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Image: Hyundai

It was generally believed that Hyundai didn’t just wake up one morning and run off to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to secure rights to the Palisade model name for no good reason. The trademark filing came up last April, leading observers to rightfully believe that this large, imposing moniker was set aside for use on a large, imposing vehicle — such as the replacement for the current Santa Fe XL, which Hyundai assured us would appear with a standalone name. No more of this “Santa Fe/Santa Fe Sport” crap.

Sure enough, Palisade it is, but the Korean automaker, long known for value-packed automobiles, didn’t throw a dart at a map of the continental U.S. and land on a small town in Colorado. No, no — Hyundai’s all about the coastal life now. Gwyneth Paltrow and Elon Musk are coming over for tennis.

After seeing the brand’s success in naming utility vehicles after places in the American Southwest, we naturally assumed the Palisade name referred to the small town in Mesa County, Colorado, nestled beneath grand cliffs on the banks of the river which gives the state its name. God, you can just feel the manliness pulsing through your veins, the tumbleweeds lolling dustily through the fields, propelled by surging winds flowing over the continental divide. It’s enough to make you want to pitch a tent… and build a campfire.

Well, we were a little off. Hyundai’s trying something a bit different with this name, revealing Thursday that the upcoming three-row crossover bears a moniker that “might naturally be associated by many with the Pacific Palisades, an affluent and beautiful neighborhood in Southern California.”

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You’ve changed since you left the neighborhood, Hyundai.

While I suppose you can’t get more southwest than SoCal, it’s still a departure. Trading pack mules for Prada and pumps, Hyundai claims the vehicle will go on sale next summer as a 2020 model, tempting nervous parents with its “strong inherent imagery of safety and security.” Big and bold, this thing’s supposed to be. Past spy photos of the bundled-up model prancing through the snow revealed a burly, fairly square-rigged vehicle that hopefully won’t disappoint with its facial features (looking at you, Kia Telluride). We should note that the Telluride debuted in mighty tony environs, too — New York’s Fashion Week. Huh.

Earlier this year, a concept vehicle unveiled in South Korea — the HDC-2 Grandmaster — pretty much spelled out the production model’s design direction.

Our first real glimpse will come at the L.A. Auto Show on November 28th, where Hyundai plans to wow shrimp-seeking crowds with its new eight-passenger flagship. The aura of well-bred refinement (or at least “new money but knows how to handle it”) positively oozes from Hyundai’s media release, which shows us nothing of the vehicle except the Palisade name splashed across the liftgate, plus some awesome coastal properties with nary a vehicle to be seen. Nevertheless, expect this absolutely critical vehicle to “offer dignity with style in an understated theme that demonstrates clear differentiation worthy of a flagship SUV.”

You’d think the Cullinan had reason to worry.

[Images: Hyundai, Brian Williams/Spiedbilde]

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