The 2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy gets the little things right. It’s like a really nice living room on wheels, and the interior has resonated with me during my stint with Autoblog’s long-term SUV.
The Calligraphy trim makes the Palisade competitive with premium utes, and accoutrements that Genesis and Lincoln have used to elevate their brands are employed throughout the Hyundai’s interior. That’s not to say the Palisade, even in Calligraphy trim, is on par with an Aviator or GV80, but it creates an upscale environment that is aspirational for Hyundai and its buyers.
It’s really the details in the Calligraphy trim that create the atmosphere. I immediately noticed the quilted leather door panels with hexagonal shapes and the microfiber headliner. Our Palisade has beige Nappa leather, and assuming it holds up over our year-long test, it’s impressive. The steering wheel is wrapped in perforated leather, which feels good to grip, and the Harmon Kardon speakers deliver their usual top quality sound (it’s summer and I’ve been listening to a lot of ‘90s rock on Satellite Radio’s Lithium and XMU).
The dual sunroofs provide an airy feel, and captain’s chairs make the cabin more navigable for people and large dogs. There’s also an ultrasonic rear occupant alert in case you forget who all is back there when you get home. Factoring in the puddle and ambient lighting features, it feels like you’re driving something more expensive than the $49,255 price of our test model.
The Calligraphy is a $925 step-up from the Palisade’s Limited trim, and you’re essentially paying for the headliner and leather with hexagons. It’s actually worth it. This interior is nicer than many luxury SUVs I’ve driven lately because it uses materials and colors smartly. It’s busier than Volvo would typically try, but the Palisade has a similar premium vibe. Even when cutting corners — the grained plastic looks like wood, but it’s not — Hyundai gets it right. The accents have the desired effect, but no one expects actual walnut inlays in a Hyundai.
Hyundai has demonstrated tremendous growth in the last decade, and pulling off an SUV of this size and ambition underscores that progress. For me, that is made manifest in the handsomely trimmed interior space.