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2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

Note: This review was created when the 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was new.

The Highlander Hybrid ranks near the top of its class for offering a spacious interior, smooth ride, and refined hybrid powertrain. However, some feel its price is too steep compared to the non-hybrid Highlander, and it can't match the sportier handling and cargo space of some competitors.

8.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.8
Performance: 8.4
Interior: 8.2
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Optional third row is roomier than before
  • Seamless hybrid powertrain
  • Quiet ride, especially for a hybrid
  • Some poor-quality interior materials
  • Fuel savings may not justify the premium price
  • Base stereo system is disappointing

2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Overview

The 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, completely redesigned for 2008, is larger than its predecessor and gets an all-new electric-only mode to improve fuel economy. Most reviewers are pleased with the changes, but it's the hybrid's price that gives them pause. Autobytel compliments the Highlander Hybrid for "added visual appeal, an interior chock-full of desirable features, and a 270-horsepower gas/electric powertrain under its skin," but adds that "we'll wait for pricing and more realistic 2008 EPA fuel economy figures before jumping for joy." Unfortunately, the hybrid demands quite a premium over its gasoline-powered counterpart -- and even over other hybrids, including the Ford Escape Hybrid and Saturn VUE Green Line. Still, the Highlander ranks very well among other hybrid SUVs.

The Highlander Hybrid is available in two trims -- the base and Limited -- in standard four-wheel drive with either five- or seven-seat configurations.

  • "Don't buy this car expecting to save on gas. It's doubtful that you will ever come close to recouping the added initial vehicle cost in fuel savings." -- Boston Globe
  • "Highlander Hybrid models offer excellent fuel economy, particularly in the stop-and-go traffic of major metros, along with extremely low emissions. Add in Toyota's reputation for reliability and resale value, and the 2008 Highlander is a wise choice for active families." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "We failed to find much that was special about our 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and even with few options, it was expensive. Its hybrid system is its best feature, justifying most of the price." -- CNET
  • "[T]he Highlander is definitely the most efficient of the mid-large crossovers and provides good utility for those who need ample space for five plus two on occasion." -- Autoblog Green
  • "All-in-all, it's a rough road to find any fault with the 2008 Highlander Hybrid as a DogCar, except that the mileage isn't tail-waggingly wonderful and the price ($38,950 to start) is a bit on the steep side. Otherwise, it's got all four of my paws!" -- DogCars.com
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