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2008 Toyota Highlander

Overview
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2008 Toyota Highlander Review

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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)

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2008 Toyota Highlander Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.0
Out of 10

Based on 370 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

Probably will not buy another Toyota

By on Saturday, August 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 58,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Cons: "Steering much too sensitive at highway speeds"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2

"My car has ridiculously sensitive steering at highway/freeway speeds. You must continually correct. An eight inch correction is too much. After a long trip it is exhausting. Four wheel alignment was done. Deal says NORMAL. Service advisor told me they get quite a few complaints, but the response is "Electronic Power Steering" Having been in the automotive repair business for 40 years you would think with a bulletin and scanner, a good tech could repair complaint. Just say no. a"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

4 star Toyota SE Highlander.

By on Saturday, August 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Dependable. Reliable."

Cons: "Noisy engine. Weak rear A/C."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Spacious interior. Loads of cargo space with rear seats down. Better than average MPG. VG utility vehicle. My 3rd Toyota Highlander."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

I love this car

By on Monday, July 27, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000

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
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

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

"This car is so comfortable to drive. I've never enjoyed a car so much. Because of its size/shape, sometimes i have trouble parking straight, but that's just me. no one else has this problem. The back-up camera is a nice touch for me. My previous car didn't have one. However, when it rains or in the dark, the camera is very limited. The camera on the 2014 Kia Sorrento I drove for a month is far superior. And i'm noticing some rattling on the car now that I've been driving it for a couple years. One would think that for what this car sol;d for, the rattles should be farther down the line."

10 people out of 18 found this review helpful

Best SUV I have ever owned

By on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Very nicely appointed."

Cons: "MPG is around 20 city and 24 highway."

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

"The 2010 Toyota Highlander is the best SUV I have owned, and I have owned quite a few. The styling is attractive, the V6 engine is powerful and very dependable. Transmission (automatic) shifts smoothly and silently without a tremor or jerk. The interior is very comfortable. The leather seats are luxurious. Knobs and dials are in the right places for easy access. Mine has a sliding electric sun roof, which is nice. The cargo area is voluminous. All in all a great vehicle. I will buy another one in about 200,000 miles."

8 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Great car; is our 3rd Highlander; 06-85K; 08-144K

By on Tuesday, July 07, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

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

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

"No problems; great for mountains in Western CO and in NC; quiet, roomy, fun to drive, good nav system."

9 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Great Smaller SUV with TONS of Room!

By on Tuesday, June 09, 2015

I don't own this car

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: "keeps it's value, comfortable, classic style"

Cons: "no split far back seat, no bluetooth"

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

"This is such an excellent vehicle for in city and in the country. Gets really good gas mileage and I've taken very good care of it. What I love the most is the extra 3rd row of seats that adults can comfortably sit in for a short road trip, but also collapses for more room in the back for storage or to fit a sleeping in. The leather seats make it easy to keep clean. I also appreciate the extra features on the stereo system, the steering wheel and the keyless door entry and push start! The captains chairs in the middle row are pretty sweet for comfort, too."

12 people out of 23 found this review helpful

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