Launched here in late 2020, Palisade is the largest model in Hyundai’s SUV range. At a smidgeon under five metres, it’s around the same size and price as competitors such as Kia Sorento, Toyota Kluger, and Mazda CX-90.

It’s aimed at those wanting a large vehicle to carry people so leans in the direction of comfort and ease of driving rather than full-on off-road work.

An upgrade in June 2023 included a name change with the previous top-spec Highlander now called Calligraphy and a new Calligraphy Black Ink variant added – no doubt in line with the elegant writing theme.

The Elite name remains for the entry-level model.

The three Palisade variants come with the choice of 2WD petrol or AWD diesel and eight-speed drivetrains.

Not only is Palisade a large vehicle but it has styling that accentuates its bulk, starting from the front with a huge version of the parametric grille that’s being progressively rolled out across the Hyundai range.

The grille is flanked by vertically stacked triple LED headlights, together with similarly shaped taillights, that emphasize the height of the Palisade.

The Calligraphy diesel variant that we tested came with exclusive design touches, including a satin chrome finish for the grille with matching badge and skid plate finishes. There are hidden-type turn signals, body-coloured cladding and exclusive 20-inch wheels with a 15-spoke turbine design.

The Calligraphy Black Ink treatment is headlined by a dark tinted radiator grille and bumper garnish and gloss black 20-inch alloy wheels.

The look is tied together with dark tinted front and rear skid plates, lower door garnishes, taillight garnishes and badging, with black glossy roof rails completing the monochromatic impression.

As before, both Palisade variants get the choice of 3.8-litre direct-injection petrol or 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engines.

The 3.8-litre petrol V6 generates 217 kW of power at 6000 rpm and 5200 Nm of torque with standard unleaded fuel. The 2.2-litre common rail diesel has less power (147 kW at 3800 rpm) but extra torque (440 Nm between 1750 and 2750 revs).

Both have a recently updated eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

The diesel AWD uses an active on-demand Hyundai Track (HTRAC) system.

There are four drive modes: Comfort, Eco, Sport and Smart.

Inside, Palisade comes with a full-width front air vent and a great-looking and feeling
four-spoke steering wheel capped off in Calligraphy with a two-tone finish.

A floating centre console angles up to merge with the dashboard, with a large space below for out-of-sight storage as well as a USB-C and 12V sockets. There’s plenty of additional storage space at the rear of the centre console with two adjustable drink holders and another pair of USB and 12V jacks.

Palisade comes with two seating options, the more conventional 3-3-2 eight-seat family-focused arrangement or an executive 3-2-2 seven-seater with a pair of individual captain chairs in the middle row.

The boxy styling of Palisade means there’s excellent headroom in all three seat rows. Legroom is also good with the centre row seats able to slide back and forwards to cater for both easier access and extra comfort to third row passengers.

Calligraphy and Black Ink also get heated and ventilated front and second-row seats in both seven- and eight-seat variants as well as quilted seat inserts, quilted and perforated door trim inserts, suede headlining and stainless-steel front speaker grilles.

With all seats in place there’s a reasonable 311 litres of cargo space, expanding to 704 litres with the third-row seatbacks folded and a van-like 2447 litres with all rear seats down.

All variants come with seven airbags including a front centre ‘bag, full-length curtain ‘bags, and lap-sash safety belts for all occupants rather than the normal lap-only belt in the centre-rear spot.

Other advanced safety features come with the Hyundai SmartSense system and include Blind Spot View and Collision-Avoidance Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Forward and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Following and Lane Keeping Assist, and Safe Exit Assist.

Calligraphy and Black Ink add a Blind-Spot View Monitor, Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist, Surround View Monitor, Parking Distance Warning, Remote Smart Parking Assist and Reverse Light Guide function.

Palisade is the first model in the Hyundai range to get the company’s Bluelink Connected Car system with safety features that include automatic collision notification and emergency call function, remote unlocking, climate control setting and engine start.

Standard in all Palisade models is a 12.3-inch high-definition touchscreen multimedia system. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both wired), six USB-C and one USB-A ports, Bluetooth message playback, embedded satellite navigation with live traffic updates, Qi standard wireless smartphone charging, and a voice memo function with up to 70 minutes recording time.

A second, fully-digital, 12.3-inch screen in front of the driver displays the instrument cluster as well as blind spot view monitors, activated with the turn indicators on either side.

All variants come with 12-speaker Infinity premium audio system.

The Palisade’s bulk can be a bit intimidating when you first get in but the various assistance features together with its high driving position and excellent visibility help to quickly overcome these concerns.

Also, with its comparatively tight turning circle of 11.8 metres it can handle the average shopping centre with room to spare although the backside tends to jut out.

While other eight-seat SUVs are based on a heavy-duty four-wheel-drive ‘ladder frame’ chassis, the Hyundai Palisade is built like a car.

That means its centre of gravity is lower and steering and suspension should be more like the average passenger vehicle. Travelling in stop-start city low-speed conditions, this is the case.

Out on the motorway the Palisade cruises smoothly and quietly with little clue that it is powered by a diesel. Most of our time was spent with either one or two occupants on board but it felt that it would have no trouble coping with the maximum eight people.

For long-distance touring there’s also the added security of a full-size spare wheel, albeit located under the rear of the vehicle.

The steering is well-weighted and gives good feedback.

Combined cycle fuel consumption is listed at 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres with the petrol engine and 7.3 L/100km from the diesel. We averaged 8.7 L/100km during our test.

Hyundai Palisade is an impressive vehicle that combines the practicality of an SUV while coming close to being car-like in the way it drives.

It’s comfortable, spacious, reasonably priced and comes with plenty of safety and tech equipment.

Palisade comes with Hyundai’s standard five-year, unlimited warranty. Bluelink is also free for the same five-year period but incurs a charge from then onwards.

Looks: 8/10
Performance: 7/10
Safety: 9/10
Thirst: 7/10
Practicality: 8/10
Comfort: 8/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 8/10


Palisade Elite 3.8-litre petrol 2WD: $66,800
Palisade Calligraphy 3.8-litre petrol 2WD: $75,900
Palisade Calligraphy Black Ink 3.8-litre petrol 2WD: $76,900
Palisade Elite 2.2-litre diesel AWD: $70,800
Palisade Calligraphy 2.2-litre diesel AWD: $79,900
Palisade Calligraphy Black Ink 2.2-litre diesel AWD: $80,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Hyundai dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy 2.2-litre diesel AWD)

Capacity: 2.199 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 147 kW @ 3800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 440 Nm @ 1750 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.3 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 193 g/km

DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic

Length: 4995 mm
Wheelbase: 2900 mm
Width: 1975 mm
Height: 1750 mm
Turning Circle: 11.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1980 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 71 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres




About Alistair Kennedy

Alistair Kennedy is Automotive News Service and Marque Publishing's business manager and the company's jack-of-all-trades. An accountant by profession, he designs the Marque range of motoring book titles, operates the company's motoring bookshop on the NSW Central Coast and the associated web site, as well as its huge digital and hard copy database. Whenever we can escape from the office he does so to cover new vehicle releases and contributes news stories. Alistair's other interests include cricket and family history on which he has written three books.
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