2023 Hyundai Palisade Review First Drive: Just Like The Old Car, But Better

Kevin Williams
by Kevin Williams
2023 hyundai palisade review first drive just like the old car but better


Engine: 3.8L V6
Output: 291 hp, 262 lb-ft
Transmission: 8AT, FWD or AWD
US fuel economy (MPG): 19 city / 15 hwy (AWD)
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 12.6 city / 9.5 hwy
Starting Price (USD): $36,245 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $52,095 (inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $49,324 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $58,124 (inc. dest.)

The Hyundai Palisade has been kind of the midsize crossover champion for a while now.

Since its introduction in 2018 (2019 model year), the Palisade, (and its mechanical cousin, the Kia Telluride) have sat at the top of the sales charts. They were hard-to-find hot commodities even before COVID-related shutdowns ruined the supply chain, making nearly all cars a hard-to-find hot commodity. The Palisade has been a critical darling, too, but complacency is the enemy of progress. Hyundai’s freshened the Palisade for 2023, but is it still the cream-of-the-crop of midsized SUVs?

Get a Quote on a New 2023 Hyundai Palisade

After a day with the refreshed 2023 Hyundai Palisade, I can confidently say, yes, it’s still probably one of the best three-row SUVs money can buy.

What’s new for the 2023 Hyundai Palisade?

The 2023 Hyundai Palisade’s refresh, at first glance, appears to be entirely cosmetic. A new front fascia cleverly hides the front turn signal lamps into the grille. The signal lamps have the same shape as the gunmetal grey grille inserts and tinted to look about the same color. It’s similar to the camouflage on the Tuscon and Santa Cruz’s lights. It gives the appearance of a totally lightless front fascia when the lights aren’t on. The DRLs have been pushed to the corners, making the SUV look a bit wider. The rear fascia is mostly the same, but the inset-trunk shapes are no longer just chrome inserts. They now they illuminate. The Palisade is a bit longer overall, mostly because of the front fascia and new hood. The rear bumper of the Palisade is about a half-inch more truncated than before.

2023 hyundai palisade review first drive just like the old car but better

Inside, the Palisade’s interior has been refreshed. A revised dashboard sees the HVAC vents reach across the interior, and a bigger 12.3” touchscreen infotainment unit is standard on all trims. Top trim Calligraphy (called Calligraphy Ultimate in Canada) models gain a heated third tow seat, but unfortunately, Canadian cars miss out on this feature.

SEE ALSO: 2023 Hyundai Palisade Hands-On Preview: 5 Ways this Three-Row Crossover is even Cooler

The 2023 Palisade gains the XRT (called “Urban” in Canada), which sees the addition of blacked-out trim, blacked-out roof rails, and rubberized sill panels for a more off-road-ready look. It sits above the SE and SEL trims in the US, and above the base Preferred trim in Canada.

In-car Wi-fi is now an option, along with Hyundai’s new smart-key access. With smart-key access, the car can be started or driven from your phone. A Hyundai representative said the key can even be passed to others, via text.

It’s inoffensive and traditional; not a bad thing.

2023 hyundai palisade review first drive just like the old car but better

Catawba Island, Ohio, is probably one of the country’s secret gems as far as a paradisaic, family-oriented, vacation destination. It’s located across a causeway off the shore of Lake Erie. The island is a quiet getaway that serves as an access point to Put-in-Bay or just a short drive to Cedar Point Amusement park. Speeds are moderate, but roads can be twisty. A car big enough to take all the kids and their junk, but not so big as to feel a chore to maneuver and drive on somewhat tiny beach roads, is ideal here.

Underneath, the Palisade’s engine and transmission are carryovers from last year. This means, that the same 3.8 liter V6 making 291 horsepower with 262 ft/lbs of torque is mated to the same eight-speed automatic as last year. This is sent to either the front wheels or all of them via Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD system. Canadian models are AWD only.

2023 hyundai palisade review first drive just like the old car but better

I spent most of my time on Catawba Island in a 2023 Calligraphy trimmed Palisade. The 3.8 liter is smooth, and power builds evenly, without the peaks or lags sometimes found in its turbocharged competition. The transmission is equally as smooth, changing down and up as needed, without any fuss or dramatics. In a sports car, this powertrain behavior wouldn’t be very exciting. But in a big family-oriented crossover, it was nice how unintrusive the Palisade is on the road.

SEE ALSO: Toyota Highlander vs Hyundai Palisade: Which SUV is Right For You?

Even when accelerating hard, the Palisade never gets anywhere close to ‘loud’. And the suspension is plenty compliant without being overly squishy or uncontrolled at speed. Despite not being a small vehicle in the slightest, the Palisade feels easy to drive and maneuverable. I never felt as if I had too much car, even when maneuvering around tight marinas and vacation homes.

The 2023 Hyundai Palisade is a Right-Sized Three Row SUV

2023 hyundai palisade review first drive just like the old car but better

When the Palisade was released in 2019, I personally didn’t understand the gravitas of the model line. I mean, what’s the point of yet another three-row SUV? Doesn’t Hyundai have one already?

