Toyota Pickup Engine Swap Advice

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Toyota Pickup

Which engine would you choose to replace a tired, worn out Toyota 22re?

It isn’t exactly often that you have to consider things like engine swaps in a Toyota pickup. But unlike many other brands, we tend to rack up a ton of miles on our trucks. Mainly, well, because we can. There’s a reason why Toyota has such a reputation for quality, and their trucks will run for a very long time. But inevitably, the need for a fresh powerplant will still rear its ugly head.

And there are quite a few engine swap options available to owners of early Toyota pickups. Which includes engines that aren’t necessarily made by Toyota. So when Yota Tech member hoytyota84 found himself in need of a heart transplant for his ’90 pickup, he wisely headed to the forums for advice on the matter.

“I recently dropped my tranny and t-case (w56 with dual 228s). Was hoping to find that my overworked tranny had locked up. Not the case. I figured out that my motor (22re) is what was locked up. This is the original motor that is 27 years old with over 300k on it. It has been rebuilt from the block up twice. I don’t drive it on the street, it is my trailer [park] queen.

I’m tossing around the idea of swapping in a 4.3. I would love to go with a 350, but I ain’t gonna do it if I gotta lose my dual case setup. I’m open to other ideas. I just can’t see spending money on another 2.4 or rebuilding this 140lb motor if I can get 200 lbs for nearly the same money. Opinions please! It’s a 1990 Toyota pickup DLX with SAS leafs all around. Rock crawling is my prime objective, but some man made OHV parks get thrown in from time to time.”

Toyota Pickup

As muddpigg points out, a Chevy swap might be cheaper, but there are other considerations that should be taken into account as well. Not the least of which is brand loyalty!

“I looked into a 4.3 swap. But when compared to 3rz, I’ll go 3rz or a new 2.7 when the time comes. Of course, price and availability play a big role. But power to weight and no adapters to purchase are big benefits. Just pull the bell housing from a W59 or W56 and it will bolt up. With all the write ups online I think I’ll tackle wiring myself with plug and play harness. But even with a 4.3, you can run a W56 and duals. Plus, I like idea of staying Toyota.”

But Kolton5543 has some even more interesting suggestions that also involve off-brand engines.

“If you’re just looking for a good bit more power and are on a bit of a budget I’d go with either an RZ swap or a Buick 3.8 swap. A 3.8 is definitely the more powerful option. It makes similar numbers to a 4.3, but it’ll physically fit better and it won’t take a huge number of aftermarket adapters to make it work.

Use an older Jeep 4-cylinder bell housing from an ax5 trans and turn a long pilot bushing and it will bolt to your transmission. You’ll be able to keep your current trans/t-case combo in the same location. You can use normal w56 clutch components with a Camaro 3.8 flywheel. The most difficult part to source for this swap is the bell housing. Other than that, everything is either an off the shelf part from your local part store or custom made like motor mount perches.”

Toyota Pickup

Interesting suggestions, indeed. But we want to know – what sort of engine do you suggest the OP go with, considering his strictly off-road use for the truck and budgetary concerns? Should he stick with a Toyota motor, or save some cash with a sacrilegious GM swap? Head over here and chime in with your recommendations!


Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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