2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy: This Upscale, Affordable 3-Row SUV Has Me Smitten

2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy
The 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy is the perfect mom car. Photo: Allison Bell

I think I’ve found my next family car.

The 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy deserves all the praise it can get and more. After spending two weeks with the top-tier, luxury-filled Calligraphy trim, I’ve bought all in on the hype. Now I can see why the Midwest Automotive Media Association named it their Family Vehicle of the Year

See, I expected to like the Palisade. However, I didn’t expect to fall in love with it. But let me tell you — this thing stole my heart. Consider me smitten. I even spent the last hour I had with it just sitting in the front seat, reveling in its luxury interior and unbelievably comfortable seats. (I’ll warn you right now — you’ll be hearing a lot about those seats. I could write a poem about them.) 

Here’s why I think the 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy should be at the top of the list if you’re looking for a comfortable, affordable three-row SUV.

Hyundai Palisade Affordable Three-Row Suv

Carpooling with my daughter! Photo: Allison Bell

Who This Car Is For

  • Families — especially with younger children
  • Older drivers who want something safe and comfortable to tote around their grandkids
  • Parents who want the feel of a minivan with the looks of an SUV
  • People who want a three-row SUV without a hefty price tag

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

2023 Hyundai Palisade Bigger, Bolder Grill

The 2023 Hyundai Palisade has a bigger, bolder grill. Photo: Allison Bell

Look — as humans, we are a superficial bunch. We can’t help but judge things on outward appearance, at least initially. Admittedly, I’d overlooked the Palisade in the past mostly because I didn’t love the exterior stylings. The grille, in particular, wasn’t my favorite. I wonder if Hyundai might have agreed because the 2023 model has a fully-redesigned grille that’s bolder, wider and more aggressive-looking than its predecessor. This is especially true if you opt for the more rugged XRT trim. 

Overall, the new Palisade has a more angular, sporty look. This might appease those who’ve critiqued its appearance in the past. For me, it was a huge improvement. Still, it wasn’t until I climbed inside that I really fell in love. 

Related: 2023 Hyundai Palisade 3 Row SUV Gets Makeover – Not Needed, but Welcome!

Love at First Sit

Hyundai Palisade Heated Seats In Every Row

The 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy has heated seats in every row. Photo: Allison Bell

The moment I sat in the driver’s seat in the luxurious Calligraphy trim, I let out a deep sigh of contentment. Those Nappa leather seats cushion and cradle you in a way that no other seats have before — at least not at this price point. I couldn’t believe how comfortable they felt.

I’m convinced that Hyundai made this car specifically for busy, stressed-out moms (like me) who could use a relaxing break every time they have to hop behind the wheel. The Driver’s Ergo-Motion seat actively moves to help reduce fatigue during long stretches of driving — like an attentive masseuse that notices when you’re feeling a little tense. It can even correct your posture as you drive. (If that doesn’t say “mom car,” I don’t know what does.)

Second Row Captains Chairs Hyundai Palisade

Check out this clever feature in the second row captains chairs of the Hyundai Palisade. Photo: Allison Bell

Additionally, it has heated and ventilated seats in the front and second rows. Your comfort level is at an absolute maximum. And since Hyundai loves you, they’ve also included a heated third row for the 2023 model, which truly sets it apart from other midsize SUVs. This one feature alone almost had me in happy tears. 

Related: 9 of the Best 3 Row SUVs – From Luxury to Affordable

What This Car Costs

For 2023, there are five Palisade trims to choose from: SE, SEL, XRT, Limited and Calligraphy. No matter which one you choose, you get a 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, as well as a 12.3-inch touch screen, built-in navigation and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Starting at $35,900, the base SE trim comes with 8-passenger seating, cloth upholstery, 18-inch wheels and LED headlights. 

SEL — $38,900

Next up, the SEL starts at $38,900. This upgrades to leatherette upholstery, a wireless charging pad. There is a Premium package available if you’d like to add 20-inch wheels, heated/ventilated seats and other amenities. 

XRT — $41,200

The XRT starts at $41,200. This is the Palisade’s most rugged trim with a distinct, dark front grille, black roof rails, XRT exclusive 20-inch wheels, lower bumpers and skid plates. 

Limited — $47,450

Next, there’s the Limited. This starts at $47,450 and includes leather-trimmed seats, a heated third row, a 10-inch color heads-up display, a 360-degree camera system, Harmon Kardon radio and other premium features.

Calligraphy — $50,800

Finally, there’s the top-tier Calligraphy trim. This offers luxurious features like premium Nappa leather seat surfaces, exclusive 20-inch alloy wheels and a digital rear-view mirror. Additionally, it has quilted leather door panels, satin chrome exterior accents and Remote Smart Parking Assist for a starting MSRP of $50,800.

The only added features to our Calligraphy tester were the carpeted floor mats, which brought the total price to $52,310 after freight and handling. Worth every dollar, in my opinion. 

My Favorite Features as a Mom

Multimedia System Hyundai Palisade

Multimedia system Hyundai Palisade

I’ve mentioned my complete and utter infatuation with the seats, but there are other things that I found helpful in the Palisade, particularly as a mom. Most of these are little novelties in the multimedia system. My kids love the “Sounds of Nature” feature that lets them relax to the crackle of a warm fireplace, the calming cadence of beach waves, or the white noise of an open-air cafe.

If these soothing sounds happen to lull them to sleep on long drives, I can hit “Quiet Mode.” All speakers except the front ones become silenced. That way, my husband and I can listen to our tunes and podcasts without disturbing the little snoozers in the back.

Hyundai Palisade Center Console Cubby

The Hyundai Palisade has a storage cubby underneath the center console. Photo: Allison Bell

On the opposite end of things, the “Passenger Talk” feature allows me to talk to the third row without having to raise my voice. This one comes in handy when the carpool kids get a little rowdy or someone forgets to put their seatbelt on. 

