2021 Hyundai Palisade

2021 Hyundai Palisade Test Drive Review: Korea's SUV Game Is On Point

When the three-row Hyundai Palisade was introduced for the 2020 model year, we suggested that its spread of talents could create a new American family favorite on the sales charts. Well, that's clearly been the case as the Palisade has become a strong seller for the Korean marque, much the same as it has been for its corporate cousin, the Kia Telluride. In fact, Hyundai claims that nearly half of all Palisade buyers had never previously considered a Hyundai. Among the Palisade's many virtues are its spacious cabin, excellent cargo capacity, and a raft of safety features, all aspects that matter for bigger families. It's also endowed with a powerful 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 horsepower, although no other engine choice is on offer. The Honda Pilot remains a formidable rival, with a superior ride and more spirited acceleration. But that doesn't tell the whole story, and the Palisade is clearly the kind of SUV that thousands of buyers crave, and its appeal continues undiminished.

Read in this review:

2021 Hyundai Palisade Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Palisade?

The most notable change for the new model year is the introduction of a new range-topping trim, the Calligraphy, to the 2021 Hyundai Palisade lineup in the USA. It starts at $47,750 and comes with high-end features such as quilted leather interior trim, 20-inch alloy wheels, and premium exterior touches such as a bespoke grille fascia. Elsewhere in the range, Hyundai has made a series of small changes to various trims and packages. For instance, a sunroof is now standard on the SEL trim and above, while HD Radio is now equipped to every version. Wireless smartphone connectivity - for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay - is now equipped to the lower three trims. Hyundai has added many of the features from the previous Driver Guidance Package to the Convenience Package, which is available on the SEL. Finally, for customers who often tow, the previous four-pin pre-wiring connector has been upgraded to a seven-pin connector.

Pros and Cons

  • Daring styling
  • Loads of features
  • Spacious cabin across all three rows
  • Generous cargo capacity
  • Luxurious top trims
  • Smooth and powerful V6 engine
  • Comprehensive warranty
  • Only one engine choice
  • Rather thirsty
  • Honda Pilot is a better handler

Best Deals on Palisade

2021 Hyundai Palisade Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
3.8L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
3.8L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
3.8L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
3.8L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive

Palisade Exterior

Subtle is not a word that springs to mind when trying to describe the Palisade's appearance. From the large grille to the split composite headlights, it certainly makes its presence known. It's handsome along the sides, with heavily sculpted wheel arch surrounds standing out, while the rear is muscular and broad-looking. All versions feature LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, while top trims have LED taillights. Roof rails are standard from the SEL up. A conventional sunroof is standard on the SEL, while above this the Palisade sports a dual-pane sunroof. The SE and SEL ride on 18-inch alloy wheels, while the top two trims feature 20-inch items. The Calligraphy has premium exterior trim items and puddle lights mounted beneath the mirrors.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Front View CarBuzz
2021 Hyundai Palisade Rear View CarBuzz
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The Palisade is a substantial chunk of metal and significantly larger vs the Santa Fe XL. At 196.1 inches in length, it is 0.4 inches shorter than the Honda Pilot. Despite this, it's the Palisade that has a longer wheelbase of 114.2 inches, which is 3.2 inches longer than the Honda's. Other key dimensions for the Hyundai include a width of 77.8 inches (excluding the mirrors) and a height of 68.9 inches. The minimum ground clearance is 7.9 inches. At 4,127 pounds, the SE and SEL in front-wheel-drive guise have the lightest curb weight, while the heaviest models weigh 4,387 lbs, a figure that applies to the seven-passenger versions of the top three trims when equipped with all-wheel drive.

  • Length 196.1 in
  • Wheelbase 114.2 in
  • Height 68.9 in
  • Max Width 77.8 in
  • Front Width 67.2 in
  • Rear Width 67.6 in
  • Curb Weight 4,127.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

On the SE, SEL, and Limited, there are seven colors to choose from: Sierra Burgundy, Becketts Black, Rainforest, Moonlight Cloud, Hyper White, Steel Graphite, and Lagoon Silver. Only Hyper White costs extra and this shade will add $300 to the total bill. Opting for the top-spec Calligraphy reduces the palette to just three shades, with only Becketts Black, Moonlight Cloud, and Hyper White being on offer. Although none of these shades are particularly adventurous, the Palisade's styling makes more than enough of a statement on its own.

