toyota cars, crossovers, and trucks

NewsCarsEnginesFutureSite Contents

Toyota Engines

Also see the dedicated 20R, 4A-F, and 5M-GE pages, and the transmissions page.

2.7 liter four-cylinder (introduced 2008-09)

In mid-January 2009, the Toyota Highlander had a new 2.7 liter four-cylinder engine, with EPA gas mileage of 20 mpg city, 27 highway. It was rated at 187 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, with 186 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm, on regular gas. To do this, the 2.7 used a dual intake manifold and dual variable valve timing to control phasing of both the intake and exhaust camshafts; that also broadened the torque curve. With its six-speed automatic transmission, it had a 0-60 mph time of 9.7 seconds. The engine was later used on a wider variety of cars.

3.5 liter V6

Used in the Camry, Venza, Highlander, Sienna, and other V6 applications; power-boosted for the 2017 cars.

Venza V6

Engine model

Toyota engine chart courtesy of Matt Yi, 1979-1989

Four Cylinders

Valve DriveYearDisp.
2TZ-FE       (2.4 l)   
Valve DriveYearDisp.

Six cylinders

Valve DriveYearDisp.
5M-GE DOHC 2 belt 82-86 2759 145-161 155+ 3.27 3.35 8.8:1
7A-FE DOHC 4 belt 1993-?            
7MGE DOHC 4 belt 1988 2954 200@6000 185@4800 3.27 3.58 9.2:1
7MGTE DOHC 4 belt 1988 2954 230@5600 240@4000 3.27 3.58 8.4:1

20R engine introduced 1975 and described on this page.

The 5A-F was produced through 1987; the 5A-FE (fuel injected) introduced the same year and was used in the seventh generation Corollas from 1995 to 1998 (overseas models only). The thermostat was oddly located on the inlet side, under the distributor.

mr2 engine

Thanks for the update, Caleb Lounds.

Toyota engines by car (Matt Yi), 1979-1989

Model Year Engine
Camry 83-86 2SE
Celica 79-80 20R
Celica 81-86 22R,RE
Corolla 79 3K-C
Corolla 79 2T-C
Corolla 80-82 3T-C
Corolla 83-86 4A-C,LC
Corolla 85-87 4AGE
Corolla 88-?? 4AFE
Cressida 79 4M
Cressida 80 4M-E
Cressida 81-82 5M-E
Cressida 83-86 5M-GE
MR2 85-89 4AGE
Starlet 81-82 4K-C
Starlet 83-84 4K-E
Supra 79.5-80 4ME
Supra 81 5ME
Supra 82-86 5MGE
Tercel 80-86 1A,3A,AC

Toyota uses the first digit in their engine designations to indicate the engine's generation. For example, the old 4A-FE was the fourth generation A engine. The 1ZZ-FE is the first generation ZZ engine.

supra engine

The 1983 Cressida and Celica Supra were the first cars to get a new 2.8 liter straight-six. This modern powerplant had twin cams and electronic fuel injection, and produced a hefty-for-the-time 150 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 159 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. In the Supra, it was paired with a five-speed manual transmission. By 1988, the Supra had 3.0 liter twin-cam V6 with 24 valves and a total output of 200 horsepower; an intercooled turbocharger option boosted that to 230 horsepower.

The ordinary Celica had to make due with the 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine also used by Toyota trucks in that year, with 100 horsepower and 130 lb-feet of torque. The standy 2.4 was fuel-injected starting in 1983. By 1988, the Celica’s GT-S engine was putting out a full 135 horsepower (from a 2.0 liter twin cam 16 valve engine), with an optional 190 horsepower in the All-Trac Turbo - an all wheel drive turbocharged version of the Celica that predated the Subaru WRX by quite a few years. That level of power was V8 territory in those days.

The first generation Celica (and other cars) used the confusingly-labelled 18R 2.0 liter engine, which produced 86-89 hp, and 105-107 lb-feet of torque; an 18R-C variant was sold in California from 1971 to 1974, producing 97 horsepower and 106 lb-ft of torque. The 18R displaced 1968 cc, and had a bore and stroke of 3.48 x 3.15 inches (88.5 x 80 mm).

The 20R and 4A-GE engine

Introduced in 1975 in the Celica and Corona, the 20R engine used a hemispherical head design for optimal fuel-burning and power generation at high rpm; it was however designed to meet and beat emissions standards as well, without the power-sapping add-ons other manufacturers were resorting to. The 20R was a 2.2 liter (2189cc) single-overhead cam (SOHC) design.

