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2023 Hyundai Palisade: Will it finally beat Telluride? [First Drive]

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The Hyundai Palisade is not all-new for the 2023 model year – but it does receive a pretty significant refresh. Or should I say upgrade? The design gets bolder and the tech gets cooler, but there’s one big thing that stays the same: powertrain.

That’s a good thing.

By design

Revealed at this year’s NY Auto Show, the 2023 Palisade gets some in-your-face styling, with a toothier grille, bolder lighting signatures and a rugged XRT trim. I think this is going to be just the kick in the pants this three-row SUV needed to push it into Kia Telluride territory.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Palisade, but frankly, the styling somehow fell short of its Kia twin, which had the more aggressive styling. I like the slightly larger daytime running light, and the signal indicators that blend in with the grille (a la Tucson) are a nice touch.

Tech overload

The 2023 Palisade took an already full palette of technology and somehow added more. So, we still have things like the available blind-view monitor in the digital cluster, heated and ventilated front seats, smart park, dual-automatic climate control and power-folding third-row seats that we love from the original, and then we get the extra.

And by “extra,” I mean features you normally only see in luxury vehicles.

Think heated-and-ventilated first- and second-row seats, rear HVAC controls, digital camera mirror, using your phone as the key, massaging seats and (the kicker) heated third-row seats.

2023 Palisade

Driving impressions

The 2023 Palisade retains the 3.8-liter V-6 engine that delivers 262 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. This is a solid powertrain, so I’m glad Hyundai left it alone.

We didn’t get to spend a lot of time behind the wheel, but if you’ve driven a 2020-2022 model, you’ll know how the 2023 model drives. If you haven’t, let me summarize: It has the right amount of power for passing and highway merges, it’s stable on the highway, and it will be a comfortable cruiser for longer road trips. Especially with those seat massagers.

Palisade is one of those three-row SUVs that doesn’t drive like a boat. Because of the larger side windows, there’s also a lot of great visibility and fewer blind spots.

A few misses

As much as I love the Palisade, there are still a few things I think Hyundai can improve on. Let’s start with the third row. There are three seatbelts back there, but I’m not sure which three people you’re going to fit back there. I’m the size of your average 10-year-old, and I couldn’t fit three of me back there. Sure, there’s plenty of legroom, but my shoulders would overlap.

Another miss is going to be the lack of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This used to be possible on the smaller head unit, but now that the info screen is more advanced and a standard 12.3 inches, you have to wire in. Hyundai said they are working on this, but because of the development cycle and complexity of the unit, it’s not available yet.

Finally, I’m not sure if this is a miss or just a bit of weirdness, but the Hyundai Palisade doesn’t have a panoramic moonroof. Instead, it has two separate moonroofs – one covering the front passengers and one covering the middle.

Bottom line on the 2023 Palisade

Whenever people ask me about three-row SUVs, Palisade is on the top of my recommendation list because of the cool tech and overall comfort – and it’ll stay there for 2023. I’ll warn them about the dinkiness of the third row, but since most people have it “in case of emergencies,” that tends not to be a dealbreaker.

So, is it better than the Kia Telluride? In my book Palisade always has been, but with the bolder design and better tech, maybe the rest of the world will finally see what I see.

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. Jill is also currently a juror for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY).

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