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Hyundai Santa Fe vs. Palisade 2023

1. Design

Design of a car is often one of the first aspects that catches the eye of potential buyers, making it a highly important factor. It is no secret that the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe was a polarising car. It was stylish, yet looked confused and it wasn't the most well received model the brand has put out. A year into its lifespan, Hyundai have changed the front and rear, giving the Santa Fe a new lease on life. The range topping Highlander model tested being the best looking of the range thanks to its extra lighting elements. It is quite a good looking SUV. Design wise up front, nothing looks like the new Hyundai Palisade. Sitting on the same architecture as the Kia Telluride, the Palisade is a much more traditional SUV design, looking as bold as it is large. It has a bluff front end with a large grille and headlights sitting above LED driving lights. Step around to the back of the car and Santa Fe continues the good impressions. It has a newly designed tailgate that gives a more premium look and feel compared to the outgoing model. It's still a bit left field in terms of SUV designs, but it works to the Santa Fe's favor. In terms of overall looks, it is a win for Santa Fe, because the Palisade looks like a US clone of the Telluride with a Hyundai badge slapped on. This is due to the fact that the Palisade was designed primarily with the North American market in mind and it looks it. The Palisade has a more boxy and bulky design compared to the Santa Fe, sporting a more traditional 8 seat SUV design. Both SUVs have very similar paint and wheel options. The Palisade does sneak a win in the area of fake wood, with a nice grey wood finish inside the Highlander model tested. This can be an individual taste sort of win. Although design is subjective choice, Santa Fe's more modern and unique design is a win over Palisade's traditional SUV look. The design of the current Santa Fe has always been clean and well proportioned, but the new model brings a bolder and more distinctive front and rear styling, highlighted by the T-shaped LED DRLs and full-width tail light. The Premium and Highlander variants also get a panoramic glass roof, adding to the SUV's existing good natural light in the cabin. The Palisade has a larger wheelbase and overall length compared to the Santa Fe, and it is designed to be an 8-seat car. Heading into the interior, the full interior review with detailed photos will come in a future article, but the Palisade has a more premium feel interior due to more design privacy compared to the outgoing model. In terms of exterior, it is a win for the new Santa Fe. [1][2]

1.1. Exterior

The newest model for the 2023 line of Hyundai Santa Fe uses an array of curves and lines to define the vehicle, much different from the 2021 model. This year's model loses the LED accent lights on the headlamp and chooses to combine the headlamp with the new massive grille, whereas the previous model separates the two. This new grille is meant to define Hyundai's new design philosophy of "Sensuous Sportiness" and is evident in other models such as the 2022+ Tucson and Elantra. The new Santa Fe also has a "floating roof" design that combines with a rear spoiler and third brake light to give the vehicle a wedge shape when viewed from the side. The rear of the Santa Fe displays a full-length arm bar type taillamp connected by a chrome molding and a visual skid plate for a more rugged look. The 2021 Hyundai Palisade takes on a different appearance that closely resembles the previous model Santa Fe. It aims to be more conservative in styling in hopes to appeal to a broader audience and includes the LED accent lights on the headlamps that the 2023 Santa Fe lacks. One main difference in design style between the two vehicles is the use of all-black A-pillars in the Santa Fe further defining the wedge shape. The Palisade chooses to paint the entire A-pillar and has a square body with the intention to optimize usable interior space. The 2021 Santa Fe already takes on this design with all-black A-pillars and frameless door windows. With the Cookware Premium Package option for the Palisade, the vehicle is upgraded to LED headlamps and taillamps and has the option for 20-inch alloy wheels. This package better aligns the Palisade with the Santa Fe's more luxurious feel.

