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Top 10 Toyota Engines of All Time

Aaron Bonk
Mar 23, 2016
Photographers: Toyota, Super Street Archives

Toyota's got a deep history of turning out highly desirable engines, from the factory-boosted MR2 mill you're familiar with to the fabled GT-One Le Mans engines you'll only find in a museum. In no particular order, here is Toyota's top 10.

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2JZ-GTE

MOST OBVIOUS PLACE TO FIND ONE: '93-'98 Supra Turbo

THE NUMBERS: 320 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque

WHY YOU WANT ONE: The MKIV Supra owes its success to the inline-six-cylinder 2JZ-GTE underneath its hood. For more than two decades, the 2JZ's nearly indestructible nature's been proven on applications pushing out as much as 2,000 hp. The brute of a cast-iron block makes all of this possible and means as much as 750 hp can be yours with very few mods. (This will decimate all. – SD)

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1JZ-GTE

MOST OBVIOUS PLACE TO FIND ONE: JDM '96-'01 Chaser

THE NUMBERS: 280 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque

WHY YOU WANT ONE: You thought the 2JZ was Toyota's star engine and you're mostly right. Find the right 1JZ, though, and you've got a close second. Third-generation models (available on Japanese-only Chasers, Soarers, and Mark IIs) feature a smaller-displacement, 2.5L, BEAMS architecture, VVT-i, and a single CT15B turbo, which allows for a whole lot more room when cramming one into, say, that Lexus SC or GS engine bay.

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4A-GE

MOST OBVIOUS PLACE TO FIND ONE: '84-'87 Corolla GT-S

THE NUMBERS: 112 hp and 97 lb-ft of torque

WHY YOU WANT ONE: The 4A-GE's 112 hp might not sound like a whole lot but, historically, this engine matters. It was one of the first fuel-injected, four-cylinder powerplants to feature a twin-cam, 16-valve layout, and it was loosely based off of Cosworth's legendary BDA (Belt Drive, A Type) series of engines. Nearly three decades later and the aftermarket continues to support Toyota's classic four-banger as much as ever.

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3S-GTE

MOST OBVIOUS PLACE TO FIND ONE: '91-'99 MR2 Turbo

THE NUMBERS: 200 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque

WHY YOU WANT ONE: Toyota's factory-turbocharged 3S-GTE is to MR2s and Celica All-Tracs what the 2JZ-GTE is to the Supra. Toyota produced four generations' worth of 3S-GTEs, the last of which bangs out about 260 hp, but it's the second-gen version us North Americans are most familiar with. The 2.0L four-cylinder mill features all sorts of high-end engineering, like piston-cooling oil squirters, an air-to-air intercooler, and a twin-entry turbine housing that tuners wouldn't recognize the importance of for another decade.

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4U-GSE / FA20

MOST OBVIOUS PLACE TO FIND ONE: '13-'16 Scion FR-S

THE NUMBERS: 197 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque

WHY YOU WANT ONE: Toyota and Subaru's joint-effort boxer engine isn't the most powerful four-cylinder either company's ever made, but that doesn't make it any less special. Call it a hodgepodge of Toyota and Subie technology if you want, where its square configuration and Yamaha-derived heads are very much Toyota-like, and its boxer configuration is so obviously Subaru. AVCS (Active Valve Control System) on both camshafts, a lightweight aluminum block and cylinder heads that, together with all of their internals, result in a whopping 12.5:1 compression ratio, are partly what make the FA20 such a capable powerplant.

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1LR-GUE

MOST OBVIOUS PLACE TO FIND ONE: '11-'12 Lexus LFA

THE NUMBERS: 552 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque

WHY YOU WANT ONE: You'll never own one, but that doesn't mean you can't appreciate the LFA's 4.8L V-10. Despite its displacement, the engine spins to 9,000 rpm. Its pistons are forged and its rods titanium. Dry-sump oiling is standard, as are individual throttle bodies for each cylinder. This is no ordinary layout of 10 cylinders, either. Toyota ditched the whole 90-degree V-10 premise that nearly every other automaker says is how it ought to be done in favor of a 72-degree layout that results in a better-balanced rotating assembly and fewer pounds. Not that any of that matters to you and your Celica, though.

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7M-GTE

MOST OBVIOUS PLACE TO FIND ONE: '87-'92 Supra Turbo

THE NUMBERS: 232 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque

WHY YOU WANT ONE: Don't kid yourself into thinking the third-generation Supra's 7M-GTE is anything like the 2JZ, but it might've just set the precedent for the forthcoming MKIV Supra's unbelievable powerplant, and for that it ought to be credited. The factory turbocharged and intercooled inline engine, for a while, was the most powerful Toyota offered and is really what ultimately severed the Supra from its Celica heritage.

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2ZZ-GE

MOST OBVIOUS PLACE TO FIND ONE: '00-'05 Celica GT-S

THE NUMBERS: 180 hp and 133 lb-ft of torque

WHY YOU WANT ONE: The 2ZZ-GE with its VVTL-i valvetrain was Toyota's response to more than a decade of Honda and VTEC. Sort of. Although the 2ZZ doesn't receive the same sort of support from the aftermarket and its capabilities fall a bit short when compared to, say, Honda's K20A Type R engine, in stock form it's a worthy hunk of metal. Designed by Yamaha, the 2ZZ-GE features a lofty 11.5:1 compression ratio, an unprecedented, all-aluminum design, and the sort of balanced bore-to-stroke ratio that won't make you feel guilty revving it to redline all day long.

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R36V

MOST OBVIOUS PLACE TO FIND ONE: '98-'99 GT-One

THE NUMBERS: 608 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque

WHY YOU WANT ONE: You can't buy Toyota's twin-turbocharged, eight-cylinder, 3.6L LMGTP engine, but that doesn't make it any less special. Built in limited quantities for the Le Mans racers it was designed for as well as for the two road-going versions the rules called for, the R36V is made up of a carbon-fiber block that's derived from Toyota's Group C cars of the 1980s. None of this made Toyota particularly famous during its late-'90s Le Mans stint, but it was all good for a top speed of 236 mph and 0-60 mph sprints in just 3.2 seconds.

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3M

MOST OBVIOUS PLACE TO FIND ONE: '67-'70 2000GT

THE NUMBERS: 150 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque

WHY YOU WANT ONE: The straight-six that powered what many consider to be the world's first Japanese supercar might not seem all that impressive today, but 45 years ago it was the stuff of legends. Toyota began to solidify its longstanding relationship with Yamaha here, where the company took Toyota's preexisting Crown engine and made it better with a twin-cam head and three, two-barrel Solex carbs.

By Aaron Bonk
365 Articles

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