2023 Hyundai Palisade Review: It’s hard to do better
Pros: Premium interior; more passenger and cargo space than many rivals; great tech; comfy to drive
Cons: Styling went backwards for 2023; no hybrid or PHEV option
The 2023 Hyundai Palisade is freshened up this year with a new look and more features, but our opinion about it remains the same. Minus the Kia Telluride, the Palisade is our favorite three-row SUV. And yes, it’s one of our top-recommended SUVs, but beyond all of us editors liking it so much, one of us put his money where our mouths are and bought one after living in and loving our long-term Palisade so much. The increasingly great combo of tech, refinement, spaciousness and design makes it an easy winner in our book.
Of course, the the Palisade’s Telluride platform mate is similarly enticing, and we like its design even more. However, our current car market with shortages everywhere has made the ultra-popular Telluride much more difficult to buy than a Palisade, making the Hyundai a perfect fallback. The one downside to the Palisade versus some of its competitors is the lack of a hybrid powertrain. A Toyota Highlander and Kia Sorento can be bought with fuel efficient hybrid setups, but the admittedly larger Palisade mushes on with its naturally aspirated V6 as the only engine option. Even with this omission, the Palisade is tough to say no to, as it punches far above its price bracket. A fully-loaded Calligraphy is verging on a luxury car inside, and it’s just barely cresting the $50,000 mark. You get a whole lot for your money here, and we can’t recommend the updated Palisade enough if you’re shopping for a three-row SUV.
What's new for 2023?
The Palisade gets its mid-cycle refresh for 2023, meaning that there’s a whole lot new this year. It gets a revised grille, bumpers and headlights. The interior features a new dash design with updated screens and a smattering of new technology. There’s also a new XRT trim that features a blacked-out grille, glossy black trim and roof bars.
What are the Palisade’s interior and in-car technology like?
The Palisade boasts a uniquely elegant cabin highlighted by a wide, Mercedes-like infotainment panel, distinctive trim types and a center console that rises to meet the dash, leaving extra storage underneath. It's both attractive and functional, and it can provide quite the "wow" moment if you've just come from test driving a Honda Pilot or Subaru Ascent – competitors that are well constructed but score a zero in charisma. The Palisade's quality is also shockingly good, inching awfully close to genuine luxury territory (The Calligraphy is the best example of this near-luxury experience).
Every Palisade comes standard with an 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation that's easy to use and to see. You can devote the entire screen to one function, split it between two (such as the navigation map and audio system information), or leave it on the home screen that shows various functions. It's similar to what you see in various luxury brands, and it's just as well-executed, if even a bit better, in the Palisade. Hyundai added a pay-by-the-month WiFi hotspot to the Palisade for 2023. A digital rearview mirror is also newly available, but only comes on the Calligraphy as standard equipment.
Hyundai's big family hauler also comes standard with a multitude of standard infotainment features including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio and five USB ports (one USB-A and four USB-C ports). An extra pair of USB-C ports is added to upper trim levels, and wireless phone charging is standard on all but the base model. A Harman/Kardon surround sound audio system is standard on the upper trims levels. Shared with the Telluride is a rear seat mute function that easily disables the rear speakers (for sleeping kids, or those who don't want to listen to your lame old music) as well as the Driver Talk in-car intercom system that transmits the driver's voice to those sitting in the back.
How big is the Palisade?
The Palisade is one of the largest three-row crossovers. Few are as long and wide, while third-row leg- and headroom are among the most generous in the segment. Even a tall adult can fit back there quite comfortably. Better still, the large rear quarter windows and the wide, upright vehicle sides means that whoever sits back there won't feel too claustrophobic. Access to the third row benefits from one-press power release buttons, as well as unique grab handles integrated into the C pillars, but the resulting gap between that pillar and slid-forward seat is merely average. The second row offers a standard 60/40-split bench seat that results in an eight-person overall capacity, or captain's chairs that reduce capacity to seven. Space and comfort are excellent with either, but that's to be expected in this segment. Cargo capacity is also better than most, at 18 cubic feet behind the raised third row, which is enough to fit four sizable suitcases. Only the Palisade's boxier Telluride sibling as well as the Volkswagen Atlas have swallowed more. There is 45.8 cubic feet when the third row is lowered, and 86.4 when both rows are lowered – both are pretty average for the segment, which is just fine. The second row features a standard power-folding release, while a fully power-operated third row is optional on the SEL and standard on the Limited. Finally, storage for small items is a standout Palisade feature. The front center console has a sizable under-armrest bin, and there's another bin forward of that one covered by a sliding cover that houses the wireless smartphone charging pad (if so equipped) and nifty cupholders pictured below that disappear to free up extra space when not in use. Then, there's an expansive space under the console big enough for a purse, plus decently sized door bins and lots of back seat cupholders.
