2023 Hyundai Palisade: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Refresh for 2023
Only a scant few years ago, Hyundai introduced Palisade, its largest and most luxurious SUV ever. Flagship of the Hyundai SUV lineup, the Palisade has earned a long list of awards and has proven to be quite popular with the Korea-based auto brand’s U.S. customers. Not one to rest on its laurels, the brand is already updating the 2023 Hyundai Palisade with fresh styling and a range of new interior features.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Family Friendly
“The enhanced 2023 Hyundai Palisade offers the design appeal and features worthy of Hyundai’s flagship SUV,” said Olabisi Boyle, vice president of product planning and mobility strategy at Hyundai Motor North America. “More than ever, Palisade is the ultimate family vehicle for daily use and memory-making road trips.”

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Updated Design
The most obvious change to the Palisade is a new front-end design. A wider, cascading grille gives the Palisade a more premium look, while associating the styling with other members of the Hyundai SUV family such as the Tucson and Santa Cruz. New vertical LED running lights frame the edges of the prominent frontal area highlighted by new vertical composite headlights. The new grille flows into the hood, bringing together the various new design elements.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Refined Profile
Hyundai designers also gave the updated 2023 Palisade a longer front overhang and a shorter rear overhang, giving the big SUV a stronger presence that also makes the entire vehicle slightly longer than the previous version. Depending on trim level, the Palisade can be fitted with redesigned 18-inch or 20-inch alloy wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Rear View
The updated Palisade has a cleaner look from the rear as well, thanks to a new lower fascia, vertical LED taillights and an integrated tow hitch cover.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Model Lineup
The 2023 Hyundai Palisade is available in five trim levels: SE, SEL, Limited, Calligraphy and a new trim for this model year, the XRT. The rugged-looking XRT slots between the SEL and Limited. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trims; HTRAC AWD is available for an additional $1,900.

© Hyundai Motor America Hyundai Palisade SE
At a base price of $34,950, the SE remains the entry point in the Palisade lineup. Palisade SE comes with seating for eight, a 12.3-inch color touchscreen display with navigation, dynamic voice recognition, multiple USB-A and USB-C charge ports, a Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and 16 (yes, sixteen) cupholders. LED projector headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels are also standard.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Hyundai Palisade SEL
Priced at $37,950, the SEL is expected to be the highest-volume Palisade. Upgrades over the SE include H-Tex leatherette-trimmed seats, heated power front seats, second-row captain’s chairs (a bench seat is optional), LED interior lighting, wireless phone charging and dual front- and second-row climate controls. The SEL also gets silver roof rails, a hands-free smart liftgate and LED taillights.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Hyundai Palisade XRT
At a starting price of $40,250, the XRT is a new trim for the 2023 Palisade. The XRT gets an almost sinister look with a dark grille finish, front and rear black lower bumper and skid plate accents, black roof rails and 20-inch black alloy wheels. The XRT has all features of the SEL with the addition of a power sunroof.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Hyundai Palisade Limited
Priced at $46,500, the Limited upgrades the SEL with leather-trimmed seats, ventilated front seats, heated and ventilated second-row seats and heated third-row seats. Other features include a dual-panel sunroof; a heated steering wheel; a head-up display; a 12.3-inch digital driver display; a blind-spot monitor; acoustic front and side glass; a power-folding third row; and a 630-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system with 12 speakers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy
The top-of-the-line Palisade, the Calligraphy has a starting price of $48,900. Features above and beyond the Limited include premium Nappa leather seat trim, an ergo-motion massaging driver’s seat and ambient interior lighting. Additional features are a digital rearview mirror; side-mirror approach lighting; body-color bumpers; a premium front grille; remote smart parking assist; rear collision avoidance; and special 20-inch alloy wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Interior Updates
For 2023 Hyundai has restyled the interior so it feels more like a premium cabin. Slim vents stretch across the dashboard to give Palisade a more expansive look, and the SUV’s quick-access buttons have been restyled to make them much easier to see when compared to the previous version. The large display screen is better integrated into the driver area, and the steering wheel has been revised for a more modern look. Other updates include a freshened gauge cluster and new materials trimming the dash and other surfaces.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Front Seats
The front-seat design has not changed much from the previous version; they remain stylish and comfortable, especially in the top-level trims. The Palisade features a large center console with multiple USB chargers, a wireless phone charger as well as unique, retractable cupholders that can create space for other items when not in use. A space below the console provides additional room for large bags or other items.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Second Row
Most Palisades will be equipped with the individual captain’s chairs, which add a level of luxury as well as spaciousness to the second row. Seats offer plenty of legroom, and multiple USB ports keep devices charged. Seats quickly fold forward for easy access to the third row.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Third Row
As is the case with many three-row SUVs, the third row of the 2023 Palisade can feel a bit cramped, especially with three passengers. That said, there is reasonable legroom in this rear-most seat, and passengers relegated to the third row do get cupholders as well as available USB ports.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Cargo Space
Palisade offers a decent amount of space for luggage and other items even if the third row is in place, and there is additional storage below the floor. Rear seats are split folding to provide additional versatility, and both second row and third row can be folded via buttons in the cargo area for quick expansion of the available space.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Advanced Safety
Hyundai has equipped the Palisade with SmartSense, the latest in advanced safety and driver-assistance features. These include blind-spot alert; rear cross-traffic alert; automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection; lane-keeping assist; safe exit assist; trailer sway control; and navigation-based smart cruise control with stop/go and curve control. Palisade also gets an ultrasonic rear-passenger alert (except the SE) that can detect if someone has been left in the vehicle; the system activates the vehicle alarm and also sends an alert to the driver’s smartphone.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Phone as Key
For additional convenience, the 2023 Palisade features Hyundai’s latest Digital Key 2, which lets the driver use an Apple or Android smartphone as a key for unlocking or driving. With the app installed, the driver simply touches the phone to the door handle to unlock the Palisade, then taps the phone against the wireless charger to start. It’s even possible to share the key via iMessage or Samsung Pass to three additional drivers, and the permission level can be set to provide full access or simply lock/unlock privileges.