  • Hyper White
  • Moonlight Cloud
  • Steel Graphite
  • Sierra Burgundy
  • Typhoon Silver
  • Rainforest
  • Becketts Black
  • Lagoon Silver, Build Out: 08/312020
  • Typhoon Silver, Available: 10/01/2020
  • Lagoon Silver, Build Out: 08/31/2020

Palisade Performance

Regardless of the model you choose, the 2021 Hyundai Palisade SUV comes equipped with a 3.8-liter naturally aspirated V6 generating 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, allied to either front- or all-wheel drive. While not the quickest SUV in this segment, independent tests showed that the Palisade can go from 0-60 mph in just under seven seconds, which is a few tenths off the pace of the Honda Pilot. Without trailer brakes, the Palisade can tow 1,650 lbs, but this figure increases to a commendable 5,000 lbs with trailer brakes. With the same engine, it's no surprise that the Kia Telluride has exactly the same towing capacity figures; for the 2021 model year, Hyundai has upgraded the Palisade's four-pin wiring connector to a superior seven-pin connector, a further benefit for customers who will regularly be towing.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Side View CarBuzz
2021 Hyundai Palisade Gauge Cluster CarBuzz
2021 Hyundai Palisade Wheel CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

With the ability to seat eight occupants, the Hyundai Palisade's naturally aspirated, all-aluminum 3.8-liter V6 GDI engine is up for the job with its competitive outputs of 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. It proves to be a good match as the Palisade gets up to speed without much fuss while passing at higher speeds is strong enough not to evoke any nervous moments from the driver. Without turbocharging, our review found that the Palisade requires a few more revs before it really gets going, which can be noticeable around town, but it cruises along easily on the highway. Like many modern automatics, the eight-speeder does an excellent job of fading into the background, although navigating steeper inclines can see it occasionally struggle to choose the right gear. Overall, there isn't much to fault in the powertrain department.

  • Engine
    3.8L V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Hyundai Palisade is a family SUV so needs to be adept at carting people around in comfort but without falling apart at the first corner. Thankfully, it ticks both of these boxes. The multi-link independent rear suspension helps to provide the Palisade with a compliant enough ride quality, with the typical bumps and lumps of everyday commuting being effectively shut out. That said, there is an underlying firmness to the setup, but it never becomes harsh. In terms of handling ability, the Palisade does a fair job of managing its weight through the corners and, although body roll is noticeable, it's easy to place and control this big SUV when the road gets twisty. Unsurprisingly, feedback through the steering wheel is notable by its absence. It's not as fun to drive as a Honda Pilot, but then again, few customers are shopping around for an eight-seater SUV and looking to be thrilled behind the wheel. Tailoring the driving experience can be done by toggling the drive mode dial, with Eco mode offering a nice and smooth throttle response without feeling sluggish. For occasional dirt road use, the optional AWD system provides more security, but the Palisade is certainly not intended to take on any major off-road obstacles.

Palisade Gas Mileage

The Palisade's large V6 engine doesn't promise to be light on juice, and that's indeed the case, although it's on par with most rivals. Official EPA-rated numbers show that in FWD guise, the Palisade will return 19/26/22 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. Fortunately, AWD versions don't suffer too much despite their added heft and will return 19/24/21 mpg. Interestingly, the FWD Kia Telluride is more efficient in the city despite having the same engine - it manages 20/26/23 mpg. That 23-mpg average is exactly the same as what the Honda Pilot will manage in FWD configuration. Equipped with an 18.8-gallon gas tank, the Palisade should be able to eke out gas mileage of around 413 miles in mixed driving conditions.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.8 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 19/26 mpg
* 2021 Hyundai Palisade SE FWD

Hyundai Palisade Interior

The interior of the Hyundai Palisade earns top marks for space utilization, quality, and usability. This is a three-row SUV that can genuinely seat eight adults, with even the third row offering adequate space for average-sized adults. For the driver, there is a clean and logical control layout and a plethora of standard gear such as smart cruise control, lane following assist, transmission paddle shifters, and a power-adjustable seat. All versions feel upscale thanks to soft-touch cabin materials, such as the dashboard which is wrapped in imitation or genuine leather, depending on the trim. Interior storage space is excellent, with a handy additional storage area beneath the center console. Top trims are lavishly specified with features like a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, and wireless device charging.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Dashboard CarBuzz
2021 Hyundai Palisade Gearbox Controls CarBuzz
2021 Hyundai Palisade Interior Wooden Trim CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

If you need space for eight occupants, the base SE is the only version to get this layout as standard as it features a second-row bench seat for three. All other derivatives employ second-row captain's chairs and seating for seven, although the SEL can be equipped with a second-row bench seat as well. A six-way adjustable driver's seat in cloth is standard for the SE, but higher trims have more widely adjustable power front seats with lumbar settings and leather upholstery. The headroom is plentiful in all rows, and the legroom is excellent in the first two rows. The third row has less legroom, but it's still perfectly adequate for average-sized adults, which will surprise customers used to other SUVs with cramped third rows. A clever one-touch second-row seat-sliding mechanism enables easier access to the third row, as do conveniently positioned ingress/egress grab handles. The seats themselves are both comfortable and supportive, and the second row can recline, too. Only rear visibility suffers somewhat from the driver's seat, but an available surround-view camera system does well to alleviate this issue. Overall, the Hyundai Palisade interior excels at space utilization and seating comfort.

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 44.1 in
  • Front Head Room 40.7 in
  • Rear Leg Room 42.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 40.1 in

Interior Colors and Materials

The SE offers a choice of either a Black or Gray interior color scheme, with seats upholstered in cloth. However, it feels suitably premium thanks to a dashboard wrapped in artificial leather, Satin Chrome door handles, and door panels/armrests finished in soft-touch materials. Moving up to the SEL adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel and the same cloth seats/colors as the SE, although leather-lined seats are available here. The Limited is a bigger step up as it enjoys a dashboard wrapped in genuine leather, a melange headliner, artificial leather on the door armrests, a premium soft-touch center console, and premium Nappa leather seats in either Black or Beige. However, the Beige interior color choice falls away if Rainforest or Lagoon Silver exterior paint is specified. Finally, the Calligraphy gets classy quilted leather interior door panels, a perforated leather steering wheel, and a microfiber-suede headliner. Dark Brown and Black Nappa leather color choices are on offer here, but the Moonlight Cloud exterior paint is only compatible with the Beige Nappa leather interior.

Palisade SUV Trunk and Cargo Space

Even with all seats in their upright position, the Palisade offers a decent 18 cubic feet of cargo space behind the 3rd row. With this row of seats folded, there is a commodious 45.8 cubes of trunk space. Tumble the second row as well, and a cavernous 86.4 cubes open up behind the front seats. Although practically shaped, the rear wheel arches do partially intrude on the available space. The second row can be folded in a 60/40-split and also features electric cargo area releases and a power-folding function. The third row also has a 60/40-split and, on top trims, a power-folding function. An underfloor storage compartment at the back ensures that valuables can be stored out of sight. A hands-free smart liftgate is standard on the top two trims and optional on the SEL.

In the cabin, there is an abundance of storage options for smaller items. In its eight-seater configuration, there are a total of 16 cupholders, including in the center console and the second-row door armrests. The center console storage bin is huge, and there is more space beneath the push-button ignition controller. Along with seatback pockets and door pockets, all occupants will be pleased with the amount of space to store their belongings on longer trips.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Front Seats CarBuzz
2021 Hyundai Palisade Third Row Seats CarBuzz
2021 Hyundai Palisade Trunk Space CarBuzz

Palisade Infotainment and Features


As a range, the Palisade is equipped with plenty of convenience and safety features. The SE gets a six-way adjustable driver's seat, a rearview monitor with parking guidance, air conditioning, second- and third-row HVAC vents, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and automatic headlights. Higher up in the range, features extend to a sunroof (dual-panel on top trims), a hands-free smart liftgate, power-adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, heated/ventilated rear seats, a head-up display, a surround-view monitor, wireless device charging, proximity key entry with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a heated steering wheel, and 64-color ambient lighting. Safety equipment common to all derivatives includes forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, smart cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and driver attention warning. Blind-spot collision-avoidance assist is added from the SEL, as is rear cross-traffic assist, and safe exit assist. Limited and Calligraphy trims get ultrasonic rear occupant alert, highway drive assist, and front park distance warning too, all of which can be added to the SEL optionally.


