DETROIT -- The redesigned 2008 Toyota Highlander scores No. 1 on the Consumer Reports list of top mid-size, three-row SUVs, but it doesn't get an automatic Recommended designation by the magazine in its latest issue.
The Highlander is the first vehicle to be hit by the magazines Oct. 16 decision to not automatically award the Recommended designation to Toyota vehicles.
The 2008 Highlander scored better than 13 competing mid-size, three-row SUVs to take the segments top spot in the magazines January ratings, but it was not officially recommended because we recommend only models with sufficient data to predict average or better reliability, David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, said in a statement.
The Highlander received high marks for its ride comfort, quiet interior, refinement, power, fuel economy and second-row seat. It was criticized for a light steering feel, a lack of versatility in the third-row seat and for not being very agile.
In the past, Consumer Reports said it automatically gave the Recommended moniker to new and redesigned Toyotas based on the companys excellent reliability history. If reliability of Toyota vehicles returns to excellent levels for a sustained period, Consumer Reports said it will resume automatic recommendations, according to a press release.The redesigned Highlander, nonetheless, finished at the top the list with a rating of 81.
Other vehicles tested in the January issue were the Buick Enclave, Ford Taurus X and Subaru Tribeca, whose ratings along with the Highlander were added to the magazines existing rankings of 10 other midsize, three-row SUVs.
The Tribeca and Taurus X got the Recommended nod, even though scores came in at 70 for the Tribeca and 75 for the Taurus X. The Buick Enclave also scored 75 in the latest round of testing.
Below the top-ranked Highlander, the Enclave placed sixth, the Taurus X took seventh and the Tribeca came in eleventh in the updated tests.
Other existing top ratings included the Acura MDX at No. 2 with a score of 80. The Honda Pilot was No. 3 with a 79 rating.