Although the Palisade's appearance might divide opinions, there's no denying that the Hyundai is a strong competitor in the three-row SUV segment. Unlike the rugged-looking Kia Telluride with which it shares a platform, the Palisade looks statelier because of the generous helping of chrome exterior trim. Beyond styling, the Palisade also looks to establish itself as a tech-filled near-luxury SUV that also happens to offer good value.
A new range-topping Calligraphy trim adds AWD, exclusive 20-inch alloy wheels, a trim-specific grille, quilted leather door panels, microfiber-suede headliners, and perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The Hyundai Palisade is what you expect a big, family-friendly SUV should be; it's packed with clever solutions like a smartphone holder in the front seatbacks, USB ports across all three rows, a reconfigurable center console storage, and plenty of places to put small items. On the road, the Palisade feels planted but isn't as balanced as its cousin, the Kia Telluride. The big Hyundai handles respectably but you get a stiff ride as a tradeoff. The standard V-6 engine doesn't feel lively, either, giving the Palisade a relaxed feel.
Moving inside the cabin, you immediately see where the money went: build quality. Sumptuous appointments and generous amounts of convenience features (especially on higher trims) distinguish the Palisade as a more luxury-oriented family SUV. That notion goes double for the new range-topping Palisade Calligraphy. Hyundai's user-friendly infotainment system remains easy to use. Even with the optional 10.3-inch touchscreen, you can learn how to effectively use the whole interface in a short time.
The 2021 Palisade is powered by a 3.8-liter V-6 with 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel economy ratings are 19/26 mpg city/highway in FWD guise and 19/24 mpg with AWD.
Hyundai's commitment to safety shows in the Palisade, which ranks among the safest SUVs on sale for 2021. From the NHTSA, the Palisade earns a five-star overall safety score, the highest possible. Likewise, from the IIHS it receives Top Safety Pick+ designation, the best available rating.
Standard driver assistance features include forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist with centering function, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear automatic emergency braking, driver attention warning, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.
Highway Driving Assist, which enhances lane centering and steering assistance when adaptive cruise control is active, is optional on the SEL grade and standard on the Limited and Calligraphy. On the top two trims of the Palisade, the blind-spot monitoring system can show what's in the lane next to you on the digital gauge cluster with the side mirror-mounted cameras used for the 360-degree view parking camera system.
The Palisade's infotainment system is the latest iteration of Hyundai's user-friendly unit, featuring a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. A larger 10.3-inch unit with built-in navigation and the capability to connect to multiple devices via Bluetooth is optional on the SEL grade and standard on the Limited and Calligraphy variants. A 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and a head-up display are also standard on the Limited and Calligraphy trims.
You can get a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and power-folding third row in the Palisade, both of which aren't offered on the Kia. The available Harman Kardon audio system in the Hyundai also gets two extra speakers for 12 in total.
Luxury three-row SUVs, watch out—you have a competitor in the Palisade Calligraphy. Hyundai uses the Calligraphy moniker to designate the high-end trim of its vehicles, including the Palisade. Over the Palisade Limited trim, Calligraphy adds features such as distinctive 20-inch wheels, a special finish for the grille, and revised exterior lighting.
Inside, quilted leather seating upholstery, a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and lovely soft microfiber headliner add an upscale ambiance. Hyundai isn't known for making luxury vehicles—that's more the forte of its Genesis division—but the impressive Palisade Calligraphy could make luxury SUV shoppers take a closer look.
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