Toyota 2TR-FE engine

Toyota 2TR-FE Engine Guide

Chandler Stark

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Chandler is an automotive expert with over a decade of experience working on and modifying cars. A couple of his favorites were his heavily modded 2016 Subaru WRX and his current 2020 VW Golf GTI. He’s also a big fan of American Muscle and automotive history. Chandler’s passion and knowledge of the automotive industry help him deliver high-quality, insightful content to TuningPro readers.

Though it does not often get a lot of attention, Toyota’s 2TR-FE engine is the epitome of solid. Toyota initially released the engine in 2004, and it is still in use today. They have primarily used it for the European and Japanese markets, but the 2.7 liter 2TR-FE has also found its way stateside inside the 4Runner and Tacoma. It’s a naturally aspirated inline-four engine that can make just north of 160 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. Toyota built it for durability and reliability, and that’s exactly what it offers.

This article will go over everything you need to know about Toyota’s 2TR-FE engine including specs, problems, reliability, and performance upgrades.

Toyota 2TR-FE engine
Credit: Yones/Wikipedia

Toyota 2TR-FE Engine History

Toyota first released the 2TR-FE back in the 2004 model year. They introduced it to be a successor to the 3RZ-FE engine, which was also a 2.7 liter inline-four engine. Toyota has mainly used the 2TR-FE inside of SUVs and trucks, such as the Hilux, 4Runner, Innova, and Land Cruiser Prado. In addition, they also used it in the fifth generation of the Toyota Coaster minibus.

There are two other members of the Toyota TR engine family, both of them smaller than the 2TR. They are the 1TR-FE and the 1TR-FPE. These are both 2.0 liter inline-four engines, with the FPE making slightly less horsepower and being used for commercial applications.

In the United States, Toyota only used the 2TR-FE in the Toyota 4Runner, from 2004–2010, and in the Toyota Tacoma, from 2004–Present. From the factory, most models make around 149-160 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. In 2015, a decade after Toyota had first put the engine into production, they gave it some updates. This included adding Dual-Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (D-VVT-i) to upgrade from the single-VVT-i.

As of now, the Tacoma is the only stateside vehicle using the 2.7L engine.

Toyota 2TR-FE Engine Specs

Engine FamilyToyota TR
Model Years2004-Present
Displacement2.7 liters (2,693 cc)
AspirationNaturally Aspirated
Compression Ratio9.6:1 (VVT-i); 10.2:1 (Dual VVT-i)
Head/Block MaterialAluminum/Cast Iron
Bore & Stroke95.0mm x 95.0mm (3.74″ x 3.74″)
Fuel SystemElectronic Fuel Injection
Valve TrainDOHC, 16v, Dual-VVT-i
Horsepower Output149-160 horsepower
Torque Output180 lb-ft of torque

Toyota 2TR-FE Engine Design Basics

The Toyota 2TR-FE is an inline-four (or straight-four) 2.7 liter engine.The 2TR-FE engine code can be broken down as follows: 2 = second generation; TR = the Toyota TR engine family; F = Economy narrow-angle DOHC; E = Electronic Fuel Injection.

It is naturally aspirated and has an aluminum cylinder head with a cast iron cylinder block. The bore and stroke are 95 mm x 95 mm, making it a perfectly square engine. The cylinders have a deep skirt design and resin coating for wear resistance, and the engine design is based on its 3RZ predecessor. The compression ratio on the initial 2TR-FE was 9.6:1.

Internally, the engine has aluminum alloy pistons and non-forged connecting rods. The pistons have oil cooling jets for longevity. The crankshaft is completely balanced, and the crankshaft pulley uses a torsional rubber damper to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness – also known as NVH. The engine also has twin counter-rotating balance shafts in the crankcase.

The valvetrain features four valves per cylinder for 16 valves total, two intake and two exhaust. It has a dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) configuration with twin cams. The camshafts are actuated via roller chains with oil jet lubrication. The valves themselves are actuated by rocker arms and have hydraulic lash adjusters. The camshafts feature Toyota’s proprietary Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) on the intake valves.

