Mustang EcoBoost 2.3L Bolt-Ons
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Best Ford Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost Bolt-on Performance Mods

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and TuningPro. He has over a decade of experience in the automotive industry including parts sales, writing, DIY modifications & repairs, and more. Jake is currently converting his N54 to a single turbo and building a Miata track car. He’s an experienced, hands-on automotive enthusiast who delivers in-depth, well-researched content.

It was only time before the muscle car segment broke into smaller, turbo engines. In 2015, Ford did exactly that with the 2.3L inline 4 turbo engine found in the S550 Mustang EcoBoost. The base models make an impressive 310 horsepower straight from the factory. However, the appeal with turbo engines is the ability to easily tune and mod for extra power.

There’s no question the 2.3L EB leaves some potential on the table that can be unleashed with a few basic bolt-on performance mods. Though, risks are always involved when pushing an engine beyond its intended design. In this post, I discuss the best basic bolt-on mods and the risks of modding the 2.3L Mustang EcoBoost.

Mustang EcoBoost 2.3L Bolt-Ons

Mustang EcoBoost 2.3L Bolt-On Mods

  1. Tune
  2. Intake
  3. Downpipe
  4. Intercooler
  5. Charge pipes

These 5 basic bolt-on upgrades have the ability to boost your Mustang EcoBoost to the next level. However, increasing power always comes with some risks so I’ll talk about the “EcoBoom” nickname and engine limits first. Then, I break down each of the above performance upgrades and talk about costs, power gains, and benefits.

If you would rather consume this content via a video, check out our Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang Mod video below:

2.3L EcoBoost AKA “EcoBoom”

Well, the 2.3L EcoBoost doesn’t have the best nickname – some refer to it as the “EcoBoom”. However, I don’t fully agree with that. Of course, the internet has a tendency to blow things out of proportion. Ford wouldn’t use the 2.3 EcoBoost in so many flagship cars if they didn’t believe it’s a solid engine.

That said, the engine does well at what it was built to do. Start throwing extra power at it, as with any other engine, and the risks increase. Every engine has its limits and there isn’t any exception here.

The Stock Turbo Is Inefficient 

2.3L EcoBoost Dyno

I hate to start on such a negative note, but the 2.3L EcoBoost engine doesn’t flow well. We’ve spent a long time writing about various cars, and the above dyno chart is one of the worst we’ve ever seen. The low-end torque is impressive – we’ll give it that. However, look at the torque curve, especially above 5,000 RPM’s. It’s awful. That’s generally a sign the turbo is being pushed outside its efficiency range. It’s simply too small of a turbo.

This point is meant to tie into the discussion coming up next about the Mustang EcoBoost limits on the stock block and internals. A small, inefficient turbo creates massive amounts of backpressure that can be hard on the engine. 350whp on the stock turbo is not the same as 350whp on a larger, higher flowing turbo.

2.3L EcoBoost Stock Engine Limits

We’re ignoring an upgraded turbo as a bolt-on mod in this post. However, the previous section is there for a reason. It’s impossible to put an upper limit on an engine. If only it were as simple as, “Yeah the motor is 100% fine at 350whp, but there’s a 90% chance you’ll blow the motor at 370whp.” There are so many different factors at play. Torque is also a better number to use when quoting the upper limits of an engine. That said, it seems 420-450 torque is about the safe limit for the 2.3 Mustang EcoBoost.

However, there are things that can be controlled that reduce the chance of engine failure. Proper tuning is towards the top of that list. Also, having proper supporting mods goes a long way. Intakes help the engine breath. Downpipes reduce back-pressure. Intercoolers ensure the charge air is cool. Finally, proper data-logging and monitoring can go a long way. You don’t want to be driving aggressively if the engine is leaning out or you’re having excessive engine knocks.

In summary, 420-450 torque is a good limit for the 2.3L EcoBoost. Ensure you’ve got proper supporting mods, good tuning, and monitor the engines parameters. Even then, understand things can possibly go wrong. This is not meant to scare anyone away from modding their EcoBoost Mustangs. It’s just something everyone should understand prior to doing so. With that out of the way, we’ll break down each of the 5 bolt-on performance mods below.

1) Tunes

If we were looking for only one performance mod a tune would be our choice by a long shot. A tune alone on the 2.3L Mustang can offer power gains of 30-50whp and 60-80wtq. Impressive gains for a single mod that usually runs around $500. Additionally, 2.3L Mustang EcoBoost tunes allow you to reap the full benefits of further mods. Performance mods simply do not reach their potential without a proper tune.

