The new Highlander sports some distinctive exterior design cues, including the same trapezoidal snout as Toyota's brawny Tundra pickup truck and two sharp creases down the length of the hood.
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Third on our list of destinations was the Highlander Motel in Oakland. According to its sign, the establishment offers great rates, free HBO, and free local calls.
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The last stop on our Test the Tech journey was the Highlander Laundromat in Albany, Calif., just north of Berkeley.
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Our first stop was Highlander Apartments in Sunnyvale, about 40 miles south of San Francisco.
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With its smart key, leather seats, as-standard back-up camera, available voice-activated GPS navigation system, and Bluetooth hands-free calling, the Highlander borders on being a luxury SUV. The car's small, secondary LCD screen at the top of the central stack is the most unique aspect of its cabin tech.
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At all trim levels, the Highlander's stereo can support CD-R/RW discs encoded in MP3 and WMA formats. With these discs playing, full ID3 tag information is available for artists, track names, and albums.
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If you option up the navigation system on the 2008 Highlander, the number of disc slots behind the motorized drop-down LCD screen is reduced to four.
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Drivers wanting to play their digital audio players through the Highlander's stereo system can make use of the as-standard aux-in jack concealed behind a plastic door at the bottom of the central stack.
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To test the multipoint programmability of the Highlander's navigation system, we entered a series of Highlander-themed destinations on a single journey.
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The 2008 Highlander's optional GPS navigation system makes use of a huge in-dash touch-screen LCD display, which makes destination entry very user-friendly.
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The 2008 Highlander comes with third-row seating as standard, and features a design that enables the second-row center console to be removed to create a walkthrough to the back seats.
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The Highlander shows the suggested route in blue, reverting to a split screen when approaching an intersection to show drivers a detailed close-up of where to go.
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Those wanting to upgrade the Highlander's standard stereo have two options: a six-disc in-dash changer with satellite radio prewiring hooked up to the same six speakers; or a JBL-branded system with the same six-disc in-dash changer and satellite radio capability with the addition of three speakers (including a subwoofer) and Bluetooth hands-free calling.
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For those who want to use the third-row seating space for cargo, the Highlander comes with Toyota's "Center Stow" seat, which is stored under the two front seats.
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