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Cory Wolfe

2008 Highlander Pics/Impressions

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The other night, I was in Dubois and stopped at Stoltz Toyota/Scion. They had a row of 4 or 5 new Highlanders on the lot. I figured I'd check them out and take some pictures. To my luck, they left one of them unlocked. I was able to fully check everything out besides actually driving it. Thus, I give you my attempt at a half-assed review. :P

Exterior

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First, I must say it wasn't as bad in person as it originally looked in pictures. While completely lacking in personality, it doesn't induce vomiting, require blindness, or inspire death wishes as select other Toyotas may. It's different enough to be ever so slightly unique, yet bland enough to keep it from straying too far astray. Toyota's few attempts to inject passion into it's vehicle's sheetmetal has resulted in rather ungainly styling. Thankfully, the Highlander's worse design aspect is it's somewhat frumpy front fascia. The headlights flow out of the fenders and around to the front, where they curve down towards the grill. The angle at which they cut off makes for a rather droopy look. The downward trapezoidal shaped grill does as well, and is the most prominent feature. It is compromised of three horizontal bars with slight chrome strips. Above it, creases bulge out of the hood near each upper corner of the grill. The sides feature flared fenders that visually move into each fascia. Where they intersect the rocker panel, there is a chrome strip spanning the distance in between each. The greenhouse is decidedly nondescript with the only interesting aspect being the slight rise in the beltline aft of the rear door. Out back, the three-element tailights come around the fenders and end abruptly at the hatch. Below, the top inward shape of the bumper sweeps up to the corner of each taillight. Creating a familiar look all around, the rear mimics details as seen up front such as the license plate cutout shape, the round inset reflectors, as well as the lower bumper design. Attractive 5-spoke wheels adorn the "Sport" and "Limited" trims, as indicated by a badge located high on each front door. Overall, the Highlander is a very conservative and unoffensive looking crossover.

Interior

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Upon first setting foot inside the Highlander, a familiar aura emits from the interior. Everything has that "Toyota" look of conservatism to it. Nothing jumps out at you as being truly new, or interesting for that matter. It's an attractive interior, certainly not displeasing to the eye by any means. The stacked dashboard, radio and climate controls, and the overall layout are all fairly similar to many other Toyotas. Only the steering wheel appears to be shared. The controls are easy to use and work fluidly. A double set of knobs are found on the edge of the radio/climate controls. A good idea on paper, not such in person when you must reach over to the far knobs. Looking around, there are many upscale touches to be discovered. Bits of chrome, optitron gauges, push-button ignition, JBL sound system, etc.; all the amenities one could possibly want in a family-toting crossover, including cup-holders galore. In the cargo hold, there looked to be lots of room and some slightly innovating ideas, such as the seating/console configurations. Back up front, wood grain covers the center console, lower tier of the center stack, and the door pulls. While nearly all vehicles contain wood grain these days, it looks and feels more fake than what you'll find in your Great Grandmother's '89 Century Custom. The grain, color, and finish are below par. Speaking of being below par, I've yet to touch on the subject of plastic quality. Before doing so, I will say the the fit and finish was impeccable. Not a gab uneven or a piece loose. There were no faults on that front. The materials, themselves, on the other hand, where not what you would expect in a $38k Toyota. The entire dashboard and the majority of the door panels were covered with hard plastic. The only soft-touch areas were the leather covered arm rests on the center console and the doors, as well as a small slab above the rests on the door. On a positive note, the plastics were nicely grained. To conclude, the Highlander's interior is decent, but unimpressive.

Final Thoughts

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To be entirely honest, I was more impressed than I expected to be, yet equally let down. It's a nice crossover that should suit many families fine. It has no glaring faults that would keep any potential customer from purchasing it. Comparing it to others, it doesn't seem class-leading, but is good enough to give Toyota an increase in sales, justified or not. It's certainly the no-excuses default choice for many people out there and getting the lines of non-thinkers to choose a competing vehicle will be difficult. How it holds up in reliability with Toyota's recent mishaps will be interesting to watch.

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Would you say that it is better or worst than the GM Lambdas? For the money and gas mileage it turns out to be the same.

