What Is Hyundai’s Best Midsize SUV?

Which is the best Hyundai midsize SUV: Santa Fe or Palisade?
Written by Drew Waterstreet
Reviewed by Amy Bobinger
Hyundai offers two midsize SUVs: the Santa Fe (the veteran) and the Palisade (the fresh face). Both have their unique advantages, especially regarding passenger capacity and fuel efficiency—but the one thing they share is excellent reviews from experts and customers alike.
If a trendy subcompact crossover isn’t quite what you and your family needs, Hyundai has your back! In this article, we’ll break down key differences between the Santa Fe and the Palisade to help you make a perfect choice. 
In addition, we’ll even show you how to lower your
Hyundai insurance costs
using the innovative quote comparison technology of the
Jerry app
! Spoiler alert: you could be overpaying for
car insurance
by hundreds of dollars—you don’t want to miss this.
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Does Hyundai have a midsize SUV?

Hyundai’s two midsize SUVs are the
two-row Santa Fe
and the
three-row Palisade
The Hyundai lineup maxes out at the mid-size SUV. They currently are not producing a full-size offering. But below these two models, you’ll find other crossovers and subcompact SUVs, including the
, and

What makes a midsize SUV?

Google searching this question will just lead you in circles. There don’t seem to be standardized dimensions or specifications that separate the various segments in the SUV category.
The most reliable metric seems to be the eyeball test: a midsize SUV is bigger than a compact SUV and smaller than a full-size SUV.
By this criteria, you would think the Palisade would be considered a full-size SUV since it is bigger than the Santa Fe. However, it seems the majority of professionals (maybe a 70/30 split)  don’t deem the Palisade large enough to jump segments, even though it is bigger than the Santa Fe. 
But let’s not waste any more time on the intricacies of definition, and let’s get into what makes these SUVs awesome!

Is the Hyundai Tucson a midsize SUV?

Ok, one more question about definitions since you asked nicely. No, the Hyundai Tucson is not considered a midsize SUV—it is a compact crossover SUV
But that’s not a bad thing. The Hyundai Tucson is thriving in this segment! In 2021, the Tucson had over 150,000 sales in the United States, making it Hyundai’s best-selling vehicle.

Santa Fe vs. Palisade: which is the best midsize Hyundai SUV?

The Santa Fe has been in production for over 20 years, while the Palisade only recently debuted in 2018. So who has the upper hand—the new kid on the block or the seasoned vet? 
Here’s an in-depth analysis of the 2022 Santa Fe and Palisade models to help you choose the right mid-size SUV for you!

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe

MSRP range: $27,700 to $43,110
MPG: 25 to 36 combined mpg (depending on powertrain)
Seating for: 5 passengers
The Santa Fe has been in production since 2001 and is currently in its fourth generation. With over 20 years of experimentation, it's clear that Hyundai has perfected the recipe for a mid-size SUV. It seems as though every disadvantage is thoughtfully addressed with optional upgrades to balance them out.
Of the five trim levels, the bottom three (
, and XRT) come equipped with a lackluster 191-hp 2.5L Inline-4 engine. But the top two trims (
) have a spunky 2.5L Turbo Inline-4 engine that produces 277 hp. However, this performance upgrade will cost an additional $12,000. 
The entry-level trims have a similarly unimpressive fuel economy. But this also can be counterbalanced by the hybrid (36+ mpg) or PHEV (31 miles of all-electric range) alternatives.
The quality of interior materials have drastically improved over the last few releases, and the dash controls are so easy to use your grandma could do a tutorial! 
The exterior design is unique, yet welcoming. There’s something about the grid-like grille and riptide rims that blends perfectly with the modern mid-size chassis.
The 2022 model dropped the seven-seat option in favor of a five-seat configuration with increased passenger and cargo space—a decision we strongly approve of! This redesign creates over 44 inches of rear legroom and 36.4 cubic feet of natural trunk space.
Highlights include: 
  • Powerful turbo engine in upper trims
  • Hybrid and PHEV powertrain options
  • Stable and comfortable ride
  • User-friendly dashboard controls
  • Optional AWD
Weaknesses include: 
  • Boring base-level engine
  • Low towing capacity
  • No seven-seat option

