The popular, handsome, three-row Hyundai Palisade was updated for 2023 a freshened face, new interior design, a new infotainment system and new convenience features. It and its Kia Telluride cousin are still hard to find on dealership lots thanks to the sum of those new parts.
Starting with the design change, the 2023 Palisade gets a new front and rear bumper fascia, a new front grille, new headlamps and daytime running lights, new wheel designs and auto-dimming outside mirrors. The new lighting signature has vertical LED composite lights that surround the grille. There are new strakes on the lower front skid plate while the big rear windows emphasize the space inside.
The new-for-2023 rugged Palisade XRT trim comes in front- or all-wheel drive with extra equipment like new dark 20-inch wheels, new lower bumpers and skid plate accents, dark grille finish, a power sunroof and more black accents on the front-drive versions. The all-wheel drive version adds even more including Downhill Brake Control, which slows the driver’s progression down a steep hill, along with Snow, Tow and AWD Lock driving modes. The SE, SEL, Limited and luxury Calligraphy trims are still available.
The seven-or-eight passenger Palisade, with a base price of $35,900, competes with the Telluride, which is ten bucks cheaper. It also shares buyers with the Toyota Highlander ($36,620), the Ford Explorer ($35,510) and the recently redesigned Nissan Pathfinder ($34,640). All five of those are with hundreds of dollars of each other, making this contest between features and powertrain.
The 2023 Palisade’s cabin was also redesigned in this update. It offers a new Ergo driver’s seat designed for more comfort and less fatigue. The third row now has heated seats, and the second row now offers ventilation. New slim air vents stretch the look of the interior. To enter than third row, the second row folds automatically, and the third row folds down to for maximum cargo space when needed. Second row captain’s chairs are available, or a three-person bench.
For convenience, the Palisade has a rearview mirror camera that displays what’s behind the car on the road no matter how high your cargo is stacked. The instrument panel is also redesigned with new ambient lights. Wireless charging capability has been upgraded from 5 watts to 15 watts for faster device charging. It also can be used with a digital key, meaning owners can use their phone to open and operate the vehicle. The 2023 Palisade is also the first Hyundai vehicle to offer Wi-Fi hotspot capability. USB-C outlets have been added as well.
The new seats are comfortable but on the XRT tested here they only had a few adjustments and no under-knee support, which is now expected in family-sized SUVs, but the rest of the cabin felt open and airy. The wide center console had plenty of storage for drinks and stuff while the controls were simple and straightforward. The Palisade does have a push button transmission that saves space in the center.
The tech all worked well, this XRT did not have wireless Apple CarPlay, but the wired version worked fine and kept the phone charged while driving. If a vehicle has wireless CarPlay, but not wireless charging, the phone battery depletes while playing through Bluetooth.
The lane keeping and adaptive cruise control worked well too, keeping an appropriate distance from the car in front, but not too far as to let traffic continually squeeze in. The stop/start system is relatively smooth, but when the SUV is braked to park, and then the driver selects park, the engine kicks back on for some reason. Most vehicles with a stop/start system just turn off at that point.
All Hyundai Palisades come with a 3.8-liter V6 delivering 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That’s more than most of its competitors and plenty for everyday driving, merging and passing. The six-cylinder is refined and quiet too, and the eight-speed automatic transmission is smooth as well. It can drop several gears at a time for speedier passes.
It’s a big vehicle, so it’s not quite nimble on the road, but the Palisade feels planted in everything but the most aggressive maneuvers. On dirt or off-road, it’s also quite capable with all-wheel drive. Still, it’s not meant for trail riding or boulder clearing, more for camping, hunting and fishing.
The new crop of medium-large three-row SUVs is varied, efficient and tech-heavy. The sales leaders are the Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer and with good reason. Both of those have been around for decades, benefiting from refinement and experience. But Hyundai has been building SUVs for decades too; this is just its biggest yet.
Both the Ford and Toyota offer a hybrid version of their respective SUVs, which get better fuel milage than the 19 miles per gallon (mpg) city, 26 mpg highway of the Palisade (19/25 in this XRT all-wheel drive version), which is also something to consider. Hyundai is betting on design and features, and in that they have a winner.