2023 Hyundai Palisade
Large Enough For The Whole Family - Without Being A Truck
The 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy is a luxury SUV within reach for a more normal family.
By J-F Wright
Mon, May 1, 2023 06:07 AM PST
images by the author, J-F Wright
When sitting in a review vehicle, taking notes and jotting down things to include in my pending article, I’ll sometimes have my kids with me. For families looking for a new car, my children’s notes can be very helpful. For the Palisade, I’ve written down “Annabelle says it’s beautiful”. Annabelle is 6, and the fact that she can pick out a beautiful car, or even care to notice, makes my car-dad-heart melt.
We were sitting in the car jotting down notes, so I assume she meant that the interior is beautiful. I concur - and I’d add that the exterior is great-looking as well.
The Hyundai Palisade is a large vehicle. But, it’s not insane. It’s a manageable kind of large - a size that makes sense for families and/or folks with more-than-average amounts of stuff to haul. There’s plenty of space for the second row passengers (in the Calligraphy trim that we’re driving the second row consist of two captain chairs), and surprisingly there’s a good amount of space for the third row as well.
With the third row up you’ll lose a lot of the trunk space in the rear - yet you’ll still have space for a shopping trip or the like. If that third row is only in use sporadically, you’ll enjoy a vast, level, space for anything you’d want to bring along.
Interestingly, the Palisade is marketed as a mid-size SUV. I’m torn. On the one hand, sure, I agree that the Suburban (for example) is definitely bigger. But, on the other hand, from a “how we use it”-perspective, I would call the Palisade (along with a couple of the other large mid-sized SUVs) strong competitors to the Suburban-esque vehicles. How often does the average Suburban driver fill the entire car? Sure, there will be some owners who do it often, but for many a Suburban drivers the Palisade’s roomy interior would do just as well. And, fully loaded, the Palisade is pretty much half-priced compared to the fully loaded Suburban.
If a six year old says it’s beautiful, it must be pretty good looking (it is). The 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy - the top level trim - is quite the luxurious transporter. Our test vehicle sports silver inlays that match with the Harmon Kardon speakers really nicely and leather-wrapped everything. Seats are comfortable for butt and back and appealing for the eye - the leather being decorated with a plush-looking puffy design. Both the first and second row passengers can enjoy heated and cooled seats, with the third row having to make do with just heated seats.
Speaking of seats, it’s impressive that the third row seats recline. That’s usually reserved for the front seats and the second row captain chairs - but with the Palisade Calligraphy the third row has this luxury feature as well. Also - great that the third row has good air conditioning.
There’s an abundance of USB and USB-C outlets throughout, almost so many that one might ask “what family has this many mobile devices?”. But, I guess if everyone has a cellphone and a tablet going simultaneously…
Cup Holders Abound
There is no shortage of cup holders either. They are everywhere - two in each door, two on each side of the third row, and two more between the two front seats. That’s fourteen cup holders for a car that seats seven, I guess people are thirsty.
Look Up - Sunroofs For All
The rear two rows have a great upwards view through the massive sunroof. Great for watching birds and aircraft, but also a fun view when driving through downtown - watching skyscrapers pass by. The front passenger will have to make do with the standard-sized sunroof.
While looking up, you’ll notice the suede-like ceiling - a nice touch (pardon the pun) both visually and physically.
Bluetooth And Cables
I unfortunately could not get my iPhone hooked up with Apple Play without using a cable. A bluetooth connection will enable music to be played and calls to be made, but to get the full Apple CarPlay functionality it seems I need to plug in. Accustomed to wirelessly hooking up my iPhone with CarPlay I am not used to the ability of raising and lowering the music volume using both my phone’s buttons AND the dials in the car.
It’s interesting that so many manufacturers have opted for buttons instead of the classic shifter. Hyundai has chosen to take this path as well - at least in the Palisade. If it was a knob, or something else that took up less space than a traditional shifter, I would understand. But the row of buttons is just as big, so I’m not sure what the gain is - other than styling. And I do have to give the interior designers credit - the buttons fit well with the rest of the interior.
My 6 year old’s comment about the Palisade being beautiful, in my opinion, carries over to the exterior as well. The design team has done a good job at creating an eye-pleasing masterpiece. The grille is large - as is custom in today’s design - but it doesn’t look stupidly huge like some other manufacturer’s. That could be due to me (us all) getting used to huge grilles on all new cars, or it could be that the design elements chosen to adorn the Palisade tone down its own massiveness.