2022 Hyundai Palisade

MSRP range: $33,600 to $48,990
MPG: 22 combined mpg
Seating for: Up to 8 passengers
It’s impressive how quickly the Hyundai Palisade has risen to the top of the mid-size SUV category. It is nearly perfect in almost every way.
Let’s begin by discussing the comfortable and practical cabin area. For the second row, you can choose either as a bench seat or with two bucket seats (giving you the option of seven or eight seats). All three rows offer industry-leading hip, head, and leg room, so everyone can ride comfortably, even with a full load of passengers. 
And if you're carrying cargo instead of people, you’ll have over 45 cubic feet of space once you fold the third row down and 86.4 cubic feet with all seats down—much more than a 5-seat mid-size SUV.
Even though it offers full-size utility, the sleek exterior design makes the Palisade look aerodynamic and everything but bulky. 
Unlike the Santa Fe, the Palisade does not have a menu of engine options—but in this case, that’s just fine. The standard 291-hp 3.8-liter V6 engine gets you a seven-second 0 to 60 time and 5,000 pounds of towing capacity—both better than the Santa Fe.
However, this increased power output comes with a downgrade in fuel efficiency. The Hyundai Palisade can only achieve 22 combined mpg. Still, this is probably the only blemish on its extraordinary resume.
Highlights include: 
  • 291-hp 3.8-liter V6 engine on all trims
  • One of the most spacious three-row mid-size SUVs on the market
  • Car and Driver rating of 9.5/10
  • More towing capacity than the Santa Fe
  • Great value across all four trims
Weaknesses include: 
  • No hybrid option
  • Poor fuel economy

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe vs. 2022 Hyundai Palisade comparison

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe
2022 Hyundai Palisade
Starting MSRP
Seating capacity
Seven or Eight
Fuel economy
25 combined mpg
22 combined mpg
Base engine
2.5L Inline-4 (191 hp, 181 lb-ft)
3.8L V6 (291 hp, 262 lb-ft)
Total cargo volume
72.1 cubic feet
86.4 cubic feet
Maximum towing capacity
2,000 to 3,500 lbs
5,000 lbs
NHTSA safety rating
Five stars
Five stars
Reliability scores
80/100 (U.S. News), 79/100 (J.D. Power)
80/100 (U.S. News), 84/100 (J.D. Power)
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The bottom line

We could go on forever about these two Hyundai mid-size SUVs—they really are two of the best in the category. But if you’re going to choose one, it will come down to the daily needs of you and your family.
Here’s the bottom line: The Santa Fe offers excellent engine options that prioritize fuel efficiency, but the Palisade offers a ton of utility with its more powerful engine and larger cabin area. 

Best midsize SUV competitors

Just because we’ve spent this whole article hyping up Hyundais’s mid-size SUVs doesn’t mean other automakers don’t make quality vehicles in the category. Here are some other great options you’ll have to choose from:
  • 2022
    Toyota Highlander
    ($35,855 starting MSRP): Above-average fuel economy, stellar safety ratings, and best-in-class reliability make the Highlander a great family SUV.
  • 2022
    Kia Sorento
    ($29,590 starting MSRP): With an extensive list of trim levels and powertrain options, the Kia Sorento is an excellent choice for a wide variety of drivers.
  • 2022
    Jeep Grand Cherokee
    ($38,325 starting MSRP): A little more off-road flare makes the Grand Cherokee an enticing option for the adventurous driver.

How to save on Hyundai insurance

If you are still torn between these two Hyundai mid-size SUVs, let us offer you a potential deal-breaker:
Palisade SE insurance costs
will be around $1,000 more per year than
Santa Fe SE insurance costs
That’s one more reason to opt for the Santa Fe over the Palisade—and one more reason to shop with
. Because when you use Jerry’s
trustworthy insurance comparison app
, you always know you’re getting the best car insurance rate available for your Hyundai! On average, Jerry users enjoy over $800 in annual savings!
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did a better job than any agent I’ve worked with. I can’t believe they got Plymouth Rock to insure me for half my previous premium!” —June O.
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