Advertisement

Why ads?
Popular at KBB.com
  • 10 Best Hybrid Cars Under $30,000
  • The 40 MPG Cars of 2014
  • 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000
  • Class of 2015: New Vehicles Ready to Roll
Go

2008 Toyota Highlander

Overview
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2008 Toyota Highlander Review

By

The first Highlander arrived in 2001 as Toyota's third car-based crossover SUV, following the compact RAV4 and the mid-size luxury Lexus RX 300. As the Toyota brand's more affordable version of the RX, it, like the RX, was built on the Camry sedan platform. And like its Lexus cousin, the Highlander has been very successful. Now comes this all-new 2008 Highlander, which (as with the current RAV4) is substantially larger, roomier and more powerful than its predecessor. Happily, its added girth and heft comes in tandem with slightly improved fuel economy.

You'll Like This Car If...

If a Japanese mid-size crossover with an optional third row tops your wish list, you should take a good look at this one. It's feature-laden, neither too big nor too small and should prove reliable for many years.

You May Not Like This Car If...

For buyers with more specialized needs or wants, the Highlander's well-rounded personality might not be as appealing as the sporty character of the Mazda CX-9 or the higher towing capacity of the Ford Explorer or Nissan Pathfinder, for instance.

What's Significant About This Car?

Though still a "mid-size" SUV, the second-generation Toyota Highlander has been expanded and improved in every way and now boasts a softer, quieter highway ride and more usable third-row seat. All three trim levels are powered by a new 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 driving through a five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

Driving the Highlander

Driving Impressions We drove one of our test Highlander Limited 4x4s in intermittent rain on alternating wet and dry asphalt and found it confidence-inspiring all the while. Even if it isn't as...

fast as the V6 version of the RAV4, its little brother, the Highlander's 270-horsepower V6 is about as silky and powerful as you'll find in the category. Informal zero-to-60 miles-per-hour acceleration tests showed the Highlander to accelerate with sport sedan alacrity, while we noted fuel economy ranging between 16 and 20 miles per gallon. Except for its still difficult-to-access third row, the Highlander's seating was roomy and comfortable, and its ride, handling and braking excellent.

Center Stow Seat
This clever feature allows the second row of seats to be converted from three-across to two-across seating, opening a convenient pass-through area to access the third-row seats. The seat stows easily out of sight in the center console.


Hill-Start and Downhill Assist Control
If you live in rolling terrain, you'll appreciate these features that prevent the Highlander from rolling backward at a stop on steep up-grades and controls downhill speed (on non-hybrid four-wheel drive models) during slippery descents.

2008 Toyota Highlander Details
2008 Toyota Highlander photo Interior

The new Highlander's spacious interior is at once conservative, functional and attractive. Nice touches include huge round knobs for the primary radio and climate controls—easy to find and operate even while wearing gloves—and plenty of convenient spots for things like drinks and cell phones. The steering wheel offers manual tilt and telescope adjustment and, on Limited models, easy-to-access audio and climate control buttons. The reclining second-row seats also slide 4.7 inches fore-aft and offer a lift-out middle seat cushion for pass-through into the rear row, while the bigger new third row can comfortably accommodate not only children but even limber adults, at least on shorter trips.

Exterior
2008 Toyota Highlander photo

Styled in California, the 2008 Highlander design intentionally moves away from traditional SUV styling. Toyota says it makes a statement of strength instead of ruggedness, intelligence over toughness. We can tell you that it is an attractive vehicle that is designed more to blend into the automotive landscape than stand out from it. While it's definitely more curvaceous than its wedge-like predecessor, it offers a traditional SUV profile but is lower and more car-like, which makes sense based on its Camry roots. It is not as distinctive as the Hyundai Veracruz or the Buick Enclave crossovers, for instance, but it is handsome. Available 19-inch wheels help balance the more substantial look.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The base front-wheel-drive Highlander rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels and comes with halogen headlamps, AM/FM/CD MP3/WMA-capable six-speaker stereo, fold-flat third-row seat, tilt/telescope steering wheel, interchangeable Center Stow seat and center console and an aerodynamic rear spoiler. Standard safety features include seven airbags, stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. The Sport adds 19-inch wheels/tires, a back-up camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-CD changer and a 3.5-inch multifunction display. The top-of-the line Limited coddles its owners with full leather and woodgrain trim, power front seats, dual-zone climate control and a "smart" keyless entry and ignition system.

Optional Equipment

Options available on the base Highlander include a two-row seating package that eliminates the standard third-row seat, manual rear heating/air conditioning for the second and third rows, a cargo-area tonneau cover and a tow-prep package. Stepping up to a Sport or Limited brings a much broader spectrum of add-ons, most notably front dual-zone automatic climate control (standard on Limited), automatic rear air conditioning, multi-stage heated leather front seats, power moonroof, rear-seat entertainment system, power liftgate and a navigation system with premium audio, voice activation and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Four-wheel drive models are available in all grades.

Under the Hood

The 2008 Highlander packs a 270 horsepower 3.5-liter dual-variable-valve-timing V6 under its sculpted hood. It's 55 horsepower stronger than the 2007 engine it replaces and is mated to a five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with selectable manual shift control.

3.5-liter V6
270 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
248 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 (FWD); 17/23 (4WD)

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2008 Toyota Highlander Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.0
Out of 10

Based on 338 Ratings for the 2008 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.0/10
    Quality
    9.2/10
  • Reliability
    9.4/10
    Performance
    9.0/10
  • Comfort
    9.2/10
    Styling
    9.0/10

Nice car but not the best ever.

