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The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is known to last a long time, even longer than the gas-powered version. But some years are better than others. One Highlander Hybrid model year is by far the worst. Let’s look at this used Highlander Hybrid model, including its recalls and most common problems.

A brief history of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: Worst Toyota Highlander Hybrid model year
2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Toyota introduced the Highlander in 2000 for the 2001 model year. The first-generation midsize SUV packed a four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine and the option of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. In 2006, the Highlander Hybrid debuted — the first SUV with an electric/gas powertrain setup in its class, Toyota claims. 

This model paved the way for future Toyota hybrids, including the RAV4 and Venza hybrid SUVs and the Prius sedan. It also made three-row SUVs fuel-efficient. The seven-passenger crossover from 2006 got about 31 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway — decent for the AWD version. 

As for the FWD model, it got around 33 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, according to Edmunds. The hybrid version is still going strong, with the 2023 Highlander Hybrid now available.

However, one Toyota Highlander Hybrid model year has experienced more issues than the rest.

Here’s the worst Toyota Highlander Hybrid model year 

The 2008 Toyota Highlander has at least 60 complaints that owners have reported to for various problems. One of the most significant issues this model year faces is brake problems. A large portion of those complaints was reported to the NHTSA. 

The ABS warning system has caused significant headaches for owners. They have reported that warning lights illuminate and, in some cases, the brakes would go out entirely. Several owners were given a repair quote of $3,000 to $5,000 to repair the brake actuator assembly. 

Other owners have reported problems with the inverter that caused the engine to die. The average mileage when this issue occurs is 108,000 miles. Replacement costs were quoted at $8,800. However, Toyota eventually issued a recall. 

2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid recalls

In addition to owner complaints, the 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has eight recalls. In 2008, Toyota issued a recall because its third-row seat belt systems didn’t conform to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.  

Then there were three recalls in 2009. The stainless-steel exhaust tips and clamp could fall off and become a road hazard. A second recall was issued a few weeks later, extending the number of vehicles affected. The last one issued in 2009 was for the gross vehicle weight rating labels, which were incorrectly labeled. 

In 2011, a recall was put out for an inadvertent side airbag deployment problem. The sensors within the airbag assembly could malfunction. If one quit working, the roll detection system would be suspended. If both failed to work, the curtain shield airbag and seatbelt pre-tensioner could inadvertently activate. 

In 2012, Toyota issued a recall for the power window master switch because the assembly could melt from a short circuit. This was issued for the 2007 to 2009 Highlander Hybrid. A few years later, in 2015, another recall came out for that same issue, except it extended to more model years. The recall is now for 2007 to 2011. The problem has affected other automakers, including Honda

In 2013, a recall went out for an inverter failure. If the part fails, the SUV could stall, which might happen while driving. 

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a good vehicle overall, but the 2008 model year has the most reported problems. If you’re considering buying a used Highlander Hybrid, ensure the previous owner addressed the recalls. 


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