As an automotive journalist-type person I probably get asked about which three-row SUV is best more than any other segment. Two options continuously end up in my top five, the Kia Telluride and the Hyundai Palisade. As you can see from the links, I have driven both of them previously, but for the 2023 model year Hyundai tweaked the Palisade’s front and rear styling and updated some of the trim levels and options. So, when they sent me a 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD to review for a week, I set about…journalism.
2023 Hyundai Palisade Overview
The Palisade has a pretty wide spectrum of trim options available, starting a “lower than the average new car price” amount of $36,400. I’ll let you read through the trim levels and pricing below, but as is typical we got the max-spec Calligraphy to review. It’s got, well everything, here are a few items specific to the top trim Palisade for 2023:
- Faux suede headliner
- Premium leather upholstery
- Quilted-leather door cards
- Trim-specific front and rear and a unique wheel design
- Massage function for driver’s seat
- Customizable ambient lighting
- Digital display rearview mirror
- Smaht Park Assist
- Rear parking collision avoidance
In fact, there wasn’t much left to add, apparently some floor mats.
That brings our tester to an out-the-door price of $52,310. Not inconsequential, but pretty impressive for a top-of-the-range three-row SUV. Let’s get into some details to find out if it’s worth it’s MSRP.
2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD Inside & Out
So, I’ll admit this up front, I’ve always thought the Telluride was a better looking thing. The trim-specific grille for the Calligraphy doesn’t help things, while all other trim levels have a black grille, the Calligraphy…doesn’t. Instead it has 61 individual chicklet-looking shapes that just looks a bit odd if I’m honest. The overall affect of the Palisade Calligraphy’s design is solid, even if I’m not a huge fan of the front end.
The interior is a much better proposition. The Palisade has a clean overall interior design, integrating quite a few actual buttons and a large 12.3-inch screen that doesn’t look quite as tacked-on as in some other setups. The materials feel very solid, bordering on plush, and its easily appropriate for a $50,000 vehicle. I very much appreciated the limited to no use of piano black materials! My parents took a ride in it for about an hour, down from their house to the NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center. My dad was pretty impressed, though his perception of Korean products was significantly dated having been stationed there in the 1970s.
It was a particularly hot day and we all loved the three stage air conditioner. It means that you can adjust the fan up or down slightly while still leaving it in “auto”. The cooled seats were nice as well which spurred a quick comparison to my dad’s 2018 Mercedes Benz GLE which does not have cooled seats. More on that in a bit.
The three-row Palisade delivers solid seating space in all three rows. Specifically 44.1 inches, 42.4 inches, and 31.4 inches in the first through third rows respectively. Meanwhile, the Palisade made easy work of hockey practice, with 18-cubic feet of space behind the third-row.
The power-folding option made for quick work of dropping or raising the back row, and you’ll get a maximum of 86.4 cubic feet with all seats folded.
2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD On The Road
Each trim is powered by a 3.8L V6 engine putting out 291 horsepower, 262 lb-ft of torque paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s not fast, and is actually a bit slow off of the line, hitting 60 in about 7.6 seconds, but has plenty of mid-range passing power. The push button shifter is pretty easy to use, with a fairly intuitive P, R, N, D setup.
Out on said-highway, it’s super comfortable with a lumbar massage “stabilization” feature happening around the one-hour mark automatically. Hyundai’s automated steering feature is pretty great as well, keeping you between the lines without much drama. If you don’t touch the wheel after a minute or so it will yell at you, which makes sense. Still, the Palisade would make not on a great daily driver, but also a fantastic long-haul road trip vehicle.
My dad inadvertently queued up an interesting comparison, his 2018 GLE 350 4MATIC was originally around $60,000 before options. The new Palisade has an almost identical wheelbase, and while it is 1.8-inches shorter (less tall?) and about an inch narrower, it is a full 7.6-inches longer. That means more cargo space, plus seating for seven and more head, leg, and shoulder room on every measurable category. His decades-old concepts of South Korea not withstanding, he was genuinely impressed with the Palisade and I wasn’t surprised to find how well it compares to a few years-old Mercedes SUV.
Overall it’s hard not to recommend the Palisade, though I always mention it with it’s platform-mate, the Telluride. Design is subjective, and I’m sure you’ll likely have a preference between the two. Either way, you can’t go wrong with either of the Hyundai or Kia three-row SUVs, and the Calligraphy trim is *chef’s kiss*, especially for the sticker price.