited owners with the light-coloured interior and Nappa seating surfaces are sharing similar experiences on Palisade discussion forums. Some reported getting relief after replacing or deep-cleaning the head restraints, which were often identified as the culprit.

This is the fix Hyundai Motors America is taking with our car, according to our dealership’s service director. A backorder, though, means we’ve yet to procure the new head restraints nearly two months after our first visit.

While it seems Hyundai is on the scent, ugh, of a solution with the headrests, it’s also possible the suppliers and materials used there were applied elsewhere, so a thorough investigation is still in order. The only headache after tracking down the problem will be likely parts delays due to disruption from the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Perhaps Hyundai is simply on a global quest to weed out (and eradicate?) the vampire population with attractive and capable SUVs reeking of herbs.