F150 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Upgrade Guide
Chandler is an automotive expert with over a decade of experience working on and modifying cars. A couple of his favorites were his heavily modded 2016 Subaru WRX and his current 2020 VW Golf GTI. He’s also a big fan of American Muscle and automotive history. Chandler’s passion and knowledge of the automotive industry help him deliver high-quality, insightful content to TuningPro readers.
The Ford F150 truck is one of the most versatile and popular American trucks on the market today. The 3.5 L twin-turbo EcoBoost engine, which became available in 2011, is one of the best F150 power plants. While the engine offers a great balance of fuel economy, emissions, performance, and reliability, it can still use some upgrades. One of the top mods is an F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust upgrade.
Upgrading the F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust adds a much deeper and louder exhaust tone. If you’ve ever heard a stock F150, you know how quiet and subdued it sounds from the factory. The decibel level barely compares with an economy car, and definitely doesn’t do the F150 any justice. Part of the joy of having a twin-turbo engine is hearing them spool-up through the exhaust, but the stock F150 is just too quiet for that.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about upgrading the F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust. We’ll start with the basics about the different types and sizes of exhausts, before we look at the benefits of installing them. Finally, we’ll give you our recommendations for the top 5 F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhausts on the market.
Table of Contents
- F150 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Basics
- F150 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Upgrade Benefits
- Top F150 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Upgrades
- Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Upgrade Summary
F150 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Basics
When looking at F150 exhausts, one of the most important things to know is what type of exhaust you are searching for. Generally, you can think of the F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust as having two main parts: the downpipe and the cat-back. The downpipe comes first and connects directly to the turbos and feeds the exhaust towards the back of the truck. Connecting to the end of the downpipe is the cat-back. The cat-back is the remaining portion of the exhaust that contains the muffler at the end.
The cat-back is so called because it refers to the catalytic converter. It is the remaining portion of the exhaust past the cat – hence the term cat-back. On the F-150 it’s a bit of a misnomer, because the cats are both fairly close to the front of the downpipe. Still, that’s generally the name for the second half of the F-150 exhaust.
A complete aftermarket exhaust – both a downpipe and a cat-back combined – is known as a turbo-back exhaust. Most aftermarket downpipes and cat-backs will fit each other, but not all of them. If you are looking at adding a cat-back exhaust to an already installed downpipe, or vice versa, make sure you check fitment with the manufacturer first.
This article is going to focus exclusively on cat-back exhausts, though we will reference the downpipe when necessary. Previously, we wrote a guide for the F150 3.5 EcoBoost Downpipes, which has great downpipe info as well as our suggestions for the best downpipes.
F150 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Cat-back Types
As we mentioned, the term cat-back is a bit misleading on the F150s. If you look at aftermarket downpipes, the cats are actually pretty far upstream and close to the turbo. Yet, the downpipe extends quite a bit further back before ending. On the F150, the entire front pipe is considered the downpipe, even the bit that extends past the cats.
The F150 cat-back is the second half of the exhaust system that connects to the downpipe. There are a few different considerations to keep in mind when considering a cat-back’s design. Number one is going to be if it is a single or dual exit. The second is going to be if you want a rear or side exit. Performance wise, there is pretty much no difference in single vs dual or rear vs side, it’s all aesthetic preference.
Dual exits will be heavier, because of the addition of a second muffler, but it’s pretty negligible. Single exits are also usually a bit louder because of the single muffler. The same goes for side vs rear exit. The side exits will usually be louder, because they are usually single exits and often do not have mufflers. Side exits also weigh a hair less, but again it’s not a huge difference.
Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Sizing
Exhaust sizing is an important thing to keep in mind when purchasing a F150 cat-back. Generally, for builds below 500 horsepower, the ideal F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust sizing is going to be 3 in. The stock exhaust is mostly 2.5 in, though it has 3” mufflers, which is a bit undersized for as powerful an engine as the 3.5 EcoBoost. Increasing your exhaust size to a full 3” system will make it much louder than stock, and will also offer some minimal performance gains, too.
The larger exhaust sizing will reduce backpressure, which allows the engine to perform better. Many performance systems have 3” piping with 2.5” mufflers, which is an improvement over stock, but not quite as good as a full 3” system. Realistically, the cat-back is less important to upgrade than the downpipe for performance, but it definitely doesn’t hurt. In addition, if you want a full turbo-back, you’ll want a 3” cat-back to match the 3” downpipe.
Going much above 3”on builds below 500 horsepower is not advisable, because it will reduce back pressure too much. For a twin-turbo engine to work efficiently, there needs to be some degree of back pressure, and an exhaust that is too wide will actually lose low-end torque and struggle to make up for it on the top-end.
Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Muffler Design
Picking the right mufflers is also crucial in terms of both performance and exhaust tone/volume. The point of performance mufflers is to dissipate the exhaust gasses’ energy without impacting flow.
