Buyers first noted the large changes in 2006, with a new Sonata sedan that could easily be mistaken for an Accord or Camry. In 2009, a full-size sedan called the Genesis debuted and re-shuffled critics’ expectations about Hyundai once again. Ten years later, the transformation of Hyundai as a car company making inexpensive mass-market consumer products to a worldwide automaker crafting mature, got-to-have cars and SUVs was virtually complete.

The latest three-row Palisade crossover is proof-positive that Hyundai has a handle on the American market. This product and its sibling/rival Kia Telluride (both vehicles share many mechanicals and dimensions) are clearly the benchmark wagons in this highly competitive segment.

Bold thinking says the Toyota Highlander owner should be proud of their choice. The Highlander remains the top-selling vehicle in this segment; however, the Palisade offers more content for less money. And for 2023, the Palisade gets a new face, new wheel choices, a massaging driver’s seat, heated third row seats, Wi-Fi hotspot capability plus a sportier XRT trim that slots into the middle of the lineup.

Nobody else in this segment, or for that matter in vehicles costing twice as much as the Hyundai, offers heated third row seating or blind-spot lane-watch camera views in the dash when you use your turn signals. Or flat-folding second- and third-row seats with power switches in the cargo area that form a wide, flat cargo hold. Or heated and ventilated second row bucket seats. Or remote parking assist — with you not even in the car! Getting the idea that the Palisade offers more?

The best part, for a driver that appreciates the experience of driving, the engagement with the vehicle and its controls over any engineered system that thinks it can replace me, is that the abundant technology in the Hyundai is user-friendly. The tech is prevalent — market forces are making the automakers compete on technology. However, the Hyundai’s tech does not impose its will on you like too many new products do today. You choose and you decide, which is far more preferable.

At the front of the Palisade’s console is a bank of buttons, dials and controls for frequently used functions — like climate, heated/cooled seats, the heated steering wheel and more. This angled panel is user-friendly, falling under your reaching hand easily, and comfortably. The rearview mirror converts to a camera — in case your cargo blocks visibility. The outside mirrors automatically dim at night. The 360-degree camera system complements the blind-spot/lane-change cameras so only the most dim-witted driver will hit something parking, leaving the garage or evading the kid’s bikes in the driveway.

These and other pieces make you think that the builders of the Palisade actually used it like you will, filling gaps in what you want in a car that you didn’t even know about or expect.

All models use a 3.8-liter 291-horsepower V-6 engine backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Every trim level features a transmission cooler and pre-wiring for towing — up to 5,000 pounds is the rating. Front drive models are EPA rated for 20/26-mpg, while AWD versions earn 19/25-mpg numbers. AWD Palisades have various off-road and traction mode selections on the console.

An interior shot of the Palisade Calligraphy.

Of course, our top-end Calligraphy model showcases the best of the brand. Heads-up display, in-dash navigation, upgraded stereo, memory Ergo-Motion Nappa leather seats, LED lights all around plus an intriguing Moonlight Cloud paint color that is really a metallic green in most light. What should all of this cost, all of this comfort in all rows, the spaciousness of the cabin, plus the unending surprises of features that don’t jump out at you on first exposure, but are subtly revealed each time you drive, like surprise visitors at a party?

Our fully loaded Calligraphy carries a starting price of $52,300 — including the optional floor mats, which is still bewildering after all of these years that you must pay extra to get floor mats. Base models begin at $36,545 — including destination fee. These numbers drastically undercut the Toyota and Honda’s Pilot, while edging the Ford Explorer and Chevy Traverse on price, but walloping both on content.

Imperfections? Still not a big fan of push-button transmission shifters — they are too slow to react and require very direct interaction, plus the Palisade would benefit greatly from the same hidden rear window wiper employed on the smaller Tucson crossover. That’s it for complaints.

A solid driver with above-average dynamics in all phases, plus good feedback through the controls, the 7- to 8-passenger Hyundai Palisade cannot be overlooked if you are serious about exceptional value in a family crossover.

Tim Plouff has been reviewing automobiles for more than 20 years.