The Best Lexus Engines to Roll Out of the Factory
Less commonly discussed are the technological achievements made by the brand. Almost every engine made by Lexus since its inception have had 4-valve per cylinder heads, dual overhead cams and some form of variable valve timing technology. There is more than that going on with these Lexus engines, so let’s take a closer look at 7 of the brands’ best engines.
2JZ-GE 3.0L I-6
When Toyota/Lexus fanboys hear “2JZ,” they think Mark IV Supra and turbo power, but you mention the non-turbo 2J, people usually stop paying attention. That needn’t be the case when it comes to the 1st generation Lexus IS300 (XE10). Before Lexus’ F and F-sport existed, the IS300 was Lexus’ sports sedan, with a naturally aspirated 2JZ kicking up 240 horses and the option of a 5-speed manual transmission. The manual IS300s are still highly sought after little gems, as they make great daily drivers and have a borderline un-killable motor.
The 2GR is the current corporate V6 found in just about every model in the Lexus family. It’s smooth as silk, linear and surprisingly fuel efficient, there is no reason Lexus won’t keep this direct-injected 3.5L V6 around for the indefinite future. If our praise isn’t enough, it should be noted that the 2GR is a very flexible platform, and is easily swapped into other chassis. We mention this because the 2GR is Lexus’ current choice of engine for their sports cars like the Evora and Exige. They swap the intake manifold for a supercharger and have 400 reliable, Toyota/Lexus-sourced horsepower.
2UR-GSE 5.0L V8
Originally introduced with the IS-F, the 2UR is a high-revving, high-compression version of the UR family of engines. Currently used in the RC-F and GS-F, it features 12.3:1 compression, 467hp and 391 ft/lb of torque. Co-designed with Yamaha, it features variable valve timing (VVT-i) with electronic control of the intake cams, making this 32-valve V8 a technological powerhouse. The fact that it sounds absolutely thunderous at full throttle is just icing on the cake.
1LR-GUE 4.8L V10
As does seem to be the case with many of Lexus high-performance engines, the 1LR was co-developed by Yamaha. This engine, only used in the LFA, was a testament to naturally-aspirated race engines, with its 12:1 compression ratio, individual throttle bodies, and 9500rpm redline, it is an absolute screamer of an engine. Despite the high RPM peak power, it manages to produce 90% of peak torque (that’s 319 ft/lb) by 3700rpm, again, like a racing engine, where flat torque curves are crucial for pulling out of low-speed corners and making the engine response as predictable as possible. This compact, advanced 552hp V10 was a shooting star moment for Lexus, as it hasn’t been seen since the LFA’s production run ended in 2012. Can they please shove a variant of the 1LR into the next generation IS-F?!
1UZ-FE 4.0L V8
The 1UZ is the engine that started it all for the Lexus brand. In the mid-to-late 1980s, Toyota was investigating the American market for the possibility of starting a premium sub-brand. After looking around, they realized that a torque-rich, smooth V8 engine was the perfect choice for cruising our large Interstates and boulevards effortlessly for thousands of miles. When Lexus introduced the LS400, and indeed, the Lexus brand, to the American people, it was powered by the 1UZ. Its renowned durability is partly due to Toyota’s participation in Indycar racing with a 1UZ variant because it could withstand running full throttle for hundreds of miles reliably.
3MZ-Hybrid 3.3L V6
The 3MZ was the predecessor of the aforementioned 2GR V6, and again, was fitted to most of the Lexus line up at some point. The version of the 3MZ we care about is the 3.3L Hybrid, as seen in the RX330h. Love it or hate it, hybrid powertrains have become increasingly common across the Lexus spectrum, and the 3MZ-Hybrid was the one that started it all.
8AR-FTS 2.0T I-4
Based on the 16-valve, dual-VVT-I AR four-cylinder, the 8AR is the first turbocharged Lexus model as the manufacturer begins to develop increasingly fuel efficient, yet powerful engines to meet stringent CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. Featuring 240hp, 258 ft/lb of torque, use of Lexus’ own combination port-and-direct injection fuel system, and rather impressive fuel economy figures, the new “200t” engine is poised to spread across the majority of the Lexus over time.
For more information on maintenance and repairs, check out our do-it-yourself technical articles here at http://www.clublexus.com/how-tos/.