Best Ford 1.5 EcoBoost Engine Upgrades

Austin Parsons

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Austin holds a technical writing degree and has 5 years of experience working as a Technical Product Specialist at BMW. He is an avid car enthusiast who is constantly watching F1, consuming automotive content, racing on his simulator, and working on his Toyota’s and BMW’s. Austin’s technical writing skills, extensive automotive knowledge, and hands-on experience make him an excellent resource for our readers.

Of the entire Ford EcoBoost family, the 1.5L inline-4 is probably the most overlooked and underserved engine in terms of performance potential. That is in large part due to the fact that the 1.5L EcoBoost was really only found in the second-generation Ford Fusion from 2014-2020 in the US. It is also overshadowed by the 2.7L and 3.5L EcoBoost engines which hogged most of the aftermarket’s attention.

With that being said, all of the Ford EcoBoost engines are ripe for modifications and have plenty of performance potential. That includes the 1.5L EcoBoost. In this guide, we’ll cover some of the most popular 1.5L EcoBoost engine upgrades in detail.

1.5 EcoBoost Power Limits

Ford’s 1.5 EcoBoost unfortunately doesn’t have much power potential without creating some significant problems. There are some builds that have reached the 280-300hp mark on Euro-version Ford Focus’. While these engine can hit those power levels, it requires some serious upgrades due to the engines block design. Ultimately, the 250hp mark is about where we put the 1.5 EcoBoost power limit without sacrificing reliability or requiring serious upgrades.

A problem with making big power from a 1.5 EcoBoost is the engine’s open deck design. Even at stock power levels, the engine has coolant intrusion issues from blown head gaskets. The problem is caused by an insufficient mating surface between the head and block due to the open deck cooling design. You can read more about that in our Ford 1.5 EcoBoost Common Problems Guide. That is significant to mention, as that problem can be amplified with additional modifications and more power. 

As a result, most people don’t tend to push the 1.5 EcoBoost too far beyond stock power levels.

Best 1.5L EcoBoost Engine Upgrades

  • Upgraded Intake
  • ECU Tune
  • Cat-Back Exhaust
  • High-Flow/Catless Downpipe

1) Cold Air Intake

One of the most popular 1.5 EcoBoost engine upgrades is an upgraded intake. Intakes are a worthwhile modification for a few reasons. The most important benefit is the increase in intake flow over the factory intake. While the factory intake is perfectly fine for stock power levels, a higher-flowing intake will help increase the benefit of a tune and other modifications down the line.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of 1.5 EcoBoost intakes on the market. However, there are a few different options depending on your vehicle. The majority of intakes for the Fusion and Focus are closed box intakes. That means that they enclose the air filter in a sealed airbox from the rest of the engine. This helps keep air intake temperatures to a minimum. However, that doesn’t matter as much with a turbocharged engine that relies on an intercooler to cool the air after the turbo.

There are also some open air intakes available for the 1.5L EcoBoost which is likely the best route to go if you are looking for the best intake sounds. While it might not matter to some people, having louder intake sounds is a fun addition to the driving experience of your Ford. While open air intakes might not provide the lowest IATs, they make up for it with slightly better flow. 

As an added point, one of the best aspects of upgrading to an aftermarket intake is the reusable filter. Unlike the factory filter that needs to be replaced every 15,000-30,000 miles, most aftermarket filters can be cleaned and reused.

2) ECU Tuning

Of all of the available Ford 1.5 EcoBoost engine upgrades, a tune is without a doubt the best value for money. The purpose of a tune is to adjust air, fuel, and boost parameters to get the absolute maximum performance from the engine. This is a good option for those looking for decent power gains without the need for additional performance parts. Some plug-and-play tunes can boost a 1.5 liter EcoBoost’s output by 40 horsepower and nearly 70 lb-ft of torque on a stock engine.

Beyond just the additional power and torque, a 1.5 EcoBoost tune can also adjust other engine and transmission parameters to improve performance in other areas. For example, some EcoBoost tunes allow for transmission remapping to change or modify shift points. This is good for 1.5L Fusion owners that want a bit more aggression from their automatic transmission. Other tune features usually include enhanced throttle response, maps for different fuel octane levels, and the ability to read and clear engine codes.

It is also important to note that tunes will generally produce even more horsepower than advertised when combined with other 1.5L EcoBoost engine upgrades. Most tuning companies also offer custom tuning when you purchase one of their products. A custom tune allows you to dial in your tune to your specific modifications. 

Livernois Tuner

Livernois 1.5 EcoBoost Tuner

Price: $599.99

The Livernois Ford 1.5 I4 tuner provides the best out-of-the-box performance of any tuner on the market. On an otherwise stock 1.5L Ford Fusion, the Livernois tuner can unlock up to 41 horsepower and 68 torque. That number can be elevated even further with the other mods on this list including an intake and exhaust/downpipe. In terms of value for money, this is one of the best 1.5 EcoBoost engine upgrades here.

3 & 4) Cat-Back Exhausts & Downpipes

Rounding out our list, we have a modification that won’t necessarily provide massive power gains but will enhance the driving experience of your Ford Fusion. An upgraded 1.5L EcoBoost cat-back exhaust is one of the most popular modifications for the Fusion and other international models. 

A cat-back exhaust is an exhaust system that replaces the factory 1.5L EcoBoost system after the catalytic converter. While the stock exhaust isn’t particularly restrictive, a larger diameter main and muffler piping will help the exhaust flow a bit more than the stock setup, allowing for a slight performance increase and a growlier tone. While a cat back exhaust might not be the most effective 1.5 EcoBoost engine upgrade from a performance standpoint, you will pick up a few ponies when you combine it with a tune.

Along similar lines to a cat-back, an upgraded downpipe is another quality exhaust-related modification. This is a somewhat under-the-radar mod for the 1.5 EcoBoost, as there aren’t many on the market. That said, high-flow and catless downpipes are extremely popular on other higher-displacement Ecoboost engines and provide similar benefits on these smaller engines. 

As the first element after the turbo, the 1.5 EcoBoost’s downpipe plays a very important role. Since the factory downpipe has a restrictive catalytic converter, back pressure builds up behind the turbo, decreasing performance. Upgrading to an upgraded high-flow or catless downpipe can yield a bit more power, allow for the turbo to spool faster, and help throttle response.

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