There are tons of different options on the market and it’s tough to go wrong with most 2.3L EcoBoost tunes. Ensure you’re getting the tuning device from a reputable company. Otherwise, a lot of it comes down to personal preference. It’s also a good idea to consider which tunes have good support for switching tunes down the road. As you continue modding your 2.3L EcoBoost you’ll likely need updated tunes to account for the new mods.

For more info on tuning, check out this complete Mustang EcoBoost tuning guide.

Tune Cost: $429-600
Tune HP Gains: 30-50whp (tune only)

2) Performance Intake

2.3L EcoBoost Upgraded Performance Intake

Intakes are another popular and cost-friendly upgrade for the Mustang EcoBoost. The factory intake is efficient at stock power and boost. However, the intake becomes less efficient as boost and horsepower increase. It’s a great mod to compliment the tune and there are plenty of tune + intake bundles on the market. Intakes generally add somewhere in the ballpark of 5-10 wheel horsepower on the 2.3L EcoBoost. However, gains may be higher with heavy mods.

Finding the right intake can understandably be confusing. There are so many different names and terms out there. S550 Mustang EcoBoost cold air intakes, performance intakes, performance cold air intakes, and intake kits are all various names. What’s the difference?

Open vs Closed Intakes

To make it simple we like to think of intakes as open air intakes or closed intakes. An open intake is open to the engine bay whereas a closed system shields the filter and pulls in colder air. However, the difference does not really matter on a turbocharged, intercooled engine. The air passes thru the filter into an incredibly hot turbo. It’s then cooled by the intercooler. It’s been proven that intake temperatures at the filter have little affect on the intercoolers ability to cool the charge air. We prefer open intakes for several reasons:

  • Better flow
  • More sounds

An open intake generally has less restrictions since the filter is open to the surrounding air. Also, removing the restrictive air boxes allows for more EcoBoost induction and turbo sounds. Despite open intakes flowing better the closed intake designs will still offer the same performance, especially on the stock turbo. It’s tough to go wrong with either option. It’s just a matter of personal preference and whether or not you want louder induction and turbo noise.

Intake Price: $250+
Intake HP Gains: 5-10whp

For a more fulsome guide on 2.3 EcoBoost Intake upgrades, check out our Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost Intake Guide.

3) Mustang EcoBoost Downpipe Mods

An upgraded downpipe is arguably the second best 2.3L EcoBoost performance mod following a tune. It’s likely a toss-up between an intercooler and a downpipe. We’re big supporters of downpipe upgrades since they offer many benefits on top of horsepower gains. A few benefits of Mustang EcoBoost downpipe upgrades include:

  • 10-20whp gains
  • Faster turbo spool
  • Lower back-pressure
  • Slightly louder exhaust

Power gains are impressive from an upgraded downpipe. Though, it’s important to note a lot of those gains aren’t from the downpipe alone. Rather, the horsepower gains are due to the ability to run a couple extra PSI. This is due to their ability to help move air out of the engine more efficiently through lower back-pressure.

The drop in pressure from the manifold to the downpipe actually plays an important role in a turbos ability to spool and build boost. As such, an upgraded downpipe will reduce turbo spool time. Improved sounds are also an added benefit. Mustang EcoBoost catless downpipes will add a bit more bark, but are not intrusive when daily driving.

Upgraded Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost downpipes also work better when combined with other performance mods, especially ones that improve overall airflow and exhaust flow. One of the most common modifications along those lines is an upgraded exhaust. If you are looking for recommendations for a quality 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang exhaust, take a look at our dedicated guide.

Catless vs High-Flow Catted DP’s

The goal with a downpipe upgrade is to reduce back-pressure. A catless downpipe is the most effective as that will result in the largest drop in pressure. However, catless downpipes of course add concerns for emissions testing. That’s where high-flow catted downpipes come into play. They’ll offer the performance benefits above, but to a slightly lesser degree. If performance is the end goal catless are the way to go. However, catted downpipes are a great solution for EcoBoost Mustang owners concerned about emissions.

CVF 3″ Catless Downpipe

CVFab is one of our favorite EcoBoost mod manufacturers. Their 2.3L Mustang catless downpipe is a direct bolt-on replacement and is the best combination of price, quality, and performance you can find on the market. Additionally, for those looking for a high-flow catted option, CVF has one for $400 which is the best you’ll find for a catted downpipe. They also offer resonator delete y-pipe’s for anyone looking to add some extra noise to their exhaust system.

