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2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban Review: Taking on the City... and Everything Else!

2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban | Photo: V.Aubé
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Vincent Aubé
We drove the Urban version of the model, brand-new this year
2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Profile
2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Profile | Photo: V.Aubé

•    Auto123 test-drove the 2023 Hyundai Palisade.

•    The 3.8L V6 of the mid-size SUV is unchanged for 2023.

•    Hyundai has given its mid-size SUV the Urban treatment this year.

•    There's no more two-wheel-drive version for 2023 - and that's just as well.

Much like elsewhere, the Hyundai brand’s lineup is electrifying at a rapid pace. Again this year, a second model in the Ioniq family - the 6 - will meet the needs of those EV-ready consumers in search of a sedan. But until the electric shift is complete, the automaker has no choice but to mind the wants and needs of the many buyers who want a format such as a family transporter.

We had a look at Hyundai's SEVEN prototype at the recent Montreal Auto Show, but that crossover is still only on its way to becoming a production model. Eventually it and Kia's EV9 will be all-electric SUVs available for families. 

But for now, those aren’t ready – and Hyundai needs to turn a profit, of course. And to do so, ICE vehicles help with that. The imposing Hyundai Palisade three-row crossover has even been updated, getting a new look for 2023. 

Our test drive over the Christmas holidays confirmed the model’s practicality for traveling en famille, and over a considerable distance to boot. We drove an Urban trim, all-new for the 2023 model-year.

2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Three-quarters rear
2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Three-quarters rear | Photo: V.Aubé

A more urban flair
For 2023, the Palisade’s facelift includes a big facelift for the front end, but this Urban edition takes things another step further. Its more striking look thanks to dark exterior elements has been used widely in the industry lately. The 20-inch wheels with a glossy black finish are also new, adding a touch of elegance to the package.

Among other new features for 2023, we note the “Ergo Motion” seat, ventilation for the second row seats, a new digital screen behind the steering wheel, an electrochromatic rearview mirror and acoustic rear windows. The thing about this list of extras and little luxuries, however, is that most of them are reserved for the Calligraphy trim of the model, the most expensive in the Palisade lineup.

Generally speaking, the Palisade doesn't otherwise change much, but the new front end seems to have been well received so far.

2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Driver data screen
2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Driver data screen | Photo: V.Aubé

Still no electrification in sight
Under the hood, the brand's engineers have probably avoided making life difficult for themselves by trying to integrate any form of electrification into such a heavy vehicle. Instead, that mandate will be given to the Ioniq 7 SUV that will be the end product of the SEVEN prototype. And yes, that future three-row crossover will also be very heavy - a common thread among most of the latest new crop of EVs.

For now, the Palisade, like its non-identical twin the Kia Telluride, is only halfway through its cycle. Which is why the 3.8L naturally aspirated V6 (good for 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque) is still bolted under its hood. Unsurprisingly, the automatic transmission is also back; that 8-speed unit is a known quantity and it’s been trouble-free so far. In a crossover the mission of which is to transport occupants in relative comfort, this discrete efficacy of this auto box is exactly what consumers expect. 

There’s another change to the offering: Unlike previous Palisade model-years, front-wheel drive is no longer possible as a configuration, which means all 2023 Palisades leave the factory with the brand's all-wheel drive system, another popular feature for Canadian consumers.

2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Interior
2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Interior | Photo: V.Aubé

Behind the wheel
Given the return of the powertrain, the driving experience hasn't changed much either, even in the new Urban edition. The Palisade drives like a big, comfortable vehicle that is gentle on its passengers. It’s not designed to attack winding roads. Its comfort zone is the highway. And when rolling down that highway, even for extended trips, the SUV is excellent for moving people. Even with the oversized rims this thing remains comfortable. 

Drivers will find, however, that the steering is light and uncommunicative, the powertrain is a little sleepy and the suspension has been calibrated for comfort. In short, the Palisade is mostly like any other three-row SUV.

There are countless drive modes, and even though the electronics do go some way in changing the vehicle's behavior, it doesn't really change much. The Palisade is not a choice of adventurers looking for off-road fun or for fans of performance. OK, it’s a little more dynamic than a minivan, but the Palisade is still at heart a people-mover, no more and no less.

That's just the reality of modern crossovers this size or bigger. If we were still in the 90s, these would all be minivans.

2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Seating
2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Seating | Photo: V.Aubé

Our two weeks with the Palisade, punctuated by a Montreal-Quebec City round trip trek, ended with a registered consumption average of 11.6L/100 km, slightly better than the 11.2L/100 km predicted by the Canadian EnerGuide. This result frankly astonished us, and we put it down to the greater distance driven on the monotonous highway linking Quebec's two largest cities. What’s more, during this trip, the Palisade was lugging four adults, two children and all their gear.

As for the comfort of the big Korean SUV, it offers nothing as plush as the Hyundai Group’s luxury brand Genesis does with its GV80, but it comes within throwing distance. Hats off to the engineers for delivering a vehicle that is comfortable and proved so even on Quebec’s famously pockmarked roads.

2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Rear seating
2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Rear seating | Photo: V.Aubé

What about the interior?
Sure, the Calligraphy trims would have been prettier in images, but for 2023, the Urban is the big news in the lineup, so that’s what we drove. And, in contrast with that nocturnal exterior, the interior is a happy mix of light greys and silver accents here and there. Admittedly, light grey leather upholstery is not my cup of tea - it's quickly very messy - but on the other hand, it's less monotonous than the black/black approach, frankly overused in the industry.  

The layout of the controls is probably one of my favourites in the industry, except for those buttons on the gearbox. But otherwise, that wider console and tilt of the main everyday controls makes life much easier for the driver. The same goes for the central screen, the one behind the steering wheel. In short, this big Korean SUV offers a pleasant in-cabin experience.

2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Front grille, headlight
2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Front grille, headlight | Photo: V.Aubé

The final word
The format of the Hyundai Palisade is ideal for large families, it is plenty comfortable, and the ergonomics inside the cabin are sound. It's true that driving pleasure is not its strength and that you have to push the right pedal a little hard to feel the full potential of the V6, but the Hyundai Palisade was never designed or meant to elicit strong emotions. The brand has other models for that!

We like

More upscale design
General comfort
Comprehensive equipment (Urban or Calligraphy)

We like less

Uninspiring driving experience
Tiny trunk when the third seat is up

Some of your questions about the 2023 Hyundai Palisade:

Can the Hyundai Palisade be considered a luxury vehicle?
In its Calligraphy version, the Palisade has all the necessary equipment and build quality to be considered a luxury option. Only the badge is not associated with the luxury category.

Which model of the Hyundai Palisade offers the best value (quality/price)?
For those on a budget, the $50,000-and-change Preferred version doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the higher trims, but it's still very well equipped.

Where is the Hyundai Palisade built?
The Palisade is assembled in Ulsan, South Korea.

The competition

Buick Enclave
Chevrolet Traverse
Dodge Durango
Ford Explorer
GMC Acadia
Honda Pilot
Jeep Grand Cherokee L
Kia Telluride
Mazda CX-9
Nissan Pathfinder
Subaru Ascent
Toyota Highlander
Volkswagen Atlas

2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Wheel
2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban - Wheel | Photo: V.Aubé

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2023 Hyundai Palisade Urban pictures
Vincent Aubé
Vincent Aubé
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 60 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 200 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists