Is the 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy a Credible Luxury SUV?

When it debuted for the 2020 model year, the Hyundai Palisade three-row midsize SUV was a hit with media and car buyers alike. Our editors were impressed, too. The Palisade earned the No. 1 spot in our cars and we rounded up for all-new or redesigned vehicles.

Replacing the three-row Santa Fe/Santa Fe XL in Hyundai’s SUV lineup, the Palisade is advantageously larger than its predecessor and has given Hyundai a direct competitor to “big midsize” seven- and eight-seat SUVs such as the , and. It also has a rival to its cousin, the sub-skinned twin to the Palisade that’s also launched for 2020.

The Palisade’s high-end Limited trim level was quite elegant for a mainstream-brand car, and Hyundai raised the upfront price for 2021 with the addition of a richer flagship model called the Calligraphy. Now that the Palisade lineup has been fully formed and the Arabic line has received even more facelifts, we’re forced to ask: Is the Palisade Calligraphy a reliable competitor to the three-row luxury SUV?

A large number of distinctive features

First, let’s take a look at the Palisade’s generous list of luxury features, which rival those of many luxury brand cars. The penultimate Limited trim level includes leather upholstery, heated and ventilated first- and second-row seats, power-folding third-row seats, a digital gauge cluster, a head-up display, a dual sunroof, and a Hyundai driver’s seat. – Cabin intercom system and Harman Kardon surround sound system with a power of 630 watts.

Calligraphy includes all of the above and adds exclusive exterior touches—namely, revised front and rear styling, special grille inserts and 20-inch alloy wheels—along with puddle lights, premium Nappa leather upholstery, quilted leather door panels, and faux-suede headlining. . The Limited and Calligraphy also come standard with a comprehensive list of active safety equipment, including uncommon features such as ultrasonic rear passenger alert, Safe Exit Assist, and a blind-spot monitor projected into the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

More promotions for 2023

In addition to an improved exterior design, all 2023 Fenders get a new steering wheel, a 12.3-inch touchscreen (replacing previous 8- or 10.25-inch screens), USB-C ports instead of USB-A for faster device charging, and Wi-Fi capability Hot Spot (a first for Hyundai). AWD models get a new Traction Mode that adjusts transmission response while in traction to keep gears in gear longer and reduce shift frequency. All but the SE get a wireless charging pad upgraded to 15W from the previous five (again, for faster charging) and the latest iteration of Hyundai’s digital key, which supports iPhones, Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy devices, to unlock and power the SUV.

The Limited and Linear trims both get acoustically insulated and heated laminated rear door glass Third grade seats, a rare feature even among luxury SUVs. Line-exclusive upgrades include an “Ergo Motion” driver’s seat with specific massage functions designed to relieve fatigue, 64-color programmable interior lighting, a rear-view camera mirror, a two-tone leather-wrapped steering wheel, and outward-facing headrests. Second row seats. About the only disappointment on the Palisade’s list of changes for 2023 is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration: both are still wire-only. Most competitors, especially among luxury brands, deliver.

So how do all of these features hold together in the ’23 Palisade Calligraphy? Very nice. Our test car wore Moonlight Cloud blue paint with a plush interior finished in light beige leather that looked and felt just right luxury. The general ambience is more than respectably luxurious; I particularly appreciated the light wood accents, smooth textures on the center console’s polished portion and the cleverly integrated climate control vents on the dash (another subtle upgrade for 2023).

The massage driver seat offers specific settings for the pelvis, lumbar, and full body, and you can adjust the level of massage intensity and duration. There is also a seat assist feature that automatically adjusts the pelvis and the back of the seat after an hour’s time. My two school-age sons, both of whom frequently complain about treating back-seat passengers as second-class citizens in terms of comfort and convenience features, were thrilled with the heated and ventilated second-row seats. Fortunately, none of the kids missed having a rear-seat entertainment system, but the fact that the Palisade doesn’t offer this relatively popular option is especially curious since its Telluride competitor can be so equipped.

Bargain, relatively speaking

Since the Calligraphy is the flagship trim level, it basically comes loaded—the only options are front or all-wheel drive and accessories like carpeted or all-weather mattresses and a rear cargo net. Relatively speaking, the sticker price of $50,495 (all prices include destination) is a bargain. AWD handles another $1,900, which brings the price to $52,395; That’s about $16,000 more than the Palisade SE’s $36,545 starting price, but it’s still lower than the starting prices of most three-row luxury-brand SUVs—and the basic trims of these vehicles aren’t as fully equipped as the line’s Palisade.

($50,745) doesn’t offer any major features that the line doesn’t, but it does provide a sportier driving experience and a sportier look to match. The MDX also offers a performance-oriented Type S version that has a 355-hp, turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 and sport adaptive air suspension, but this model starts at $69,045. Although the Palisade is remarkably tractable and easy to drive given its size, sportiness is not its forte; It has a single-mode suspension that’s tuned more for ride comfort than cornering dexterity. Likewise, the Palisade’s sole engine is a 291-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s not particularly exciting, but it delivers respectable acceleration that’s more or less on par with competitively priced competitors, whether mainstream or luxury.

Buick is technically a “semi-luxury” brand, but it’s worth noting that the spacious starts at $46,195—comfortably less than the Calligraphy. However, outfitting the Enclave to the Palisade level means opting for the top-of-the-line Avenir trim level, which starts at $58,865. And even then, the Enclave doesn’t offer any noteworthy features that the line doesn’t have.

The calculations are mostly the same with and, with the base versions of both being priced within spitting distance of the line. The QX60 is designed more dramatically inside and out, and its cabin is more luxurious on higher trim levels, but it costs about $15,000 more when similarly equipped. Adaptive headlights are the only notable option the QX60 offers that the line doesn’t. The XT6 offers a few key features not available in the line—most importantly, Cadillac’s excellent Night Vision system, a somewhat infrared night vision system, and an automated parking system that automatically maneuvers the vehicle into a detected parking spot without driver intervention. However, if you want all three, you’ll have to spend around $70,000. At this price point, we’d find the 2022 Cadillac XT6 to be a. We’ll also note that while the line doesn’t offer a traditional automated parking system, it does come with Hyundai, which enables the driver to maneuver the car into a tight spot via key fob or digital key while parked outside the car.

Further up the ladder

The starting prices of Calligraphy’s other potential luxury brand competitors—among them, , , and—are all high enough above Hyundai’s that we left them out of this survey. Moving up to one of these models will get you a higher level of luxury trim inside and out, the availability of additional high-tech features and a wider range of powertrain options. The X5, Aviator, and XC90 offer powerful plug-in hybrid versions, and the BMW X5 M and Mercedes-AMG GLE63 are serious high-performance models with 600 horsepower or more—if you can manage six-figure starting prices.

Also, no one Of the premium-brand competitors we mentioned above have better third-row headroom or legroom than the Palisade—in fact, some have much smaller third rows, and some versions of the X5, GV80, and GLE don’t offer a third row at all. If you want third-row space comparable to the Palisade in a BMW or Mercedes, you’ll have to choose OR, respectively—both of which start around $80,000.

So, back to the original question: Is the 2023 Palisade Calligraphy a credible luxury SUV? The answer is correct; The luxurious atmosphere of Arabic calligraphy and the level of features are very close. Once you factor in its significantly lower price versus similarly equipped luxury SUVs, the only real upscale trait the Palisade Calligraphy doesn’t offer is the luxury brand badge on its grille.

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