1UZFE: Everything You Want to Know

The 1UZFE is the first in the Toyota UZ family. Toyota designed this new 4.0L V8 to replace the outdated Toyota 5V. The 1UZFE was a highly advanced V8 engine, that now has a cult following. Just the LS family, the UZ family has been heavily modified and is known very well among the tuner community.

1UZ-FE: Engine Basics

If you didn’t already know, the 1UZFE was a pretty advanced engine when it came out. Very few V8’s at the time were DOHC, with 32 valves. The 1UZFE is arguably the first ever reliable DOHC V8, which is completely believable since most DOHC V8’s before it was in exotic cars.

The cylinder block of the 1UZFE is aluminum and is a 90* V8. The cylinder heads are also made of aluminum. Like I mentioned before, it is a dual overhead camshaft engine, with 32 valves (4 valves per cylinder). Unfortunately, the 1UZFE doesn’t have hydraulic lifters, so it needs periodic valve adjustments.

RELATED: Toyota 2UZ-FE: Everything You Need to Know

1UZFE4

Later versions of the 1UZFE received Toyota’s VVT-i system, which improved horsepower and fuel economy. A nice feature about the 1UZFE is that if the timing belt breaks, the valves will not interfere with the pistons. A broken timing belt won’t cause your engine to self-destruct.

  • Production: 1989-2002
  • Cylinder Block Material: Aluminum
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Valve train: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
  • Stroke: 82.5mm
  • Bore: 87.5mm
  • Compression Ratio: 10:1 – 10.5:1 (VVT-i)
  • Displacement: 3969cc
  • Redline: 6,200 – 6,500 rpm (VVT-i)
  • Weight: 364 lbs

Cars That Came With The 1UZ

The 1UZFE came in a variety of Toyota cars, ranging from sports cars to luxury cars. Toyota equipped the 1UZ in the Lexus GS400, LS400, and SC400. The 1UZFE was also equipped in the Toyota Aristo, Celsior, Crown, and Soarer. I owned an SC400 for a while and loved how to engine felt in that car.

RELATED: Toyota 3UZ-FE: Everything You Need to Know

1UZFE3

  • Lexus GS400
  • Lexus LS400
  • Lexus SC400
  • Toyota Aristo
  • Toyota Celsior
  • Toyota Crown
  • Toyota Soarer

1UZ-FE: Performance Data

Like I mentioned before, the 1UZFE has come in a couple different forms over the years. Engine changes such as VVT-i increased the horsepower.

  • 256 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
  • 260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm

Toyota added higher compression ratio pistons

  • 261 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
  • 269 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm

Toyota developed their VVT-i to work on the 1UZFE

  • 290 horsepower @ 5,900 rpm
  • 300 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm

Toyota added a few revisions

  • 300 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
  • 310 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm

As you might be able to tell from these numbers, the VVT-i system worked wonders of the 1UZFE. The VVT-i system added 40 horsepower, and 40 lb-ft of torque. Most notably, the VVT-i system brought the peak torque down 400 rpm, making the car much more fun to drive around the street.

1UZ-FE: Tuning Potential

If you’re a car guy or car gal, then this is the part you’ve been waiting for. How can this engine be tuned to make more horsepower than factory? Well, naturally aspirated builds can reach as high as 400 horsepower, but costs a fortune, and is hard to build.

RELATED: Nissan VH45DE: Everything You Need to Know

1UZFE1

The Terminator Cobra supercharger or Eaton M90 is a common addition the 1UZFE. With additional changes such as fuel injectors and an exhaust, the 1UZFE can make 350+ horsepower @ 6 psi. Building the bottom end with lower compression ratio pistons, the 1UZFE can make 400+ horsepower @ 10 psi.

1UZFE2

Turbo kits are available for most cars that came equipped with the 1UZFE, but they need a built bottom end to survive. Much like other great Toyota engines (1JZ, 2JZ, etc.), the stock 1UZFE block is good for over 1,000 horsepower.

1UZ-FE vs VH45DE

The 1UZ is undoubtedly the best in the UZ family, but how does it stack up against the competition? Nissan’s VH45DE is the only real competitor to the 1UZ-FE. Both are dual overhead cam, both have a displacement of less than 4.6L, and both came from Japan. Both were designed for luxury cars.

The VH45DE made a pretty impressive 278 horsepower and 294 lb-ft of torque. This was pretty impressive at the time, but not as impressive as the power level of the 1UZ-FE. Like I mentioned above, the 1UZ made 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque at its best. That’s 22 horsepower and 16 lb-ft more than the VH45DE, while also being .5L smaller in displacement.