The 1.6 liter 4A-GE was a higher-compression (9.4:1 rather than 9.0:1), electronically fuel injected, 16-valve version of the 4A, with 112 horsepower and 97 lb-feet of torque. This latter engine used dual cams, a central spark plug (“semi-hemi”), and variable induction - a series of valves in the induction ports to improve intake velocity at low engine speed, andincrease airflow at higher speeds. An oil cooler was standard. Transmissions used with the 4A-GE were the close-ratio five-speed stick and the four-speed automatic.

4A-GE toyota engines

Corolla engines

In modern times, the Toyota Corolla has used two different engine families (shared with the Celica).

Corollas made from 1993 to 1997 had two engine choices, the 1.6 liter 4A-FE and the 1.8 liter 7A-FE.  The 1.8 was used in the GT-S. As emissions laws and tuning changed, horsepower figures moved around slightly, but not enough that the average person would notice: in 1993, horsepower was 110 hp at 5,600 rpm. By 1996, less peak power was available, but you could get it more quickly: 105 hp at 5,200 rpm. Torque went up by two foot-pounds in the same time, from 115 to 117.

fx16 engine

1998 models benefitted greatly from a new engine family. Most automakers in the late 1990s were able to create new engine families with more power, better economy, and lower emissions, partly because of new technologies (distributorless ignition, returnless sequential fuel injection, etc.) but also because of computer-aided design and modelling. Some, notably GM and Chrysler, took the same engine blocks and squeezed large new chunks of power out of them, without losing efficiency.

In Toyota's case, the 1ZZ-FE engine combined substantially more power and economy with cleaner burning of fuel. It debuted with 120 hp (at 5,200 rpm) and 122 lb-ft of torque (at 4,400 rpm), which means that it not only makes more power than its predecessor, but does not need to be revved as high to do it. The result is a very fast car that feels peppy at all engine speeds. (Currently, the engine is producing 130 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque, for reasons we will go over later on).

The ZZ is an aluminum block engine which uses iron cylinder liners - a common design now. The deck is open, which saves weight and allows for greater precision in construction, also results in less cylinder strength, really only a problem for those who want to turbocharge or supercharge their engines with a high degree of boost. On the other hand, the bottom end has been strengthened with a full-size main bearing girdle.

Like the ol' Chrysler slant six, the 1ZZ-FE has a fairly long stroke, which is one reason it makes good torque. The bore is 79 mm, the stroke is 91.5 mm. There are two cams and 16 valves (four per cylinder).

The heads are designed to provide knock resistance while keeping combustion efficient. Their tapered squish area design, which forces a mixture of fuel and air at the spark plug, allows for a high compression ratio of 10:1 - on regular gas.

The valve seats, rather than being pressed into the head, are sprayed on, allowing them to be much thinner than standard valve seats - the result is efficient transfer of heat through the valve seats instead of the valve stems. This allows the valve stems to be relatively thin and light, so that the valve springs can be lighter, reducing wasted power and allowing for thinner cam lobes. This also means that the twin cams can be driven by a quiet, compact single-roller timing chain.

The fuel injection is returnless (a technique pioneered by Chrysler), with a pressure regulator in the gas tank, to reduce fire risk and make combustion more efficient.

starlet engine

The exhaust manifold is short, with the catalytic converter very close to the engine. To allow this, the aluminum intake manifold was moved to the front of the engine. Long intake runners were used to increase low-rev power. Toyota uses extruded aluminum, which is smoother than cast aluminum, and made the runners fairly wide.

2000 saw the introduction of the next generation ZZ engine, which includes variable valve technology ("VVT-i" for Toyota, "VTEC" for Honda, and there are others) to raise power by 5 hp while increasing fuel efficiency by about two or three miles per gallon.

2003 saw yet another major advancement, this one in gas mileage. Though the 2003 Corolla added both weight and a little horsepower - another 5 hp, making it 130 in total with 125 lb-ft of torque - gas mileage actually increased, thanks to direct injection. This system, long used by Mitsubishi in smaller engines, is even more efficient than the now-common sequential multiple-port electronic fuel injection, eliminating one more step in the process where fuel can fall out of suspension - essentially squirting it directly into the cylinder. Toyota is the first company to put direct injection into a standard-price "large" four-cylinder engine.

This Toyota-focused site copyright © 2000-2020 Zatz LLC.