2023 Hyundai Palisade Ultimate Calligraphy
Price: $59,756.20 CAD
Colour: Robust Emerald
The world is full of mid/full sized SUV’s that can carry seven or eight passengers. They’re so common in fact that they’ve become a little like laundry detergent – we use them everyday without really thinking about it. The Hyundai Palisade was introduced a couple of years ago and quickly became a go-to in this bland wasteland of a market segment. This is my first time driving one and I must say, I’m surprised. For a vanilla vehicle in a vanilla end of the market, the Palisade is the cream that rises to the top.
Power & Performance
Regardless of trim you only get one engine option with the 2023 Palisade. On offer is the same 3.8L V6 we got with previous generations. It still offers 291hp and 262lb/ft of torque as before. This is what I would describe as “sufficient”. There’s nothing electric or electrifying about the Palisades drivetrain and that may well be by design. If it was a snarling beast, it would probably interfere with the absolute smoothness of this vehicle. The power travels through the 8-speed transmission and onto the road like mercury over a counter-top. That’s the primary driving characteristic of the Palisade. Its smoothness defines it. This vehicle is incredibly comfortable to drive. The handling is stable and predictable. The AWD system keeps the Palisade driving in a straight line with confidence.
Fuel economy for the Palisade is stated at 11.2L/100km combined. This is what I would call optimistic. Over my time with the vehicle, which included city and highway driving, I averaged between 12.8-14L/100kms. This makes the 3.8L V6 a wee bit thirsty. If you hyper mile the Palisade in the highway I’m sure you could achieve some really solid fuel economy numbers. Real world driving is less thrilling, but the reality is this is a large vehicle with a sizeable engine and there’s no avoiding it.
There are few exterior changes to the Palisade for this mid-cycle refresh with the exception of the front grille. It looks bigger and more impressive on this model and I like the changes. It adds weight to the car and helps it achieve good balance. The color and appearance of the new grille vary by trim level. The Ultimate Caligraphy trim has a matte/silver/grey kind of look to it that I really like and it’s the best looking of the options available. Hyundai took a good looking car in the Palisade and through small changes only made it better.
When it comes to mid/full sized SUV’s it can often feel like the third row is just crammed in there so they can market it as a 7/8 seater. In the case of the Palisade the third row is actually functional seating space (mostly intended for children). Even with the third row in place you still get sufficient cargo space in the back for your regular shopping and other daily activities. While we’re on the top of that third row it must also be noted it’s fully powered. You can lower and raise it from buttons in the rear cargo area without any need to adjust other seats. The system works well and is a great feature of this vehicle.
I’m going to fixate on a small item that most people don’t think much about. The cupholders in the Palisade are a wonderfully clever, and practical, design. They are packaged in the usual spot in the center console. They do what cupholders do and do it well. Should you need more space in the center console area, say if you need to access the wireless charging pad, you can collapse the cupholders and they will fold away like magic. It really is a clever piece of design.
I love what Hyundai is doing with the dash clusters in their vehicles. The one you get in the Palisade is the same as you get in many other Hyundai vehicles. Typically, this would be a sore point for me but given how good it is I’m going to forgive it. You can switch between the various drive modes and the dash will deliver a different colour scheme for each. It should be noted that this is the extent of the value of the drive modes as the actual driving dynamics don’t change much from one to the other.
One can’t talk about a Hyundai model that has their excellent blind spot camera system and not lavish a little love on that excellent feature. I love this system. It’s not only incredibly useful but an excellent piece of equipment. The cameras are clear and have excellent resolution. Their position within the dash cluster is also perfect as they are easy to see and relay information with ease. I can’t tell you how excellent this system is. It should damn near be required equipment on all cars. It keeps you from ruining your day by running over a smug cyclist who refuses to follow road rules or even basic common sense and sits in your blind spots when you’re getting ready to make a right turn.
The immortal question that plagues all 3 row SUV buyers – do I get seven or eight seats? Not all SUV’s offer an eight-seat option but the 2023 Hyundai Palisade does. You can have bench seats in the second and third row and that gets you to eight. The test model I drove was optioned with captain’s chairs in the second row instead of the bench. This is how you do it. The vast majority of the time, vehicles like the Palisade will only transport four people anyway. They might as well get a comfortable ride. It also allows you to transport adults in as much comfort as those in the front seats.
Space is a funny animal. I’m not talking about outer space, but space inside a vehicle. I was always amazed by the sense of space inside the 2013 Toyota Sienna I drove for many years. It was cavernous. I really liked that about that car. The Palisade offers a similar sense of space. Nowhere near as much of course because minivans are the greatest vehicles ever made, but the sensation is the same. You can move about the Palisade with relative ease (if you’re an adult skip the third row) and there is seemingly endless room. I had the occasion to fill the rear cargo area, with the third row folded down, with grocery items and transport four adults and the Palisade never felt cramped. Plenty of elbow room remained. It was a wonderful real-world test of this vehicle’s airiness.
A rather curious and practical feature on the Palisade is the rear occupancy alert system. It’s a picture of five (in the case of the 7-seater option) little seats in the corner of the infotainment screen. The little icons light up and indicate when any of the seats in the back have an occupant. This is a cool feature to have on the vehicle and I like the simplicity of it. It’s always there and displayed for you. Curiously, it doesn’t operate through sensors in the seat that detect the occupant but rather it functions based on the number of seatbelts that are clipped in. I found that curious, but the system still works.
The infotainment system on the Palisade is unchanged with the refresh and thus we remain with wired CarPlay. I know it’s a small complaint, but I just don’t get it. I recently reviewed the Genesis G90 and that has the same flaw. Hyundai is a leader in automotive technology and systems. I can’t imagine what the issue is that blocks them from something as pedestrian as wireless CarPlay. I hope an update fixes it in the future but only time will tell.
The Hyundai Palisade feels very well made. It’s tight and solid. The materials chosen are of high quality with very little shiny nonsense that will age poorly. I found no real corner cutting with this car and that’s a pleasant surprise.
CQI – 9. The carpet in the Palisade is top shelf. It’s soft and supple and would be easy to vacuum.
Needless to say, at $60k you have many options as to how you spend your money on a car. Without composing a dissertation on the upward pressure of new car pricing I’ll stick to a comparison analysis of the 2023 Hyundai Palisade vs. its competitors. The Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander are the two best competitors to the Palisade. They’re equivalent in pricing and all will seat seven (or six in the case of the CX-9 should you so choose). Neither can seat eight so if max seating capacity is your determining factor the Palisade wins. What neither of these vehicles offers is the space of the Palisade. That’s an X-factor that should be considered when exploring this segment. I will express my preference for the CX-9 of the two as I think the build quality and refinement is superior to the Highlander.
The 2023 Hyundai Palisade is a very solid entrant in the mid/full-size SUV segment. It has almost everything you’d need from a car of this type and size and Hyundai has done a lot of great things with the canvas that is the Palisade. At top spec it provides good value and has a few key advantages of its similarly priced competitors. It’s a pleasant vehicle to drive and is well built with a good attention to detail. It’s possible then that this vehicle, which is working hard in a thankless segment of the market, is good enough to lift you up on those days when you’re never on time, can’t get enough done and the demands just keep coming. That says a lot.