JDM 2008 Toyota Vanguard SUV

The Japanese company has just presented its new 2008 Toyota Vanguard mid-size crossover SUV. Previously available only on Australian and North American markets, this longer (plus some four inches over the standard) wheelbase version of the 2005 Toyota RAV4 will finally be offered for the Japanese customers, too, albeit with a more appealing exterior styling.
The article was updated in December, 2017 with information regarding the vehicle’s longterm reliability and typical problems (see below.)

Positioned somewhere between the RAV4 and the Highlander and competing against the Acura RDX and BMW X3 compact crossovers, the Vanguard is 179.9 inches long and about 66.9 inches wide and may be ordered in either five- or five-plus-two seating formula.

2008 Toyota Vanguard SUV

I’m afraid, you just can’t call a seven-seater a car, which is 20 inches shorter than, say, Audi Q7 or Mercedes Benz GL-Class, which are not real seven-seaters themselves.

The 2008 Toyota Vanguard is available with a choice of two engines. The smaller is an inline four-banger.

Having a displacement of 2.4 liters, the engine will drink only 12.6 liters per 100 km, which is about 29.6 mpg. More powerful 3.5-liter V6 is combined with 5 Super ECT and is mated with Active Torque Control 4WD transmission.

Among available goodies are LED tail lights, steering-assisted stability control, keyless entry and satellite navigation.

In Japan, the 2008 Toyota Vanguard will be available at a price, ranging from $23,000 to $30,000.

It is not yet clear, whether the car ever reaches Europe, but if it will, expect it come under the Lexus brand (and with a Lexus price tag, too).

2008 Toyota Vanguard (interior, seating arrangement)

Longterm reliability and typical problems

The vehicle was first offered at the time when “Toyota” was synonymous with “impeccable reliability and build quality,” so it is no wonder that the 2008 Vanguard enjoys a reputation of an extremely reliable SUV. If your daily commute includes a healthy chunk of ill-repaired roads, you may find yourself replacing suspension bushes and, what’s even more irritating (and hurting your wallet,) shock absorbers more often than a person owning a lighter family sedan, but that looks like a small price to pay for good handling and relatively fast cornering.

If you consider yourself an “aggressive” driver, you may soon -given that you’ve the SUV used- find that the engine starts to burn oil: this problem usually develops after the engine crosses the 100,000 miles / 150,000 kilometers line, but can be cured by replacing the piston rings.

The transmission is very sturdy and, unless you are particularly resilient in destroying it, will probably not cause any headaches, just don’t forged to change the oil at recommended intervals.

Some owners may experience problems with steering racks, but that usually happens by 40,000 miles and, again, if you bought the car used, there is a good chance that the car’s previous owner already did this. But still, don’t forget to make sure that the component is alright in order to get some bargaining advantage.

2008 Toyota Vanguard (interior)
2008 Toyota Vanguard (interior, dashboard)
2008 Toyota Vanguard (interior, cargo area)

Photos: Toyota

See also: 2008 Toyota Highlander hybrid