REVIEW: 2023 Hyundai Palisade is big on luxury

Published Jun 23, 2023


Johannesburg - Hyundai has some chic and edgy designs these days, but the Palisade takes a somewhat different approach that makes it quite obvious which market it was primarily intended for.

From just about any angle it looks as American as apple pie, and if you removed the Hyundai badges it would probably pass for a Cadillac SUV. The Hyundai Palisade is also quite premium by Hyundai standards, having become the first million-buck Hyundai when it was first introduced back in 2021.

What you see here is the 2023 facelifted model that was introduced earlier this year, and it now costs just a shade under R1 million.

You can tell the 2023 model apart by its massive new front grille featuring what Hyundai calls ‘parametic shield’ design elements, and the two-tier headlight design is new, as are the 20-inch alloy wheels.

The cockpit area has also been given something of a makeover, with a new air vent design that stretches across the dashboard, and a new 12.3-inch (31.2cm) infotainment system that replaces the previous 8.0” (20.3cm) screen, while the instrument cluster is now fully digital too.

The central screen is placed high up for easy reach and Hyundai has retained traditional buttons and knobs for the climate control system and other functions like changing volume.

The 2023 model also comes with an enhanced wireless charging pad, now packing 15W, and the previous USB-C ports have been replaced by USB-A units.

The start-up procedure is a little strange, with buttons on the centre console replacing the traditional gear lever, while the start button and electronic park brake are located on either side of the steering wheel. Surely it would have been more user-friendly to place all three on the centre console?

As you’d expect, with this being the largest Hyundai on the block, the Palisade has a huge three-row interior, and it’s available in 6-seat and 7-seat guises. Our test car had the former arrangement, which means those in the middle get to sit on ‘captain’s’ chairs, complete with folding armrests.

Access to the third row is also as simple as pushing a button and legroom back there it's more spacious than most seven-seaters we’ve tried, although for longer trips it’s probably still more suited to children.

Best of all there’s still a reasonable amount of boot space when all three rows are in place, although perhaps not quite enough for a family holiday seven-up.

You can see that this vehicle has been largely designed around rear seat occupants, as those in the second row have their own climate controls and there are USB ports in all three rows. There’s even a “Quiet Mode” that deactivates the speakers of the rear cabin, which will come in handy when those in the back want to sleep while the front occupants listen to the radio.

Fittingly considering its flagship status, Hyundai has packed a lot of features into this SUV, with the list of standard features having grown to include an Infinity Surround Sound System, heated steering wheel, Adaptive Cruise Control and Surround View Monitor.

Also part of the deal is a 10-way electric driver’s seat with memory function, rear door window curtains and a ‘conversation mirror’ that facilitates interaction with rear passengers.

What’s it like the drive the Hyundai Palisade?

Under the bonnet, Hyundai has carried over the familiar 2.2-litre turbodiesel unit that offers 142kW and 440Nm. Power goes to all four wheels through a smooth-shifting eight speed autobox and on-demand all-wheel drive system.

But it has a lot of car to lug around and as a result overall performance lacks sparkle, although it does cruise very comfortably on the open road and can hold its own with fast lane traffic on the highway. Overall performance should satisfy most owners, and economy is reasonably good for a vehicle of this size, with our car returning a shade over seven litres per 100km on a round trip between Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The Palisade is also quiet and refined, and the ride quality is nothing short of comfortable. Through the twistier bits it also feels as sure-footed as you could expect for a vehicle of this size and stature.


While it’s expensive for a Hyundai, you might say, the Palisade does offer a lot of practicality and luxury for the money in a package that’s also relatively economical. But if you don’t really need an SUV, the Staria could give you and the family even more in the way of space.