But, I was wrong. The Palisade was just the thing families had been searching for, especially from Hyundai. The way I see it, the midsized crossover segment comes in three forms. First, the smallish seven-seaters. They seat five comfortably, but really those two extra rear seats are kind only or emergencies. Cars like the Kia Sorento or Mazda CX-9 have third rows, in theory, but really, that third row isn’t very good.

Then, there are the big, body-on-frame behemoths like the Chevy Tahoe or Ford Expedition. Sure, they can swallow all that stuff easily. But they’re expensive, thirsty, or offer far more utility than most families could ever want, need, or use. Finally, there’s the middle tier. SUVs like the Chevy Traverse, Honda Pilot, Subaru Ascent, or Toyota Highlander. They’re big car-based SUVs that have usable third rows. That’s where the Palisade sits, but it’s way nicer than most of the competition.

The Palisade’s Biggest Trump Card Is its Interior Space

The interior measurements are unchanged from the previous car, meaning there’s generous room in all rows. The third row’s rear seat legroom is admirable. It has good legroom for moderately sized adults, even with the second row all the way back. Cargo space is still an okay 18 cubic feet with all three rows active. I’d say that the Palisade can genuinely seat seven or eight adult-sized humans in comfort, something not all of its competitors can do. Then, all of the seats, except the base SE trim are coated in nice-feeling sumptuous leather or leatherette material. The Caligraphy trim adds a huge panoramic roof, and heated third-row seats. There are features not always seen in its competitors. It’s a genuinely nice place to be, on the Calligraphy, every seat in the house is a leather-coated, swanky experience.

2023 hyundai palisade review first drive just like the old car but better

It ain’t cheap though, pricing for the 2023 Hyundai Palisade starts at a fairly reasonable $36,245 (including a $1,295 destination fee) for the base SE; that’s about a $1,500 increase from the year before. Prices max out at $52,095 for a top-trimmed, AWD Caligraphy trim Palisade. On all trims, AWD is available as a standalone $1,900 option.

SEE ALSO: Hyundai Palisade vs Kia Telluride Comparison

In Canada, all Palisades are AWD, and the model lineup is a bit simpler. The base “Preferred” trim starts at $49,324 CAD, and the topmost Ultimate Caligraphy trim maxes out at $58,124 CAD, including the $1,925 CAD destination fee.

No hybrid or electrified Palisade coming soon, sorry

2023 hyundai palisade review first drive just like the old car but better

For most, the Palisade is probably the perfect three-row crossover. It’s big, pretty, and offers a luxury experience that punches well above its weight. But it’s not quite perfect.

The 3.8 liter V6 offers strong performance, but its fuel economy isn’t all that great. My short drive saw the fuel economy estimates hover around 19 MPG, not terrible for a big, naturally-aspirated V6, but in the era of a 35 MPG Toyota Highlander Hybrid, it seems lacking. I asked Hyundai if they planned for any sort of hybridization or electrification of the Palisade, and the team directed me to the forthcoming Hyundai Ioniq 7 EV. As far as a Hybrid Palisade, a Hyundai representative told me that they’re watching the market with great interest, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on a hybrid Palisade coming anytime soon.

2023 Hyundai Palisade: The Verdict

2023 hyundai palisade review first drive just like the old car but better

There’s nothing truly groundbreaking about the 2023 Hyundai Palisade, but that’s completely fine. For families looking for a reliable, spacious crossover, sometimes the tried-and-true formula is best. A big V6, three rows of seats, and a quiet interior. Those ingredients, in theory, should be very simple for any seasoned automaker to master. But you’d be surprised how longstanding big SUV makers can’t build a three-row crossover as well done as the Palisade.

As the world moves more toward electrification and hybridization, it is a bit of a misstep that the Palisade doesn’t have any. The hybrid-only Toyota Sienna and Highlander Hybrid are rated for an impressive 36MPG. But outside of the fuel economy, those two products aren’t as well-resolved as the Hyundai. If Hyundai could craft a Palisade that matched the Sienna and Highlander fuel economy, it probably would be unsurpassable in the segment.


How many people does the 2023 Hyundai Palisade seat?

The Hyundai Palisade is available as a 7 seater with two captain’s chairs in the middle row, or as an eight-seater with a bench seat in the middle row.  

Does the 2023 Hyundai Palisade have wireless Apple CarPlay?

No. Hyundai says that wireless CarPlay is incompatible with the installed 12.3” infotainment screen.

What is the fuel economy of the 2023 Hyundai Palisade?

The 2023 Hyundai Palisade is rated for 19 city/ 27 highway in FWD trim, or 19 city/25 highway in AWD trims.

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  • Interior Space
  • New Front Fascia
  • Easy, Drama Free Driving


  • Fuel Economy
  • No Hybrid Model
  • No Heated 3rd Row for Canadians
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