2023 Hyundai Palisade Hands-On Preview: 5 Ways This Three-Row Crossover is Even Cooler

Evan Williams
by Evan Williams

To us, the Hyundai Palisade was a surprise smash hit, and we think for Hyundai too.

The three-row crossover was massive, spacious, luxurious, and, though it was square, it wasn’t in-your-face aggressive like so many other crossovers that aren’t quite SUVs but want to be.

Get a Quote on a New Hyundai Palisade

For 2023, Hyundai has given this family hauler a refresh with styling we like even more, luxury that blows away almost anything in the segment, and that doesn’t ignore even the third-row passengers that the driver probably does. We got to spend some quality time with the 2023 Hyundai Palisade at the New York auto show debut, and here are five things that we think you need to know.

Heated Third-Row Seats

The way, way back of the Palisade is plenty big enough to hold two full-size adults in comfort. Hyundai has cup holders on both sides back there, and USB-C ports for device charging. Even getting in and out is easy thanks to a tall roof and slide-forward middle seats.

Forget about all of that, this is the best part of the third row: The seats are heated. Yes, butt warmers for the passengers that are usually all but ignored. What other vehicles offer this feature? No, really, we can’t find any. The Hyundai Palisade and Bentley Bentayga both give you heated and cooled middle-row chairs, but only Hyundai heats the third row.

SEE ALSO: Hyundai Palisade vs Kia Telluride Comparison

If you’re reading this in Canada, then we’re sorry, but this list is actually four cool things about the Palisade. Why? Citing various market forces and the desire to keep MSRP down, buyers in frosty Canadian cities and towns won’t get the warmed third row.

That New Face

We’re not exactly sure how to describe this new nose, all we know is that it is super cool. Just look at the grille, with chunky chrome chiclets angling toward the center. Even the LED lights (those aren’t the headlights) up top line up with the grille’s bars, with a similar angle and shape. Then, as you move down the grille, the chrome blocks get thinner. Look extra closely, and instead of angling in toward the center, they start to flank it instead. While the top of each piece is level on the thickest blocks, watch closely as they turn into a very subtle Flying-V shape.

The lower grille uses blocks even thinner and wider than the upper part, giving it a truly cohesive look.

There is one problem, though. 31 U.S. states (and three provinces) require you to have a front plate. Which will ruin all of the great work Hyundai’s designers have done.

Tow Mode

A big crossover like this is often called up to tow trailers. Boats, ATVs, smaller campers, and landscaping supplies could be part of a normal weekend. The Palisade offers you the ability to tow up to 5,000 lbs. It’s not the most in the class, but it is a useful amount.

For 2023, Hyundai is looking to help make it easier. The Palisade’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system adds a new tow mode that adjusts the powertrain’s responses to make pulling a trailer a little less stressful. It holds gears longer and makes sure the transmission shifts less often than when you’re unloaded. That keeps transmission temperatures down and reduces wear on the clutches and the fluid in the eight-speed automatic.

Combine it with the available auto-levelling suspension, standard trailer prep package, and trailer sway control, and the Palisade should become a more capable occasional hauler.

Ergo Motion Seats

Hyundai’s information about the 2023 Palisade’s new available driver’s seat was vague. The release called it the Ergo Motion seat but said that it was “designed to provide comfort and help reduce fatigue during long drives” and nothing else. Well, here’s the deal: Ergo Motion is a massage seat. Sort of.

Genesis also offers the Ergo Motion seat, and talks about a seat with multiple air cells (seven for the G80). The cells allow the seat to raise and lower the pressure in the different parts of the seat, like a massage function. The cells can also adjust in a way that helps you feel like you’re stretching while driving and can even automatically help correct your posture. The seat modes adjust for each drive mode, as well.

So the Palisade will have a seat that might not offer massage in the traditional automotive sense of the word, but it is a very cool seat that should make you very comfortable on long drives. It made us comfy sitting in it, but that was for just a few minutes.

New Connected Car Features

Connected car features didn’t have much of an appeal to us when they launched. Sure, I can start my car or unlock it using the internet. But I can do that from my living room using the remote.

For 2023, Hyundai’s Bluelink system lets you store driver settings in the cloud and then engage those remotely. Set your radio presets, power seat location, mirrors, and more, and then your Palisade can switch between your settings and any other driver’s settings. No more manually cranking the seat around for a shorter (or taller) partner, and no re-setting the radio stations after your teenager has a drive.

SEE ALSO: Subaru Ascent vs Hyundai Palisade: Which Mid-Size Three-Row SUV Is Right For You?

The new system lets you turn on the seat heater and ventilated seats if you’re using remote start, too. The idea of coming out to a vehicle in the summer with seats that aren’t hot enough to imprint their stitching into your thighs is a good one. The more advanced computer lets you adjust the climate control, seats, and even open the hatch using simple voice commands. Chalk up another win for technology.

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Evan Williams
Evan Williams

Evan moved from engineering to automotive journalism 10 years ago (it turns out cars are more interesting than fibreglass pipes), but has been following the auto industry for his entire life. Evan is an award-winning automotive writer and photographer and is the current President of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. You'll find him behind his keyboard, behind the wheel, or complaining that tiny sports cars are too small for his XXXL frame.

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