There are generally two kinds of performance mufflers, baffled and straight pipes – also known as reflective and absorptive. Baffled/reflective mufflers work by pushing the exhaust gasses through a series of bends and chambers before it exits the tips. Absorptive/straight pipes work instead by having perforations in the exhaust that are surrounded by packing/absorptive material. In a baffled exhaust, the exhaust gas energy is dissipated through the bends and chambers. In a straight pipe exhaust, the exhaust energy is dissipated into the packing material.
You might think the straight pipe exhausts would perform much better than baffled exhausts, but real world testing has shown there really isn’t a huge difference. Modern baffled mufflers are engineered well enough that the restriction to flow is so minimal it performs just as well as straight pipes.
Soundwise for the F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust, straight piped mufflers are louder than baffled mufflers. If you want something as loud as possible, go for straight piped mufflers – or no mufflers at all. If you don’t want something quite as throaty and loud, a baffled exhaust might be the better option.
F150 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Upgrade Benefits
The top benefits from upgrading your F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust are:
- Improved exhaust tone
- Increased exhaust volume
- More aesthetically pleasing appearance
- Weight reduction vs stock
- Improved exhaust flow
As you can see, while upgrading just the cat-back on the F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust might sound simple, it actually has a host of benefits. The most obvious are going to be the increased volume and improved exhaust tone. The larger diameter piping is largely responsible for the increase in sound, and the muffler design typically determines the tone. Every cat-back sounds different, so make sure you hear clips of your cat-back first before buying one to make sure you like it.
Another benefit of an F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust upgrade is how much they improve the look of the truck. The cast iron stock exhaust looks cheap and pathetic when compared with the T304 SS of most aftermarket cat-backs. Aftermarket cat-backs elevate your truck’s look to make it more aggressive and clean. They will also drop some weight over stock, as the cast iron is incredibly heavy everywhere.
Finally, you will unlock some extra power from an aftermarket cat-back F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust. Typically, it will be 5-10 horsepower at the most, and most of the benefit comes if you already have a downpipe installed. Without a downpipe you might still feel a little bit a more responsive throttle, but likely not by much.
If you would rather consume this content via a video, check out our Best 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Systems video below:
Top 5 F150 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Upgrades
The top 5 F150 3.5 EcoBoost cat-back exhausts are:
- Livernois Motorsports
- Corsa Performance
- Solo Performance
- Borla Exhausts
Here are the top 5 F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust upgrades available on the market today. We prioritized this list by performance, design, reliability, and durability – everything a performance exhaust should excel at. Keep in mind that not every exhaust is available for every year/trim of the F150, so double check fitment before any purchases.
1) Livernois Motorsports 3.5 F150 Cat-back
Price: $1,000.00 – $1,099.00
2011-2014 Livernois Motorsports 3.5 F150 Cat-back
2011-2014 Livernois Motorsports 3.5 F150 Cat-back Black
2015-2020 Livernois Motorsports 3.5 F150 Performance Cat-back
2021-2022 Livernois Motorsports 3.5 F150 Performance Cat-back
The first recommendation we have for an upgraded F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust is from Livernois Motorsports. Livernois is one of the top performance exhaust companies in the business, and they have been making products for Fords since the ‘40s. Livernois is located just minutes from the Ford plant in Dearborn, and is very well known in the exhaust industry.
The Livernois Motorsports F150 3.5 EcoBoost cat-back performs incredibly well and looks outstanding. They offer a few different options for their catbacks. Colorwise, you can get polished silver or black as options. Livernois’ cat-backs are specifically designed to minimize drone and have mandrel bends for optimal flow. They also claim gains of up to 10-15 horsepower from installing their cat-back.
Pricewise, Livernois is right in the middle for our list, delivering high performance material at a pretty competitive price. Their exhausts cover the entire range of the F150, from 2011-2022, and are all 100% T304 Stainless Steel. Their exhausts are also 100% manufactured in the U.S., and they fit most F150 trims.
2) Corsa Performance 3.5 F150 Cat-back
Price: $1,092.99 – $1,345.99
2011-2014 Corsa 3.5 F150 Cat-back
2015-2020 Corsa 3.5 F150 Cat-back
2021-2022 Corsa 3.5 F150 Cat-back
Our second recommendation for an F150 3.5 EcoBoost cat-back is from Corsa. Anyone who knows about performance exhaust systems has undoubtedly heard of Corsa, who are one of the giants in the industry. They have been manufacturing car and truck exhausts for many years, and are considered one of the best companies in the game.
We have a couple of different options for the Corsa F150 cat-backs, one for every year. The 2011-2020 suggestions are all dual-tipped single exit exhausts, whereas the 2021-2022 option is a dual exit, single-tip option. All of them perform pretty well, with Corsa claiming 10-15 horsepower gains from each. Depending on the system, there is also between 7-15 lbs in weight reduction from stock to Corsa cat-backs.
