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The Hyundai Palisade and the Honda Pilot came out swinging in the midsize SUV market with new designs and upgraded features for the 2023 model year. While both SUVs would serve nearly everyone well in most situations, the 2023 Hyundai Palisade beats the Pilot for towing capacity in a comparison of front-wheel drive models.

Comparing the towing capacities of the 2023 Hyundai Palisade and 2023 Honda Pilot

Every 2023 Hyundai Palisade trim comes standard with front-wheel drive and 5,000 pounds of towing capacity compared to the front-wheel drive 2023 Honda Pilot, which can only tow 3,500 pounds. While two Pilot trim levels only come with AWD and tow ratings equal to the Palisade, gaining a 5,000-pound tow rating in the three other Pilot trims requires paying $2,100 to upgrade to AWD from the standard FWD. Of course, there are caveats to these tow ratings, including notes about special equipment, trailer brakes, and AWD required for tow mode, so do some research before buying either model with the intent to tow.

Other comparisons of the Palisade and Pilot

A 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy midsize SUV model towing a boat on a beach near the sea
2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy | Hyundai Motor America

The starting MSRP for the base model 2023 Hyundai Palisade SE is $35,900, and the mid-level Palisade XRT begins at $41,200. That price range compares well with the 2023 Honda Pilot lineup, as the base model Pilot LX starts at $35,950 and the mid-level Pilot EX-L at $41,950. Additionally, top trimmed models straddle the $50K mark, with the Honda Pilot Elite starting at $52,030 and the Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy at $49,850.

Horsepower for both SUVs hovers just under the 300 mark. The Pilot has a 285-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine, and the Palisade offers 291 hp from its 3.8-liter six-cylinder. Additionally, the Honda Pilot features a 10-speed automatic transmission compared to the eight-speed automatic in the Palisade. Fuel economy ratings are also similar, with the FWD Pilot rated at 19 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. In comparison, the FWD Palisade offers ratings of 19 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined.

In addition to towing capacity, the Hyundai Palisade features a superior factory warranty. Hyundai backs every new Palisade with its industry-leading five-year/60,000-mile basic and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranties. In contrast, the Honda protects the Pilot with three-year/36,000-mile basic and five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranties. 

Is the Palisade Caligraphy AWD a better value than the Pilot Elite AWD?

It’s evident that the Hyundai Palisade beats the Honda Pilot in the battle as the best base model for towing, but which one reigns supreme among the models’ top trims? First, adding AWD to the Palisade Calibraphy adds $1,900, bringing the price to within $800 of the Pilot Elite AWD. As these two models have the same towing capacity at their top trims, other factors require consideration. 

In a head-to-head comparison of the 2023 Hyundai Palisade Caligraphy and 2023 Honda Pilot Elite, U.S. News scored the Palisade higher, citing the model’s interior, reliability, and overall categories as besting the Pilot. In comparison, the Pilot’s sole higher score was for the performance category. Additionally, the Palisade’s scores earned it a No. 1 ranking among midsize SUVs compared to No. 7 for the Honda Pilot.

Related Only 1 Hyundai Model Earned an IIHS 2023 Top Safety Pick+ Rating

Only 1 Hyundai Model Earned an IIHS 2023 Top Safety Pick+ Rating