A red 2023 Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid is shown parked near a city after winning a 2023 Ford Explorer vs 2023 Hyundai Palisade comparison.

What Makes the 2023 Ford Explorer a Better Buy than the 2023 Hyundai Palisade?

When considering whether to buy the 2023 Ford Explorer vs 2023 Hyundai Palisade, you might find yourself wondering which one is going to offer you the most bang for your buck. It is hard to deny that both are good vehicles, but the 2023 Ford Explorer has a few more advantages than its competitor.

Those are just a few of the things that make the 2023 Ford Explorer a better buy over the 2023 Hyundai Palisade. Let’s dive in and examine the new Explorer in more detail so that you know exactly what to expect from this vehicle should you decide to take one out for a test drive.

A white 2023 Hyundai Palisade is shown from the rear.

Multiple Strong Engine Options

Let’s start by discussing the 2023 Ford Explorer’s strong and capable engine options. First of all, there is the standard 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 engine. It makes 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. This engine is available with Auto Start-Stop Technology, but if you do not want it you can choose to have it removed. You can also choose to get an engine block heater with this engine choice.

When you upgrade to the ST trim level, you get a more powerful 3.0L EcoBoost V6 engine that generates 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. This engine is also available with Auto Start-Stop Technology. Again, you can choose to leave Auto Start-Stop off if you do not want it equipped.

The line-topping Platinum trim level is outfitted with a hybrid powertrain. This vehicle has a 3.3L V6 gas engine paired with an electric drivetrain, producing a total of 318 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque. This offers the best gas mileage of any Explorer model, a combined 27 MPG for rear-wheel drive models and 25 MPG for all-wheel drive. Auto Start-Stop is included, and can be removed only from the all-wheel drive models.

No matter which engine you choose, it will come paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, which provides enough low-end torque to assist the engine with towing capabilities. Rear-wheel drive is standard equipment, and all-wheel drive is available as an option.

The Hyundai Palisade is powered by a 3.8L six-cylinder engine, which puts out 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is the only engine option you can get for the Palisade.

An Abundance of Cargo Space

Its capacity to seat up to seven people means that the Explorer offers a lot of cabin space. But what about the all-important cargo area? As it turns out, the Explorer is as generous on cargo space as it is on people space.

There is 18.2 cubic feet of cargo space available behind the third row of seats. When you fold the third row down, you get 47.9 cubic feet of space. If you want to max out available cargo space, you can fold the middle row of seats down for 87.8 cubic feet. This gives you plenty of room for stashing your bulky items.

The Palisade has slightly less cargo space. You get 18 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, and folding it down results in 45.8 cubes. Folding the second row down maxes space out at 86.4 cubic feet. While this is comparable on paper, the Explorer comes off as more versatile in its cargo design.

A blue 2023 Hyundai Palisade is shown parked near a lake.

Many Trim Levels to Choose From

If it is diversity that you seek, the 2023 Ford Explorer hits that nail right on the head. There are a total of eight trim levels to choose from. The Base trim equips standard cloth seats and has a 10.1-inch SYNC 3 infotainment touchscreen system. Up one trim level from that is the XLT, which adds more optional advanced driver aids such as front parking sensors.

On the ST-Line trim level, you get red stitching on the ActiveX-trimmed seats and HD Radio. The Timberline swaps in second-row captain’s chairs and lets you opt for a power-folding function for the third row seat. There are paddle shifters that you can use for the transmission’s SelectShift.

Front parking sensors come standard on the Limited trim level, which also includes leather-trimmed seats with accent stitching. Driver’s seat memory becomes optional on this trim. Up another trim level is the ST. On the ST, you get accent stitching on the seats done in a tone called City Silver. The front seats are heated, plus you get a sportier ride quality from the independent front and rear suspension.

The King Ranch feels even more luxurious, with its Del Rio leather seats and standard power-folding function on the third-row seat. It only gets topped by the Platinum, which makes the Active Park Assist 2.0 system available. Upgraded leather seats come with the Platinum as well.

The 2023 Hyundai Palisade has five trim levels available, which gives you a little less variety than the Explorer. Some of them have larger price differences between them than what you get on the Explorer, while the Explorer’s trim levels are more modestly priced and evenly spaced out in terms of price and features.

All-Wheel Drive is Optional On Most Trim Levels

Ford makes all-wheel drive an option on almost every Explorer trim level, but there is one trim level on which it comes standard: the Timberline. When you opt for the intelligent AWD system, you also get Hill Descent Control and a Terrain Management System to help you navigate difficult surfaces as you stray off the beaten path.

The Explorer’s AWD system also includes a 3.58:1 Torsen limited-slip rear differential. Torsen differentials prevent a significant problem that standard open differentials have. When one wheel is on a slippery surface and the other is on a firm one, an open differential will send all of its power to the wheel on the slippery surface, resulting only in wheelspin and no forward motion. The name “Torsen” is an abbreviation for “torque sensing.” It manages torque, and sends it to the wheel that has traction, helping you get out of sticky situations and preventing wheelspin.

The 2023 Hyundai Palisade also offers an AWD system if you do not care for its front-wheel drive. However, it does not offer any trim level on which it comes as standard equipment. You will have to pay extra for it on your selected trim level.

A white 2023 Ford Explorer is shown driving on a dirt road.

Ample Towing and Hauling Capacities

Let’s say that you stick with the standard rear-wheel drive version of the Explorer instead of the AWD option. The RWD system has a lot of its own capabilities with regard to towing. When you equip the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 engine and Class IV Trailer Tow Package, you max out the towing capacity at 5,600 pounds. The Terrain Management System gives the Explorer Tow/Haul mode, which changes the transmission’s shift pattern to optimize it for pulling or carrying a heavy load..

The 2023 Hyundai Palisade is able to tow up to 5,000 pounds, which puts it behind the Explorer. Unless you equip AWD, the Palisade will struggle more with towing bulkier items. The payload limit is also considerably lower at a maximum of 1,570 pounds. For reference, the Explorer’s max payload rating is 1,723 pounds.

Explore the Open Road in the 2023 Ford Explorer

If you want an excellent off-roader with plenty of space for people and cargo, the 2023 Ford Explorer is a standout performer in its segment. The sheer number of available trim levels and multiple engine options make it so that you can truly customize the Explorer to your liking. Keep this SUV in mind as you move forward with your quest to find a new vehicle.