What looks to be the top of the grille itself spilling out to the sides of the car turns out to be the turn signals nicely hidden behind the silver grille puzzle pieces. The headlights are also interestingly placed - disconnected from everything else, in their own little compartment on each side. It might even seem a little low in relation to the car, but since this is an SUV, they wind up sitting high off the ground anyway.
When the blinkers aren’t blinking, the front of the Palisade seem to be staring you down. Not too aggressively, but kinda like it’s letting you know “I’m big and bold”. But, just when you might think you’re losing the staring contest, the turn signal might light up and the car will wink at you.
Switching viewing angles, you’ll note that the kind and rounded flow of the Palisade carries on throughout the vehicle. For a large car, this does not seem at all as boxy as many of the (even larger) SUVs on the market.
The rear of the Palisade nicely captures the rear-flowing lines and pulls it all together - closing the bag, if you will. Not at all as “in your face” as the front of the vehicle, the back end politely closes the door after your visual visit.
Handling And Comfort
The 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy has a lot going for it. We - my family - love it. We’d have no problem if Hyundai forgot they had given us one for a week, allowing us to keep it. The smooth ride is easy to get used to. The plush leather as well. The driving characteristics are friendly - it’s a large vehicle but since it’s a car (not built on a truck chassis) it has minimal “truck-bounce” tendencies. Truck bounce, in my world, is whenever passengers get thrown side-to-side as the vehicle drives over a bump while turning. None of that here.
However, let’s get the one (minor) negative out of the way. The auto start-stop function is too slow for my driving style. At stop signs I find myself forgetting to tap the gas pedal two seconds early, to make sure we’re ready to go. Instead I wind up hitting the gas when it’s my turn, having to wait for the engine to kick on and get us going - by the time it does I’ve already come down pretty hard on the gas pedal, resulting in an obnoxiously quick acceleration. Would I get used to giving the accelerator a little tap a second or two before I plan on moving? Sure. And if not, it probably means that I have learned to always just hit the button that turns off the auto start-stop feature in the first place.
Technology & Misc. Features
The 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy is the top-of-the-line Palisade, so it’s no surprise that it comes full of technology, safety, and convenience features.
To have all the necessary information needed for a safe drive displayed on the windshield - in front of the car, pretty much - is very helpful. Whenever I’ve been driving a car with a head-up display - which is increasingly often - I always have a hard time going back to one without. It’s definitely a feature/option I would opt for when purchasing a new car.
Blind Sport Warning Camera
Hyundai has an interesting take on blind spots. Lots of cars - most - have some kind of warning system, indicating that there is something in the blind spot. Hyundai takes it one step further - their blind spot warning system includes a live view of the blind spot whenever the turn signal is engaged.
Either the tachometer or the speedometer - right or left respectively, depending on which way you are signaling - will be replaced by the video feed of the blind spot.
Speaking of camera views, the top down view is another feature I would never go without (wallet permitting). Getting a birds-eye perspective on the car is super helpful when making any kind of tight maneuver - including parking, of course. Conveniently, there’s a button to manually toggle on the camera view, so you don’t have to wait for the car to think you’re too close to something.
Active Lane Keep With Adaptive Cruise
Hyundai’s active lane keep assist, together with the radar cruise control, assists with holding the car in your lane as well as keeping it from barreling into the car infront of you. Some folks have mixed emotions on how much these types of safety features “interfere” with their driving. I personally see a huge gain - in safety and in reducing fatigue - by offloading some of the mundane driving tasks to an autopilot. If the entire aviation industry swears by it, and we all get onboard those metal containers traveling 30,000 feet up in the air, then I think it’s probably a good thing for us drivers as well.
The 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy is a luxury car at an almost “normal person” price. Our test vehicle comes in at just above $50,000 - a stretch for a lot of us, but certainly within reach for a lot more families than, say, an $80,000 full-size SUV with the same bells and whistles.
The drive - and ride - is definitely pleasant and the convenience features abound throughout the interior. Driver and passengers will be comfortable for the long haul - your kids and/or friends will be delighted that you bought one.
About The Author
John-Fredrik Wright was born in Sweden, but raised on both sides of the Atlantic. His experience in the automotive industry starts with a summer-job as a host at Volkswagen’s premier showroom in Stockholm. Later, he worked as an instructor at Swedish Active Driving, teaching safe driving (among other things the renowned "elk-avoidance maneuver") and advanced driving techniques.