Hyundai is killing it right now with its intuitive and feature packed infotainment systems, and the Palisade is no different. The user-friendly system starts out with an eight-inch touchscreen display on the SE and SEL, with the top two trims getting a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen with integrated navigation. These top trims also use a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with some eye-catching graphics. Hyundai hasn't neglected passengers behind the first row, either, as all models have two second-row USB ports in addition to the three ports in front. The Limited and Calligraphy offer dual USB ports for third-row occupants. Across the lineup, there is wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity, an auxiliary input jack, and a rear-seat quiet mode that can turn off the speakers at the back. HD Radio is standard across the range but only the top two trims have SiriusXM. Base trims have a standard six-speaker sound system, while the Limited and Calligraphy models get an upgraded Harman Kardon premium setup with 12 speakers; both also receive wireless device charging. Another clever feature is a Driver Talk in-car intercom system for parents who really, really need to get the attention of noisy kids occupying the back seats.

Palisade Problems and Reliability

In its vehicle reliability review of the Palisade, J.D. Power has given it an average 77 out of 100 overall rating, including a 72/100 rating for quality and reliability, which sees it fall short of the closely related Kia Telluride. For 2020 Palisades, a single recall was issued by the NHTSA for side curtain airbags that may not inflate correctly. At the time of writing, 2021 versions were recall-free. A high number of complaints from individual customers were noted for a windshield that cracks for no apparent reason, however, but this was not deemed serious enough to warrant a recall. Another two customer complaints related to erratic behavior of the Palisade's driver-assist technologies.

On the plus side, the Palisade comes with one of the best warranties available. Along with the five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty, the SUV gets a ten-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, a seven-year anti-perforation warranty regardless of mileage covered, and five years of roadside assistance.


  • Basic:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    10 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    7 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

Palisade Safety

A full five-star safety rating from the NHTSA was announced for the 2021 Palisade, and these excellent results should be matched by the IIHS' findings, although the latter agency has yet to test the latest version of the SUV. In 2020, the Palisade received the IIHS' Top Safety Pick award, with maximum Good ratings in every crashworthiness test. However, the headlights were rated as Marginal for some trims.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

While an absence of one or two luxury features can be forgiven, a comprehensive safety specification has become more of a non-negotiable, especially when it comes to family vehicles like the Palisade. Thankfully, potential buyers need not worry as Hyundai has come to the party in this area. The airbag count totals seven and includes a driver's knee airbag and side-curtain airbags for both front and rear occupants. Added to this, the Palisade comes with tire pressure monitoring, vehicle stability management, electronic stability control, trailer sway control, and ABS brakes.

On the entry-level SE, driver aids include rear park distance control, rear occupant alert, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, smart cruise control with Stop & Go, lane following assist, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, and a rearview camera. The SEL adds blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and safe exit assist. On the Limited and Calligraphy, there are front parking sensors along with ultrasonic rear occupant alert, highway drive assist, a surround-view monitor, and a head-up display.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Hyundai Palisade a good car?

Hyundai has managed the balancing act of making the Palisade SUV both heavily styled and utterly sensible at the same time. Together with the spacious and exceptionally well-trimmed cabin, it offers a comfortable ride, a willing V6 engine, lots of features that make transporting a family less of a chore, and excellent cargo space. We especially appreciate that the third row of seats is not just for show, but can genuinely accommodate adults of average size - a rarity in its class. The top two trims are particularly plush inside and come loaded with high-tech goodies, while all versions have proven safety ratings and a brilliant warranty. All of these qualities have not gone unnoticed, with thousands of Americans choosing to park a Palisade in their garages over the last year or two. Although there are many other great SUVs for sale in this segment, such as the more established Honda Pilot, our rankings prove that the Palisade and its Kia Telluride cousin are good enough to be called class-leading.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Hyundai Palisade?

There is plenty of value to be found throughout the Palisade range, with the SE starting at an MSRP of $32,525 in the USA. For the mid-range SEL and Limited, the Palisade price rises to $35,175 and $45,125, respectively, while the new Calligraphy tops the range at $47,750. These prices exclude tax, licensing, and registration costs, along with a $1,175 destination charge. Only the Calligraphy gets AWD by default, with this upgrade costing $1,700 on all other derivatives. Fully loaded with options, the Hyundai Palisade price can climb to over $50,000 for the top-of-the-range Calligraphy.

New Hyundai Palisade Models

For the 2021 model year, the Hyundai Palisade SUV is offered in a choice of four trim levels: SE, SEL, Limited, and Calligraphy. All versions are powered by a 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 horsepower, paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Power goes to the front wheels on all but the Calligraphy, which gets AWD as standard. AWD is optional on the lower three trims.

