It is no secret that the Hyundai Palisade is built on the same platform as the Telluride. It also uses the same drivetrain components, as well.
A week ago, I did a victory lap in the vehicle that won #VOTY19 – the Kia Telluride. Now, another finalist from #VOTY19 arrived for another shot at the prize. This one came in second place behind the Kia.
It is no secret that the Hyundai Palisade is built on the same platform as the Telluride. It also uses the same drivetrain components, as well. However, it has been pointed out that the everything else was developed by their respective brand design and engineering teams.
While the Telluride took all of the glory, the Palisade took a chunk of bandwidth. By bandwidth, I meant spending a lot of time with it during 2019.
It began at the Chicago Auto Show with my friend Josh Dvorak shooting video of my introduction to Hyundai’s then-new three-row mid-size SUV. That was followed up with a regional media drive from the West Burbs of Chicago to Starved Rock State Park in Ottawa, Illinois. I had the company of my fellow Midwest Automotive Media Association members for that exploration in Northern Illinois.
Then came the ultimate test. At the end of the MAMA Fall Rally at Autobahn Country Club near Joliet, Illinois, I drive the Palisade home via the Quad Cities and Iowa. In all, the Palisade was a huge part of a busy 2019 for me. It turned in great results, but it fell short to its sportier-looking cousin.
On some level, I liked the Palisade every much. Not because of the time spent with it inside and out. Rather, because it stood out a bit more than the Telluride. This Hyundai exuded a level of luxury that would segue into the opulent lineup of the Genesis brand.
Now, a 2022 version of the Hyundai Palisade arrived for its week of evaluation duty. This time, it arrived in its new top-of-the-range trim called the Calligraphy. This is a trim that gives Hyundai customers a near-Genesis experience at a more reasonable price point.
To be honest this is not a fair observation. The Genesis lineup shares some things with its mainstream cousins at Hyundai. While everything at the luxury brand is engineered on a set of rear-wheel drive biased platforms, the Palisade is not. That is just for starters.
Yet, there is a perception that once you step into the Palisade Calligraphy, you will find a level of luxury that is normally found at a higher price point. That is, until you see how much this tester cost. More on that later…
Compared to other trims, you do get some upgrades in the Palisade Calligraphy that customers will appreciate. The unique 20-inch alloy wheels, quilted Nappa leather upholstery, and added satin chrome finishes below the grille are among the visible pieces that distinguish this top-shelf model from all other Palisades.
But, is that it?
The Palisade exudes an air of premium-ness. The design itself is very upmarket and smart. The bold front end centers on a large grille with its diamond texture inside. The lighting signatures are found on each side, with a set of LED driving lamps, turn signals, and headlamp units. The lighting signature sets off a character line that runs from front to back, bridging the front and rear lights.
The crowning touch is its formal-like roofline. A “landau”-like chrome strip frames both doors and the C-pillar. The doors open wide with a larger opening for the second and third row passengers.
This exterior might not have the exuberant flair of the latest Genesis models, but there is no denying the Palisade’s ambitions to be the go-to vehicle in its class. Further evidence is seen once you step inside the cabin with its expansive room for seven passengers in our tester. Even the third row has room for adults.
The advantage of the captain’s chairs in the second row is the lack of a center console between them. This is useful for third row passengers who can climb across those seats to exit the Palisade’s rear doors.
For the most part, the driver’s environment is something I enjoyed the most. The Rear Blind Spot Monitors are on each “dial” according to the turn signal being used – not just a single screen. Hyundai has a different screen motif for every drive mode available. The steering wheel is just the right thickness, and the controls are good to the touch and offer great logic and feedback.
However, there are a few nitpicks I need to point out. I just wished that the 10.25-inch wide screen has wireless smartphone connectivity. While button actuation is the future and does not require a lot of “space” between it and the transmission, I found that an actual shifter is quicker to use.
There are also some missing features that would befit the top-shelf trim of this Palisade. Where’s the power folding mirrors? The fog lamps? That’s all that’s missing to truly make this something very special for upwardly mobile consumers.
On the other hand, I like the 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. It offers solid sound throughout the cabin. I also like the push-button controls to fold down the second- and third-row seats from the tailgate area.
Speaking of which, the cargo space is generous! You start with 18.0 cubic feet behind the third row, eventually expanding to 86.4 cubic feet with both the second and third rows down.
When it comes to performance, look no further than the Palisade’s 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6. Combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the HTRAC all-wheel drive system, this is all the driveline you need. With a maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds, you have a strong family hauler that is made for adventure – even if the adventure includes getting to work or the store during the winter months.
The Palisade offers a smooth ride that won’t disturb anyone behind you. They can sleep while you slog through traffic or inclement weather. It handles quite well, exhibiting solid balance through evasive maneuvers. Brakes are good, exhibiting solid stops ion normal, panic, and winter situations. Pedal feel is spot on.
As for the steering, George (our videographer) and I had two different takes on the feel and response from the wheel. He found a bit of vagueness when the Palisade is in Comfort mode. It held the lane, but he noticed how there was a bit of play within the lane. I noticed that, too. Yet, I found that putting the Palisade in Sport or Smart remedies this vagueness – just a tad. It does maneuver quite well and offers a good turning radius overall.
Which comes to the biggest surprise of the Palisade Calligraphy. Most of its top-shelf trim competitors have scaled over the $50,000 wall. Some have climbed even further into the $60,000 range. However, our Calligraphy all-wheel drive tester came with a sticker price of $49,830.
You do have a choice of four Palisade trim levels, starting at $33,350. You also have a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
I will admit that I like this Palisade. The Calligraphy trim is what this three-row mid-size SUV needs. Something luxurious with an attainable price. It also rides well and can carry the load nicely.
There are still some debates whether the Palisade still competes with new arrivals into the segment. The best way to measure this is to get into the third row. Then, do the same thing with other vehicles in its class.
What you will find is that the Palisade is very accommodating for seven or eight people (depending on which trim you choose) to ride comfortably across the miles. That should yield its own “victory lap” for you.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Hyundai Motor America
All photos by Randy Stern