A proposed class action alleges the Hyundai Palisade is plagued by a “strong foul odor” emanating from inside the vehicle, an apparent “defect” drivers claim has kept them from using the three-row SUV as intended.
The 43-page lawsuit, filed in Minnesota on April 27, describes the alleged Palisade odor problem as “widespread” and affecting the SE, SEL and Limited models of the newer SUV, which Hyundai has touted as the “ultimate family vehicle” for practical, daily use.
“In a word, the Palisade stinks,” the lawsuit reads. “Some drivers cannot drive their vehicles because the smell is so strong it makes them or their passengers nauseous.”
Other drivers, according to the complaint, have experienced while operating the Palisade the “inconvenience or even embarrassment” of driving a brand new car that smells, as variously described, like “rotten seaweed, garbage, garlic, rotten produce, or, in some descriptions, like ‘****,’” the lawsuit says.
The apparent odor defect, according to an October 2020 Hyundai technical service bulletin, potentially stems from the imitation leather coverings of the head restraints for certain styles of trim available for the Palisade, the lawsuit says.
“This defect renders the Palisade unfit for their ordinary and intended use, depriving Plaintiffs of their purchase or lease,” the case claims, asserting that proposed class members would not have bought or leased the Palisade, or would have paid less, had they known about the alleged odor at the time of sale.
Each of the suit’s two plaintiffs say the Hyundai dealers from whom they bought their Palisades were unable to remedy the issue or find the source of the smell. One plaintiff says his Hyundai dealer sprayed the inside of his car with Febreeze, masking the odor temporarily.
Noted in the complaint is that the apparent odor defect plaguing the Hyundai Palisade has been the subject of more than one media report. Per the suit, Cars.com covered the issue in a three-part investigation titled “CSI: Car Smell Investigation, 2020 Hyundai Palisade Edition,” in which the publication examined what it called the “occasional wretched smell” found within the interior of the SUVs. Last August, Car and Driver also reported that some 2020 Palisade owners had complained of odors emanating from inside their vehicles.
In November, Car and Driver published an update stating Hyundai had said it now has a fix for the odors associated with the Palisade, which the automaker linked to the “Calligraphy” and “Limited” trim options available for the cars:
“The smell, Hyundai spokesperson Miles Johnson told Car and Driver, is coming from the nappa-leather-wrapped headrests in those select Palisades. Johnson said that there is a treatment process available now at dealerships to neutralize the odor coming from the headrests. If a Palisade owner is experiencing this problem, Johnson said, they should bring the vehicle to a dealer for it to be resolved. Although the treatment should handle the odor, that isn’t always the case as shown by the Cars.com Palisade. All of the headrests in their Palisade had to be eventually replaced, but Johnson told Cars.com that that isn’t likely to be necessary in most cases.”
Car and Driver added in the report that Hyundai had faulted a supplier’s manufacturing process for the smell in the headrests and has since switched suppliers.
The complaint scathes that if the defendant’s “pre-sale testing and design process did not put Hyundai on notice of the odor defect,” the subsequent coverage of the issue and high number of consumer complaints did. The lawsuit alleges Hyundai, despite “knowing and being made aware of the widespread odor issues,” has failed or refused to provide any solution to consumers, or remedy the problem by “replacing defective components.”
As of the date of the complaint’s filing, Hyundai has not issued a recall or implemented a buyback program to address the apparent odor defect, the case says.
The lawsuit looks to represent all persons who bought or leased a Hyundai Palisade, beginning with the model year 2020, primarily for personal use and not for resale.
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