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The interior does look pretty cheap in these pics, and the plood has a weird haze to it. I liked the interior better in the press photos. So you would rate the Lambdas above this, based on your review, I take it?

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that guage cluster looks like I am staring at a bad set of breast implants! And the plood looks faker than any GM I have ever hated it in. Sorry, Toyota, I do not see $38k there.

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I've been in a Prius so I know what you're talking about with the interior plastics...everything seems to fit well, but it's cheap and hard. All that bare dash doesn't do much except put you to sleep. I've also been in an '06 Avalon and an '03 Corolla; the Avalon seemed ok but the Corolla was as cheap as any other compact on the market.

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that guage cluster looks like I am staring at a bad set of breast implants! And the plood looks faker than any GM I have ever hated it in. Sorry, Toyota, I do not see $38k there.

yup, i see that. then the steering wheel looks like 2 legs and a vag ina .....of a really large girl.

that time you spent checking out the lowlander is 30 minutes of your life you will never get back.

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Delighfully boring, in an ugly sorta way.

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Just when I was about to say it's not the worst

looking Toyota I noticed the $38K price tag!

I almost crapped my pants. $38,962?

Are you kidding me?

For what is essentially a Camry station wagon!?

17/23 mpg? What is this thing BOF & V8 powered?

BV: you and your "soft-touch" plastic! :rolleyes:

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that guage cluster looks like I am staring at a bad set of breast implants! And the plood looks faker than any GM I have ever hated it in. Sorry, Toyota, I do not see $38k there.

... but you KNOW someone's gonna pay it.

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$38,000 and no navigation. Wow.

But very good walkaround, Cory. :thumbsup:

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The shifter gate looks like garbage, the stereo display looks like it was pulled from a Casio watch and the fake wood looks REALLY fake. And I'm just looking at the view from the driver's seat. Once you get outside, its a free-for-all with an ugly stick.

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So you would rate the Lambdas above this, based on your review, I take it?

I can't say for sure as I haven't had the luck to find one unlocked as I did with this Highlander. Based on looks alone and what I've head of each, I would say that the Lambdas have a good chance of being the class-leaders.

Just when I was about to say it's not the worst

looking Toyota I noticed the $38K price tag!

I almost crapped my pants. $38,962?

Are you kidding me?

For what is essentially a Camry station wagon!?

17/23 mpg? What is this thing BOF & V8 powered?

It was slightly shocking, for sure.
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And people bitch about GM's interior.

Seriously this thing is piece of crap.

No emotion

No value

No quality

No utility

Only masked perceptions of goodness in the people.

For 38k, people would be stupid, dumb, hopeless and brain dead to not to buy a Lambda compared to this thing. And it looks like a turd from front. That red wood looks straight from the current gen Crapolla.

Edited by smallchevy
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I've seen a few of them on the road, and in black they don't look so bad...the black covers up the details...which are details that are best left covered up. I like the interior design and integration of the controls...I'm surprised and disappointed that the plastics are mostly hard...but then the Acadia's dash is the same way.

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Just when I was about to say it's not the worst

looking Toyota I noticed the $38K price tag!

I almost crapped my pants. $38,962?

Are you kidding me?

For what is essentially a Camry station wagon!?

17/23 mpg? What is this thing BOF & V8 powered?

BV: you and your "soft-touch" plastic! :rolleyes:

A comparably equipped Acadia (i.e....no navigation) is $40K.....a bit more expensive.

However with Acadia, you certainly get a bigger vehicle with more room.....I don't think Highlander is that out of whack, price-wise then......

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A comparably equipped Acadia (i.e....no navigation) is $40K.....a bit more expensive.

However with Acadia, you certainly get a bigger vehicle with more room.....I don't think Highlander is that out of whack, price-wise then......

A fully loaded Acadia sans the $1300 wheels and HUD (Highlander does not offer it) is $43920. A fully loaded Highlander with remote start and XM as accessories is $42753. I would say they are priced pretty competitively when compared to each other.

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The plood is horrible...there's too much of it. A shame to hear the materials aren't as good as they could be. This has been a problem with Toyotas recently. Seems like it will only get worse. It seems a little too pricey, too.

Still, an all-around good crossover.

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