1.2. Interior

Entry-level models of the Santa Fe feature a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with 185 hp at 6,000 rpm and 178 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. A more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder is available in the SEL 2.0T and Limited Ultimate trims of the Santa Fe with 240 hp at 6,000 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 1,450-3,500 rpm, but the more expensive of the two still features a marginal edge on output compared to the mainstream 3.8-liter V6 available in the Palisade with 291 hp at 6,000 rpm and 262 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm. All engines are mated to a six-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC with the exception of the base Santa Fe, which gets a new eight-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC, and all drivetrains are available in both FWD and AWD configurations. The Palisade has a traditional type shift lever for shifting gears, and its HTRAC AWD system offers an AWD Lock feature that can be selected by the driver, and it simulates a limited-slip differential for improved traction in adverse conditions.

In regards to interior design and the like, many of the existing option packages and equipment combos continue into 2023 with minor changes. The Santa Fe has a Blue Link Connected Car System with three years of complimentary service, while the Palisade offers a trial to Amazon's In-car Delivery service plus a 12-month trial to its cloud-based navigation and natural-language voice recognition. New baggage net trims and a luggage side tray accessory are available for the 2023 Palisade to help organize the cargo area, and the Santa Fe offers new puddle lamps with an HDA graphic that illuminates when you approach the vehicle.

On the inside, the 2023 Santa Fe has more than a couple of nips and tucks, but general gauges and hard-button climate controls are out, replaced by a full-LCD electronic gauge cluster and touch-sensitive climate controls on many models. There's also a redesigned center console with a push-button shifter, and Hyundai says the lesser models have new rear side window sunshades and third-row seat entry/exit reminders. A more affordable shift-by-wire control setup comes on some 2023 Palisades, and Select and Calligraphy models have new ambient lighting and a driver's side blind view monitor built into the dash. An Activity Key feature that allows entry without a smart key, once available only on more expensive models, is also newly offered on a 2023 Palisade SEL Convenience option package. The second-row bench seat with an eight-passenger configuration is no longer offered on the 2023 Santa Fe.

1.3. Dimensions

Although these two sport utility vehicles are similar in design, they differ greatly in size. The Santa Fe is classified as a mid-size SUV, while the Palisade is considered full-size. The Santa Fe boasts a 108.9-inch wheelbase, with an overall length of 184.6 inches. It is 74.4 inches wide and 67.9 inches tall. Alternatively, the Palisade has a wheelbase of 114.2 inches and a length of 196.1 inches. It is 77.8 inches wide and 68.9 inches tall. This great size variance contributes to the Palisade's offering of 7 more cubic feet of passenger volume with 155.3 cu ft. The Santa Fe offers only 141.5 cu ft. Both vehicles are 2-row standard with the option for 3-row seating. The Palisade offers more room in any seating setup. With all of the seats up, the Palisade has 18 cu ft of cargo room. The Santa Fe only offers 13.5 cu ft. Fold down the rear seats and the volume nearly doubles. Palisade boasts 45.8 cu ft and the Santa Fe has 71.3 cu ft. This size difference in the two-row models is a testament to the full-size classification of the Palisade.

2. Performance

Once again, the Palisade does not need to offer a second engine like the Santa Fe does. This is more efficient for Hyundai. However, it will be discussed whether the need is greater for a third crossover in the brand's lineup, offering a higher-end luxury feel and performance than the current Santa Fe and Palisade. In the end, the two engines found between the two vehicles have their individual markets and price-to-performance factors. One would be hunting fuel efficiency and a lower price, while the other would be going for power and luxury.

The Santa Fe comes with two powertrains: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a 2.5-liter turbo-four. The standard four-cylinder is good for 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. The turbocharged engine, meanwhile, significantly increases power and torque to 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft. The Palisade, on the other hand, comes with a single engine: a 3.8-liter V6 with an output of 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. From the off, it's clear that the Palisade has the power advantage. However, for most people, the Santa Fe's standard engine will be enough to suit their needs with its more frugal fuel consumption and lower sticker price.

