The Toyota VZ Series

In the six-cylinder engine families of Toyota, likely the most well-known is the VZ Series, which was introduced in 1988 and has become a global V6 platform for the company. Displacement ranges from 2.0-liters to 3.4L in both single and dual overhead camshaft configurations (SOHC and DOHC). Since its introduction, the VZ Series has been improved upon as technologies advanced.

Toyota 2VZ-FE Engine

Toyota 2VZ-FE Engine

The low-angle DOHC cylinder heads on the VZ Series were designed by Yamaha Motor to give excellent low- and mid-range torque. The series uses cast iron engine blocks, forged steel crankshafts, and in the third-generation, cast iron main bearing support girdles. This has given the VZs a reputation for being reliable due to the robust nature of their build.

The first-generation of the VZ Series appeared in the Camry Prominent and Toyota Vista in 1998 in the Japanese market.

2VZ-FE

This engine was the first export from Japan for the series. It is a 2.5-liter V6 with a compression ratio of just 9:1. It appeared in the Toyota Camry from 1988-1991 and the Lexus ES 250 from 1989-1991.

  • Firing Order: 1-2-3-4-5-6
  • Spark Gap: 0.044 in

3VZ-E

Introduced at the same time as the 2VZ, the 3VZ series is a 3.0-liter. The 3VZ-E is the only V6 SOHC that Toyota has ever built with an output of 145 horsepower in the first series and 150 horsepower in later iterations. This iteration of the 3VZ appeared in the 1988-1995 4Runner and Pickup and the 1992-1995 T100.

  • Firing Order: 1-2-3-4-5-6
  • Spark Gap: 0.028 in

3VZ-FE

This is the DOHC version of the 3.0-liter 3VZ engines. It uses Toyota's ACIS variable-intake system. Mechanics will be familiar with this as Toyota's "tilted monster." Because the engine was made for trucks, it is tall, so it had to be tilted sideways (towards the firewall) when placed in cars like the 1992-1993 Camry and Lexus ES300. Getting to the lower cylinders requires removing the intake plenum entirely, making it one of the least friendly Toyota engines for mechanics. The 3VZ-FE was replaced by the MZ Series in 1994.

  • Firing Order: 1-2-3-4-5-6
  • Spark Gap: 0.044 in

5VZ-FE

While the 4VZ engines were Japanese-only, the 5VZ-FE saw use in several popular trucks globally. It is a 3.4-liter engine that replaced the 3VZ-E in 1995, running until 2004 in the Tacoma, until 1998 in the T-100, from 1996-2002 in the 4Runner, 2000-2004 in the Tundra, etc. The 5VZ-FE is a 190 horsepower V6 DOHC with sequential multi-port fuel injection utilizing four valves per cylinder.

  • Firing Order: 1-2-3-4-5-6
  • Spark Gap: 0.044 in