The Japan-based Toyota Motor Corporation has been producing a wide variety of automobile engines since 1934, with its inline 4-cylinder versions perhaps being the most enduring versions. The automaker also produces engines for its Lexus and Scion cars. The company has been an industry leader in designing fuel-efficient cars through its five-year environmental plans that also focus on emissions and noise.
The "T" Series ran from 1970 through 1985 and kicked off Toyota's 40-year reputation in the United States for building economical but reliable cars. The "T" family featured a cast iron block, alloy cylinder heads and a standard carburetor with optional fuel injection. Its most distinctive feature was the Hemi hemispherical combustion chamber for added power in the Celicas, Coronas and Corollas.
The "A" Series is one of the more durable powerplants produced through eight generations, from 1978 through today. Displacement ranges from 1.3 to 1.8 liters were made of cast iron blocks and aluminum cylinder heads. These engines powered the Tercel, the Japanese domestics Sprinter, Carina and Corsa, and the Corolla.
The "E" Series was produced from 1985 to 1998 through five generations, starting in 1985 with a 1-liter inline-4 to the 1.5-liter version from 1991 to 1998. All featured the standard cast iron block and aluminum heads, but used a timing belt instead of a chain. The compression ratio was relatively high at 9.0:1 for the 1-liter and generated 55 horsepower. By 1989, power was boosted to 99 horsepower.
The ZZ Series, produced from 1997 through 2000, featured for the first time an all-aluminum block and cylinder heads and was chain-driven. The 1997 models were 1.8 liters, changing with the third generation in 2000 1.6 and then to 1.4 in late 2000. The drop in displacement for the later versions was to create a higher RPM engine for more power. A fuel-injected 1.8-liter 1ZZ-FE version was available through 2007. The ZZ Series powered the Corolla, Celica and Matrix, along with several Japanese domestics, as well as the Chevrolet Prizm and Pontiac Vibe.
A variety of engines were offered in the RZ family, most notably the 142-horsepower 2.4-liter powerplant equipped with a cast iron block and aluminum heads, steel connecting rods and fuel injection. These engines powered the 1995-2004 Tacoma pickups and the 1998-2004 Toyota Hilux pickups mostly found in the Middle East and Asia. A 2.7-liter version powered the Tacoma, 1996 through 2000 4runner SUV and the 1994 through 1998 T00 pickup.
The AZ engines were produced as a 2- and 2.4-liter inline-4 with all-aluminum block and heads in 2000. A 1AZ-FSE version featured a 2-liter displacement that developed 155 horsepower with fuel injection. The 2006 to current (2009) Camry and the 2001 through 2003 Rav4 are equipped with these engines.
The 2009 AR series comes in two displacements: the 2.5- and 2.7-liter die-cast aluminum block and cylinder heads. Toyota developed a three-stage variable oil pump and variable valve timing system to keep friction at a minimum. Toyota also developed a tumble control valve system with a 12-hole long-nozzle fuel injection system to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.