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Here in Chicago this morning Toyota unveiled the redesigned 2008 Highlander with the mantra Bigger! Wider! Safer! As you might imagine, the new crossover is larger in all dimensions, with a more powerful 3.5L V6 now cranking out 270 hp, 55hp more than the old one. It is still based on the Camry platform, although now it's the most recent edition, which is three inches longer and four inches wider. The ground clearance is also increased by and inch and the wheelbase gets three extra inches. As for the new styling, if you squint you can see a passing resemblance in the front end to the new 2007 Tundra.

The biggest emphasis though was on safety. All Highlanders now have side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats as well as a knee bag for the driver. All will also get ABS, traction control, brake assist and stability control. The front end of the vehicle has special crush zones built in so that the next time you run over a pedestrian they have a slightly better chance of survival. In addition, the two upper trim levels get a rear facing video camera with a dedicated display that's not shared with the navigation system. The Toyota press release is after the jump with more details, and information on the new Highlander Hybrid and it's EV-only mode is over on AutoBlogGreen.

PS: Check out the tailpipes on the Highlander. They're run through the bumper rather than underneath. Nevermind. The Highlander's not that cool. After a closer inspection of the CUV's rear on the show floor, the exhaust exits discretely below the bumper. Those holes out back are just for simple reflectors.

[Source: Toyota]


Toyota Launches 2008 Highlander And Highlander Hybrid At The 2007 Chicago Auto Show

February 7, 2007 – Chicago - Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA, Inc., unveiled the all-new next-generation Highlander and Highlander Hybrid mid-size sport utility vehicles (SUV) at a press conference today at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show.

"Highlander holds a unique distinction within the Toyota brand and within the industry," said Don Esmond, TMS senior vice president, automotive operations. "Along with the 4Runner and the FJ Cruiser, it anchors one of the industry's only three-vehicle, mid-size SUV line-ups. Equally important, along with Prius and Camry Hybrid, it is a key component in the industry's only three-vehicle hybrid strategy."

The 2008 Highlander is significantly larger, roomier and more powerful than the vehicle it replaces. Yet its fuel efficiency will be virtually unchanged. It is noticeably quieter, smarter, with improved versatility and ride comfort. It will offer the highest level of standard safety equipment in a segment where safety is at the top of purchase considerations. And, it's all wrapped in a package designed for buyers who want to stand out and make a statement.

Highlander will have no equal to its comprehensive list of standard safety features. It will provide a segment-leading total of seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag and roll-sensing side curtain airbags for all three rows.

As with all Toyota SUVs for the last three years, Highlander will provide Toyota's STAR safety system, featuring:
• anti-lock brakes,
• traction control,
• electronic brake-force distribution,
• brake assist,
• and for the first time, enhanced vehicle stability control,
• with electronic power steering.

On all models except the base models, it will provide a stand-alone backup camera with a multi-information screen, not tied to a navigation system. And, Highlander will have the distinction of being the first Toyota division vehicle to feature both active head restraints and a new hood and fender system designed to crumple on impact with a pedestrian.

On the outside, Highlander moves away from traditional SUV styling cues with a statement of strength instead of ruggedness; of intelligence over toughness. Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, Calif. sculpted clean, crisp lines, a wide, stable stance and muscular contours to give Highlander an advanced, contemporary, forceful and dynamic personality.

Highlander rides on an all-new chassis derived from the current Camry and Avalon. It is nearly four inches longer and three inches wider, with an inch more ground clearance and three inches of additional wheelbase.

Interior designers took full advantage of Highlander's substantial dimensions. Design intelligence is carried through to the refined interior, where smart and sophisticated blend with practical, flexible and versatile.

The passenger compartment is open and airy. Convenient and innovative interior features such as flexible seating arrangements, and ease of entry and exit, were directly related to customer input.

For example, Highlander's second-row features captain's chairs with armrests that, if needed, can be converted to a bench seat for three passengers. A "Center Stow" seat, when not in use, is hidden in a compartment under the front center console. In its place, passengers can easily snap in the provided center stow center console or choose to leave the area open as a walk-through to the third row. The second row also slides forward and back 4.7 inches and reclines.

Clever and convenient standard features include:
• a third-row bench seat with foldable headrests for a flat rear cargo area,
• a rear glass hatch for quick access to the back (optional on base grades),
• and Smart Start and Entry for Limited and all hybrid models.

