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2004 Engine Epic - Toyota Engines

A look at the most desirable modern engines from Toyota...

By Michael Knowling

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For many years, Toyota has been one of Japan’s biggest car manufacturers – and amongst the biggest in the world. A pioneer of twin-cam technology in the mid ‘80s, Toyota has given us many ultra-desirable turbo engines, supercharged engines and VVTL-i (variable valve timing and lift) screamers. All have a reputation for strength and cutting-edge design.

Toyota engines are identified by a fairly simple code system. The first number in a Toyota engine name represents the generation of the bottom-end design (a high number being a more recent design) and the first letter identifies the engine series. A dash separates the engine code suffixes. Here’s what each letter in the engine code stands for...


G – Performance based twin-cam head design

F – Economy based narrow angle twin-cam head design

T – Turbocharged

Z – Supercharged

U – Japanese emission standards

Now let’s look at the engines.

Toyota V12s...

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In recent years Toyota has released a V12 engine for its Japanese-market top-of-the-range Century limousine. Coded the 1GZ-FE, this V12 engine displaces 5.0-litres (the largest capacity engine ever produced by Toyota) and uses DOHC, 4-valve-per-cylinder breathing with VVT-I variable inlet cam timing. With a 10.5:1 compression ratio, this beast generates the Japanese regulation 206kW output (at 5200 rpm) together with a massive 481Nm (at 4000 rpm).

A rare engine - but worth searching for!

Toyota V8s...

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The second largest capacity engine produced by Toyota is a 4.7-litre V8. Designed for high-torque use in heavy off-roaders, the 2UZ-FE is one of the very few Toyota engines to use an iron block. In the current Japanese-spec Landcruiser, this big 32-valve V8 is rated at a surprisingly low 173kW at 4800 rpm. Torque, however, is a strong 422Nm at 3600 rpm. The Australian-spec version (fitted to the Landcruiser and Lexus LX470) makes 170kW and 410Nm.

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Next comes the all-alloy 4.3-litre V8 as fitted to the Japanese-market Celsior and latest Soarer. The 3UZ-FE 4.3-litre bent-eight uses DOHC, 4-valve heads, variable cam timing and induction system, twin knock sensors and 10.5:1 compression. It makes the same 206kW as the V12, though at higher revs – 5600 rpm. Peak torque is 430Nm at just 3400 rpm.

Note that the Australian-delivered Lexus LS430 is rated at virtually same power but with 13Nm less torque. On the other hand, the local Soarer SC430 rips out 210kW and 419Nm.

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From the same all-alloy engine family is the smaller bore 1UZ-FE V8. Displacing 4.0-litres and with the same 10.5:1 compression ratio, the current 1UZ-FE VVTi (as fitted to the Japanese Crown and others) is also rated at 206kW. Peak power arrives at 6000 rpm, while peak torque (402Nm) can be felt at 4000 rpm.

Early versions of the 1UZ-FE with 10.0:1 compression and without VVTi (as pictured) were rated at around 190kW at 5400 rpm.

Back before the days of the UZ-series V8, Toyota’s flagship big-banger was the 5V-EU. Released in the early ‘80s, this 4.0-litre V8 is reputedly very similar in design to a Ford Windsor. Using simple 2-valve alloy heads, 8.6:1 compression and early EFI, this engine was good for 121kW at 4400 rpm. Another rare engine.

Toyota Sixes...

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Toyota’s most potent 6-cylinder engine is arguably one of the best in the word – the 2JZ-GTE is something to get excited about. Fitted to the late model Supra and current Japanese-market Aristo, the 2JZ-GTE is a 3.0-litre straight-six with a 8.5:1 compression ratio and DOHC, 24-valve head. Hung off the side is a complex sequential twin-turbo and air-to-air intercooler arrangement that gives this engine an extraordinary spread of grunt. The latest VVTi version is listed with a Nissan-whipping 206kW at 5600 rpm and 451Nm at 3600 rpm. Earlier versions from 1993 – without VVTi – are rated with the same power but with ‘only’ 440Nm at 3600 rpm. Still, a stonker of an engine!

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One step down from the giant killing 2JZ-GTE is the smaller 2.5-litre 1JZ-GTE. The latest version of this engine – which is essentially a shorter stroke version of the 2JZ – comes with VVT-I, 9.0:1 static compression but only a single turbocharger. The VVT-i 1JZ-GTE cranks out the regulation 206kW at 6200 rpm with 378Nm at an incredibly low 2400 rpm. This is a 2.5-litre engine that drives like a V8!