RELATED: Ford Modular vs Chevy LS: Which One is Actually Better?

They’re both fairly expensive to swap, and pretty expensive to make high horsepower. However, the 1UZ’s higher horsepower out of the factory really makes it more impressive in my opinion. Let me know in the comments below if you think the VH45DE is better than the 1UZ-FE.

Summary

The 1UZFE was a technological breakthrough for the automotive industry. DOHC V8’s weren’t all that new, but they had never been reliable. Toyota knocked it out of the park with the 1UZFE. Not only is it powerful, but it’s also reliable, and can take a bunch of tuning abuse. Let me know what you think of the 1UZ in the comments below!

Bryce Cleveland

Bryce is a die hard car fanatic. When he's not working on his Jeep Cherokee, he's beating it up in the desert. He started Dust Runners Automotive Journal in 2014 and continues to write content for it as much as possible.

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8 Responses

  1. jzEllis says:

    The 1UZFE was revolutionary for it’s time; except it wasn’t, actually par the course for a DOHC V8 of the time, give or take. It also makes great hp -actually not really – again, fairly middle of the road for the time as well give or take 20hp. Well, It’s a great tuner’s engine! Oh hell naw; you’re lucky to pick up a 20-30% increase after ALOT of money and custom parts in N/A form. And it’s merely adequate in boosted form; again, with lotsa money and a fully built bottom end.

    In short, a 1UZFE IS a great motor, if you just leave it as Toyota intended and do basic maintenance while driving it till the car falls apart around it. Other than that, engine swapping and building one for power is little more than an exercise in trying too hard to be different.

    • Dan says:

      I disagree with JZEllis. I’ve serviced, driven, and owned a lot of V-8 vehicles and the 1UZ is the smoothest, most powerful, more reliable, and best sounding by far.

  2. you are wrong says:

    i couldn’t agree less with the above poster, hp is subjective and the gains will be not only from the engine itself but supporting modifications.

    and par for the course?, what a joke? most 90’s v8 (actually late eighties) were crap. the epa wasn’t really the epa and enforcing car quality was less than important as it is today. so most v8’s domestic etc were still produced as legacy garbage, sorry man domestic v8’s were a crapshoot of will it blow up for no reason flinging a push-rod out of its ass. or just run like unpredictable low powered lucky if it isn’t carbureted garbage.

    but not the 1uzfe. its the basis for almost every new toyota model after its introduction into the lexus moniker.

    bucket shims instead of rocker arms, high revs on a stock bottom end running up to 9k STOCK SAFELY?? i would love to see a domestic v8 or even a euro v8 from the late 80’s even come close stock to not throwing a rod trying to hit those levels. the redline on a vette v8 from that time was only at 5700… the 1uzfe’s standard redline is 6200rpm but with the redline changed it can run way past that (9000rpm!!!)…..and SAFELY as stated before. SOME RUN THEM TO 12000 RPMS WITH ROD BOLT CHANGES……LOL

    amazingly if you aren’t retarded than you can make roughly 400hp on it with a basic supercharger and injector upgrades….. and up to 700 on the stock motor with more boost after headstuds and headgasket have been redone.

    if you pushed a domestic or european stock bottom ended v8 from the late 80’s to 2/3rd of the second 1uzfe hp total i specified (500hp) it would fall apart.

    so it sounds like maybe you should keep that opinion at a hobby level, in a parking garage surrounded by other clueless fools.

  3. Steven says:

    So you say that I should rather not take the 3uzfe engine that I should rather take the 1 uzfe?

  4. Jeremy says:

    I own ls400 and it’s a 1992. Great motor when taken care of and you can add a supercharger the motor can take up to 15psi. Boost. Without changing the internal. 89-94. The internals were made from steel. After 94 the changed the material of the internals to a lighter less durable alloy…….I love my LS. 145000. Still great compression. The alternator and starter are a pain to replace. Anyways much love for the 1uzfe.

  5. JO says:

    Awesome post, lots of good basic info on the 1uz. Thanks Dustrunners.

  6. Angel says:

    I love my 1uzfe that I’m running 12 psi for a year n haven’t had a problem.lol that damn thing is strong y’all whom don’t have a clue will be supervised.u need to partake on the wonderment of what it is to feel the power n torque of a turbo 1uz feel/t as I call it.

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