When Highlander arrives in July, it will be offered in Base, Sport and Limited grades. All three grades will be powered by a new 3.5-liter V6 that delivers an impressive 270 horsepower -- a 55 horsepower gain over the previous generation's 3.3-liter engine.

Two months later, the all-new Highlander Hybrid will arrive at dealerships. Offered in both Base and Limited grades, all Highlander hybrids will feature Toyota's advanced VDIM stability system. The system integrates:
• full-time four-wheel drive with intelligence,
• electronic brake and throttle control,
• with true electronically-controlled active steering.

Highlander's advanced Hybrid Synergy Drive system has been extensively upgraded and refined for 2008 for both power and economy. The new Highlander gained about 500 pounds, growing significantly in every dimension and receiving extensive body and chassis reinforcement, aimed specifically at achieving best-in-class crash ratings. Not only were engineers able to increase output to 270 net horsepower, they were able to maintain Highlander Hybrid's impressive fuel economy at 31 city and 27 highway.

The Highlander will be loaded with standard-equipped comfort and convenience features. Nineteen-inch alloy wheels will be standard on both Sport and Limited gas models and both hybrid models.

An array of options and accessories will be offered, such as a power backdoor that can be opened and closed with a key fob, a navigation system with an eight-inch screen, a rear-seat entertainment system with a nine-inch screen, and three-zone air conditioning.

Other options include:
• JBL audio with six-disc changer and nine speakers with Bluetooth,
• third-row seat delete to create a second-row model,
• leather seat trim and heated seats,
• and a tow package with a 5000-lbs. maximum towing capacity (class-leading for car & van-based mid SUVs).

"The 2008 Highlander takes the car-based SUV concept to a new level," said Esmond. "I say that with conviction, because it's a category we invented."

The Toyota RAV4, now in its third generation, was the world's-first car-based SUV. In 1998, Lexus established a whole new category of car-based luxury SUVs when it launched the RX300. The debut of Highlander in 2001 marked the beginning of a shift in the mid-size SUV segment, from truck platforms to car platforms.

"As you can see, the new Highlander has raised the bar significantly," said Esmond. "Last year we did the same with RAV4. And in about a year, we'll do the same with both Land Cruiser and Sequoia. The Toyota division now markets a six-vehicle SUV lineup that appeals to specific buyer demographics and life-stages. It is a lineup that gives us enormous flexibility in responding to shifts in the marketplace. We are committed to keeping our products fresh and at the front of the pack."


3.5 Liter V6 – 270 hp
249 ft.-lbs. torque
5-speed automatic
4WD or 2WD

3.3 Liter V6 Hybrid – 270 net hp
Torque not available for hybrid powertrain

Overall Length: 188.4
Overall Width: 75.2
Overall Height: 69.3
Wheelbase: 109.8
Ground Clearance: Gas 8.1 / Hybrid 7.3
Seating Capacity: 5 or 7 passengers
Wheels: 17- or 19-inch wheels

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have sold Toyotas for nine years. Toyota invented the car-based SUV with the first RAV4, but now has resorted to copy-catting other designs. I'm angry about this. Toyota has other brands struggling to match its quality control and refinement. If only it could achieve the same status with styling.

      Here are Toyota's only bold moves in recent years:

      Celica and Camry all-trac versions (pushed the envelope by offering all wheel drive)

      Original RAV4 (entirely new type of vehicle, and interesting looks)

      2000 Celica (rakish and unique looks at the time, and crazy Yamaha engine in the GTS, now used in the Lotus Elise)

      Prius (both versions were way ahead of everyone else)

      Scion XB (simple but extreme box shape)

      2006 RAV (not the styling -- just the V6 option! It's a beast)

      I'm not including the Supra because potent sports cars were hip at the time, and the Supra wasn't intersting to look at.

      Can anyone name another intersting Toyota moment? I doubt it. That's pretty sad for a company that has so many vehicles in its lineup, and updates them every five years. Let's hope the next Corolla can somehow eclipse the Civic for boldness. I'm holding my breath...
      • 8 Years Ago
      #13..The Highlander is a crossover, the explorer body on frame. The explorer is in the 8 second range which is plenty fast for an SUV as well as heavier. Let me guess, you are the first to bash Ford for rollovers, but then you praise Toyota for its speed capabilities in its S/Cuv's. Yeah thats what I thought....Try comparing at least apples to apples..its called the Edge..ever heard of it? You know, the CUV that will dominate in the near future. As far as this CUV goes..blah. Still another boring Toyota for people who have no style to begin with. Its already outdated looking. This is supposed to beat what? The hideous Pilot?
      Kelly Mack
      • 8 Years Ago
      I find it kind of funny when someone criticizes a manufacturer (most of the time Toyota)on this website when most of the time they dont have their facts straight.

