As a veteran car maker, Toyota has made some of the most awesome engines in the automotive industry. From the humble 3A-U engine to the bonkers 2JZ, the Japanese carmaker has indeed made a rather large mark when it comes to engineering and developing their car’s powerplants.
Even today, engines made by Toyota are known to be durable, reliable, and dependable. This is the reason why Toyotas don’t depreciate that much in the used market, and why Toyota-made performance engines are always sought after by performance car builders.
The Supra Mark IV's 2JZ-GTE is especially sought after
So, to school you on Toyota’s engine making track record, here is a list of the most significant Toyota engines ever made.
1. 3A-U engine
If you’re the type who likes owner type jeeps, then you’ll probably have heard of the Toyota 1.5-liter 3A-U inline-4 engine. It’s small, simple, and fuel-efficient. It’s so simple that one can fix this eight-valve SOHC mill in the backyard with minimal tools, and without the use of an engine hoist or an engine stand.
The 3A-U is small, simple, but reliable
At the most, the 3A-U can make a maximum of 81 horsepower and 118 Nm of torque. That’s minuscule compare to other engines on this list but that’s alright since it was mostly used on a lot of affordable and small Toyota models like the AE70 Corolla (1979 to 1983), and the Corona (1982-1987) for the Japanese domestic market (JDM). That said, they were sold in huge numbers.
Later in the late 1980s, many Filipinos began to acquire surplus 3A-U engines because they were so cheap. And yes, these were used on several vehicles locally like assembled public utility vehicles, and owner-type jeeps.
If you’re familiar with the Toyota AE86, then you’ll have heard of the 4A-GE inline-4 engine. It’s one of the many predecessors of the 3A-U engine, and it made a name for itself because of its performance and reliability. And yes, it’s one of the more popular engines to swap into Toyota Corolla models here in the Philippines. Be warned though, this project can get time-consuming and expensive.
The 4A-GE 20-valve "Silvertop"
In its most powerful form called the “Black Top,” the 4A-GE inline-4 20-valve powerplant can make up to 163 horsepower and 162 Nm of torque.. That kind of output isn’t special by today’s standards, but for most of the rear-wheel-drive models that used it, a stock 4A-GE, even the earlier versions that made less power, were enough to make them drift.
Apart from that, the 4A-GE’s stock individual throttle bodies provide great throttle response and more airflow. It also helps that the 4A-GE can be tuned to make even more horsepower at higher RPM bands. How high? Well check out this 11,000 RPM 4A-GE powered AE86:
11,000RPM Toyota Starlet On the Limit || 4AGE Swapped Monster Onboard
Of note, the 4A-GE is probably one of the most famous engines made by Toyota in partnership with Yamaha.
The 3S-GTE is an inline-4 2.0-liter engine that was made famous by the Toyota Celica. The most powerful version of this engine however, was found onboard the Caldina GT-T and GT-Four and it could make up to 256 horsepower and 324 Nm of torque.
Unfortunately, the 3S-GTE was never sold officially here in the Philippines. As such, examples of the said engine here are rare and expensive.
A 3S-GTE fished out of a Celica's engine bay
Do note though, that this doesn’t diminish the fact that back when the Celica SW20 was sold, it was one of the more affordable sports cars in the market, at least for the US and Japan.
The 2JZ-GTE inline-6 is probably the cream of the crop when it comes to Toyota’s engine-making track record. Why? Well, it's insanely strong to the point that some very determined tuners can make the six-cylinder mill produce up to 1,000 horsepower. In fact, one of the most powerful Toyota Supras ever tuned can make 1,700 horsepower thanks to a 98 mm turbocharger.
A modified and tuned 2JZ-GTE
That said, many people to this day, will go out of their way to get their hands on a Toyota Mark IV Supra. It’s also one of the main reasons as to why the said car’s prices have skyrocketed in recent years.
To sum it all up, it’s the epitome of “Toyota reliability.” As of this writing, Toyota still hasn’t developed something that can match the versatility and robustness of this engine.
From the scorching sands of the Sahara, to the harsh and cold wilds of the Yukon, one won’t fail to find a Toyota Land Cruiser running around and functioning as a daily driver. This alone speaks volumes regarding the reliability and durability of its 32-valve DOHC V8 diesel 1VD-FTV engine.
Some people prefer the older Land Cruiser engines, but the 1VD-FTV has oodles of torque
For those who aren’t in the know, the said engine can make 232 horsepower and 615 Nm of torque. So, while it isn’t the most powerful engine ever fitted to an off-road capable vehicle, it is fairly easy to maintain, and is fairly economical considering the Land Cruiser J200’s weight and the engine’s torque output.
As such, it is one of the main reasons as to why people still favor the Land Cruiser J200 despite the fact that there are already tons of similar choices available in the market right now.
>>> Related: The Top 5 greatest Toyota cars ever made!!!
6. 1GD-FTV and 2GD-FTV
While we’re mostly listing performance engines (save of the 3A-U engine) on this list, we cannot ignore the significance of the 2.8-liter 1GD-FTV and the 2.4-liter 2GD-FTV inline-4 diesel engines. They’ve been around for decades now, and they’re found on most versions of the recognizable IMV-platform models. We’re referring, of course, to the Fortuner, the Innova, and the Hilux.
So yes, like most Toyota engines, these two have proven themselves to be reliable, fairly economical, and sufficiently powerful. And suffice to say, it has more than propped up Toyota’s presence here in Asia, and it’s definitely the two of the most popular diesel engines in the Philippines right now.
The 1.6-liter G16E-GTS is very different from the other engines on this list. It has the least cylinders numbering only at three, and it is also the newest one.
The G16E-GTS is the future of combustion engines
Why is it a significant engine for Toyota? Well, this engine is currently the most powerful inline-3 power plant in the world right now. Its current being used in the athletic Toyota GR Yaris, and it can produce up to 268 horsepower and 370 Nm of torque. This of course means that the said engine will see a lot of future applications since it produces a lot of power in relation to its well-packaged, tiny proportions.
8. 2NR-FE and 1NR-FE
The two most popular gasoline inline-4 engines in the Philippines right now is probably the 1.3-liter 2NR-FE and the 1.5-liter 1NR-FE. So, like the two engines on the IMV models, these are sold in great numbers due to being used in several popular Toyota models. This includes the Toyota Vios and the Toyota Yaris. The NR series, specifically the NR-VE engines, are even present on the Avanza as well as on the Rush.
So yes, these two engines are probably the backbone of Toyota as far as the Asian market is concerned. In 2019 alone, Toyota Motor Philippines sold as much as 33,181 units of the Vios, accounting for a quarter of the company’s total passenger car sales that year. As such, it definitely deserves to be mentioned as one of the most significant Toyota engines ever made.
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Cesar G.B. Miguel