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2021 Hyundai Palisade Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2021 Hyundai Palisade Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: SE vs SEL vs Limited & Calligraphy

What 2021 Hyundai Palisade Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

There are four trims of the2021 Hyundai Palisade, starting with the SE and ending with the refined Calligraphy trim. In the middle are the SEL and Limited. The reality is that all of these trims would be excellent choices, as they come with many attractive features. This guide will give people a better idea of the exact advantages that each trim offers.

Before jumping in to all of the differences, it might be a good idea to discuss the similarities between the trims. First, all of the trims use 3.8-liter engines. This engine is quite capable, as it's able to churn out 291 horsepower. The engine feels very strong whether climbing mountains, hauling cargo, or driving people around town as they run errands or shuttle kids to activities. Torque is 262 pound-feet.

The engine is paired with an eight-speed transmission. It makes for smooth shifting at both high and low speeds. For those times when drivers want to have some control over shifting, there is a manual shift mode called SHIFTRONIC.

Front-wheel drive is standard, and this can be seen as an ideal drivetrain because it's relatively efficient and compact. If anyone feels that he/she would benefit from additional traction when the conditions make it difficult to maintain control, all-wheel drive is available. All-wheel drive models also come with Snow Mode to better set them up for success in the winter, and there's the opportunity to lock the vehicle into AWD mode when tackling tough terrain.

Front-wheel Palisades have pretty good mileage, getting an estimated 19/26 (city/highway) miles per gallon. One component that contributes to efficiency is the Idle Stop & Go function. To save gas, it turns off the engine when the vehicle is stopped, such as when stuck at a red light. When it's time to move again, the engine will automatically turn on. City mileage is the same no matter whether the SUV has front-wheel or all-wheel drive, but highway mileage drops by two miles per gallon when all-wheel drive is selected.

The three rows of seating provide accommodations for seven or eight passengers. The total passenger capacity depends on what trim is selected. There will be more information on this in the detailed trim discussion below.

Behind the last row of seats, the Palisade has 18 cubic feet of space that can be used for storing cargo. When that row is folded down, there is over 45 cubic feet of room. Total cargo volume is a bit more than 84 cubic feet, and all of this space can be created by folding down both the second and third row seatbacks.


Compare the Palisade SE vs SEL. What is the difference?

The Palisade SE comes with a versatile bench seating in the middle row, whereas its higher SEL trim offers an alternate option of two cozy captain's chairs. Upholstery-wise, both trims feature cloth seats—though those who desire more luxurious amenities can upgrade to leather on the SEL model. Further enhancing your driving experience are such features as power-adjustable driver’s seat and heating elements for front passengers; plus a smartly designed steering wheel featuring rich handcrafted leather wrapping that feels cool and smooth against one’s palms.

It can be a big convenience to have a Proximity Key, as this allows the key fob to stay in a secure place while people are out and about. The driver just has to have the key fob somewhere close by and can simply touch the door handle to unlock it, and the same is true for locking the door. To start the engine, a button has to be pushed rather than the key having to physically be put in the ignition. The SEL has a Proximity Key, while the SE doesn't.

The standard technology package in the SE is practically the same as the one found on the SEL. They both use an eight-inch touchscreen that can connect with one's smartphone. Recognizing that the Palisade will likely be used to drive many people around, Hyundai has put in multiple USB ports for charging. The SEL even comes with the option to get two charging ports in the third row. There are several other options for customers to consider with the SEL. If someone wishes to upgrade and can pay the additional costs, the SEL can come with wireless charging, an additional seven-inch screen to display vehicle information, and a larger main touchscreen that comes with navigation.

On the outside of the SUV, there are LED accents that make the SUV feel modern and sleek. Complementing those are LED Daytime Running Lights and headlights. Even more LEDs are found in the side mirrors of the SEL, as they have turn signal indicators integrated into them. The SEL also has pocket lights built into the door handles that can kind of act as a welcome when people approach the vehicle, LED interior cabin lights, and optional LEDs in the taillights.

