Turbos, V8s, V10s & More: The Five Greatest Toyota Engines of All Time
A few weeks back we presented our picks for the five greatest Honda production (car) engines—and picking five from Honda's long lineage of race-bred motors was not easy.
Now we've decided to challenge ourselves once again and do the same thing for Toyota—an even larger company with an even greater and more diverse array of engines.
From the small, but potent turbocharged three-cylinder that powers the GR Yaris and GR Corolla to the V12 built for the ultra-luxurious Century, there aren't many motor configurations Toyota hasn't made. But here are our picks for the five best.
5. 2GR-FE V6
The 3.5L 2GR-FE and 2GR-FSE V6s are some of the most versatile and bulletproof Toyota engines of the modern era. And the V6 has powered everything from the Sienna minivan to the Lexus GS and even mid-engined exotics.
In its more pedestrian offerings like the Toyota Camry, the 2GR has proven to be a powerful and reliable workhorse that punches above its weight, making over 300 horsepower in most of its recent applications.
The 2GR is so good that Lotus chose it as the powerplant for its Evora sports car, and in the high end versions of the Evora, a supercharged version of the 2GR is pumping out over 400 horsepower.
4. 4A-GE I4
Honda might be the Japanese automaker known for its small displacement, high-revving four-cylinder engines loaded with racing DNA, and the 1.6 liter 4A-GE shows Toyota can play that game very well too. This twin-cam, fuel-injected four-cylinder was state of the art when it debuted in 1983.
Among the cars that used the 4A-GE were the iconic AE86, but also the first generation MR2. In addition to the original 16-valve NA version, Toyota later introduced a factory supercharged version as well as 20-valve version fed by factory individual throttle bodies.
Of course the 4A-GE isn't the only great naturally aspirated four-cylinder Toyota built. The 2.0 liter BEAMS 3SGE and 1.8 liter 2ZZ are also screamers that could easily deserve a spot on this list, but for us the earlier motor gets the nod.
3. 1UZ-FE V8
Next, we move from a high-winding four-cylinder to a much larger engine that's legendary for its smoothness, refinement and reliability: the 4.0L 1UZ-FE V8.
The tremendously expensive and ambitious development process of the first-generation Lexus LS400 is well known, and the new 1UZ-FE was born directly from that.
The 1UZ had everything you could want from a luxury car engine but with Toyota's famous reliability. And this velvety smooth V8 helped put Lexus on the map as a serious competitor to European luxury brands.
2. 1LR-GUE V10
While the rest of the engines on this are all mainstream offerings, this one is not. In fact it came in just one car and there were only 500 examples produced in total. That would be the 1LR-GUE V10 from the Lexus LFA supercar.
Like a lot of Toyota's great engines, Yamaha helped with the development of the LFA's V10, not just in terms of power but sound as well. It makes 552 horsepower from 4.8 naturally aspirated liters, has a 9,000 RPM redline and is one of the best sounding and quickest revving road car engines of all time.
The 1LR is truly a work of art, and both it and the LFA will forever be a testament to what's possible when a massive automaker throws out the rulebook and balance sheet when building a halo car.
1 2JZ-GTE I6
While it was a big challenge coming up with just five of Toyota's great engines to make up this list, picking the number one spot was actually pretty easy. Because it's gotta be the 2JZ.
When it debuted in the 1990s the 2JZ-GTE twin-turbocharged inline-six was pretty stout, and it helped make the fourth-generation Supra into an instant great. But it was in the decades that followed when the 2JZ became a legend of its own.
Today, some 20 years after the last production 2JZ-GTE was offered, the engine continues to be one of the definitive Japanese performance engines out there. Its reputation for making big power and making big power reliably is unmatched.
Built 2JZs can still be found in race cars and drift cars around the world, and its reputation is now boosting the value of Mk4 Supras into the stratosphere.
Hats off to Toyota for giving us so many great engines over the years, hopefully with a few more to come before we are all forced into electrics.
More From Driving Line
- Want to know more about an engine that may deserve a future spot on this list? Learn all about Toyota's wild turbocharged three-cylinder engine right here.