2.1. Engine Options

Theta III series engines have been engineered to extract maximum performance and efficiency from an internal combustion engine. At the heart of Santa Fe is a powerful 2.5-litre naturally aspirated multi-point injection (MPI) four-cylinder, delivering substantial performance in power and responsiveness in everyday driving, combined with impressive fuel efficiency. While the previous generation Santa Fe provided a diesel engine, it was decided that the new Santa Fe will not include a diesel option, focusing on future hybrid and plug-in hybrid models to be released in years to come. The decision for a diesel-free Santa Fe was made with future emission regulations in mind and the push for cleaner fuel efficiency in the automotive industry. On the other hand, the Palisade will feature a 3.8-litre V6 petrol engine, also offering a balance of performance and efficiency. This engine boasts a high thermal efficiency of 12.6:1 and a power output of 220 kW, delivering greater performance and response across all driving scenarios. The significant difference between Santa Fe and Palisade's engine capacities aims to meet the needs of different customer preferences across global markets.

Hyundai has affectionately endowed the Santa Fe and Palisade with all-new Theta III engine options, pulsing enhanced performance, efficiency, and durability into the two segment-leading SUVs. Theta III is a next-generation powertrain that achieves remarkable numbers in several key areas, including performance and efficiency. Both models boast incredible power from naturally-aspirated engines - the Santa Fe with a 2.5 GDI and the Palisade offering a 3.8 GDI. While robust peak power and torque provide enthusiastic acceleration and overtaking, teamed with impressive fuel efficiency and low emissions.

2.2. Power and Torque

Hyundai Palisade makes no compromises when it comes to power and torque. The car is powered by a 3.8L V6 petrol engine with direct injection. The lightweight aluminum block and head engine produces 216kw of power at 6000 rpm and 355Nm of torque at 5200 rpm. This is more than sufficient for a vehicle of this size and built especially for Australian conditions. Similar to Santa Fe, it has an 8-speed automatic transmission. The new powertrain, which was developed to provide a balance of performance and fuel economy, is estimated to achieve around 10 percent improved fuel efficiency over its predecessor. Thanks to a combination of all developments and technologies, it provides higher levels of performance and efficiency than Santa Fe and also relative to its segment and presents a good driving experience for the customers. This is probably the best improvement for its performance segment.

Hyundai Santa Fe is a confident vehicle that gets the power you need on the road. One of the main reasons is its performance in the form of power and torque. Santa Fe comes with a 2.0L Inline 4 Turbo engine or a 2.2 CRDi Turbo Diesel engine with a diesel variable geometry turbocharger. The petrol engine produces 137kw of power at 3840-6000 rpm and 421Nm of torque at 1750-2750 rpm. It has an 8-speed automatic transmission. On the other hand, the diesel engine produces 148kw of power at 3800 rpm and 440Nm of torque at 1750-2750 rpm (436Nm at 1800-2500 rpm with a 6-speed manual transmission). Both engines deliver a smooth but powerful acceleration and quiet running with high levels of efficiency.

2.3. Transmission

Frustratingly, Hyundai has not put a definitive date for when the Palisade will receive this new transmission at assembly plants. For now, they will continue with the present 8-speed automatic transmission until the new transmission has been standardized.

In contrast, the Hyundai Palisade has a multi-use variable transmission. This transmission has been designed to optimize engine performance and fuel efficiency. This is achieved through the use of a mechanical oil pump and an electric oil pump. The former delivers better fuel economy during city driving, and the latter delivers better fuel economy during highway driving. The result is an engine that can work at max power and torque more often. This should mean that even with the bigger load, engine power and torque would not be wasted. However, this is probably the most complex transmission system we have seen in a Hyundai model, and there may be a period of adjustment before any possible kinks in the transmission can be worked out.

The Hyundai Santa Fe 2023 model uses a normal 8-speed automatic transmission with shift-by-wire. Some highlights of this particular transmission that Hyundai mentions are integrated temperature control logic, which is especially useful during towing, and the fact that the transmission has undergone extensive testing to emulate 100,000 miles or 20 years of usage.

