The Most Reliable and Desirable Four-Cylinder Engine Ever Produced

The Most Reliable and Desirable Four-Cylinder Engine Ever Produced

Important takeaways

  • Toyota 22RE and Honda K24 engines have proven to be very reliable over the years with few issues due to proper maintenance.
  • Toyota’s focus on durability since the 1980s led to the creation of the sought-after 22RE engine with advanced features for smoother operation.
  • Owners praise the Toyota 22RE for its workhorse reliability, while others achieve high mileage and minimal maintenance.

Various types of engines can be considered when searching for a reliable car, although four cylinders are a better option. They are used by a wide variety of manufacturers in a variety of different models, meaning that they are undergoing significant development in different areas of life.

Aspirated four-pots are commonly found in economy cars such as the popular Honda Civics and Toyota Corolla, although some prove to be reliable and end up in commercial vehicles such as trucks and vans. HotCars began a search to find the most reliable model of forced induction ever produced.


The 10 Most Reliable Four-Cylinder Engines

Four cylinders are not only some of the most reliable engines on the market, but they are increasingly becoming the most powerful performance vehicles.

Toyota 22RE Is A Stalwart Among Four Cylinder Engines

Toyota 22RE specifications

The arrangement

2.4-liter inline-four


105 hp


136 lb-ft

(Source: Toyota)

Toyota has designed and built its fair share of reliable engines throughout its history, and it remains near the top of the durability charts to this day. His luxury arm, Lexus, led the way 2023 JD Power US Vehicle Dependability Studywhile Toyota itself is not far behind in seventh place.

The Japanese manufacturer doesn’t push the envelope when it comes to reliability, and it aimed to maintain that reputation when looking to bring a new engine to market with more torque in the ’80s. Starting with the reliable four-cylinder 20R, Toyota increased the bore of the 2.2-liter engine to create the 2.4-liter 22R in 1981.

The 22R was built from a cast-iron engine block, although it had aluminum headers to reduce weight and weather, allowing the engine to run smoothly. The 22R had a single top cam design with a permanent timing chain, which tends to be more reliable than rubber watch bands.

Toyota Borrowed the Design of the Iconic Hemi

Looking for more torque from the base 22R, Toyota used an idea first perfected by Chrysler and its unique type of Hemi engines – a hemispherical combustion chamber, which caused swirls to grow inside the cylinder. These cycles had the effect of more evenly distributing the air-fuel mixture, allowing the engine to operate more efficiently. It also increased torque compared to the standard 22R plant.

The engine also had better flow heads and a 3.5-inch longer stroke, an improvement that resulted in the Toyota division christening it the 22RE. The automaker introduced a new engine in 1985 in its heavy-duty Hilux and 4Runner models, where it continued to establish itself as one of the most reliable workhorses around.

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Toyota 22RE Can Increase Mileage With Minor Maintenance

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Common Issues With The Toyota 22RE Engine

  • The front crankshaft oil seals can crack and leak from time to time.
  • Head gaskets can fail after 100,000 miles.

The Hilux pick-up truck model has built a reputation of indestructibility over the years and made it popular in the segment. Top Gear. The 2.4-litre diesel version of the truck was put through its paces in a series of endurance tests, such as being dropped into the sea and dropped from a tower, which it barely survived.

While the 2.4 diesel got all the glory, the 22RE has built a reputation for quietly revving up as a bulletproof workhorse. According to RepairPal, which collects information from owners, the Hilux featuring the engine has an average annual repair cost of just $397. Various owners who left reviews on the site have also reported higher mileage numbers achieved with very few issues.

Owners Say Reliability of Their 22RE-Powered Toyota Cars

One driver who owned a 22RE Toyota Pickup bad for 23 years, during which he traveled 240,000 miles, he reported that he only had to replace the timing chain and radiator that time. Another had bought a used model with 127,000 miles and driven it for another 130k, sharing that he had not run into a single problem with the 22RE.

Another owner bought a Hilux, with a 22RE engine, new in 1994 and had covered 265,000 miles by the time he submitted his inspection in 2012. The only engine-related thing he ever replaced was the battery.

A different owner also covered over 200,000 miles since purchasing their pickup with 120k miles, leaving it with 345,000 miles by the time he left for inspection in 2011. He replaced the head gasket, timing chain, oil, and water pump during that time.



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Even the driver who left the Hilux with negative reviews about the truck’s reliability felt that the 22RE had proven to be a tough job during the five years he owned the truck. He only had to replace the timing chain at a cost of $1,500 after it came loose, while the engine remained otherwise reliable.

According to Toyota Nation Forums, a common problem with the 22RE engine is that the oil seals on the front crankshaft can wear out, causing leaks. Head gaskets are also often one of the first components to fail, although this generally becomes an issue beyond the 100,000 mile mark.

Honda’s K24 Is Another Naturally Reliable Four-Cylinder Engine


Common Issues With The Honda K24 Engine

  • Early wear on the exhaust camshaft
  • Leaking oil seals

While it’s hard to beat the Toyota 22RE engine in terms of reliability, the Honda K Series’ range of powerplants gives it a run for its money. The K-Series has been used by Honda since it was first released in 2001 and has since been modified to run in a variety of economy and performance vehicles.

The peppy K20A engine, which has a turbo, formed the basis of the Civic Type R for its three previous generations. Versions like the K20A3, meanwhile, were used in earlier versions of the Civic and Acura RSX base models. The manufacturer’s unique VTEC system has featured on all K-Series variants to date, with the latest evolution of the K24 engine released in 2013.

Honda K24 Engine Reliability Owner Reviews

The K series has built a strong reputation for reliability, with the K24 proving to be reliable in the hands of drivers. Several drivers on Bob Is The Oil Guy forum reported that their late 2000s CR-V models that came with early versions of the K24 had traveled over 200,000 miles with little to no problems. Another shared his story of a 2003 Accord driven 265,000 miles, on which he did only routine maintenance.

According to the Automotive Examiner, common issues with the Honda K24 engine include oil seals that leak over time and premature wear on the exhaust camshaft. The K24 W Earth Dreams version of the engine may have problems with carbon buildup in the intake valves and valve seals, which can cause valvetrain failure down the line if not repaired. The problem usually manifests itself through a loss of energy or higher fuel consumption than usual.


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Toyota and Honda Lead the Pack in Four-Cylinder Reliability

All in all, the Toyota 22RE and Honda K24 inline-4 engines should provide reliable mileage for years to come, as long as they are maintained with love and care. As they are used in many different models by their manufacturers, finding an inexpensive model is possible when browsing the classifieds.

Sources: The power of JD, Toyota Nation Forums, RepairPal, Vehicle inspector, Bob Is The Oil Guy Forum, Toyota, Mecum Auctions, Edmonds