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Avg. Price Paid:$16,027 - $20,264
Original MSRP: $34,200 - $40,450
MPG: 27 City / 25 Hwy
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2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Interior

This interior review was written when the 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was new.

Overall, reviewers appreciate like the Highlander Hybrid's cabin, which is roomier and quieter than ever before -- but features sub-par materials, according to some.

  • "You'll be comfortable in the Highlander's roomy new seven-passenger interior, especially since the optional third-row seat is actually made for adults." -- Edmunds
  • "Inside, the dash layout, materials and fit-and-finish are excellent, and the Highlander provides a commanding driving position that makes SUVs a trusted companion on the road." -- MSN
  • "Inside, the Hybrid Limited is as well-appointed as any luxury car. There's plenty of room in the front and middle seats, but the flat-folding third-row seat is best left to the kids." -- Orlando Sentinel
  • "Being a hybrid, the Highlander is also extremely quiet. In fact, a couple of friends commented that it was 'As quiet as a spaceship -- if you've ever driven one.' I'll take her word on that." -- DogCars.com
  • "Hybrid models have some exclusive interior touches. The gauges are trimmed in blue instead of red, and a power meter replaces the tachometer. Displayed either on the multifunction screen or the navigation screen are Consumption and Energy Monitor information." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Our base model Highlander Hybrid used some questionable material in the cabin, such as fake wood-grain plastic over the console. We had a little trouble getting a 12-volt adaptor out of one of the car's console power points, and as we tugged at it, we saw the plastic cover bend and pull upwards." -- CNET

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First- and Second-Row Seats

The Highlander Hybrid's standard configuration seats five in two rows, but reviewers have mixed opinions about comfort. A plus is the second row's Center Stow Seat, which adds family-friendly versatility.

  • "...Toyota has stolen every inch it can elsewhere in the vehicle, leaving taller drivers barely enough room for a comfortable driving position." -- Boston Globe
  • "Unfortunately the front seats offer little in the way of lateral support and as is too often the case the bottom cushions are too short. The steering wheel rim is also a bit too skinny for a comfortable grip." -- Autoblog Green
  • "The second-row seats recline and then also move fore and aft through 4.7 inches of travel. The second-row seat also incorporates a Center Stow seat, an occasional seat that can also be converted to a center console or even stowed away to create separate captain's chairs. It's amazingly light and easy to handle, and even a scrawny 6-year-old with arms like twigs was able to get the job done without whining for help." -- Edmunds
  • "The Center Stow seat provides decent comfort and can be removed when not needed." -- Cars.com

Optional Third-Row Seats

Highlander Hybrid buyers can choose an optional third-row seat, which makes room for up to seven passengers. However, a mixed reception from reviewers means buyers should try the seat for themselves before deciding on its usefulness.

  • "In the interest of full testing, I climbed back there. My head was jammed against the roof and there wasn't enough legroom to even raise the second-row seats to their normal position." -- Boston Globe
  • "We were surprised with the roominess inside, especially for third-row passengers, who made little consolation in terms of ingress, egress, and overall comfort. The Highlander Hybrid was quite flexible, easily morphing to accommodate different passenger/cargo needs, while providing outstanding long-distance comfort." -- MSN
  • "Head and shoulder room out back are OK as is leg room thanks to the second row seats that can adjust fore and aft. Overall though, grownups will only want to ride in the back for short trips." -- Autoblog Green

Interior Features

The Highlander Hybrid comes with plenty of luxury features -- including a Smart Key push-button start system and multi-function display with back-up monitor -- but its interior is plagued by cheap materials.

The Highlander's Limited trim has an optional voice-activated DVD navigation system. Check out our GPS reviews to see what portable options are available with similar features to Toyota's system.

  • "Budget realities mean there are more hard plastic finishes than in a typical Lexus, but those plastics are nicely grained and assembled with care. Only the headliner, which looks like a cardboard egg carton, disappoints." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Visually the dashboard looks attractive enough and the plastic surfaces appear to be of a reasonably high quality. However, that impression ends when you touch the dashboard surface. All the plastic surfaces in the Highlander (aside from the armrests) are hard plastic with no padding." -- Autoblog Green
  • "The instrumentation is clear, with the exception of a kilowatt/power meter that seems as extraneous as the tachometers on most of today's vehicles." -- Boston Globe
  • "The audio system in this base model only uses six speakers, two tweeters in front and a woofer on each door. We were surprised how much bass came out of the speakers, but not in a good way. It wasn't a particularly deep bass, and it overwhelmed the sound quality." -- CNET

Cargo

Reviewers are disappointed with the Highlander Hybrid's cargo volume with all three rows of seats in use (on seven-passenger models), but are pleased with capacity in five-passenger models or when the third row is folded down (42.3 cubic feet). With only the front seats in use, there's a whopping 94.1 cubic feet of cargo space.

  • "Cargo volume behind the third row remains small at 10.3 cubic feet." -- Motor Week
  • "If you don't need the extra people capacity, a tug on the strap at the top of the rear seat allows the head rests to flip down and the seat back folds down providing a flat load floor." -- Autoblog Green
  • "The Highlander Hybrid was quite flexible, easily morphing to accommodate different passenger/cargo needs, while providing outstanding long-distance comfort." -- MSN
Review Last Updated: 2/18/09

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