The base SE introduces the Palisade range with standard specs like 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, and seven-pin trailering pre-wiring. Inside, it has cloth-upholstered seats with a six-way adjustable seat for the driver, along with air conditioning, an eight-inch touchscreen interface, a standard six-speaker sound system, and sliding second-row seats. Safety technologies encompass the likes of rear parking sensors and forward collision warning.

Next in line is the SEL with second-row captain's chairs, blind-spot monitoring, a sunroof, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The Limited adds to the SEL's features with front parking sensors, LED taillights, premium Nappa leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated rear seats, ventilated front/rear seats, and a Harman Kardon sound system.

The Calligraphy mainly adds more upscale exterior and interior appointments such as premium rear accent lighting, a premium front grille, quilted leather door panels, and a microfiber headliner.

See All 2021 Hyundai Palisade Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

There aren't many options available on the base SE beyond a few accessories, such as an auto-dimming rearview mirror ($295), a cargo cover/screen ($190), and a tow hitch ($395).

There's much more room for customization with the SEL, which offers the Convenience Package at a cost of $2,400. This includes 20-inch alloy wheels, an auto-leveling rear suspension, wireless phone charging, front parking sensors, and more. This trim can also be upgraded with the Premium Package at $3,100 (although it requires the Convenience Package first) and it adds leather seats, a driver's seat memory system, navigation with a larger touchscreen, to name but a few.

Both the highly specified Limited and Calligraphy aren't available with any package upgrades.

🚗What Hyundai Palisade Model Should I Buy?

While the Calligraphy is naturally the most desirable version in the range, its extras are mostly cosmetic when compared with the Limited. With a price difference of nearly $10,000 between the SEL and Limited, an SEL with a few options seems like the sweet spot within the range. Even when adding both the Convenience and Premium packages to the SEL, it still represents a saving of over $4,000 over the Limited, while adding many of the latter's best features. That's why a well-specced SEL is our choice in the lineup - it's all the car that any large family needs.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Comparisons

Kia Telluride CarBuzz
Honda Pilot Honda
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Hyundai Palisade291 hp19/26 mpg$32,675
Kia Telluride 291 hp20/26 mpg$31,990
Honda Pilot 280 hp20/27 mpg$32,550

2021 Hyundai Palisade vs Kia Telluride

Sharing its underpinnings and engine with the Kia Telluride, a comparison between these two excellent SUVs is inevitable. With the same 291-hp V6 engine, the two SUVs offer similar performance, although it's the Telluride that is marginally more economical. It's the same story in the cabin, where the figures show that vs the Kia Telluride, the Hyundai has less cargo space, although the difference is small. The Telluride is a bit more of a luxurious and high-tech option, with a standard power-adjustable driver's seat on every trim, along with the availability of a digital driver's display. But again, the differences are minor as the Telluride is still an impressively equipped SUV in its higher trim levels. Trim for trim, the Hyundai Palisade will cost a bit more; this, together with the Telluride's attractive and less polarizing design, makes the Kia our choice by a whisker.

See Kia Telluride Review

2021 Hyundai Palisade vs Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot has been around for a little longer than the Palisade, and it shows when walking around each vehicle and sitting inside. The new Palisade interior feels more special and, whether divisive or not, its exterior makes more of a visual statement vs the Honda Pilot. Although the Pilot is slightly less powerful with its smaller 3.5-liter V6 engine, it's a bit quicker than the Palisade up to 60 mph and can tow just as much as its Korean rival. We'd say that the Honda handles a bit better than the Hyundai, but both are comfortable on extended trips. Both SUVs are impressively spacious inside, with the Pilot offering slightly more third-row legroom, but the Palisade winning on space for legs in the first two rows. Behind the third row, the Palisade offers more cargo space, unless the Pilot's third row of seats are positioned as far forward and upright as possible, in which case the Honda manages a marginal advantage. The Palisade has more available luxury and tech features, despite being priced very similarly to the Honda. Although the Pilot comes across as the better-engineered product under the skin, the Palisade's attractive cabin and a longer list of features just about edges out the Pilot.

See Honda Pilot Review

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2021 Hyundai Palisade Video Reviews

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$32,675 - $47,900
Price Range (MSRP)
Hyundai Palisade
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