3. Features

Standard safety features on both SUVs include high beam assist, LED headlights, pedestrian detection, and smart cruise control with stop & go. Both have the ability to upgrade to LED taillights, parking distance warning, and surround view monitor. The Santa Fe, instead of using the above features, has the available feature of a full 12.3" LCD gauge cluster, which can be quite useful in keeping the driver well-informed of safety features and how to improve their driving style. Additionally, the Santa Fe offers 7 airbags as opposed to the Palisade's 6 and is one of the few vehicles equipped with a 'Safe Exit Assist' feature, which helps prevent passengers from exiting the vehicle if it detects that approaching traffic is coming from the rear. Hyundai's Bluelink services are available for both SUVs, including safety features such as SOS emergency assistance, automatic collision notification, and stolen vehicle recovery. The Palisade has an advantage in safety features with the available blind spot view monitor, which will show the driver a live video feed of the blind spot when the corresponding turn signal is activated. However, the Santa Fe takes the lead in safety features when it comes to high tech. The Smart Park Assist feature allows the vehicle to autonomously park into perpendicular and parallel parking spaces, with the driver simply having to control the vehicle's speed. This feature can also assist in unparking the vehicle from a parking space. [3]

3.1. Safety Features

On the other hand, Palisade also possesses some unique features of its own, including a blind-spot view monitor, surround view monitor, and ultrasonic rear occupant alert. Like the Santa Fe, the blind view monitor will provide a live feed of the driver's blind spot view either left or right when activating the corresponding indicator. This feature is particularly useful for lane changing maneuvers and is an advancement from the regular blind spot alert system that utilizes a light on the exterior side mirrors. The surround view monitor is a very handy safety feature as well, as it will provide a 360-degree view of the area around the vehicle to aid parking and avoid obstacles. This is achieved through four exterior cameras located on the front and rear of the vehicle. Last but not least, the ultrasonic rear occupant alert will detect motion from children or pets in the rear seats and send a reminder to the driver if they are to exit the vehicle. Although a lot of similar features are present between the two vehicles, the Palisade's unique safety features give it the nod in this category.

Moreover, Santa Fe boasts a few extra safety features, including a blind view monitor and rear-cross traffic collision avoidance assist. These features will detect both stationary and moving objects and alert and apply corrective measures remotely from the driver's seat to safely avoid an obstacle. A big selling point for the Santa Fe is that it also includes remote smart parking assist, which will allow the vehicle to park itself using the key fob from the driver in various situations. This includes perpendicular and parallel parking both forwards and in reverse. This is a very advanced and convenient safety feature that not many vehicles have available.

Hyundai includes many safety-focused systems and features. Both vehicles include similar automatic safety features, which are a huge plus. These features include forward collision avoidance with pedestrian/cyclist detection, lane-following assist, driver attention warning, lane-keeping assist, rear occupant alert, and high-beam assist. Other advanced systems in both vehicles also include safe exit assist, which prevents passengers from opening their doors into traffic when vehicles are approaching from the rear.

3.2. Technology

The all-new 2023 and up Santa Fe will receive a more advanced platform called the E-GMP (Electric-Global Modular Platform) for better performance from improved driving range, more interior space to increased technological focus. E-GMP is an update from the current FWD C2 platform believed to have been adopted due to a larger size for the next Palisade Range. At the moment, E-GMP is primarily for electric model vehicles, but the global head of EV concept design and head of propulsion system designs for Hyundai Motors have stated it will be used for multiple types of vehicles. This is believed that both Santa Fe and Palisade will adapt to this platform for likely upcoming hybrid or EV models. There are still slim details on the incoming Santa Fe as it was recently used as a test mule for an EV model, but the next-gen Palisade will likely adopt this platform as it will set the foundation to move larger SUVs to EV power. Both of these models will make huge improvements on the content of technology features. E-GMP platform is a high-performance-based automotive platform designed to provide customers with high-quality technologies to satisfy many needs and demands. With selling more than one million electric vehicles worldwide by the year 2025, Hyundai plans to increase EV market share to 10 percent to become a leader in the global EV field. With these goals heading towards a future, Santa Fe and Palisade are poised to be Hyundai's medals for advancing to better technology.

