Monday, September 24, 2007

2008 Toyota Highlander Review

The 2008 Toyota Highlander, offered in three trim levels plus a hybrid, represents the second generation of this mid-sized SUV. Like its relative the RAV4, it has grown a bit for this model year, and is now about three inches wider and four inches longer than last year's model.

With a starting MSRP of $27,300 for the base level (Sport and LTD trims are $29,950 and $32,700 respectively), the gasoline Highlander comes standard with a 3.5 liter 270 horsepower V6 engine, providing 248 lb/ft of torque, and matched with a five-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel-drive is the default, but four-wheel-drive is available. If the optional tow package is added, the Highlander has a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.

Inside the car, the 2008 Toyota Highlander offers a choice of seating for five or seven, with bucket seats in front and captain's chairs in the second row, which also features Toyota's new "Center Stow" seat for the middle position - it's not a cushy captain's chair, but it can be removed when not in use. Seating for seven is achieved with a third-row seat that holds two, and can be folded into the floor. Available options for in-cabin comfort and convenience include keyless entry and remote start-up technology, as well as a navigational system, leather upholstery, and a six-CD stereo system, as well as an entertainment system with a nine-inch flip-down screen for the back rows.

The Highlander's safety features have been expanded, and now include a standard seven airbags, including knee protection for the driver, and side curtain bags for all three rows of passengers. An electronic stability control system is standard, and the hood and front fenders are now designed to buckle if one should hit a pedestrian, but the rearview camera is an optional upgrade.

The 2008 Toyota Highlander is classified as an ultra-low emissions vehicle (ULEV) and has estimated fuel efficiency of 18 - city/24 highway for the 2WD version and 17/23 for the 4WD. A hybrid option is also available and will be reviewed separately.

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