The SE doesn't have the sunroof that the SEL has, nor does it have roof rails. One additional difference in this category is that only the SEL has an available hands-free smart liftgate. It can open and close on its own, preventing the need to juggle a lot of items in one's hand and physically push or pull the gate up or down.

Hyundai has amped up the 2021 Palisade's safety system with some of the latest tech. With standard features like sensors to detect upcoming obstacles when parking and keep drivers focused on the road, as well as advanced cruise control that adjusts speed according to what’s ahead in traffic jams, it helps provide peace-of-mind driving for all passengers. The SEL trim even offers an extra layer of protection by alerting drivers if there are any vehicles hidden in blind spots or crossing behind while backing up—and brakes automatically if needed.

Compare the Palisade SEL vs Limited. What is the difference?

From a safety standpoint, these two trims are nearly identical to each other. The only distinction is that the Limited has an ultrasonic rear seat occupant alert. It can detect movements from the back seat, and if it seems like children are in the vehicle by themselves, the vehicle will start beeping, flash its lights, and send an alert to the driver's smartphone. The SEL's rear occupant alert system does not have the ultrasonic component that can detect movement, so it only notices a problem if it seems like the children have entered the vehicle before it started moving but don't exit when the driver exits.

There are a few exterior differences. First of all, the hands-free smart liftgate is standard in the Limited and only optional on the SEL. The same can be said for LED taillights. Also, the Limited has windshield wipers that can turn on when it's raining and turn off when not needed.

Taking luxury to a new level, the Hyundai Limited cabin is designed with Nappa leather seats and textured headliner - providing true comfort. Not only do both first- and second-row seats provide heating & cooling capabilities, but they can also be power folded or remembered thanks to its driver's seat memory system. An upgraded 10.25" touchscreen infotainment display features navigation that takes traffic into account when calculating routes plus 12 speakers for crystal clear sound quality featuring music restoration technology which are backed up by ambient light options of 64 colors. Riders will appreciate an in-vehicle intercom feature allowing them hear their driver much better than ever before... no more shouting from the back row.

Further justifying the nearly $10,000 price jump from the SEL to the Limited are many other technological elements. The Limited has a 360-degree surround view camera to provide drivers with more information as they navigate tight spaces. It has wireless device charging and a heads-up display that can project key data straight onto the windshield in an unobtrusive manner. If the driver wishes to view the information elsewhere, there's a huge 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster right behind the steering wheel. On that instrument cluster, drivers can see a live feed of what's in their blind spots.

The Limited comes standard with Hyundai Blue Link, but this technology is only an option on the SEL. Through Blue Link, someone's smartphone can be used to connect with the SUV. Drivers can remotely start their engines, unlock or lock their doors, run diagnostic tests, and find the exact locations of their SUVs.

Note that the Limited only has the seven-seat configuration. This may be a limiting factor for some customers with large families or those who need that extra seat.

Compare the Palisade Limited vs Calligraphy. What is the difference?

The Calligraphy comes with a modest price increase and a few key differences, most of which are related to style. For instance, it has puddle lights on the side mirrors that almost invite people to take a closer look, and it has unique rear accent lighting. There are minor changes to the Calligraphy's skid plates, grille, and side doors to make the SUV more sophisticated.

Like the Limited, the Calligraphy has Nappa leather seats, but it also has quilted leather on its door panels. Those panels, along with a microfiber headliner, almost make the vehicle feel like a premium lounge area. Perforated leather has been used on the steering wheel, and this adds to the overall aesthetic of the cabin.

One change related to function is that the Calligraphy is exclusively offered with all-wheel drive.


Final Thoughts

The Calligraphy trim offers many fun extras, though not necessarily mandatory for most drivers. It is narrowed down to three trims with unique advantages. For those who want the best and latest in technology features, call on the Limited - featuring a surround view monitor, navigation system and premium sound! However, if budgeting matters more than bells & whistles then look no further than the SE or SEL; both offering keyless entry options as well as sunroofs plus an option of either seven or eight seat cabin configurations. Ultimately, it's up to you but luxury can be surprisingly affordable without compromising quality with these two great choices.

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