~ A DriveWays Review ~
by Frank A. Aukofer

The concept of The Little Engine That Could, part of American folklore, could apply to the 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD, a capable three-row crossover sport utility vehicle that is a fraternal twin of the 2023 Kia Telluride.

Both South Korean vehicles were introduced as 2020 models and achieved rave reviews and nearly instant customer acceptance. After two years, their combined 2022 U.S. sales totaled 182,579. The Telluride had  99,891 to the Palisade’s 82,688.

It likely doesn’t matter much which has the edge. Though they compete in the marketplace, they also are partners. Hyundai owns about a third of Kia, and the two brands share engines, transmissions and other drive train components but do their own tuning, design and styling. Overall, the Palisade is more luxury oriented, while the Telluride leans toward performance and handling.

Tested for this review was the Palisade Calligraphy, the top of the line that includes five versions, called trim levels in the industry. Prices start at $37,235 for the base SE model with front-wheel drive and progress through the SEL, $40,235;  XRT, $41,885; Limited, $48,785, and Calligraphy, $52,095.

All Palisade versions get their power from a 3.8-liter V6 engine that makes 262 pound-feet of torque, a measure of twisting force. An eight-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually with steering-wheel paddles sends the power to either the front wheels or all four wheels. Independent tests have clocked the zero-to-60 miles an hour acceleration in the six-second range.

Front-drive versions have city/highway/combined fuel consumption ratings of 19/27/22 miles to the gallon. The tested Calligraphy, which comes with standard all-wheel drive, is rated at 19/25/21.

The all-wheel drive, dubbed HTRAC, monitors speed and road conditions to control braking between the left and right side wheels. The company says it balances power to ensure safety and deliver superior cornering and driving dynamics on different road surfaces.

Curiously, the Environmental Protection Agency, guardian of the mileage numbers, describes the Palisade as a “small sport utility vehicle.” That’s for a three-row crossover SUV that can seat seven or eight passengers, depending on whether the second row has a bench seat or two captain’s chairs.

Moreover, the tested Calligraphy was 16 feet 4 inches long, 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighed 4,506 pounds, and could tow up to 5,000 pounds with trailer brakes (1,650 pounds without). That’s some “small SUV.”

For 2023, the Palisade received a freshening that included a new cascading grille, auto-dimming outside mirrors, new headlights and daytime running lights, multi-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels, and a new instrument panel and steering wheel.

The Calligraphy model also featured power-folding third-row seats and second row seats that fold and slide forward with the touch of a button for access to the third row. Raising the seats takes old-fashioned muscle. Of course, agile children can also scramble back there between the captain’s chairs, though they’d better be skinny if there are three of them.

As befits its family orientation, the Palisade comes standard with Hyundai’s Smartsense safety features: automatic front and rear emergency braking with pedestrian detection; lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning; navigation-based adaptive cruise control; blind-spot collision warning; safe exit assist; rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, and driver alert.

The blind-spot warning uses Hyundai’s imaginative solution: cameras on both sides that cover the blind spots and display the areas on the instrument panel, substituting for the speedometer and tachometer when the direction signal lever is activated. However, correctly adjusting the outside mirrors works just as well.

Inside, the Palisade Calligraphy surrounds passengers with luxury appointments: automatic climate control; premium audio; perforated leather upholstery; dual-pane sliding glass sunroof; Apple Car Play and Android Auto; driver’s seat back massager; head-up display; wireless smart phone charging; rear side-window sunshades; hands-free power rear lift gate, and remote parking assist. The last enables a driver to park the Palisade in a tight spot from outside.

On the road, the Palisdade Calligraphy validates the old adage that big vehicles should drive small. It cruises freeways elegantly, comfortable  with good bolstering in the front and outboard rear seats, and mostly serene with little engine and road noise intrusion, though with an occasional smidgen of wind roar.

With crossover SUVs relentlessly taking over from traditional sedans, station wagons and even minivans, quality machines like the 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy represent the future, if not the near present.


  • Model: 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD four-door, three-row crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 3.8-liter V6; 291 hp, 262 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 16 feet 4 inches.
  • Height: 5 feet 9 inches.
  • Ground clearance: 8 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 155/18 cubic feet. (46,  86 with various rear seats folded).
  • Weight: 4,506 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 5,000 pounds with trailer brakes; 1,650 without.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 19/25/21 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $52,095.
  • Price as tested: $52,310.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. Photos ©Hyundai