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Thread: 2008 Toyota Highlander

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2008 Toyota Highlander

    So-called "crossover" SUVs began as smaller, car-based, better-handling and more fuel-efficient alternatives to truck-based, super-size me SUVs. But with each new model year, crossovers seem to be getting bigger and heavier - to the point that the only meaningful difference between them and a "real" (truck-based) SUV is the absence of a two-speed transfer case and 4WD Low range.

    Well, almost!

    Check the '08 Highlander for a case in point.

    Toyota has had to bulk it up just to keep pace with the latest generation of large crossovers from GM (Outlook, Acadia, Enclave) that offer more room inside - and more power under the hood, too - than the first-generation Highlander.

    Thus, the '08 Highlander has grown in almost every way. It is now nearly four inches longer overall (188.4 inches vs. 184.6 previously), wider by 3.3 inches (75.2 vs. 71.9) and rides on a 109.8 inch wheelbase - vs. 106.9 in '07. All that translates into a noticeably more roomy interior - especially for the second and third row occupants - as well an uptick in maximum useable cargo volume, which grows from 81 cubic feet to 95-plus cubic feet with the seats folded flat.

    The additional space is more accessible, too. You can slide the second row's center section out of the way (it tucks cleverly into a cubby built into the front seat console) and convert the "bench" into a pair of captain's chairs. And the third row is now serviceable for transporting adult humans, not just limber kids and inanimate objects. I put my six-foot-three, 200-lb. self back there and I fit. Not without a little head-rubbing; not without my knees bumping up against the second row seatbacks. But I did fit. And could ride back there for, say, half an hour. So, "serviceable." Anyone under six feet tall would probably be ok back there for longer.

    Also: You can get into and out of the third row much more easily now - thanks to the pass-through access that's created by sliding the second row's center section forward and out of the way. This allows passengers to use the "aisle" between the seats - instead of having to fold the second row seats forward and then squeeze themselves through.

    These changes make the '08 much more family-friendly - and up to speed with the competition.

    One other thing has grown as well - the Highlander's curb weight - which now tickles 4,000 lbs. empty, or nearly 500 lbs. more than the outgoing model. Add three or four people and you'll be lugging 4,500 lbs. or more, chief - right about what the typical mid-sized truck-based SUV currently weighs.

    That, in turn, necessitated growth in engine size and output. Last year's standard 2.4 liter, four-cylinder engine is gone. With just 155 horsepower, it would have been mechanical abuse to chain the poor little thing to a two-ton load. Performance would have been dismal; and the warranty people would have been seriously unhappy when the premature engine deaths due to overloading began to rack up the claims.

    So - all the '08s now come standard with V-6 power - the same basic 3.5 liter DOHC V-6 that's optional in the current Camry sedan (from which the Highlander also derives its chassis underpinnings). It offers 270 hp - enough (and then some) to pull the beefier new Highlander with decent authority - and close in spec to what's offered in other mid-large crossovers such as the GM triplets, Mazda's CX-9 and better than Honda's Pilot and a couple of others, too. (A hybrid gas-electric drivetrain is available as well.)

    The extra power is certainly happy news; the '07 Highlander, even though hundreds of pounds lighter, was on the doggy side - especially with the four-cylinder engine. With almost 120 more horses available, the '08 V-6 has the beans to comfortably cope with the added weight - and enough scoot left in reserve to allow a no-sweat margin for passing on the highway, pulling into fast-moving traffic and so on. The zero to 60 time is now 7.3 seconds or so - a big improvement over the previous generation Highlander, especially four-cylinder versions.

    This engine burns 87 octane regular unleaded, too - which will save some coin come fill-up time.

    Also good news is the increase in maximum towing capacity - which moves to 5,000-lbs. That's considerably more than the previous Highlander's mediocre 3,000-lb. rating and enough to make the '08 a serviceable alternative to a truck-based SUV that's heavier, clumsier - and uses more fuel.

    But not by much - and that's the bad news about the '08 Highlander.

    With the new V-6, mileage slides for the first time into the high teens around town (18 city for FWD versions) and barely pulls out of them (24 mpg) on the highway. That's getting close the thirst you'd have to slake if you bought a traditional mid-sized SUV such as a Ford Explorer V-6 (14 city/20 highway) or Chevy Trailblazer with the 4.2 liter inline six (also 14 city/20 highway).

