The 2008 Toyota Highlander received excellent reviews from most sites as well as from the experts at TheCarConnection.com. (The 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is covered in a separate review.)
According to Edmunds, the 2008 Toyota Highlander sports "a 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6" that "delivers strong, smooth acceleration in any situation." Cars.com says, “Acceleration is adequate off the line and stronger as the engine revs. The transmission helps things along, holding gears and rarely shifting prematurely,” but “hard acceleration can prompt some abrupt transitions among lower gears.”
Edmunds indicates that the "Front-wheel-drive models carry an 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway rating...while AWD models rate 17/23." Edmunds further supports that, saying the Highlander is "still easier to drive than most midsize SUVs, even those of the crossover variety." ConsumerGuide claims that the 2008 Toyota Highlander's ride quality is "among the best in class,” and goes on to say, "overall control is fine, and the brake-pedal feel is firm and progressive." Edmunds, meanwhile, states, "steering is light enough to make it easy to maneuver in tight spaces." Cars.com dislikes the “lifeless, artificial steering feel” and the “spongy response” of the brakes. Popular Mechanics also reports the steering “felt numb” but calls the brakes “precise and quick.” The Detroit News says the Highlander has “solid, but not precise, feel.”
With 8.1 inches of ground clearance and available full-time four-wheel drive (with a 50/50 torque split), light off-roading is also part of the 2008 Highlander's repertoire. “The optional four-wheel drive is transparent to the driver,” Cars.com concludes.
TheCarConnection.com tested the 2008 Toyota Highlander extensively and agrees with the sources that feel the Highlander’s handling needs to be sharper. The transmission is a culprit in its somewhat lethargic performance; even in manual mode, it drains some of the zest out of the big V-6. Dynamically, the Sport is the only nonhybrid model in the 2008 Toyota Highlander crossover line that will appeal to enthusiasts. With the Highlander, Toyota’s base and Limited editions are too softly sprung to be interesting on a twisty road. Plus, the electric steering offers zero feedback, and the springs and dampers feel mushy. Most drivers aren't enthusiasts, but all drivers want to feel in control.