Released in 2020, the Hyundai Palisade has been a favourite, not only amongst us car reviewers but consumers as well judging by how many we see on the road. To keep it looking fresh, Hyundai has given the Palisade a minor facelift, and we managed to borrow the keys for a weeklong evaluation of the top-of-the-line model – the 2023 Hyundai Palisade Ultimate Calligraphy.
The 2023 model now sports a newly designed front grille, bumper, and headlamps which give the Palisade a more distinctive and commanding look on the road. As popular as the three-row midsize crossover segment is, they all still look a little bland and unassuming, but the Palisade remains one of the more attractive options on the road today.
The interior of the Palisade also receives several significant updates to stay ahead of the pack – new for 2023 includes an updated instrument panel, cluster, infotainment interface, steering wheel, seat surfaces and materials and the inclusion of ergo-motion driver’s seat which functions similar to a massage seat to keep drivers energized and enhance comfort. Rear passengers are not forgotten either; third row seats are now heated to go along with the already heated and cooled second row, and the rear door windows receive thicker glass for additional sound deadening in the Ultimate Calligraphy trim.
There is lots to like about the Palisade’s cabin; controls are well within reach and there is lots of passenger space as well as good sized storage units. Head and legroom is not an issue and the captain’s seat configuration makes for easy entry and exit for the rearmost passengers. The Palisade is a good place to spend time in thanks to the large windows, comfortable seats, and lack of road and wind noise. Cargo capacity is above-average also at 509 litres behind the third row and nearly 1,300 litres once folded.
The interior layout has also been tweaked for a cleaner and more spacious look. The 12-inch touchscreen atop the centre console houses Hyundai’s infotainment system. We like that this user interface is relatively intuitive and there are plenty of physical buttons on the centre console for quick system access. Our biggest complaint around the dashboard is the use of the button shifter design; we often found ourselves looking down to check for the right button and the shift between forward and reverse gears just felt a bit delayed when compared to traditional shifters.
Smartphone users will be glad to hear there is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support and seven USB ports throughout the cabin on top of the four 12-volt power outlets to keep every device going. Drivers can listen to their playlist through the upgraded 12-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo system on Luxury and Ultimate Calligraphy trims that fills the cabin with premium sound quality. New for 2023 is a digital center rearview mirror that projects an image from a rearview camera so drivers can see behind the Palisade even if the rear window is obstructed, and works great in practice once you get over the initial adaptation period.
In this day and age where three-row crossovers are increasingly reliant on smaller turbocharged engines or electrified powertrains, Hyundai has kept the 3.8-litre naturally aspirated V6 as the only engine choice for the Palisade. It is a silky-smooth powertrain with minimal vibration and harshness, but unfortunately its 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque felt a bit underwhelming when it came time to push the midsize crossover around town. There is enough power, but the eight-speed automatic is tuned to favour comfort and perhaps fuel economy over quick acceleration and you will need to exercise patience for the downshift whenever power is required.
Similar to acceleration, the Palisade’s handling is also uneventful but not completely dull. There is actually decent feel from the steering rack but the size and weight show quickly once you start turning the wheel. Good news is the brakes are solid to halt the truck quickly if things were to get out of hand. Those looking to tow can do so using the Palisade’s new Tow Mode that automatically adjust its powertrain response to allow up to 5,000 pounds to be lugged.
Fuel economy of the 2023 Hyundai Palisade is rated at 12.3L/100km in the city and 9.6L/100km on the highway for a combined figure of 11.1L/100km, closely matching our observed consumption for the week. Good news here is that the Palisade is above-average at hypermiling than other V6-powered crossovers in its class and regular grade gasoline is accepted.
When it comes to driver assistance, Hyundai has got it covered by offering the 2023 Palisade its full suite of technologies such as Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Safe Exist Assist, Driver Attention Warning, High Beam Assist, Lane Following Assist, Highway Driving Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist, and Remote Smart Parking Assist systems. New for this year is the inclusion of rear side-impact airbags as standard equipment to keep everyone safe inside the cabin. The Palisade continues to lead the segment when it comes to its safety features.
For 2023, the base Palisade Essential trim has been cut from the lineup and the base model is now the Palisade Preferred which carries a starting MSRP of $47,799 – a sizable increase in starting price because of the model change. The selling price reaches $56,599 for the Ultimate Calligraphy model.
The Palisade competes directly against many Japanese heavyweights such as the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot, and while it might no longer be trying to win on value like the brand’s business model of yore, it still presents a good bang for the buck thanks to the long list of standard equipment. The 2023 Hyundai Palisade Ultimate Calligraphy is still a segment leader once ride comfort and safety features are factored in the equation.