2008 Toyota Highlander
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Toyota Highlander - 2008 Review: "Well, you can't go wrong with a Toyota Highlander." Once, that was our standard answer when asked about the crop of modern family wagons known as crossovers. Yet, it's funny how times have changed, for as 2008 brings us a new Highlander - one that's bigger, more comfortable, more powerful, more everything, really - we find that it's no longer our default recommendation. If buyers don't venture from the Toyota showroom they'll no doubt like what they see. But if they really shop, they'll discover they can get more comfort, room, power and even refinement in many other places at the same price.
What We Drove
The 2008 Toyota Highlander Sport starts at $32,085 including the $685 destination charge. That gets you all-wheel drive, a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, and the usual array of safety gear and power accessories. Our test car featured a $1,780 rear seat DVD entertainment system, $1,840 leather upholstery, and a $2,530 navigation and audio system. The power rear door costs $400, the manual rear air conditioning system is another $385, the sunroof is $850, towing capability costs $220, and the roof cross bars, rear cargo mat and security system cost $229, $275 and $359, respectively. All told, our test car was $40,953.
The engine in our 2008 Highlander Sport was a 3.5-liter 270-horspower V-6, connected to a five-speed automatic transmission. However, we found power was only adequate, and the 17.2 mpg fuel economy was nothing to get excited about. As if to compensate for the lack of pep, Toyota provided a throttle so responsive it borders on jumpy. But there's no escaping the lack of low-end torque or high-revving power - or the high rev noise - although the mid-range is good and punchy. We appreciated (though rarely used) the transmission's manual shift gate, but overall we were let down by the drivetrain.
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