What are the Palisade’s fuel economy and performance specs?
Every Palisade comes with a 3.8-liter V6 engine that produces 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Front- or all-wheel drive are available, and an eight-speed automatic is standard. The towing capacity is 5,000 pounds on every Palisade. A class III hitch and an auto-leveling rear suspension are available.
Fuel economy for 2023 checks in at 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. It falls to 19/25/21 with AWD.
What's the Palisade like to drive?
Much like the Kia Telluride that shares its mechanical underpinnings, the Hyundai Palisade offers a well-rounded driving experience free from bad habits but also bereft of anything particularly memorable. Effectively, it reaches the bar set by the vast majority of buyers in this segment. The V6 engine produces plenty of power, but ultimately produces acceleration on-par with most other vehicles in the segment. The steering is precise and gains a little extra effort when in Sport mode, but it also doesn't keep you particularly engaged in the driving experience. It gets a little silkier and smoother for 2023 thanks to new frequency sensing valve that detect rough road impacts and aims to increase stability. Similarly, the suspension capably controls body motions and the stock tires do a good job of gripping pavement (or even loose gravel). Those looking for more of a car-like driving experience should check out the Mazda CX-9.
The Palisade's available all-wheel-drive system has a function that locks the front/rear power distribution at 50/50 for added traction while off-roading. We found it capable enough driving on a lengthy gravel road with plenty of tight turns. However, its 7.9 inches of ground clearance is unremarkable (even in the new XRT), and unlike several competitors, the Palisade doesn't offer any sort of off-road driving modes. But its AWD system should provide some peace of mind in slick or snowy conditions. A new tow mode for 2023 will hold gears longer and reduce the frequency of shifts.
What is the 2023 Palisade’s price?
Pricing starts at $36,245, including the $1,295 destination charge, for the base front-wheel-drive Palisade SE. All-wheel drive is a $1,900 option on all trims. Only the SEL offers a factory option by way of a Premium Package or an 8-passenger seating package.
Standard feature content on the SE includes a massive amount of standard safety equipment (see Safety section below), plus 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED exterior accent lighting, auto-dimming mirrors, a six-way manually adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split second-row bench seating (includes remote folding from the cargo area and one-touch sliding for third-row access), a 12.3-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and five USB ports.
For $3,000 more, the SEL adds many worthwhile features, including a sunroof, H-Tex seats (a new vinyl for 2023), a power driver seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and dual-zone automatic climate control plus fancier interior trim. You also get second-row captain's chairs, although unlike the Limited and Calligraphy, you can keep the SE's bench and therefore eight-passenger seating.
The XRT (pictured below) falls in between the SEL and Limited trims — it amounts to an appearance package for the SEL trim, and despite the looks, the XRT does not offer any more off-road ability. We do like all of the exterior extras like the blacked-out grille, more rugged-looking fascias and cross bars on the roof rails.
Extra luxury equipment is added to the SEL through the SEL's Premium package. But if you want all the features Hyundai offers, you need to step up to either the Limited or fully-loaded Calligraphy, the latter of which starts at $50,195.
SE: $36,245 SEL: $39,245 — Convenience package: $4,950 XRT: $41,545 Limited: $49,695 Calligraphy: $50,195
What are the Palisade’s safety ratings and driver assistance features?
Every 2023 Hyundai Palisade comes standard with forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, lane-keeping assist, a driver inattention warning system, a safe exit assist (warns passengers of on-coming traffic when opening doors), and adaptive cruise control. The blind-spot warning system can be upgraded to include a camera system that shows an image of the vehicle's side in the instrument panel when you use the respective turn signal direction (the display differs by trim level). This is in addition to warning lights in the mirror (standard) and head-up display (optional).
Although many of these features come standard on rival SUVs, Hyundai's are some of the best-executed. They behave in a natural manner and don't annoy with constant false alarms, and of course, help keep you safe. The adaptive cruise control, or Hyundai Driver Assist, impressed during our long-term Palisade test.
The Palisade received a perfect five stars from the government for overall, side and frontal crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Palisade a Top Safety Pick+ for its top-rated performance in all crash tests and for its crash-prevention tech. Even its headlights were uniformly rated "Good," which is a rarity. Hyundai added new rear side-impact airbags for 2023, too, in an effort to improve safety even further.
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