Fueling and Intake

The 2TR-FE uses a drive-by-wire throttle system. In drive-by-wire systems, the throttle control is transmitted electronically rather than mechanically. While there used to commonly be issues with DBW setups, nowadays they are considered standard, though some people have complained about lag. The DBW system uses Toyota’s proprietary Electronic Throttle Control System – intelligent (ECS-i).

Toyota also uses their Direct Ignition System (DIS) in the 2TR-FE, which is distributorless and has separate ignition coils for each spark plug. The firing order is 1-3-4-2. Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection is standard on all 2TR-FE engines. The fuel injectors have long nozzles to reduce emissions. The fuel system is returnless, to reduce evap. emissions, and there is also an additional air injection system for improved emissions too.

Toyota made the intake manifold from composite plastic, making it relatively cheap but also light.

2015 Updates

In 2015, just over a decade into production, Toyota gave the 2TR-FE some much needed updates. This included increasing the compression ratio up to 10.2:1, and the addition of a new tumble port to improve air swirl inside the combustion chamber. This improved flow and aided power while increasing fuel economy.

The cylinder walls were also given new treatment to reduce friction, and the connecting rods received teflon coating. The valvetrain was also beefed up and modified, and both the intake and exhaust manifold were given insulators for noise.

Yet, the biggest change, by far, was the introduction of Dual-VVT-i. Initially, the 2TR only had VVT-i on the intake valves. With Dual-VVT-i, now the exhaust valves also utilize VVT. Dual-VV- increases the engine’s peak performance while also improving fuel economy, and it makes for a smoother power band.

Toyota 2TR-FE Reliability

When we call the Toyota 2TR-FE engine reliable we’re not kidding. While the performance numbers probably won’t grab too much attention, that’s not what Toyota built the engine for. They built it to be ultra reliable and take on excessive mileage, and in that respect that definitely succeeded.

These engines routinely make it to more than 250,000 miles without having issues, and one driver even managed to get more than 880,000 miles out of his original engine before it needed replacement.

Toyota 2TR-FE Most Common Problems

There are a few very minor issues with the 2TR-FE, but they are not very widespread. The most common problems with the Toyota 2TR-FE engine are oil consumption, oil leaking, and leaking coolant lines.

Oil consumption issues can appear on the 2.7L Toyota engine after as little as 150,000 miles in some vehicles. In some cases, excessive oil consumption can be brought on by using low quality oils. However, for most people the issue comes down to piston rings. The 2TR pistons have two compression rings and one oil control ring, like most pistons. They are however a bit unique, in that the top compression ring utilizes Toyota’s Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) coating for wear resistance.

The problem with oil consumption on the 2TR is when the oil control ring becomes worn. If this happens, it fails to stop the oil from entering into the combustion chamber. Normally, a small amount of seepage is going to happen on any engine, and it’s referred to as “blow by.” But, if the problem becomes severe enough, excessive blow by can impede performance and start to cause internal damage

On the 2TR, the oil ring has been known to become too worn after 150,000 miles on a few engines, necessitating replacement. You’ll know you have an issue if you start to see serious amounts of oil loss, which is why it’s important to make sure you’re always keeping up with maintenance and regularly checking your oil level between changes. Replacement pistons aren’t the cheapest, and neither is the labor to replace them, making it a decently expensive fix.

Oil Leaks

Next up are oil leaks. Unfortunately, early years (2005–2007) of the 2TR-FE suffered from oil leaks from the crankshaft seal. The crankshaft seal is responsible for sealing the crankshaft and the timing cover together. The issue was bad enough that there is actually a Technical Service Bulletin or TSB for the problem,

Toyota came out with a revised oil seal for the 2008+ versions of the engine, which rectifies the issue. The fix is pretty easy, but it involves using their special installation tool. Check out the linked TSB above for full instructions on fixing the problem.

Coolant Leaks

The final issue with the 2TR-FE is again related to early years of the engine, and has to do with the no.1 water bypass tube. The pipe is made of plastic and was notorious for springing leaks. It connects between the thermostat and the rear of the engine, where it splits off into either the cabin heater core or near the throttle body.

