2023 Hyundai Palisade Pros
The base model, $50,688, offers an incredible amount of value.
The facelift and other upgrades for 2023 are significant for a midcycle refresh.
First impressions are impossible to ignore.
All versions are exceptionally refined.
2023 Hyundai Palisade Cons
Styling for higher trims is borderline ridiculous.
Long-term durability is still questionable.
Until a revolution occurs, potentially and hopefully with EVs, SUVs will continue to dominate the automotive industry. No longer is it acceptable for an automaker to not have a killer offering in any of the three major SUV segments: Compact, midsize, and three-row midsize. Those who understood this years ago are doing well. Hint, Hyundai is killing it in all three segments.
The larger midsize three-row Hyundai Palisade is a force to be reckoned with. Loaded, affordable, and with a huge on-road presence, it sways opinions one way or another. I continue to be concerned with a Hyundai vehicle’s medium- and long-term durability but, I’ve said this in a previous review, I’m running out of ammunition. Basically, I continue to fail at getting consumers to not fall under a Hyundai’s (or Kia’s) spell.
Premium driving experience
As it happens, I’ve ended up driving two versions of the Palisade, and no matter which, the big Hyundai soothes and delivers exactly what consumers. In fact, my father, who often helps me out with press car rotations, drove the Palisade Urban and was shocked by how pleasing and amenable it was to drive through Montreal traffic.
And I must agree. The standard-for-all 3.8L V6 engine is silky smooth as well as responsive. The associated 8-speed automatic transmission is all but invisible as well as satisfying thanks to its ideal gearing. With 291hp and 262 lb.-ft. of torque, the 4,500lbs SUV gets up and goes with authority. Unless crushing the throttle with malicious intent, kick-downs and the ensuing waft of speed are completed with little fuss.
When cruising, the 2023 Hyundai Palisade feels perfectly civil and luxurious. Truth is that even when compared to a recently driven $200k+ Range Rover, the Korean SUV is far closer in on-road behaviour than it has any business to be. Less than-ideal road surfaces will upset ride quality and it’s mostly noticeable because the reigning serenity is sharply disrupted. The dampers could be calibrated for greater initial forgiveness and this, despite the included self-leveling rear suspension.
Dynamically speaking, all controls work as intended but say unlike a Volkswagen Atlas or a Mazda CX-9, the Palisade will not immediately satisfy a craving for some spirited driving. The brake pedal is responsive and, when the steering wheel is tugged on, things happen up front. The SUV caters to SUV buyers in all respects here.
Plush and luxurious
Being onboard the as-tested $59,488 2023 Hyundai Palisade Ultimate Calligraphy is probably as close as most of us will ever come to sitting in a Bentley Bentayga. I say this knowing full well that the materials used and the craftsmanship involved in assembling a Bentley is on a far superior scale than the Hyundai but for you and me, we could be fooled into thinking this is as good as it gets. And the new-for-2023 instrument panel and gauge cluster help to sell the idea.
The new premium Nappa leather seats, velvety-suede headliner, and lovely interior appliques and accents are superb; there’s no other way to describe the piping, the cross-stitching, and the general fit and finish. Factor in massive amounts of room for everyone and everything and this is an affordable premium living at its best.
The standard 12.3-inch touchscreen display is user-friendly and features navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Satellite radio, and loads more. Moving up the trim ladder throws in a recessed digital 12.3-inch digital instrument panel which varies its presentation with drive modes. The base $50,688 Preferred trim also includes keyless entry and start, a heated steering wheel and front seats, 20-inch wheels, and more, is the one to consider.
The Preferred and Urban also have something else going for them: They don’t look as silly. Frankly, the Ultimate Calligraphy is trying way too hard to convince onlookers that it’s more than a Hyundai. The first and second trims are not entirely subtle, but they do without the excessive dark-chrome cladding that covers about 95% of the front fascia.
From every other angle, the 2023 Hyundai Palisade is attractive. The 2023 facelift includes the front grille and surroundings including the headlights and the rear bumper. Launched only in 2020, the Palisade’s design was far from broken and now, it’s just different.
So many three-row midsize SUVs to select from
Assuming that all new vehicles are disposable, the 2023 Hyundai Palisade is a great option. For most if not all key markers, it rivals all other players in the segment. For a longer relationship, I’d look elsewhere but I won’t push the point.
Alternatives include the Toyota Highlander, new Mazda CX-90, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, and Kia Telluride. All have plenty to offer. If I was to select, I’d put my delicate eggs in the Toyota’s basket. If I was a risk-taker, for a longer relationship, I’d chance the Telluride because it’s more attractive than the Hyundai.