As schoolchildren celebrate the beginning of summer vacation, this month’s vehicle arrivals promise new and (for two of the three, anyway) exciting ways to get your family from A to B.

At the thrilling end of the spectrum, we have the two newest members of BMW’s M family of performance vehicles: the X3 M and X4 M.

Over on the more practical side of the ledger, Hyundai has a new SUV called the Palisade, a three-row model with accessible luxury that toes the line between the mid- and full-size segments.

2020 BMW X3 M and X4 M

July marks a milestone for BMW’s compact X3 and X4 SUVs, whose first-ever M variants arrive at Canadian dealerships this month. These two are distinct models thanks to their very different styling, but we’re presenting them together because, like lesser versions of the pair, the X3 M and X4 M share their impressive powertrain and performance specs.

Before you email us to point out that BMW already offers the X3 and X4 in M40i trim, take note that these newest additions are proper M models. Like the brand’s well-known M3 and M5 sedans and mid-size X5 and X6 M, the X3 M and X4 M were conceived for a completely different audience than the standard versions of these utilities.

Both cars share a 3.0L turbocharged six-cylinder engine that makes 480 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque in base form, while a Competition upgrade package bumps the horsepower number to 510. BMW says those power figures are good enough to move either car from zero to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, or 4.1 in Competition form. That’s 0.6 and 0.7 seconds less, respectively, than the most powerful standard X3, the aforementioned M40i trim, with its 355 hp and 365 lb-ft.

The BMW X3 M and X4 M come standard with an M version of the brand’s xDrive all-wheel drive system that debuted last year in the latest M5 sport sedan. It biases power output to the rear axle, where the Active M differential optimizes power delivery to the rear wheels.

From behind the wheel, the driver can toggle the xDrive system between two performance modes. Meanwhile, the suspension’s electronic dampers offer three modes and the engine, transmission and steering can also be adjusted according to the pilot’s whims. Also, the stability control system can be run in an M Dynamic mode that allows controlled wheelspin in enthusiastic driving or can be shut off completely.

Both X3 M and X4 M models boast standard 21-inch light-alloy wheels and larger grille openings to improve cooling airflow and aerodynamics. Inside, both models get Vernasca leather upholstery and M-specific seats, steering wheel and shift lever.

MSRPs start at $82,700 for the X3 M and $84,300 for the X4 M.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

Far from ready to go home, Hyundai is going big instead with its newest SUV, the Palisade. This full-size model rolled into showrooms at the end of June at a starting price of $38,499, making it an impressive value for its size.

Indeed, the Palisade lands at the large end of the mid-size crossover class, though it casts a smaller shadow than Ford’s new Explorer or the Volkswagen Atlas. This Hyundai utility’s bigness is also evident inside, where it boasts more third-row legroom than the Explorer, but a bit less than the Honda Pilot and VW Atlas.

To our eyes, the Palisade bears a passing resemblance to the GMC Yukon, a full-size model that’s just 20 cm longer and 6.5 cm wider. And yet, if GMC’s specs are to be believed, the Palisade bests the Yukon’s third-row legroom by 17 cm.

Clearly, Hyundai has aimed high with the Palisade. For now, however, the company seems uninterested in competing on performance with larger truck-based SUVs. The sole engine is a 3.8L V6 that makes 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, figures that look good next to the Palisade’s direct competitors, but not V8-powered full-sizers. Hyundai says the Palisade will tow up to 2,267 kg (5,000 lb).

The Palisade’s $38,499 starting price is for Essential trim with front-wheel drive. For many Canadians, the real starting point will be Essential AWD trim, at a still-reasonable $40,499. Essential, Preferred, and Luxury trims are eight-seaters, while Luxury can be optioned with a seven-seat layout that’s standard in the top-end Ultimate model, whose asking price is $53,999.

Hyundai is not alone in exploring a new segment of the SUV marketplace. Its South Korean contemporaries at Kia recently rolled out the Telluride, which shares the Palisade’s underpinnings dressed in a body with more European flavour.