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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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Buying this car?

2008 Toyota Highlander Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.0
Out of 10

Based on 343 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

Awesome car with a great ride

By on Friday, November 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

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
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "fun to drive, not bad on gas, great in snow"

Cons: "cheaper dashboard feel (rattle in dash)"

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

"2008 sport with Navigation. Great car. Only a few issues with the car. Replaced original tires at 27,000. Found out that this was typical due to how easy it is to knock this car out of tow. Once I new that with the new tires (Good Year Assurance) they have been great and looks like I will get 50k+ out of the second set. Rear brakes locked up at 48k miles. Replaced brakes and rotors all the way around. I have a rattle in the dash board only in cold weather. it is annoying but somehow goes away when it is over 45 degrees. The interior is holding up great (leather) and love all the extra toys in the car. Its a fun car to own and drive and will be getting another one."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

good car, regularly serviced, reliable

By on Saturday, October 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 135,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "very good and reliable car"

Cons: "high mileage"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"I purchased this car new. It has been serviced on schedule It is in very good condition. Excellent tires. Does not use oil. Clean."

10 people out of 21 found this review helpful

Reliable, fuel efficient and stylish for an SUV

By on Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 88,000

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
10/10

Pros: "easy to drive, lots of power and roomy inside."

Cons: "expensive to fix nob on radio and tires too"

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

"I like everything about my Highlander. It is by far the most comfortable SUV I have ever owned. Handles extremely well in bad weather. has all the bells and whistles. Very stylish and fun to drive. lots of room and the optional third row seat comes in handy often."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Was the best SUV I ever had!

By on Sunday, October 19, 2014

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
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "I love the color...Waveline blue"

Cons: "There were none that I could find after 7 years."

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

"Am trading this 2008 FWD 6 cyl for the new 2015 AWD. I like the new style and like to have the latest and the greatest. Just hope the new one is as good as this one has been. Still has the original battery in it. Never had an ounce of trouble and it was a soft and cushy ride as far as I am concerned. I know the new owner will love it!"

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Reliable, quiet. Few luxuries,

By on Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
8/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"A very quiet motor, comfortable, great for hauling things. The steering column is a pain because it does not tilt automatically. The wipers and cruise controls are in a location behind the steering wheel. It is sometimes difficult to see which setting you want. The rear wiper is not wide enough. The carpet is very thin and cheap. Unless they have made these changes, I would not buy this model again."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

No problems, no complaints. Would buy again.

By on Monday, October 06, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000

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
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Cons: "Model I have does not have outdoor temp display"

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

"This has been a solid, reliable vehicle. Over the past 20 years, I have gone through several vehicles. My Highlander is the one vehicle that I've had longer than any other. It serves all my needs and is a dream to drive a 16 hour round trip in, which we do a few times a year to visit relatives/vacation. Its comfortable, quiet and performs exceptionally well."

12 people out of 21 found this review helpful

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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

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