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Note that earlier versions of the 1JZ-GTE (as fitted to the majority of grey import Soarers) are very different to the later ones. These earlier examples use a simultaneous twin-turbo system and are void of VVT-i – output remains at 206kW but with a less impressive 363Nm at 4800 rpm.

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The next most potent Toyota six is the atmo version of the 2JZ 3.0-litre – the 2JZ-GE. Fitted to vehicles such as the Lexus GS300, the 2JZ-GE uses VVT-i and a 10.5:1 compression ratio. Peak output is up to 166kW together with 298Nm of torque. Certain other versions of this engine are rated with less power.

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In earlier days, Toyota’s flagship straight-six was the 7M-GTE as fitted to the 1980s MA70 Supra Turbo. The 7M-GTE is a 3.0-litre six with DOHC, 24-valves, EFI and a single intercooled turbo. The Japanese-rated output for this engine is 179kW, while Australian-delivered examples make 173kW – both at 5600 rpm. Torque is up to 344Nm.

Note than an atmo version of this engine – the 7M-GE – was also released in Australia. Without the assistance of a turbocharger, the 7M-GE is rated at 142kW.

Also in the ‘80s, Toyota released the 1G-series straight-six onto the Japanese market. In naturally aspirated form, the 1G 2.0-litre DOHC, 24-valve EFI six is no powerhouse – but the twin-turbo and supercharged variants don’t rate badly...

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The simultaneous twin-turbo version of the 1G – the 1G-GTE – uses either a water-to-air or air-to-air intercooler depending on the model and can generate anywhere up to 154kW at 6200 rpm. The earliest models were 136kW.

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The positive displacement supercharged 1G-GZE drives quite differently to the twin-turbo stablemate. Grunty down low, the 1G-GZE churns out 225Nm of torque at 3600 rpm but a surprisingly meagre 125kW peak power. There is no intercooler fitted and the static compression ratio is 8.0:1 (0.5 lower than the twin-turbo 1G engine).

And – although largely unrecognised – Toyota also offers some desirable V6 engines...

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The most powerful V6 Toyota engine can be found in the current Prado off-roader. Displacing 4.0-litres, the 1GR-FE engine uses a VVT-i DOHC, 24-valve induction system and a 10.0:1 compression ratio. Max power is 179kW at 5200 rpm and there’s 376Nm at 3800 rpm (figures quoted from the Australian-spec Prado).

Earlier Toyota Prados came with an optional 5VZ-FE 3.4-litre V6. In Australia, these engines are listed at 132kW.

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Not far behind is the 3MZ-FE 3.3-litre V6, as fitted to the newly released Kluger and RX330 SUV. This motor uses DOHC, 24-valve breathing with VVT-i, 10.8:1 compression, variable induction system, twin knock sensors and more. The result – an impressive 172kW at 5600 rpm along with 328Nm at 3600 rpm.

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In the passenger car range, the pokiest Toyota-designed V6 is the 3.0-litre 1MZ-FE in the current Lexus ES300. This sweet-as engine features VVT-i and has been tuned to deliver 158kW and 299Nm in the mid-size FWD Lexus. The same engine – but without VVT-i - is also used in the current Avalon and top-line Camry, where it is rated at 145kW and 284Nm (at 5200 and 4400 rpm respectively).

Note that, in Japan, the 1MZ-FE is rated at up to 162kW in the domestic market Estima van.

In the mid ‘90s Toyota Camry there was already a decent 3.0-litre DOHC, 24-valve V6 on the stage – the 3VZ-FE. With a 9.6:1 compression ratio, this engine made up to 139kW in the local Camry body. These are plentiful on the ground.

Another engine of interest is the Landcruiser’s now-discontinued 1FZ-FE straight-six. This big 4.5-litre DOHC, 24-valve six is a low rpm slogger but it certainly has potential – in factory guise it makes 165kW at 4600 rpm and 387Nm at 3600 rpm. Note that this engine uses a humungous 100mm bore!

Toyota Fours...

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The gun four-cylinder in Toyota's line-up is the competition proven 3S-GTE. This 2.0-litre DOHC, 16-valve turbo intercooled four debuted in 1987 and continued service until well after 2000. Early water-to-air intercooled versions with 8.5:1 compression (as fitted to the first ST165 Celica GT4) made only 136kW/240Nm, but later models with up to 9.0:1 compression reached as high as 191kW and 324Nm (as fitted to the ’00 Japanese market Caldina). There were several versions in between.

