Bought a 1 year old rental through a dealer - $20K less than new price. Alternatives considered were mini-vans (domestic and Japanese), other mid size Japanese SUVs. Though reputation was strong for Toyota, I found Highlander was very cheap feeling and felt I was doing better here. After 4 months with the vehicle, I am very happy with it. No problems, good fuel economy (highway) though nasty when driving only short distances in town with a cold engine. Traction and control in Canadian winter is amazing, easily able to take logging roads that left other vehicles stranded - with barely a reaction from the traction control system.
Winter driving drive comfort 2" receiver and 7 pin hookup 3rd row seat fits me fine (5' 10")
Highlander gets 50% better combined mileage with a smaller and more powerful engine (3.5 litre Lexus engine in the 2008). Ford could get some improvements there.