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Avg. Price Paid:$13,434 - $19,499
Original MSRP: $27,500 - $34,350
MPG: 18 City / 24 Hwy
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2008 Toyota Highlander Interior

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

As outlined in our Interior Overview, the 2008 Toyota Highlander's interior gets positive reviews for its versatility and abundance of standard features. Still, with competitors offering more room, the Highlander's cabin isn't a standout.

  • "Larger families will prefer the added space of GM's crossovers or the CX-9, but for medium-size families who already liked the Highlander's combination of convenience, economy and out-and-out refinement, the 2008 model should prove quite desirable." -- Edmunds
  • "Comfort and legroom abound, and there are a bunch of clever features included, like the sliding second row. We had to chuckle, however, at the size of the knobs on the center console. They're HUGE." -- AutoWeek
  • "Interior: Good. Well-appointed with a number of options to keep the driver comfortable and the passengers entertained." -- Detroit News
  • "The new Highlander's spacious interior is at once conservative, functional and attractive. Nice touches include huge round knobs for the primary radio and climate controls-easy to find and operate even while wearing gloves-and plenty of convenient spots for things like drinks and cell phones." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The quieter interior you notice right away, because this is not your typical SUV, with a cabin more akin to a mid-price sedan. Even with the lower overall height, the driver still gets the feeling of an SUV's higher seating-that 'I'm in control' position." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "Toyota has spent years building a reputation for quality, and absent any serious competition, the new Highlander might have maintained that standard. The competition is nothing if not serious, though, and SUVs like the CX-9 and Veracruz boast some impressively upscale interiors. In comparison, Toyota falls a bit short." -- Cars.com

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Seating

The 2008 Highlander can seat up to seven with a standard third-row bench. Most find gains in room and comfort over the previous model in the first two rows. And while some complain about a cramped third row, almost every reviewer loves the improved third-row access, thanks to a sliding and folding second-row bench.

  • "All seats-including the driver's-have about as much contouring as stadium bleachers." -- Car and Driver
  • "There's ample 2nd-row space for two adults on a 40/20/40 split seat that slides fore/aft a few inches to benefit either 2nd- or 3rd-row legroom. The center section of the 2nd-row seat can be configured one of three ways: as a very narrow, sparsely padded seat; as a console with tray table; and as an empty passageway to the 3rd row." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The low-hanging body makes hopping into the Highlander easy. Whereas some SUVs need a rope ladder so people can climb aboard, the Highlander needs just a step up. Kids will have no problem jumping into the back unassisted." -- Detroit News
  • "The reclining second-row seats also slide 4.7 inches fore-aft and offer a lift-out middle seat cushion for pass-through into the rear row, while the bigger new third row can comfortably accommodate not only children but even limber adults, at least on shorter trips." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "There are tons of foot, shoulder, leg, and head room up front, and the tilt/telescoping leather clad steering wheel made it a snap for the driver to get pretty comfortable. Yet, despite a power eight-way adjustable driver's seat, we were never able to get the right amount of lower back support to achieve 100% comfort." -- MarketWatch
  • "Seating is mighty comfy, with power everything to help you find a good seating position." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • "For the second row, there is no need to decide whether you want a 3 person bench seat or a pair of captain's chairs. With the Highlander there is a center section of that second-row seat that is easily removable and can be stored in a special compartment in the bottom of the console when not needed." -- The Family Car
  • "The second row comes with an extremely groovy feature. It can be converted from a three-seat row into two captain's chairs, with the removable middle seat storing neatly into the rear of the center console." -- Mother Proof
  • "Up front, the leather seats are comfortable. My back felt a little sore after a few hours in the cloth seats, however." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Front- and second-row passengers get a surprising amount of head- and legroom that belie the car's modest external dimensions." -- CNET
  • "It's behind the front seats that the Highlander shows its stuff, with more tricks than Cirque du Soleil. I especially liked the center section of the second row that turns two seats into three. Flip the padded section back and presto! A table! Lift the ends of the table and discover two big bins. Remove the whole thing, slide it under the front console, and walk through to row three." -- About.com

Interior Features

Most reviewers see the Highlander as well-equipped and the dashboard and controls functional, though not perfect.

Although the Toyota Highlander offers a voice-activated DVD navigation system, you might be seeking a portable option. Check out our GPS reviews to learn more about the best systems for in and out of your vehicle.

  • "The base front-wheel-drive Highlander rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels and comes with halogen headlamps, AM/FM/CD MP3/WMA-capable six-speaker stereo, fold-flat third-row seat, tilt/telescope steering wheel, interchangeable Center Stow seat and center console and an aerodynamic rear spoiler." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The list of standard features in the cabin is impressive: tilt and telescopic steering wheel, cargo area tiedown hooks, multi-function keyless entry, UV reduction glass, 10 cup holders and three 12-volt auxiliary power outlets, to name a few." --Detroit News
  • "For the navigationally impaired, Toyota offers a big navigation screen mid-dash. That was part of a monster $2,505 option package that includes voice activation and a fancy JBL stereo with satellite radio compatibility; Bluetooth for the phone; and nine speakers and a subwoofer. Again, top-flight goodies." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • "The third row doesn't split, which is an absolute shame, and the 'Select' button on the DVD player in the rear was useless. After multiple failed attempts to select 'Play' (the curser always jumped to an unwanted location), my husband and I were happy to accidentally select the repeat-play feature because it meant the movie actually came on." -- Mother Proof
  • "The Highlander Limited comes with an impressive lineup of available cabin tech, which rivals that of SUVs from luxury brands like Acura and Infiniti." -- CNET
  • "All versions have large, easy-to-read gauges and high-mounted audio and climate controls. The available navigation system is fairly intuitive but absorbs and complicates audio-system adjustments." -- Consumer Guide

Cargo

Cargo space in the 2008 Toyota Highlander may be impressive, but reviewers say space with all three rows in use doesn't measure up to top rivals. A high point is the number of cup holders that it comes equipped with -- 10, plus four bottle holders.

  • "The '08 Highlander now has no fewer than 156 cubic feet of interior space-up a whopping 41 cubic feet compared with 2007. Of that, 95 cubic feet of it can be stuffed with gear when all seats are folded (up from 81). That's five cubes more than a Land Cruiser and only 2 fewer than the gargantuan Nissan Armada." -- Car and Driver
  • "Parents will appreciate the storage options. The center console between the front seats has four cupholders and a wide storage bin. Forget laptops; the glove box could fit a small desktop computer." -- Cars.com
  • "Consider the matter of 10 cupholders and 4 bottle holders. Plus enough nook-and-cranny storage to please the Thomas English Muffin people." -- MarketWatch
  • "Highlander's 95.4 cubic feet of cargo room is more than all but a handful of competitors in the popular midsize class." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Cargo space remains scant when all three rows are in use, as there are just over 10 cubic feet." -- Edmunds
  • "While overall length grew, there's still precious little space for cargo behind the third-row seats. Grocery bags? Nope. Eat out. At least the backs easily fold flat with the pull of a strap to expand cargo space. If you need even more room, pull levers in the rear sidewall and second-row seat backs fold flat too." -- Chicago Tribune
Review Last Updated: 2/18/09

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