Among the many engines Toyota has built, two stand out. Both of them were conceived in the early 1990s and would go on to power some of the most recognizable Japanese cars ever made. We are talking about the 1JZ and 2JZ engines. Although the technology behind them is now over 30 years old, they are still some of the most popular engines used in builds. But do they differ simply in displacement, or is there more to it? Here’s what you need to know about both these Japanese straight-sixes.

1JZ-GTE History and Specifications

Toyota 1JZ vs 2JZ - Which Engine is Better?
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The 1JZ engine actually came out first and was first put in the Soarer GT (JZZ30), also known as the Lexus SC on other continents.

It’s worth noting that both these engines came as normally-aspirated and turbocharged engines. In the last production years, they also got direct fuel injection.

However, we will be focusing on the top-of-the-line turbocharged models. The 1JZ GTE is actually fairly similar to its predecessor – the 7M GTE, but without all the issues that plagued it. Essentially, it was the 7M done right.

The 1JZ is a 2.5-liter inline-six engine with double overhead cams (DOHC) and four valves per cylinder. It has an 86 mm (3.39 in) bore and 71.5 mm (2.81 in) stroke, which means it has an over-square design. This typically makes an engine more rev-happy, than an under-square unit. Later models also got Toyota’s variable valve timing (VVT-i). In its 1JZ GTE form, it packs twin parallel turbochargers, fed through either side-mount or front-mount air-to-air intercooler. It also has a reduced compression ratio of 8.5:1, as opposed to the normally-aspirated version’s 10:1.

Toyota 1JZ vs 2JZ - Which Engine is Better?
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With a stock boost of 9 psi (0.62 bar), the 1JZ GTE produced an advertised 280 horsepower (206 kW) at 6,200 RPM and 279 pound-feet (378 Nm) at 2,400 RPM.
One of the most notable cars, powered by the 1JZ GTE is the Toyota Chaser (JZX100), widely regarded as a four-door sleeper sedan. In stock trim, it’s able to do the 0-62 mph (100 km/h) sprint in around 5.6 seconds.

Toyota 1JZ GTE engine specifications
Engine 2.5-liter inline-six
Horsepower 280 HP @ 6,200 RPM
Torque 279 LB-FT @ 2,400 RPM
0 to 62 mph 5.6 seconds

Cars powered by the 1JZ GTE are the Toyota Chaser / Cressida (JZX81, JZX90, JZX100, JZX110), Toyota Soarer (JZZ30), Toyota Supra Mk III (JZA70, but only in Australia and Japan), Toyota Verossa, Toyota Crown (JZS170), Toyota Mark II.

2JZ-GTE History and Specifications

Toyota 1JZ vs 2JZ - Which Engine is Better?
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The 2JZ engine came slightly after the 1JZ but was put into production cars until the early 2000s. Like the 1JZ, the 2JZ is a DOHC inline-six unit, designed for front-engine rear-wheel-drive setups.

Contrary to popular belief, the 2JZ is nearly identical to the 1JZ. The main difference is the displacement, which is now 3.0 liters instead of the 1JZ’s 2.5 liters. This is achieved through a longer stroke of 86 mm (3.39 in). The cylinder bore is the same as the 1JZ’s 86 mm (3.39 in), which means that the 2JZ has a square design, which means that the bore and stroke are equal. This translates into a better equal medium between low-end torque and high-end horsepower.

Toyota 1JZ vs 2JZ - Which Engine is Better?
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This makes for a broader torque band, compared to the 1JZ. This is further emphasized by the 2JZ’s twin-turbo setup. While the 1JZ has a parallel twin-turbo setup, the 2JZ features a twin sequential turbo setup. While the 1JZ features one turbo for every three cylinders, in the 2JZ both turbos power all six cylinders. However, the first turbo kicked in at very low RPMs for that low-end torque, while the second one spooled further up in the rev range, giving a more continuous shove.
In its 2JZ GTE version, the mighty inline-six produces up to 330 horsepower (242 kW) at 5,600 RPM and 324 pound-feet (440 Nm) at 4,800 RPM. The Toyota Supra Mk IV is the most notable car, powered by this engine, and is able to hit 62 mph (100 km/h) in just 4.9 seconds.

