The Best V8 Engines Manufactured by Japanese Automakers

When an average person thinks about a V8 engine, they will instantly think of an American car. It's understandable because a V8 engine has powered most American performance vehicles over the last decades.
The Best V8 Engines Manufactured by Japanese Automakers 14 photos
Photo: Wasabi Supra/Facebook
Toyota 1UZ-FEToyota 1UZ-FEToyota 1UZ-FEToyota 1UZ-FEToyota 1UZ-FEToyota 1UZ-FENissan VK56DENissan VK56DELexus/Toyota 2UR-GSELexus/Toyota 2UR-GSELexus/Toyota 2UR-GSEToyota 3UR-FEToyota 3UR-FE
However, the US is not the only country to ever produce a V8 engine. As a result, let's take a look at the best Japanese V8 power units in history.

Toyota 1UZ-FE- I mean, this is the obvious place to start with any Japanese V8 engine list. Keep in mind this list is in no particular order. However, the 1UZ-FE is this list's most important and influential power unit.

When Toyota entered the luxury market at the end of the 1980s with its Lexus brand, they knew they had to beat the Americans and Germans. As a result, they came up with the 1UZ, which was a very advanced engine for that time. Very few V8s at the time were dual overhead cam with 32 valves and actually reliable. Unites States citizens first encountered this power unit under the hood of the 1989 Lexus LS 400, where, from the 4.0-liter engine, it produced 250 hp (254 PS) and 260 lb-ft (353 Nm) of torque. With the right modification, this engine is easily capable of achieving 1000 hp (1014 PS).

The cylinder block is made from cast aluminum and uses a 90-degree design, making it a physically large powerplant. The cylinder heads are made of aluminum as well, and as a result, the engine is more thermally efficient and lighter.

Besides, the 1UZ-FE is capable of generating effortless acceleration without any vibration. In addition, its oversquare stroke and bore made the engine one of the most reliable in history. By the end of the 1990s, the 32-valve design was upgraded with variable-valve timing, so the engine was more powerful. The 1UZ-FE left North America in 2000 but stayed in production until 2004, powering some Japanese-market commercial vehicles.

Toyota 1UZ\-FE
Photo: Toyota Motor Company
Nissan VK56DE- This is the first V8 engine we saw from Nissan that was mainly designed for use in full-sized trucks and SUVs. Before the VK56DE, there was the VK45DE engine, a tremendous and reliable power unit used by Nissan for many vehicles. Still, they knew that US truck buyers needed more power and more torque for towing and hauling. As a result, it was the main inspiration for the engineers that created the 5.6-liter VK56DE. They used 98 mm bore diameter, adding an extra 9.3 mm stroke. At the same time, it maintained its 32-valve DOHC design, which was a significant advantage given that most American trucks were push-rod only.

The V8 produced 305 hp (309 PS) and 379 lb-ft (514 Nm) of torque, while the compression was kept low at 9:8:1 in order to facilitate the use of regular fuel. This engine was used for almost ten years before being updated with direct fuel injection. It was used for so many different models like the Nissan Titan, Patrol, Pathfinder, or the Infiniti QX56. In addition, NISMO (a division focused on motorsport and performance-oriented car models for Nissan) put together a race-ready engine version for LMP1 that blasted out over 680 hp (690 PS).

Lexus/Toyota 2UR-GSE- Technically, this engine was designed and manufactured by Toyota, but it was only used in Lexus models. The base idea of the UR engine line was to replace the UZ engine family. As a result, the 2UR-GSE was the best one from the whole lineup. The 5.0-liter V8 powerplant was first placed in the 2008 Lexus IS F, and from that point, it was mainly used for the 'F' series sports models.

The high compression naturally aspirated V8 featured direct injection, with a power output of 416 hp (422 PS) and 371 lb-ft (503 Nm) of torque. Nearly a decade later, the same engine was mounted in the RC F and GS F, with an increased compression ratio of 12.3:1 that produced 467 hp (473 PS) and 389 lb-ft (528 N⋅m) of torque. Excluding the V10 LFA, which is not in production anymore, the 2UR-GSE it's the most potent power unit you can buy in a Lexus.

Lexus/Toyota 2UR\-GSE
Photo: Toyota Motor Company
Toyota 3UR-FE- I think we should have called this article the best V8s made by Toyota because they know how to do a proper engine. When the new Tundra was set to enter the market in 2007, Toyota engineers knew they needed a more powerful engine than the 2UZ-FE. As a result, they use some technology and characteristics from the 2UR-GSE we discussed earlier, prioritizing the typical things you need in a truck, like torque and durability, instead of top speed and high revs.

The 3UR-FE that was used in models like the Tundra, Land Cruiser, or Sequoia didn't feature direct injection. However, it did come with 32-valve DOHC heads, producing 381 hp (386 PS) and 401 lb-ft (544 Nm) of torque. It was another success for Toyota in the world of the V8 engine. For a time, Toyota offered a supercharger kit for the Tundra and Sequoia that could be installed by dealers and it was under warranty. Together with the Magnuson improvements, the engine produced 550 hp (558 PS).

There you have it. These are the best and some of the most influential V8 engines ever created by a Japanese manufacturer.
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About the author: Silvian Irimia
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Silvian may be the youngest member of our team, being born in the 2000s, but you won't find someone more passionate than him when it comes to motorsport. An automotive engineer by trade, Silvian considers the Ferrari F50 his favorite car, with the original Lamborghini Countach a close second.
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