Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
It was a liberating moment breezing through the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina while spending time at the palatial 80,000-acre, 19th-century Biltmore Estate in the refreshed 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy. My three-row, 6-seater Moonlight Cloud colored upscale SUV featured a purifying cascade grille, new 20” multi-spoke alloy rims, AWD and drive modes, massaging seats, and the 12.3” touchscreen navigation with 720p resolution. Expect 21 combined MPG when planning a family trip to take in Asheville, NC’s serenity while showing off your Palisade’s updated amenities.
Dubbed after “a line of high straight cliffs, especially near water,” it made perfect sense for Hyundai to invite us to Ashville to launch their family-focused Palisade premium SUV. Mountainous terrain, idyllic landscapes, and omnipresent hiking trails instantly turned on my adventurer mode. In addition, the town was buzzing with active moms and Fit Fathers, the target market for the attention-grabbing Korean SUV. For 2023, Hyundai updated the vehicle with an array of new appointments, including the front and rear bumper fascia, grille, headlamps and daytime running lights, steering wheel design, heated third-row seats, Bluelink features, and Digital Key 2. Now compatible with iPhones in addition to Androids, Digital Key 2 increases its reach since 54% of smartphones in the United States are iPhones. In addition, the car key can be added to Apple Wallet, which allows your iPhone or Apple Watch to start, lock, or unlock your Palisade.
The bigger story for Hyundai is its growing portfolio of SUVs. Five years ago, the Korean manufacturer only had two SUVs in its fleet; today, they feature seven which make up 77% of new sales. With Hyundai, you receive added value for your money and the comfort of safety since they won nine IIHS top safety awards in 2022. Impressive! At least 52% of Palisade owners have a minimum of two kids, so parents will always focus on dependable and sound features first.
I selected a Moonlight Cloud exterior hue and Light Beige interior Palisade Calligraphy AWD model featuring 20” Calligraphy exclusive alloy rims, dual pane sunroof, rear skid plate, exterior chrome accents, and LED vertical headlights and taillights. Outfitted with every bell and whistle, my model came in at $52,310, while an entry-level FWD SE base pricing starts at $34,950. The full lineup consists of the SE, SEL, XRT, Limited, and Calligraphy available in seven exterior hues. The interior is spacious and striking, with various flashes of digital prominence. The quilted Nappa leather seats, for example, match the decorative doors, while cordless phone charging and enhanced USB-c ports throughout the cabin keep all passengers charged and connected. The second-row captain chairs move back and forth and the third-row offers a reclining feature. Two adults will fit comfortably, but not three. From the trunk area, the powered third row can be folded flat with just one touch of a button. The Calligraphy is also blessed with a Driver’s Ergo Motion Seat, full display rearview mirror, ambient interior lighting, Remote Smart Parking Assist, Parking Collision Avoidance Assist, Reverse Auto up/down all windows, and a microsuede headliner.
For adventure seekers, the new Palisade XRT (includes SEL content) allows you to explore uncharted terrain with 20” black alloy wheels, front/rear lower bumper and skid plate accents, lower door garnish, black roof rails with cross rails, and an XRT tailgate emblem. Other features include black H-Tex leatherette trimmed seats, a power sunroof, and a dark grille finish. Starting at $40,250, the XRT is available in Black, White, or Gray exterior color themes. On the campus of the Biltmore, we drove the SUV through an off-road course to experience its overland capabilities and were pretty pleased with the performance. Its FWD-biased HTRAC AWD system incorporates predictive capabilities and can send up to 50% of the torque to the rear. But no more than that. A Drive Mode Select rotary dial allows the driver to choose SNOW, SMART, COMFORT, ECO, or SPORT Mode. AWD LOCK does what it implies and locks the vehicle with a 50/50 torque distribution for basic off-roading scenarios. SNOW mode starts the SUV in second gear, filters throttle inputs, and shifts torque distribution 80% to the front for optimized wintry conditions. The Palisade now features TOW mode as well.
The Palisade’s power is perfect as I didn’t feel any lag when accelerating. Moreover, the vehicle steers pretty flat without visible signs of body lean. The SUV rolls with a 3.8-liter V6 and 8-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC paddle shifters placed appropriately on the multifunction steering wheel. The GDI V6 provides 291-horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque that translates well on the pavement. I’m a fan of the new auto-leveling rear suspension which always looks for the proper vehicle posture. However, I’m not a fan of the push-button gear selector utilized in Genesis vehicles. Give me the standard shift knob please. Hyundai said they took this route for the added storage beneath the console.
Of course, the ride was pleasantly comfortable with Harman/Kardon’s premium audio system, a Verizon-based WiFi hotspot, enhanced wireless phone charging, and the 12.3” digital instrument cluster that shows video of the street scene when a turn signal is engaged. A few protection features include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Following Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Warning, and Highway Driving Assist. Moreover, Safe Exist Assist blocks the rear door from opening if a passenger tries to jump out in the lane of an approaching vehicle,
“The enhanced 2023 Hyundai Palisade offers the design appeal and features worthy of Hyundai’s flagship SUV,” said Olabisi Boyle, vice president, product planning and mobility strategy, Hyundai Motor North America. “More than ever, Palisade is the ultimate family vehicle for daily use and memory-making road trips.”
Well done, Hyundai!