By on Friday, September 19, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,200

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "great for a family, roomy and comfortable"

Cons: "Blind spot and seeing over the side mirrors."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"I'm 5'4" inches tall and can not see over the side mirror when turning left. Also, there is a terrible blind spot, I've cut off so many (angry) drivers when changing lanes. Difficult to judge distance when driving into garage next to other car and I've had it two years!"

3 people out of 6 found this review helpful

My second Highlander. Best car for me.

By on Monday, September 08, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Quiet, pleasure to drive, great sound system."

Cons: "Nothing that 400hp wouldnt cure."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I traded in my 2008 se after 89,000 mi on a 2013 Limited. It was used one owner with 958 mi.(to me that's new) Got it for 21K and trade. I feel we got a good deal. I love the second Gen. Highlander. Not so fond of the 2014&15 they made some changes that I just don't like. This 13 is so nice, with all the extras. AWD is a must for us, with mountain snow and all. It rides smooth and quite, steering is same as my 08, so no surprise that you have to pay attention. I'm still getting used to all the gizmos, Bluetooth, Nav system, Love the JBL speakers a big improvement over the 08 we had. My wife likes the power lift hatch. I love the remote start, I can get it cooling down without even going outside. The reliability was the real reason we bought another. I had zero problems with my 08 and was just about to get the brakes done when we found this new one. Just Syn. oil, tiers and wipers. We're close to retirement so having the higher end model will be nice. I don't plan to buy another car ever and I think this will be good for about 300Kmi with proper care. I've never used the third row seats on either car but it's nice to know I can. Some day we may take the grand kids on a trip. The running boards do help my Mom get in and out. She's 89 now with bad knees, she likes the leather Captain seats in the second row. I would recommend a Highlander to anyone looking at an SUV, and if it's in your budget, get the higher end Highlander it's worth the extra cash. It's not for serious off road but it can handle most gentle trails with ease. Towing is good at 5000lb rating. Power is a modest but good 270hp. It will step lively when you need it and MPG is good. Resale value I think is good, we made a good trade on my 08. The moon roof and roof rack is nice for those things that don't quite fit in the back. I honestly cant find anything to complain about in this new model. It's every bit as good as the 08 but the upgrade to a Limited is so much nicer and pleasant to drive."

10 people out of 18 found this review helpful

Great family vehicle....

By on Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Dependable safe and good looking..."

Cons: "Seems like its floating on turns....but its not."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I love this car but it floats on turns and although very stable it sometimes doesn't feel that way...A great safe vehicle...I would definitely purchase another...but I don't think this one will wear out!"

5 people out of 10 found this review helpful

Great Vehicle

By on Thursday, August 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great Price, Smooth Ride, Great Family Vehicle"

Cons: "Gas Mileage is about 20mpg"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Wonderful vehicle! Great price! Holds its value. This is the second Highlander I've leased. The lease price has been really affordable. I love the smooth ride and the space. It's a great vehicle for moving kids around, hauling dirt and plants for the garden, and carting a wet dog home from the lake. It handles really nicely for an SUV and the third row seating is great for kids. My only wish is that the gas mileage was better. I average 19 mpg going to and from work. On long trips I get 24 to 25 mpg on the highway."

7 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Excellent, comfortable, reliable, great gas mileag

By on Thursday, August 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "4wd, gas mileage, comfort, reliability"

Cons: "None"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is my first Highlander. I have owned several Camrys and found them all to be excellent and reliable vehicles. The Highlander is as comfortable and reliable as all of the Toyotas I have owned. The third row seat comes in very handy. The 4 wheel drive is very useful in the mountainous terrain and bad winter driving conditions of Western PA. The gas mileage is better than advertised. My Highlander averages 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. With its great gas mileage, spaciousness, and comfort it is a great vehicle to take on vacation."

5 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Best car/truck I've ever had- I'd buy another

By on Friday, June 27, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Smooth ride, good stereo, comfortable seats"

Cons: "Should buy the high end model, be happy."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"After driving a high performance Camaro for 20 years, It was time for a new something. Test drove a 2008 Highlander(Aug.2008) and loved it. Now has 90Kmi and only tiers and wipers and Mobil 1 oil. Water pump was under warrantee at 75Kmi. I'll be doing the brakes for the first time next service. That's just unheard of for me. I'll get new plugs at 100K. This car still drives like it did new!! Great in deep snow in the mountains, can pull 5,000 pounds, holds a lot of stuff and 3 rows of seats for all the grand kids. Once had 6 people, all the luggage on the roof and pulling a large U-Haul trailer from Texas to Nevada in the summer. Not one issue except used more gas. Just me and the wife, we get 22mpg on the highway and about 18 in town. Living in the desert it gets very hot, but the A/C is so good in this car, I'm never uncomfortable. It goes from 130 deg to 72 in about 10 min. That's a must where we live. It's so comfortable to drive on long trips I rarely get tired. Just hit the cruse and tones and relax. Lots of storage and ample cup holders and power plugins for extra toys. Ride is smooth even on some very ruff roads. My wife and I are short and we don't have to "Clime" into the car which is what I hate about my daughters Explorer. Her Explorer rides very ruff and the steering is much harder. The electric steering of the Highlander is top's. No pump or fluid to change, and butter smooth. Very easy to maneuver. The mirrors are large and easy to see all around. I think I'll get around 300Kmi before I need another, but I'd buy a Highlander again. The next one will have all the extras, with leather and sun roof. I'll only go with the 4X4 and at least a V6. Best car I've ever had!! I'm old so I've had a lot of cars."

26 people out of 47 found this review helpful

Advertisement

Why ads?
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?