The list of things I loved goes on, but one other thing I’ll mention is the storage space up front. As someone who tires of having my bag or purse go flying off the passenger seat every time I hit the brakes, I was especially grateful for the carved out cubby beneath the center console. It’s just big enough for a handbag or some extra water bottles, which I seem to always be carrying. 

Props to Hyundai for Their HTRAC AWD System

2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy

One feature I didn’t realize I’d love so much is Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system. This is Hyundai’s super intuitive system that detects slippage on the road and helps you maintain traction. Right now, we’re living in what feels like an eternal winter with frequent snow storms, so this was certainly put to the test and came out with flying colors. Not once did I ever feel a loss of control on the road, even in the diciest and most slippery of conditions. 

In fact, this midsize SUV handled the snow better than some bigger, burlier SUVs I’ve driven recently. When I didn’t have time to shovel five inches of snow before leaving my house, I backed the Palisade out of my garage, hoping for the best. It plowed over that snow like a rolling pin, never spinning or stalling once. And that was without snow tires. Color me impressed. 

Though I mostly drove in “Smart” mode so it could choose from Sport, Comfort, Eco or Snow on its own, I did throw it into “Snow” mode once to test its prowess in the powder. Conclusion: It worked fine. But keeping it in “Smart” mode seemed to have the same effect.

Like a Guard Dog For Your Family

Behind The Wheel Hyundai Palisade

This is the kind of car you want for your kids and your aging parents. Its safety features are about as top-notch as they come. I liken it to a guard dog that senses when danger is coming and barks to warn you when something seems off.

If anything, the safety tech may be almost too sensitive. Our driveway approach is a bit steep, and the Palisade slammed on the brakes more than once as we were backing out. Eventually, we learned our lesson and gently eased it onto the road from an angle to keep those rear sensors happy.

Hyundai proudly proclaims that the 2023 Palisade was “built with your safety in mind,” which is fitting because according to Google, a “palisade” is basically a defensive enclosure. These are just a few of the features that make the Palisade the perfect fortress for your family:

  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian/Cyclist Detection
  • Smart Cruise Control
  • Blind-Spot Collision Warning
  • Lane Keeping Assist
  • Driver Attention Warning
  • Highway Driving Assist
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist

That Warranty is Hard to Beat

Center Console Palisade Calligraphy

Center Console of the Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy. Photo: Allison Bell

Just in case all those tech, safety and luxury features aren’t enough to sway you, you also get “America’s Best Warranty” from Hyundai. This should provide some peace of mind in case any issues arise. Here’s what that includes:

  • 5-year/60,000-mile New Vehicle Warranty
  • 10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Warranty
  • 7-year/Unlimited-mile Anti-perforation Warranty
  • 5-year/Unlimited-mile Roadside Assistance
  • 3-year/36,000-mile Complimentary Maintenance

No Deal Breakers Here

A View From The Back Seat

A view from the back seat. Photo: Allison Bell

If I had to nitpick, there are some minor details about the Palisade that weren’t my favorite or that I wished were different. The lack of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto would be one since it seems like that’s something that at least the luxury-loaded Calligraphy trim should offer.

I also found it interesting that there were no physical buttons to control the fan speed up front — just a small touch screen. Lastly, the storage space in the doors could be roomier. 

But that’s it. Those are my only complaints. And if I’m being honest, none of them are significant enough to make me take the Palisade off my options list. High-five, Hyundai. 

Why I Might Be Ditching Our Current Car For This One

Rear Of The 2023 Palisade

The rear of the Palisade has sharp headlights. Photo: Allison Bell

After spending two weeks with the 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy, my husband and I have seriously considered swapping out our current family car — which happens to be a 2022 Kia Telluride SX-Prestige — for this one.

Some may think this is a lateral move since the two SUVs essentially share the same DNA (and don’t get me wrong — we absolutely love our Telluride), but there are just a few features that I think give the Palisade a slight edge. Those luxuriously comfortable seats with a heated third row might be worth the swap alone. Also, the driving experience was also slightly better thanks to the Palisade’s fine-tuning and quiet cabin. 

We prefer the Telluride’s styling to the Palisade’s, but if it’s a question of style vs. substance, we might sacrifice some vanity for the sake of substance. Besides, the Palisade still looks pretty great. My guess is it will just keep getting better.

Related: Kia Telluride vs. Hyundai Palisade: These 3-row SUVs Are HOT

What We Loved 

  • Luxuriously comfortable seats with Nappa leather surfaces
  • Heated and ventilated first and second rows plus a heated third row
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Massaging driver seat
  • Excellent surround-view camera system with blind-spot monitor in the digital gauge cluster
  • Power-folding second- and third-row seats
  • HTRAC all-wheel drive system 
  • Plenty of convenient storage options for drinks, bags, accessories, etc.
  • Ample cargo space
  • Wide door openings for installing car seats

2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy Review

What You Need to Know

  • 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 horsepower
  • 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters
  • Seven to eight passenger capacity, depending on second-row configuration 
  • Third row is best suited for two adults or three smaller passengers
  • 19/25/21 mpg for city/highway/combined
  • Starting MSRP for base SE trim: $35,900
  • Starting MSRP for top-tier Calligraphy trim: $50,800
  • 12.3-inch multimedia touch screen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
  • Capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds
  • Equipped with a Wi-Fi hotspot, USB-C ports and a fast 15-watt wireless charging pad 
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available but not wireless


Disclosure: Hyundai provided this Palisade for a two-week test drive. All opinions are my own.

Allison is a freelance writer, a mother of two, and the wife of a car-obsessed husband who got her... More about Allison Bell