Digital experience in new Hyundai cars gets better and better every year. This new Santa Fe features twin 12.3-inch clusters "Customised Screenshot & Multi-Widget" display and Palisade features a 12.3-inch fully digital cluster. The new Santa Fe's system allows occupants to customize the screen setting to include the sound of nature into the cabin with calming images of nature to relax the driver and occupants. The multi-widget function can resize core functions and be placed on the same screen to display info and application function for an integrated look and feel.

3.3. Comfort and Convenience

Both these SUVs offer seats for 8 passengers and the folding of the rear seats in a 60:40 fashion. Coming to the Santa Fe, which offers a 12-way power adjustable seat for the driver and a 4-way adjustable lumbar support which the Palisade doesn't. The second row in the Santa Fe offers a captain's chair with dual Smart Slide feature, allowing easy 3rd row access. The Palisade offers a bench seat for the second row (although you can opt for captain's chairs through select trim models) and it also offers a similar feature to the Santa Fe with the tilt and slide feature for easier 3rd row access. Both vehicles offer heated and ventilated seats for the driver and front passenger, and the standard feature for the 3rd row is USB port access. Both vehicles also offer dual automatic temperature control with CleanAir Ionizer and second-row control, which can be upgraded to the Santa Fe's 3-zone control on top trims. Other similar features include a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, acoustic film front door glass, rear window sun shades for 3rd row passengers, and proximity key entry. The Palisade has an advantage over the Santa Fe by offering a push button for the rear seats, which allows them to fold at the touch of a button; this feature is particularly useful if you are making multiple trips with lots of cargo/people. The Santa Fe, however, does come back with its Smart power liftgate with auto open, a feature which you can't get on any Palisade model.

3.4. Infotainment System

The Santa Fe has basic features on the infotainment system with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on the 8 or 10.25-inch screen. To use the bigger screen you'll need to pay extra and get the higher trims while it's standard on the Kona. Apart from that, a 12-speaker, 540-watt Infinity audio system is also available on the higher trims. It's also worth noting that the new Santa Fe also has a larger head-up display to display more vital information than its Kona counterpart, and it's also available on the higher trims. The Kona's infotainment system is identical aside from the head-up display and the Infinity audio system, meaning the 8-inch screen and the free 3-year subscription to BlueLink is available to all potential buyers. The Santa Fe's larger screen may be a selling point, but the lower-end trims and the cheaper price point of the Kona may sway drivers to purchase one over the other at the benefit of not having a head-up display.

4. Pricing and Availability

Hyundai Santa Fe and Hyundai Palisade are not just different in size. Despite sharing the same year model, their prices vary a lot due to their different classes. Santa Fe is more suitable to be categorized as an intermediate class SUV, while Palisade is more suitable for a full-size class. On the Hyundai USA website, Santa Fe ranges from $26,850 to $43,700. Meanwhile, the newcomer eldest brother has a price tag from $32,525 to $47,750, which is slightly higher compared to Santa Fe. Note that those prices are not final, and for accurate information, please contact the dealer. Both of them are 3-row seating, 6-7 passenger vehicles depending on the second-row configuration. Santa Fe has 5 different trims while Palisade has 7, both even and odd numbers. So with the different class and just a $5000 price difference, are the 2 brothers worth buying? The basic principle of trim level is features that are available in each price increment. For more details about specifications comparison, we will talk about the engine, fuel efficiency, and the driving experience.

4.1. Price Comparison

The Hyundai Santa Fe 2023 is expected to draw in customers with its significantly cheaper price compared to the Bronze level of Palisade. The Bronze level of Santa Fe will be listed at around $30,325, meanwhile the price of Palisade will be around $35,000. That's almost 15% cheaper. The Silver level of Santa Fe is also cheaper. It will be listed at around $37,000 with an addition of $2,750 for all-wheel drive. Palisade's Calligraphy level is listed at the exact same price, $37,000, but Calligraphy AWD with XRT costs $40,050, which is 8.51% more expensive than Santa Fe Silver level. The Gold level of Santa Fe, however, is $7,525 cheaper than Palisade's Calligraphy at a cost of $43,900. Even the Grande level of Santa Fe, when combined with a full package upgrade, becomes a few hundred dollars cheaper compared to Palisade Calligraphy XRT AWD. This aspect may be something customers take into consideration when choosing these two cars.

