Mountain Wheels: Updated Hyundai Palisade provides the perfect foil for Kia’s Telluride

Designed as a capable, 197-inch-long family vehicle, the three-row Hyundai Palisade gets new looks in and out.
Courtesy photo

For everyone who tried and failed to get the acclaimed Kia Telluride SUV, there was always the promise of the vehicle’s largely identical, possibly more readily accessible Hyundai variation, the Palisade.

The two Colorado-themed automobiles offer the best blending of new-generation technology and styling that the beleaguered Korean automakers can muster — outside of trying to prevent the ongoing epidemic of thefts of their more traditional SUVs and sedans.

That major snafu aside, let us focus briefly on Palisade and the range of upgrades provided for its 2023 edition, which I briefly drove in January. I had a high-end, all-wheel drive Calligraphy model, base priced at $50,800, and almost entirely complete (minus carpeted floor mats and delivery charges) at $52,310. Like many Hyundais, the list of included features reads like the options sheet on other carmakers’ lists, making it a very comprehensive, three-row automobile.

For 2023, the changes include a minor facelift across the vehicle’s body and inside, with a focus on a new range of electronic conveniences. That gives the vehicle both a 12.3-inch touchscreen navigation system and an equally sized electronic instrument panel, a new onboard Wi-Fi hotspot and a keyless entry/ignition system that pairs with your phone (which is hopefully more robust than the TikTok hotwiring tricks that have plagued other Hyundai and Kia product). The driver’s seat has also been improved with fatigue-beating ergonomic design, and even the third-row seating is heated. They’ve also added the option of a digital rear-view mirror that can provide a clean view, even if you’ve loaded the vehicle to the ceiling with cargo.

The 2023 design changes make it an even more unmistakably futuristic vehicle from the front, with a very large and blocky metallic wedge grille, vertical LED running lamps almost like Cadillac brake lamps, and the oddity of improved, knee-level headlamps.

It’s a relatively traditional SUV when seen from the side, minus the wheel-well-filling 20-inch wheels and oversized wheel arches. Total length is just under 197 inches, with a 114-inch wheelbase, and a total passenger volume of 155 cubic inches — which translates to 86.4 cubic inches of largely flat, carpeted storage if you are driving without any rear passengers. Power toggles in the rear allow you to drop both rows remotely, easily.

Second-row captain’s chairs are, like many of these vehicles, the spot to be, with full heating and cooling, central AC control and a litany of power outlets, including a 115-volt plug. 

Palisade’s power is provided by a non-turbocharged 3.8-liter six-cylinder engine, with a hybrid-styled (but not yet hybrid) Atkinson cycle setup and producing 291 hp and 262 pound-feet of torque. It’s adequate for the vehicle, not blinding, and is rated at up to 25 highway mpg.

Interior design is quite striking, with lots of sizzly metallic surfaces (especially the center console), shiny guitar fretboard-looking panels on the dash and doors and wave-like stitched leather patterns on the mid-doors. In the front console, you get a deep box with a flat phone charger pad and cupholder frames that swirl out of the way if you want to hide goods under a sliding lid. The whole console arch is open underneath for more storage and features 12-volt and USB plugs, plus there’s an oversized storage box under the central armrest pad.

It’s still got a very peculiar, button-activated shifting mechanism on the console — park is a side button — plus a knob controlling driving modes and also locking in the all-wheel drive. With a 7.9-inch ground clearance, it ought to be able to handle summertime trails pretty easily.

It’s a Hyundai, so it’s got that freaky remote smart parking assist that can allow you to stand outside and safely move the car back and forth into tight parking spots. There’s also the option of a new XRT model, with darkened wheels, front grille, black roof rails and black leather seating.

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