Like the Livernois cat-backs, Corsa’s have mandrel bends, and they also have Reflective Sound Cancellation (RSC®) Technology to eliminate drone. It is also U.S. manufactured in Ohio, and is a direct bolt-on fit. The Corsa cat-back is a full 3” system with 4” tips, making it an optimal size for most F150 builds.
3) Solo Performance 3.5 F150 Cat-back
Price: $855.00 – $978.27
2011-2014 Solo Performance Mach X 3.5 F150 Cat-back
2015-2022 Solo Performance Mach 44 XV 3.5 F150 Cat-back
Another top F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust cat-back option is from Solo Performance. Solo performance hasn’t been around quite as long as the other names on our list, but they have quickly developed a solid reputation in the F150 community. They are well reviewed for fitment, and especially for exhaust tone. Both our recommendations, the Mach X and Mach 44 XV, aren’t the loudest F150 cat-backs on the market, but they have phenomenal tone.
The Mach X and Mach 44 XV cat-backs are both 3” with mandrel bends, dual exits, and dual tips. The Mach X has a MR300 resonator on it, making it the quieter version, so if you want the louder version make sure to get the non-resonated version. Solo Performance also offers 4” F150 cat-backs, but as we mentioned earlier we suggest sticking with the 3” – unless you have a really high horsepower build (>500 whp).
The Mach X and Mach XV cat-backs both have 3” tubing with 2.5” outlets past the muffler, which isn’t the most ideal for a performance exhaust system. It still performs better than stock, but not as well as a full 3” system like the Corsas.
4) Flowmaster 3.5 F150 Cat-back
Price: $440.96 – $691.16
2011-2014 Flowmaster Outlaw Extreme 3.5 F150 Cat-back
2015-2020 Flowmaster Outlaw Extreme 3.5 F150 Cat-back
2021-2022 Flowmaster Outlaw Extreme 3.5 F150 Cat-back
Our next recommendation for an F150 3.5 EcoBoost cat-back is from Flowmaster. Like Corsa, if you have spent any time researching exhaust systems you pretty much have to have heard of Flowmaster. A division of the famous Holley Performance Products, Flowmaster has been making quality exhaust parts since the early-’80s. They have an outstanding reputation for quality as well as performance.
Flowmaster currently has several different exhaust styles, and we recommend the Outlaw Extreme series for the 3.5 F150s. The FlowFX line is made from 409 Stainless Steel instead of 304 SS like the other manufacturers. 304 SS is preferable to 409 for longevity and appearance, as 409 is generally cheaper and doesn’t last as long.
The Outlaw Extreme series from Flowmaster is loud, it’s actually the loudest system they have – which is why we recommended it. It is very close to a straight piped design, as the muffler is tiny, and it is a full 3” system with 4” tips. It has mandrel bends for flow, but not much noise canceling technology. This is definitely a system to consider if volume is your goal.
5) Borla Exhausts’ 3.5 F150 Cat-back
Price: $1,491.99 – $1,518.99
2015-2020 Borla 3.5 F150 Atak Cat-back Exhaust
2021-2022 Borla 3.5 F150 Atak Cat-back Exhaust
Our final recommendation for an F150 cat-back is from Borla Exhausts. Borla is another reputable name in the exhaust industry, and they are well known in the F150 community. From Borla, we recommend their Atak cat-back series, which is the loudest they offer.
Borla’s exhausts are all made from T304 SS, and are polished steel with black chrome finish on the tips. The Borla system is mostly 2.5”, which is not as ideal as a full 3” exhaust, but still sounds excellent. It has mandrel bends and does a great job of reducing drone through the patented muffler system. It is a straight through style muffler, and really lets you hear the 3.5 EcoBoost roar.
The Borla system fits most trims, but you will have to buy separate adaptors for crew cabs and extended cabs with larger wheelbases. Overall, the Borla won’t perform quite as well as the others, due to his smaller diameter, but sounds fantastic and is still a worthy consideration.
Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Exhaust Upgrade Summary
Upgrading the Ford F150 3.5 EcoBoost exhaust is one of the top mods you can do on the F150. You will increase exhaust volume, refine the tone, save weight, and mildly improve performance. There’s pretty much no downside to installing a cat-back, as they are all emissions legal, and they aren’t horrendously expensive. Your neighbors might not appreciate the new exhaust volume, but at least it’ll sound amazing…
We gave several different recommendations for F150 exhausts, and all of them are very worthy. The Livernois Motorsports system is a great bargain for the price, while still performing very well. The Corsa Performance exhaust is another top performer, as are the tried and true Flowmaster and Borla options. Solo Performance is much newer to the game, but their reputation is already solid.
Overall, we recommend the Livernois Motorsports exhausts, as they provide the best mix of performance, quality, price, and durability. However, any of the choices will definitely bring a smile to your face.
Let us know about your experience with F150 cat-back exhausts below!