4.2. Trim Levels

For the Santa Fe, its lowest base model is the Essential for $43,699 CAD. Featuring a 2.5T engine, blind view monitor, heated steering wheel and rear seats, and all-wheel drive with the ability to have rugged pathways, this $43,699 CAD price tag is an excellent value for a base model. The Preferred is the next trim level that can cost either $45,699 CAD for the base model or $47,199 CAD for the 2.0T engine variant. Standard is the ability to have 6 or 7 passenger seating, and at the slight increase in cost from the Essential to Preferred you get a considerable amount of additional features. The Calligraphy is the highest level trim, utilizing only the 2.5T engine at a cost of $48,199 CAD. Some slight design changes to the front grille and the interior design are present, and more significant luxury features such as a 12.3 inch fully digital gauge cluster, premium Nappa leather seating surfaces, heads up display, 360 degree camera, and remote smart park assist are what make this a more luxury oriented choice for consumers in comparison to the Preferred model. As for the Palisade, it is logically a more expensive purchase in comparison to the Santa Fe. Its lowest level trim is the Essential AWD which sells for $47,799 CAD, a fair comparison to Santa Fe's pricing it's slightly above the Essential. A step up is the Preferred AWD at $50,879 CAD, or $52,879 CAD for the Luxury AWD, at this point it becomes a more difficult comparison to the Santa Fe due to the significant difference in cost and the percent of Santa Fe consumers that would ultimately choose to look into a Palisade. A fair consumer comparison would be the Santa Fe Calligraphy to the Palisade Luxury, offering greater passenger and cargo space than the Santa Fe in a more luxury oriented package. The Luxury sells at $55,879 CAD, for an $8000 CAD increase over the Santa Fe Calligraphy. In comparison to the luxury options of both the Santa Fe and Palisade, the Palisade luxury is a higher value package and ultimately offers more luxury oriented features than the Santa Fe calligraphy.

4.3. Release Date

The Santa Fe 2023 should debut in dealerships in the U.S. in summer 2022. The all-new Santa Fe follows the fresh success of its predecessor, the 2021 and 2022 Santa Fe, that received extensive market popularity and accolades from media and consumers. Basically, it won the desirability award as of 2021 Intellichoice and AutoPacific Motorist Choice Award in its mid-size crossover class. The Santa Fe also won numerous safety awards including maximum TOP SAFETY PICK rated by IIHS and 5-Star overall crash safety ratings from NHTSA. Offering new features in an SUV designed against global standards is a feat that the new Santa Fe 2023 is ready to repeat. The Palisade 2023 should debut in dealerships in the U.S. in summer 2022. Since the second generation of the Palisade is directly replacing its predecessor, there were long waits of absence for the SUV in the 2021 and 2022 market. This poised importance regarding to many fans eagerly expecting the next product in line, with many being first-time SUV buyers who were previous owners of sedan type vehicles from Hyundai or other brands. Many of them found themselves moving to other competitor brands due to the nature of sedan sales phasing out with the rise of SUV and truck sales, a market trend seen in recent years in the U.S. automotive industry. Now they will have a high anticipation for the Palisade return.


[1] Y. Jun and H. Lee, "Multisensory congruence in brand identity: evidence from the global automotive market," Archives of Design Research, 2020. researchgate.net

[2] M. H. A. M. Hindam, "Development strategies for a new product in the automotive sector: The Jeep case," 2020. polito.it

[3] R. Moraski, "Direct Experimental Observation of 3D Vortex States in Multilayer Fe/GD Using Scanning Electron Microscopy with Polarization Analysis (SEMPA)," 2023. uoregon.edu