    Previously, four-cylinder Highlanders were capable of approaching 30 mpg on the highway - and were solidly in the 20s around town. At $3 per gallon, that's a big difference in terms of your prospective annual fuel bill.

    For folks who need the extra room - the trade-off is probably acceptable. However, Toyota might lose a few buyers who didn't really need a larger (or V-6 powered) Highlander - and definitely don't want the bigger fuel bill.

    On the other hand, a car-based crossover such as this is still much more nimble than a true SUV; the Highlander rides and drives like, well, a Camry - albeit with more ground clearance and hauling a bit more in the love handles department. But still. The difference between it and a conventional SUV in terms of how it reacts to steering and how it feels in a turn is like the difference between a wheelbarrow and an electric golf cart.

    Lines of sight/visibility are better also; credit more glass area for that - and the fact that the passenger car-derived floorpan of the crossover layout allows the seats to be set lower than in a body-on-frame SUV. This also provide generous headroom, even for very tall goofs like me.

    On the downside - if this matter to you - the Highlander is not a real-deal SUV, no matter how big it is, no matter how hard Toyota has tried to make its front end scowl like a Tundra.

    It has a light-duty unibody frame, front-wheel-drive or (optionally) all-wheel-drive and no two-speed transfer case and no 4WD low range. It will do better in bad weather on paved roads than a standard passenger car - but it's not set up for either serious drifts or off-roads trails.

    That's the balance you'll have to consider as you ponder the new Highlander.

    END

  2. #2
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    Re: 2008 Toyota Highlander

    Here's a link to pictures of the new 2008 Highlander:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...1&Itemid=10818


  3. #3
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Toyota Highlander

    Known as the Kluger here in Australia

    Dunno why.....but I always think of Hogan's Heroes when I her that brand
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Toyota Highlander

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1
    Known as the Kluger here in Australia

    Dunno why.....but I always think of Hogan's Heroes when I her that brand
    That's too funny!

    Der Kluger!


  5. #5
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Toyota Highlander

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1
    Known as the Kluger here in Australia

    Dunno why.....but I always think of Hogan's Heroes when I her that brand
    That's too funny!

    Der Kluger!

    Achtung!!.................acutally the AWD versions are next to useless unless on blacktop/sealed roads.
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Toyota Highlander

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1
    Known as the Kluger here in Australia

    Dunno why.....but I always think of Hogan's Heroes when I her that brand
    That's too funny!

    Der Kluger!

    Achtung!!.................acutally the AWD versions are next to useless unless on blacktop/sealed roads.
    As are so many of today's "4WD" pretenders... people acrry around hundreds of pounds of gear (axles/differentials, etc.) they will never really need/use - and which have been put into a vehicle so street-biased that the "4WD" is really not much help off-road, either!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Toyota Highlander

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric


    As are so many of today's "4WD" pretenders... people acrry around hundreds of pounds of gear (axles/differentials, etc.) they will never really need/use - and which have been put into a vehicle so street-biased that the "4WD" is really not much help off-road, either!
    Not sure if I have mentioned this before but friends of mine drove off the barge onto Fraser Island in their Kluger, and immediatly got bogged
    http://www.fraserisland.net/
    That put a dampener on the weekend :-[

    I think the RAV4 does a little better
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ken's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Toyota Highlander

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1

    I think the RAV4 does a little better

    My little wife thinks the RAV4 would make a nice 'next' car for us. She says it would be nice to sit up high and be able to look over the hedges and enjoy the scenery as we drive along. :

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  9. #9
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    Re: 2008 Toyota Highlander

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1
    Not sure if I have mentioned this before but friends of mine drove off the barge onto Fraser Island in their Kluger, and immediatly got bogged
    http://www.fraserisland.net/
    That put a dampener on the weekend :-[

    I think the RAV4 does a little better
    Did they air-down their tires?

    The people who drive out on North Carolina's Outer Banks (one of the few beaches you can still drive on in the USA) drop their pressures to as low as 4-5 psi. (otherwise they get stuck, which can be really really bad when the tide is coming in!)

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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