Toyota 2JZ GTE engine specifications
Engine 3.0-liter inline-six
Horsepower 330 HP @ 5,600 RPM
Torque 324 LB-FT @ 4,800 RPM
0 to 62 mph 4.9 seconds

Cars powered by the 2JZ GTE are the Toyota Aristo (JZS147, JZS161, Japan-only), Toyota Supra JZA80.

Which is Better - 1JZ or 2JZ?

An important note is that, contrary to popular belief, the 1JZ and 2JZ are pretty much equally as strong. Moreover, you might be surprised to know that they respond very similarly to upgrades. However, if we have a 1JZ and a 2JZ modified similarly and producing a similar power, the 2JZ will have a better response, because of its bigger displacement.

This will be even more obvious with single-turbo conversions, since a single big turbo takes more time to spool, than two smaller turbos. There is a direct correlation between engine displacement, turbo size, and drivability. Therefore, at equal power levels and with similar modifications, the 2JZ will be more responsive, as it has more displacement power.

The general belief is that the 2JZ can develop more horsepower, but that is mostly due to its displacement.

In reality, the stock bottom end of the 1JZ can take around 650-700 horsepower reliably, while the 2JZ can take 800. If we turn this into simple math, we can see that the 1JZ’s bottom end is good for roughly 260 horsepower per liter, while the 2JZ’s bottom end is good for around 266 horsepower per liter. Obviously, there are builds out there that are pushing way more horsepower than the numbers here. Nevertheless, their cast-iron bottom ends are some of the strongest ever made, even today.

As far as applications go, the 1JZ’s more rev-happy character makes it perfect for drift builds, since staying in the upper part of the rev-range is crucial to maintaining a slide, as well as making crisp transitions. The 1JZ’s shorter stroke means it loves to stay in high revs, but it lacks low-end torque. A shorter stroke also means it takes more time to spool the turbocharger.

Toyota 1JZ vs 2JZ - Which Engine is Better?
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The 2JZ, on the other hand, with its longer stroke and sequential twin-turbo setup, has both low-end torque and a wide torque band, almost mimicking that of a big normally-aspirated unit. This alone makes it much more compliant for street use. Strangely enough, because of the longer stroke, the 2JZ is not as reliable when staying at high RPMs for a prolonged time.

As far as the aftermarket goes, both engines have enormous support.

Parts and shops specializing in these engines are plentiful. The 1JZ is a bit more budget-friendly. There is an obvious trend when it comes to building both these engines. Most 1JZ builds are drift cars, while most 2JZ builds are crazy 10 or even 9-second drag cars. Both engines have their pros and cons, but if done right they can both dish out some big numbers, while still retaining most of their awesome reliability.

Exhaust Sounds

As the engines are very similar, they also sound similar. However, the 1JZ’s more rev-happy character gives it a more high-pitched sound. On the other hand, the 2JZ’s torquey character and longer stroke, combined with more displacement, give it a deeper, throatier note. Which one sounds better, depends entirely on your preference and there are plenty of videos to help you decide.

1JZ Exhaust Sounds

2JZ Exhaust Sounds

1JZ vs. 2JZ Dyno Runs

1JZ-GTE Dyno Tuning Videos

2JZ-GTE Dyno Tuning

1JZ vs. 2JZ Drifting Videos

1JZ Drifting Video

2JZ Drifting Video

Which is Better: 1JZ-GTE or 2JZ-GTE - Conclusion

Toyota 1JZ vs 2JZ - Which Engine is Better?
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Toyota 1JZ vs 2JZ - Which Engine is Better?
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As we mentioned, both engines are among the most reliable and over-engineered engines ever made. Being inline-six, they are also some of the smoothest units out there. Which one is right for you depends mostly on the application and your budget. The 1JZ loves to rev high and is perfect for drifting. In addition, its stock bottom end can push almost as much power as the much bigger 2JZ. It’s also more affordable. The 2JZ, on the other hand, is considered by many to be the king of all inline-six engines. It has a much broader torque band and more displacement, making it better on the street and able to make much more power with the right parts. Sound-wise, it’s the 1JZ’s high-pitch note vs the 2JZ’s throaty deep sound. Both units have an immense following and aftermarket support, and even to this day are responsible for some of the most epic builds the world has ever seen. If crazy horsepower is on your mind, however, don’t be so quick to dismiss the 1JZ in favor of the bigger 2JZ. You only need to see Smokey Nagata’s Top Secret V-12 Supra, which has two merged 1JZ engines in the front.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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