Model tested: 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD
Engine: 3.8-liter GDI V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic SHIFTRONIC w/paddle shifters
Torque: 262 lb.-ft.
EPA rating: 19/city, 24/highway, 21/combined
Base price: $47,750
As tested: $49,500
Overview: The 2021 Hyundai Palisade is a big, plush, comfortable crossover featuring seating for eight on quilted leather, along with wireless technology married to digital screens. It’s quite simply the nicest crossover that Hyundai has ever built. The Palisade comes in four trim levels: SE; SEL; Limited; and Calligraphy, our test driver that this review focuses on.
Walkaround: The Palisade offers a dramatic profile, with a wide honeycomb grille, standard LED headlights and vertical LED running lights that look almost reptilian. It’s new design language for Hyundai — and definitely different than its competitors. The balance of the styling is basically traditional, with nicely proportioned glass and steel. Chrome trim slopes down toward the rear wheels, giving the roof pillars a large, strong appearance. It proudly wears “Palisade” in big letters on the tailgate, where vertical taillights resemble the headlights.
Interior: The Calligraphy’s large, comfortable, quilted-nappa-leather front seats are heated and cooled. There’s a suede headliner, wood trim and soft-touch plastics. Instrumentation is contoured smoothly, with wide bands of control switches. The lower dash features a pushbutton transmission selector, and the wide center console provides storage for everything from tablet devices to large-size drink bottles. The 10.25-inch touchscreen controls everything, including navigation, audio, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay (or Android Auto), climate and vehicle settings.The standard second-row seat is a sliding bench — with available power — and more than 40 inches of legroom. A pair of captain’s chairs are optional, but reduce seating from eight to seven. The third row is easy to reach, but knee and headroom are limited. The Palisade boasts 18 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row; with it folded, there’s 45.8; and with both rows down, a massive 86.4.
Behind the Wheel: The Palisade isn’t about performance but the ride experience. It filters out the noisy outside world instead of enhancing it. That doesn’t mean acceleration isn’t enthusiastic. With 291 horses delivered via an eight-speed automatic, it can spring away from a stop with the Calligraphy’s standard AWD — optional in other models. The torque really shines as the transmission downshifts for two-lane passing. The transmission boasts paddle shifters, and the Palisade offers five drive modes — comfort, eco, sport, snow and smart — that alter the engine, transmission and traction systems to fit any situation.
Bottom Line: The 2021 Palisade is a value-priced, large, comfortable, luxury SUV featuring an elegant cabin and dramatic styling, plus an extensive warranty.