Downpipe Cost: $275 (catless) or $400 (catted)
Downpipe Power Gains: 10-20whp (5-15whp catted)
Buy Here: CVF Catless Downpipe or CVF High-Flow Catted

4) Upgraded Intercooler

Intercoolers (FMIC) are one of the best bolt-ons mods for any tuned 2.3L EcoBoost. The factory intercooler is sufficient for stock boost. However, increasing boost quickly overwhelms the stock Mustang EcoBoost intercooler. This ultimately leads to heat soak. In this situation the turbo and air get so hot the intercooler isn’t able to effectively cool the charge air. A larger intercooler upgrade is a simple solution to that issue. Of course, cooler air means more horsepower. However, there are other important benefits too:

  • 10-20whp gains
  • Consistency
  • Reduced chance of knock

Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to intercoolers. An upgraded EcoBoost Mustang FMIC will prevent heat-soak during extended “aggressive” driving. Ever felt like your Mustang makes more power the first couple times you floor it, and then starts feeling slower and slower? That’s heat soak at work. It may be time to consider an FMIC upgrade. Additionally, cooler air entering the cylinders helps reduce the chance of engine knock.

As with the previous bolt-ons, we also have a guide dedicated to Mustang EcoBoost FMIC upgrades.

CVF Race and CVF Street Intercoolers

CVF offers two 2.3L Mustang intercooler options: a Street or Race intercooler upgrade.  The street intercooler has about twice the cooling capacity as the stock intercooler and can support up to 550whp. It reduces charge air temps by about 40 degrees during street driving and is suitable for most Mustang owners. The Race intercooler is substantially bigger offering a 200% increase in air capacity and has tested at 92 degree temp reductions on the street. It can support up to 800whp and is a direct bolt-on replacement.

Either intercoolers can be further upgraded with a chargepipe/intercooler piping upgrade to help increase airflow from the turbo to the intercooler. It’s a great add-on for both the Street and Race intercoolers and is highly suggested for anyone running aggressive tunes.

We love the Race option if you can afford it. However, if you are looking for a budget option the Street intercooler is an awesome upgrade. The larger Race intercooler really isn’t necessary unless you have an upgraded turbo, but it’s still our favorite option if you can swing the extra $170.

Price: $360 (Street) and $530 (Race)

Buy Here: CVF Street and CVF Race

5) Charge Pipe Upgrades

The final performance mod we’re discussing for the EcoBoost are charge pipes. A charge pipe is a generic term for any intake piping that carries charge air. Specifically, we’re looking at the charge pipes that connect to the intercooler. Most kits will offer the hot-side (after turbo, before FMIC) and cold-side (after FMIC). Additionally, these charge pipes hold the factory diverter valve. Depending on which charge pipes you choose you can also upgrade to a blow-off valve. Charge pipes aren’t really a power mod. A few horsepower may be had, though.

The real benefit is replacing the weak rubber hot-side pipe with a higher quality metal pipe. The cold-side upgrade does help remove some flow restrictions and also allows the option to upgrade to a BOV.

CVF Chargepipes

CVF offers three chargepipe upgrade options ranging from $215 to $250. All of the chargepipes are the same, the only differing option is whether or not you want to stick with the stock diverter valves or upgrade to an HKS or TiAL blow-off valve.

CVF has the best bang-for-your-buck chargepipe kits on the market. They are high quality and offer great bolt-on fitment. If you don’t want any of the “pshhhh” blow-off valve noises then stick with the stock diverter valve pipe. We run an HKS SSQV on one of our cars and the TiAL Q on another. The HKS is the louder one.

Price: $215 to $250

Buy Here: CVF 2.3L Mustang Chargepipe Kits

Mustang EcoBoost Bolt-Ons Summary

As with many turbo cars, the Ford Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost leaves a lot of power on the table. A few basic bolt-on mods unleash the S550 Mustangs true potential. However, increasing boost and power does come with risks. It’s generally accepted the EcoBoost is good up to about 420-450 torque. Ensure you’re running a quality, conservative tune with proper supporting mods and monitoring.

A tune is likely the best starting point for most. Not only does it offer the biggest gains up-front, but it also allows you to get the most out of additional bolt-on mods. An intake is a great mod to couple with a tune to support increased air-flow. Downpipes and intercoolers offer many benefits, on top of power gains, for the Mustang EcoBoost. Finally, charge pipes are a great way to ensure reliability and an easy way to upgrade to a BOV. These 5 basic bolt-on mods can push the Mustang EcoBoost north of 350 horsepower.

What mods do you have on your Mustang EcoBoost? Which are you considering?

Looking for more awesome content? Check out some additional guides including our 2.3L EcoBoost common problems guide and ultimate engine guide.

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One Comment

  1. Great article on 310hp stock 2.3l, have the hipro 2.3l in a 2022, same upgrades. Already have air intake.

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