Hyundai Palisade (2023) Launch Review

Hyundai Palisade (2023) Launch Review

The Hyundai Palisade has received a mild cosmetic update and specification upgrade. The Korean brand’s 7- or 8-seater Premium SUV appears to be keenly priced for its size and specification; we drove the 2023 model in the Western Cape this week.

What’s new on the Hyundai Palisade?

Hyundai Palisade 2023 front grille
The front grille is now blacked out as opposed to the chrome version pre-facelift.

The Palisade was introduced on the local market in 2021 as a bit of an experiment to see if consumers would be willing to buy a Hyundai priced around the R1-million mark. In 2 years, 256 units of the Palisade have been sold, which appears to have been enough to warrant bringing the facelifted model to market.

The facelifted Hyundai Palisade incorporates minor cosmetic updates that make the SUV appear more hunkered-down, with a lower stance. The grille finish has changed from chrome, while the teardrop LED running light clusters have moved to the outsides of the bumper (with the “ice block” lamps inside of them). The revised side profile is distinguished by new 20-inch alloy wheels, while the rear remains virtually unchanged, save for the new positioning of the lower taillamps that are now integrated into the width of the rear bumper. Incidentally, the facelifted Palisade is also 15 mm longer than its predecessor.

Inside, the interior now features an updated and enlarged touchscreen infotainment system and a host of new safety features that are considered standard fare for a product at this end of the market. Hyundai does not offer any optional extras – the only choice you have is between the 7- or 8-seater version.

Same turbodiesel engine

Hyundai Palisade 2023 static
The Palisade utilises the same turbodiesel unit as the pre-facelift model and its peak outputs are unchanged.

Our major complaint about the previous iteration of the Palisade was that for a large premium SUV, it needed a bit more punch, because its peak overtaking acceleration is rather leisurely. Unfortunately, this issue hasn’t been addressed for the facelifted version – the only engine in the line-up is the 142 kW/440 Nm 2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel and I think that another 60 Nm would have made a big difference. In overseas markets, the Palisade comes with a 3.8-litre petrol V6, which would probably drink you out of house and home, but that motor delivers more of the performance you need to shift an SUV of this size.

The turbodiesel does an okay job of propelling the hefty Palisade and its 8-speed automatic transmission shifts near-seamlessly in the background. To be fair, the Hyundai’s powertrain enables the premium SUV to maintain the national speed limit with ease… it’s just the in-gear acceleration that feels a trifle gutless.

What’s the new Palisade interior like?

Hyundai Palisade 2023 interior
The 12-inch infotainment screen replaces the 8-inch version.

The larger (12-inch) infotainment touchscreen feels much more up-to-date than the pre-facelift model’s 8-inch unit and incorporates a few more modern features that make the Palisade’s user experience feel more upmarket. There’s a speaker feature that enables you to talk to the rear passengers via the audio system’s speakers (rather than shouting from the front). It also has a quiet mode that allows you to turn off the rear speakers (if, for example, the tots are asleep), while keeping the front speakers active.

As for its connectivity, Android Auto/Apple Carplay connectivity is available wirelessly, while the wireless phone charger has been upgraded from a 5W- to a 15W unit.

Thanks to some new safety features, the 2023 Palisade scored 5 stars in the Australian standard crash test programme (ANCAP), which tests right-hand-drive cars. The model is now specced with forward-collision avoidance, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and safe exiting (an alert goes off if you attempt to open the doors while traffic is closing in on the vehicle).

Hyundai Palisade 2023's second row of seats (8-seater version).
The 8-seater variant uses 2 benches that fold individually.

As for the seat layout, the Captain’s seating setup (on the 7-seater version) provides an upmarket feel with 2 individual 2nd-row seats and a runway between them to ease access to the rearmost row. All seats can be folded flat individually, so it offers a highly adaptable and, therefore, practical cabin layout.

Fit-and-finish seems very good (as it has been for several generations of Hyundai models), the cabin ergonomics are great and the sound insulation from outside elements is very good, even on dirt roads.

What’s the Hyundai Palisade like to drive?

Hyundai Palisade 2023 rear.
Ride quality and NVH levels appear very good on the updated Palisade.

Aside from the slightly underwhelming performance of the 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine, the Palisade’s driving experience is admirable; it rides particularly well for something that sits on 20-inch wheels.

We clocked up a couple of hundred km during the 2023 Palisade’s media launch event, and much of that route comprised driving on dirt roads. The Palisade is notably quiet inside and its suspension feels well-damped over gravel and washboard dirt roads. We took a few bigger knocks here and there, but nothing more than a slight suspension jolt was felt before normal service resumed. I was quite impressed with the Palisade’s “gravel travel” ability, considering that the SUV is more of a soft-roader than a “dirt dancer”.

All-wheel drive is standard, but remember the Palisade’s an SUV-styled people mover, so there’s no low range and the ground clearance is average (203 mm). A typical Palisade buyer is unlikely to venture into the wilderness with their vehicle often, but it will easily handle long stints on gravel roads/backtracks.

Hyundai Palisade price in SA

The updated Hyundai Palisade is sold with a 7-year/200 000 km warranty and a 7-year/105 000 km service plan.

Palisade R2.2 Elite 7-seater 8AT AWD R1 099 900
Palisade R2.2 Elite 8-seater 8AT AWD R1 099 900


Hyundai Palisade 2023 rear three-quarter view.
The new Palisade appears to be well-priced in its segment.

The facelifted Hyundai Palisade addresses most of the areas in which its pre-facelift predecessor could be improved, but not all of them. The interior upgrade features more tech (such as the new infotainment screen and upgraded phone connectivity options), plus the active safety features have brought it in line with other premium SUVs and they’re all standard. The ride- and build quality appear to be excellent; in fact, the 2.2-litre turbodiesel motor remains the only real weak point in what is a really pleasing offering.

Those looking for an SUV with more off-road ability may view the new Ford Everest as a good alternative, but the Palisade, at its current price, represents a very good value-for-money road-biased option.

MORE: 2023 Hyundai Palisade Prices & Spec

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