© Hyundai Motor America Under the Hood
The 2023 Hyundai Palisade continues with its powertrain from the previous year: a 3.8-liter V6 engine producing 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Power gets directed to the road via an 8-speed automatic transmission. With that much muscle on tap, the Palisade can tow up to 5,000 pounds when equipped with trailer brakes. According to the U.S. EPA, the Palisade can achieve 19 mpg city / 27 mpg hwy / 22 mpg combined. AWD drops hwy mpg to 25, combined to 21.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience On the Road
With the same powertrain and chassis as the previous version, the 2023 Hyundai Palisade drives much like its predecessor — a good thing. The big SUV’s ride is extremely quiet even on rough pavement, and it feels solid and stable even on winding roads. The V6 engine has plenty of power, and the transmission shifts are practically imperceptible. Palisade certainly works well as a daily driver or for a long road trip.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Off Pavement
Most Palisade owners are unlikely to do much off-roading; however, we took the big SUV off pavement on a trail around the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina during a press event. With limited ground clearance, the Palisade is not built to handle anything too severe, although the AWD system works fine by providing traction on gravel and muddy roads and trails while the ride remains quiet and comfortable.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Right For You?
The three-row SUV segment is one of the most competitive in America, with offerings from practically every major automaker; the 2023 Hyundai Palisade certainly holds its own in this crowded market. Updates to the exterior styling help Palisade stand out with a more premium look, and the interior revisions add a fresh look to an already attractive cabin. With a roomy, premium passenger area, the latest in advanced safety technology and a powerful V6 engine, the Palisade is certainly worthy of consideration as an ideal family SUV.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Rating: 8.5
Pros: Attractive new styling; Family friendly interior; standard advanced safety features.
Cons: Third row tight for three; seat massage only on driver’s seat.
Bottom Line: With improvements inside and out, the 2023 Hyundai Palisade becomes and even better option as a family friendly premium SUV.

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