      Guys, if you are going to call this one ugly then call ALL car based SUV's ugly. You're right this one is is nothing special, but it is no different than the Honda Pilot (ugly), Nissan Murano (ugly),
      Subaru Tribeca (ugly) Misubishi Endeavor (ugly), etc.

      Actually this one may be a bit better than those others

      Sounds to me you guys are jealous, sore losers that Toyota is kicking your favorite SUV's butt!!!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      The New Higland Interior is a knock off of Mecedes M and G class. I don't understand Toyotas design direction as of late. The exteriors seem to be overstyled--similar to Hyundai about 5 years ago. It always happens. Eventually even the best make a misjudgment!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yes, styling is boring. Yes, new features are welcomed. However I still can't get over the thoughtless dust-rain-snow catching shelf at the back of the vehicle. To get anything in or out of the back of the Highlander you'll need to either lean on or kneel on this dirty rear-end, something that will become very annoying very quickly unless you make a habit of carrying around a container of spray-and-wipe and a nice big towel.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Looks somewhat like the new Rav 4 but, does not jump out at you like the styling of the Rav 4 Sport edition. the rav is really cool looking with the 18" wheel fender flare combo. I like the Rav 4 , better styling more custom looking and a great size and a blast to drive with the powerful 3.5L v-6
      • 8 Years Ago
      Looks Great!! Much bigger and as with any Toyota very convenient and well placed features. Now drving a piece of *#&* Equinox, which was built in Canada, it's transmission was built in Japan and the Engine was built in China !! Chevrolet...American made ??? NOT !!
      Jean McGrath
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm just a consumer, so...
      I am excited to see the 08 Highlander. I'm tired of driving trucks and vans just so the family can have versatility. Seating 7 passengers and being able to tow the boat with a "car" rather than a "truck" is just what the doctor ordered. Some women want to fit into that size 7 dress, again. I want to park in small places, again. Thank you, Toyota. I'll be first at the door when they arrive. Goodbye, land-barge.
      • 8 Years Ago
      it's more like Hyundai copied the Rav4. Toyota finally got the interior right. The old Highlander looked like a ford (yech!). This interior is clean & sporty like they made in the eighties.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yes, it does look like a cross between the Santa Fe and the new RAV4 but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Most CUV's tend to bear similar traits now as has been common in the sedan market. Note that Toyota's new and ubiquitious 3.5L V6 is much welcomed change compare with the outdated powerplant it replaces and also compared with most offerings by both import and domestic offerings. Just refer to Ward's for more reviews on this powerplant. The interior has also benefited from a tasteful, if not conservative, update.

      Based on Toyota's reputation for quality, reliability, and sound engineering (and yes, these are common conceptions which do affect the residual value of the vehcle - just look at any autotrader magazine), Toyota should have themselves a safe bet for mass appeal. It may not be the most stylish or flashy offering, but I think it is something which will appeal to a larger demographic as I'm sre the sales will attest. Toyota's current market share is no accident - obviously they have a better idea of what they are doing than the competition.
      • 8 Years Ago

      If you would stick your head out of your a$$, you'd realize that toyota's recalls went DOWN last year - not up. so sticking with that theory the predecessor would have more recalls, not the successor.


      and if you want to talk about value...look anywhere on the internet for the top 10 list of cars with best residual value... here's one for instance:


      is there a SINGLE domestic vehicle on there? didn't think so...

      stop blindly bashing japanese vehicles just cause you probably can't afford one!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Booo, Toyota! Boooo!

      I was really hoping you'd take the lead and put the SUV craze to rest by offering a crossover Highlander that's more wagonish and less SUVish. But instead you INCREASE the ground clearance, which also INCREASES the center of gravity. You advertise your vehicles come with standard stability control to enhance your safety image, but you know making a car closer to the ground is more effective in saving lives. And lots, lots, lots of people will buy this car.

      Other automakers emulate you because of your success. Why couldn't you have been a leader & make the smart & safe design decisions? (Or at least bring back the Camry wagon?)
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