Note that a high-output non-turbo version of this 2.0-litre DOHC engine – the 3S-GE – is also available in the current Japanese market Altezza. With an 11.5:1 compression ratio, this example screams out 154kW at 7600 rpm and 216Nm at 6400 rpm! We can only assume this engine uses VVTL-i (variable valve timing and lift).

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The next most powerful Toyota four can be found in the current Celica and Corolla Sportivo (as they are called in Australia). Both vehicles share a 2ZZ-GE 1.8-litre DOHC, 16-valve engine with VVTL-i (variable valve timing and lift) and 11.5:1 compression. These tuning techniques allow a maximum of 140kW at 7600 rpm with 180Nm of torque at 6800 rpm. Curiously, the Australian delivered Corolla Sportivo apparently makes 1kW more.

One of Toyota’s most popular engines is the 4A-series. The most basic EFI model – from the mid ‘80s - is the Corolla SX’s 4A-GE with DOHC, 16-valves and a relatively tame 88kW. For the next model Corolla SX, the 4A-GE copped higher compression and improved top-end breathing – this yielded a much more impressive 100kW, though up at 6600 rpm. These 100kW 4A-GEs can be easily identified by the red writing on the valve cover.

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Interestingly, Toyota never gave the 4A engine a turbocharger. Instead, it received a smaller capacity version of the 1G-GZE six-cylinder’s supercharger together with an air-to-air intercooler. The supercharged 4A – the 4AG-ZE – was released only in Japan and makes up to 123kW at the flywheel. A wide spread of torque was this engine's forte.

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For non-forced induction fans, there is also a highly-tuned 20-valve quad-throttle body version of the 4A engine – the 4A-E 20-valve. With its extra inlet flows, this engine has to rev to 7400 to make 119kW. This is a favourite in buggy classes and clubman racers.

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You might also be interested in the engine fitted to the current Corolla and MR2 (aka MRS) – the 1ZZ-FE 1.8-litre. This DOHC, 16-valve engine uses VVT-i and generates up to 103kW and 171Nm.

The current Avensis is also equipped with a pretty grunty 2.0-litre four – the 1AZ-FE. With DOHC, 16-valves and VVT-i this engine is rated at 110kW and 192Nm. The current Tarago uses a similar style engine – its local 2AZ-FE 2.4-litre DOHC VVT-i motor makes 115kW/221Nm. Note that the same 2AZ-FE engine is used in the new Camry, which is rated at a slightly lower 112kW/218Nm.

And then there’s the little 1NZ-FE 1.5-litre DOHC, VVT-i engine in the Australian-market Echo Sportivo – it makes a zippy 80kW/142Nm.

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An old orphan engine that may tickle your fancy is the 3T-GTE 1.8-litre DOHC turbo engine, which was available in Japanin the mid ‘80s. This engine topped around 125kW. Another old turbo engine (with an intercooler) is the 2T-TELU 1.3-litre SOHC, 12-valve four; fitted to the EP71 Starlet Turbo S, this little motor put out 77kW/179Nm. The next model EP92 Starlet GT turbo received a 4E-FTE 1.3-litre DOHC turbo engine cranking out 100kW/157Nm. This is another popular aftermarket tuning engine.

Toyota Performance Motors at a Glance...


1GZ-FE 5.0 litre



3UZ-FE 4.3 litre


1UZ-FE 4.0 litre VVT-i


1UZ-FE 4.0 litre


2UZ-FE 4.7 litre


5V-EU 4.0 litre




2JZ-GTE 3.0 litre twin turbo


1JZ-GTE 2.5 litre twin turbo/single turbo VVT-i


2JZ-GE 3.0 litre


1GR-FE 4.0 litre


7M-GTE 3.0 litre turbo


3MZ-FE 3.3 litre


1FZ-FE 4.5 litre


1MZ-FE 3.0 litre VVT-i


1G-GTE 2.0 litre twin turbo

136 - 154kW

1MZ-FE 3.0 litre


7M-GE 3.0 litre


3VZ-FE 3.0 litre


5VZ-FE 3.4 litre


1G-GZE 2.0 litre supercharged



3S-GTE 2.0 litre turbo

136 - 191kW

3S-GE 2.0 litre (11.5:1 CR)


2ZZ-GE 1.8-litre


3T-GTE 1.8 litre turbo

125kW approx

4A-GZE 1.6 litre supercharged


4A-E 1.6 litre 20-valve


2AZ-FE 2.4 litre


1AZ-FE 2.0 litre


1ZZ-FE 1.8 litre


4E-FTE 1.3 litre turbo


4A-GE 1.6 litre


1NZ-FE 1.5 litre


2T-TELU 1.3 litre turbo





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