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The 2008 Toyota Highlander recently made a top-ten list of used midsize SUVs under $10,000 from Kelley Blue Book. A used Toyota Highlander is a strong contender for an affordable used midsize SUV based on its longevity and reliability. However, not all Toyota Highlander model years enjoy the same reputation, so which year is the best?

2008 Toyota Highlander specs and features

A silver gray 2008-2010 generation Toyota Highlander midsize SUV
2008-2010 Toyota Highlander | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

As a midsize crossover SUV with optional third-row seating, all-wheel drive, and a potent V6 engine, the 2008 Toyota Highlander offers a functional combination of performance, sporty handling, and family-friendly seating, at least until the kids get bigger, according to Kelley Blue Book’s (KBB) list of “10 Best Used Midsize SUVs Under $10,000.” In a review updated in 2019, KBB says the 2008 Highlander, the first iteration of the second generation, is larger and “boasts a softer, quieter highway ride and more usable third-row seat” compared to previous versions.

Upper trim levels have dual-zone climate control, leather front seats with multi-stage heat settings, a power moonroof, rear-seat entertainment, and navigation. The standard engine, a 3.5-liter V6 with 270 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, gets 24 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg in town. There is also a hybrid option with increased fuel economy. Four-wheel drive is optional on all trim levels and only dropped the fuel economy by 1 mpg in each scenario. 

How many miles will a 2008 Toyota Highlander last? 

With iSeeCars reporting that nearly one-in-eight Toyota Highlanders remain registered to the original owners for 15 or more years (second only to the Toyota Prius), it’s conceivable that some of those vehicles continue to provide reliable transportation while approaching 300,000 miles. KBB lists the “Fair Purchase Price” of a used 2008 Toyota Highlander Limited with 300,000 miles at $9,359. 

How reliable is a 2008 Highlander? 

J.D. Power gives the 2008 Toyota Highlander above-average scores for “Quality and Reliability,” “Driving Experience,” and “Resale,” based on input from 2008 Highlander owners. J.D. Power’s “Best Midsize SUV of 2008” ranking lists the 2008 Highlander in a three-way tie for first place with the 2008 Toyota 4Runner and the 2008 Ford Edge. 

The most common owner-reported complaints to Consumer Reports involving the 2008 Highlander include issues with the in-car electronics, such as the backup camera image flickering and the CD player locking up. Complaints for minor engine issues range from failed engine belts and idler pulleys to required software updates. Reports of significant engine trouble include required cylinder-head replacement.  

What is the best year for a used Toyota Highlander?

Second-generation Toyota Highlanders range from 2008 to 2013 model years. The 2007 Highlander received the fewest owner-reported issues of the first generation at Car Complaints. The 2009 model year is the best year for second-generation Highlanders, with 2008 receiving the most second-generation complaints. However, the 2008’s 77 owner-reported issues received by Car Complaints span multiple problem sources without indicating a systemic cause of failure. 

Ultimately it appears that any year is a good year for a used Highlander except for the 2003 model year with recurring complaints of stripped engine bolt threads and the 2015 model year with multiple reports of “uncomfortable seats.”


U.S. News Picks 1 Toyota Highlander Model Year as the Best Used Midsize SUV for Teens