Most of the time, you will have to remove the intake manifold to replace the pipe. This guide from Tacoma World (post #2) should explain how to fix the problem. If you are uncomfortable doing the replacement yourself, take the car to a qualified mechanic for them to do so.

Those are really the only common problems on the 2TR-FE. People widely consider it bulletproof and one of the toughest and most durable engines around. It’s not completely free from issues, but they are relatively minor and not very common. We absolutely rate the 2TR as a highly reliable engine.

Performance and Upgrades

If there is one underwhelming aspect of the 2.7L 2TR-FE, it’s in the performance department. Depending on the application, the engine makes between 150–160 horsepower and ~180 lb-ft of torque. While these aren’t woefully bad numbers, if the engine was powering a small coupe, Toyota decided to put them inside SUVs and trucks.

It’s not the engine’s fault, really, it’s bad engineering from Toyota. With the trucks and SUVs its powering weighing north of 4,000 lbs, the 2.7L inline-four can struggle at times to adequately pull all of the weight. While it’s rated for towing of 3,500 lbs, that’s really stretching the engine’s capabilities.

There are, luckily, solutions to the engine’s severe lack of power: engine mods. Depending on how much performance you are looking to gain, you can add anywhere from a dozen to a few hundred horsepower and torque.

Toyota Tacoma 2TR-FE Mods

This article will be geared towards the Tacoma, because that is the only 2TR-FE equipped engine available stateside. But these mods apply to all cars using the 2.7L Toyota engine – fitment and availability simply varies.

If you are looking to add 10–50 horsepower, your best bet is to start with the intake and the exhaust. There are lots of options for upgraded intakes on the 2TR Toyota, and they will increase horsepower by allowing more air to enter into the engine. We recommend the aFe Magnum Intake with a dry filter for the Toyota Tacoma 2.7L.

Exhaust headers replace the exhaust manifold on the 2TR 2.7L. The stock manifold is made of cast iron, and can at times be prone to cracking and is very restrictive. Aftermarket headers are made of stainless steel, and usually larger in diameter than stock. For Tacoma 2.7L headers, we recommend the Tacoma LCE street headers. They are by far the most popular and best performing.

Just headers and an intake alone can net upwards of 25-30 wheel horsepower, and even more with custom tuning.

Tacoma 2.7L Superchargers and Turbochargers

If you’re looking to add some serious power to your 2.7L Tacoma, the best method is forced induction. This is quite a step up, but outside of an intake and header there are not a lot of cost effective ways to increase horsepower while staying naturally aspirated.

There are a couple of supercharger kits on the market, and we recommend the Underdog Racing Development (URD) MK3 Supercharger Kit for the 2005–2015 Tacoma. The kit uses a centrifugal style Rotrex C30-94 Supercharger with an 85mm pulley. It includes a large front mounted intercooler that is compatible with off road winch bumpers. The kit adds more than 130 rear wheel horsepower, putting it at roughly 250 rear wheel horsepower total.

If you would rather go with a turbocharger, there are custom 2TR-FE turbo manifolds and downpipe setups that will allow you to add one. There are unlimited options for turbocharging the engine, and most people stick with T3/T4 sized housing. Here are several options from LC Engineering for the Tacoma. You can potentially make more horsepower with a turbocharger rather than supercharger, but you’ll have to source the full kit – and supporting mods like injectors – yourself.

Toyota 2TR-FE Engine Guide Conclusion

While it does not get a lot of fanfare and attention, we think the 2TR-FE 2.7L inline-four is a very solid motor. It is incredibly reliable and consistent, with one driver getting nearly 1 million miles out of his original 2.7L. Besides a few early issues with oil leaks, coolant leaks, and piston ring wear, the 2TR is an extremely dependable and predictable motor that is capable of lasting well over 200,000 miles.

If there is one gripe with the engine, it’s in the performance department. The engine only puts out about 160 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, making it somewhat sluggish carrying its 4,000+ lb payload. Luckily, you can pretty easily upgrade the engine, to add anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred horsepower.

Let us know your thoughts about the Toyota 2TR-FE inline-four engine in the comments below!

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