After sunsetting the Azera here in the U.S. following the 2017 model year, Hyundai needed a new flagship vehicle. Meet the upscale 2023 Hyundai Palisade.
Hyundai debuted the Palisade for the 2020 model year, and, in doing so, created a new flagship vehicle that also happened to be its largest. While the core chassis and powertrain remain, Hyundai’s nearly 200-inch-long crossover SUV gets new styling, safety, and technology for 2023.
SUVs are super-hot sellers these days, which makes the competition ever more fierce. To keep buyers interested, Hyundai revised the Palisade for 2023 with additional styling at the front and rear, a massaging seat along with new materials and features in the interior, and a slew of new screens and tech to keep up with all the car-company Joneses.
2023 Hyundai Palisade: Back in Black
To start, you can order a new Palisade trim: the XRT. It slots above the base SE and one-step-up SEL levels but beneath the Limited and top-of-the-line Calligraphy Palisades.
Essentially, the XRT starts life as an SEL trim and gets a makeover in black. More specifically: black grille, 20-inch wheels, roof rails, lower door trim, and extra black on the front and rear fascias too.
You also get a power moonroof and leatherette seats in black. Overall, the XRT looks a bit harder around the edges and carries a subtly adventurous vibe. Nice! If you’re into that kind of thing.
Keeping Up With Fast Fashion
Like many makes these days, Hyundai started styling updates with the grille, making it bigger and bolder than the ’22 Palisade. The grille itself is rectangular, but patterns and depth in the grille elements give a cascading look — a theme used on many models since it was introduced on the 2018 Sonata.
On either side of the new grille lie vertically mounted daytime running lights, which emit two bars of soft light on the far sides of the otherwise slightly renovated front fascia.
In back, Hyundai covered the trailer hitch with bumper-matched cladding and gave the rear a similar styling treatment to the front. You roll on new wheel designs, too, depending on which trim you choose: 18 or 20 inches.
Inside, the Palisade rocks a new steering wheel, with a lot of buttons to control plenty of things, like Highway Driving Assist 2 (more on that in a minute).
Hyundai modernized materials on the seats and, if you go top-of-the-line (Calligraphy), the driver gets a massaging seat with adjustable lumbar and upper bolsters and a fancy name — “ergo motion.” Calligraphy and Limited Palisades also offer heated seats in all three rows.
New Technology, Bigger Screens, More Gadgets
Styling changes are subtle and subjective. New tech, on the other hand, may prove pivotal. To start, outgoing Palisades used an 8-inch center console touchscreen on the lower trims and a 10.25-inch screen on the higher ones. Now it’s a 12.3-inch screen across the board.
Furthermore, you get more powerful USB ports for faster device charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot. SEL models and up get the digital key 2 option — a system that allows your smartphone to lock, unlock, and start the Palisade without the actual key. And worry not, there’s a wireless phone charger to keep your “key” from running out of battery.
However, if you do keep the actual key with you, and have the Calligraphy-trim Palisade, you can pull in or out of a tight parking spot with it. Hyundai named it “remote smart parking assist.” With the key fob, you have a button to move the vehicle forward and another to back it up. It’s like returning to the good old days of running your radio-controlled car around — sort of.
Going with the Calligraphy also adds Nappa leather, generally nicer upholstery, and even more tech. Hyundai throws in a fully digital rearview mirror called “full display.” When turned on, the mirror becomes a screen to display the image from a rearview-mounted camera.
But, if you prefer, it still functions just fine as a regular mirror. When looking forward, you get a color heads-up display to peruse while traveling. That last one is also available on Limited trims.
Unchanged for this mid-cycle revision is the 3.8L naturally aspirated V6, pumping out 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers may seem a tad lackluster given the displacement. But this engine runs on the Atkinson cycle, which sacrifices higher peak power for more efficiency.
No worries — 291 horsepower drives around this roughly 4,500-pound, three-row people-hauler with no trouble. Burdened with only 15.5 pounds per horsepower, it’s just a touch behind the Lexus LX600, which moves around quite well.
Power channels through an eight-speed automatic before heading to either the front or all four wheels. All-wheel drive is available on every trim for an extra $1,900.
More importantly, this 3.8L runs smoothly and quietly. On the interstate, you see engine speeds around 2,000 rpm and hear but a distant rumble in the background. But, when you need it, the eight-speed will kick down a few gears in a jiffy and you’re off.
Going Atkinson returns decent fuel economy numbers, too: 19 mpg in the city, 25 on the highway, and 21 combined. That’s with AWD. Front-wheel-drive Palisades bump highway mpg to 27 and combined to 22. In a 68.9-inch-tall, 77.8-inch-wide, 196.7-inch-long wagon, that’s laudable.
Cruise With Comfort & Convenience
The most significant change to the Palisade is noticed when you get on the road, especially on the highway. For 2023, it received additional sound-deadening material in parts of the body, and Calligraphy-trim models get acoustic rear door glass to further reduce intruding noise.
As a result, the Palisade isolates wind and road noise very well. Even on rough aggregate pavement, you can carry on a conversation with passengers and avoid the bothersome outside interrupting you. It’s lovely!
Furthermore, Hyundai added more driving-aid tech for a better automated interstate experience. In addition to the now usual battery of aids, like automatic emergency braking, top trims also get Highway Driving Assist 2. This incorporates adaptive cruise control as well as lane-centering and lane-changing assistance and melds them into one. When engaged, the system operates smoothly and keeps the experience calm.
Both the first and second rows provide plenty of space for adults. Limited and Calligraphy models offer rows with heated and cooled seats. All trims provide independent temperature controls as well.
While cramped for adults, the third row provides bountiful space for two kids and adequate space for three. This would make a fabulous road-trip car.
And there’s plenty of space for stuff. You get 18 cubic feet of storage behind the third row. If you only need two rows, cargo space jumps to nearly 46 cubic feet. Just two of you? There’s more than 86 cubic of space behind you.
2023 Hyundai Palisade: The Almighty Dollar
Base price for the 2023 Hyundai Palisade comes to $36,545 MSRP. That gets you a front-wheel-drive SE model. The front-wheel-drive Honda Pilot is comparable for $39,375 MSRP. Going Calligraphy with all-wheel drive costs more than $52,000 MSRP, but when considering the available luxuries offered, that’s more than reasonable.
It’s not the gadgets and comforts that make the value-for-dollar argument for the Palisade. Did I mention the heated steering wheel standard on Limited and Calligraphy trims? OK!
I like gadgets and comforts, but it’s not just that. This updated Palisade puts all these components in an elegant package that works well as one cohesive unit. It delivers stout power and gives everybody inside the space — and charge ports — they need to stay satisfied.
The car-company Joneses have some work to do.