Since its release in 2015, Ford’s 2.3L EcoBoost engine has been one its top powertrain options. Ford has put it in several of their most popular models, including the Mustang, Focus RS/ST hatchback, Ranger trucks, and new U725 Bronco SUV. Depending on the model, the engine produces between 270-350 horsepower and 305-350 lb-ft of torque.
Though it is still relatively new, the Ford EcoBoost engine series has already carved out a solid niche among modern turbo engines. Combining fuel efficient technology with humbling performance, the 2.3 EcoBoost is a solid power plant. It is reliable to boot and does very well when paired with aftermarket performance mods.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about Ford’s 2.3 EcoBoost engine. We’ll look at the EcoBoost engine history, the basics of the 2.3 L inline-four, and finally we’ll go over its reliability and performance potential. Let’s dig in.
Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Engine History
Ford first introduced the EcoBoost engine family in 2009 with the inline-four 1.6L and 2.0L EcoBoosts, and the 3.5 EcoBoost. The goal of the EcoBoost family was pretty straightforward, less displacement. Due to increasing emissions restrictions and environmental concerns, Ford wanted to replace their naturally aspirated small block V8s with smaller displacement I4 and V6 turbocharged engines. The smaller sizes would ease fuel consumption and emissions, while the turbochargers would keep performance inline with the outgoing V8s.
In 2015, Ford released the 2.3 EcoBoost, which was a stroked version of the 2.0L engine, which itself was based on the 2.0 naturally aspirated Duratec engine. It features a twin-scroll turbocharger, gasoline direct injection (GDI) fueling, and makes 310-330 horsepower inside the Mustang. Ford also put the engine inside the celebrated Focus RS, where it made 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.
The 2.3 EcoBoost has gone through some minor changes through its eight year run but has stayed mostly the same. At the same time as Ford released the single-turbo 2.3 EcoBoost, they also debuted the 2.7 EcoBoost with twin-turbos. Previously, we compared the 2.3 vs 2.7 EcoBoost engines, so make sure to give that a look over if you’re interested in the 2.7 V6, too.
Ford currently has numerous EcoBoost engines still in production for the 2023 model year, including the 2.3. Due to its popularity, efficiency, reliability, and performance, this engine shows no signs of slowing down in the near future.
|2.3 L EcoBoost
|2.3 L (2,253 cc)
|Head/ Block Material
|Bore & Stroke
|87.5mm x 94mm
|16V DOHC (4 v/cy)
|305-350 lb-ft of torque
- 2015–Present Ford Mustang EcoBoost
- 2016–Present Ford Explorer
- 2016–2018 Ford Focus RS
- 2019–Present Ford Focus ST
- 2019–Present Ford Ranger
- 2020–Present Ford Everest
- 2021–Present Ford Bronco
- 2015–2019 Lincoln MKC
- 2020–Present Lincoln Corsair
Ford 2.3 L EcoBoost Engine Design Basics
The Ford 2.3 EcoBoost is a 2.3 L inline-four engine with an all aluminum block and head. The high-flow cylinder head has an integrated exhaust manifold, upon which the turbo is mounted. It has a bore and stroke of 87.5mm x 94mm and a compression ratio of 9.5:1. The compression ratio is very boost friendly, and the EcoBoost uses an efficient twin-scroll turbo.
The valve train is a dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) system with two camshafts. It has a 4 valve/cylinder design, making for 16 valves total. The intake camshaft has a duration of 236° and 7.9mm of lift. The exhaust camshaft has a duration of 224° and 7.4mm of lift. Both the intake and exhaust cams use Ford’s Twin independent Variable Cam Timing system (Ti-VCT).
The 2.3 EcoBoost also has forged connecting rods, high-strength and lightweight pistons with fully floating wrist pins, and a fully forged 4340 steel crankshaft. The pistons have oil cooling jets to help with increased heat and for durability. It also has a chain-driven high pressure oil pump, and a deep sump oil pan specifically designed to prevent oil starvation during track use.
In addition to a lightweight intake manifold with a big throttle body, the 2.3 EcoBoost cylinder head has oversized valves (32.5mm intake, 30mm exhaust – sodium filled) and high strength, high performance valve seats.
The 2.3 EcoBoost is the largest and most powerful four-cylinder engine Ford has ever produced, with 350 horsepower max. Inside the Mustang, the EcoBoost makes 330 horsepower, which works out to more than 140 horsepower per liter. That’s roughly 50 horsepower per liter more than the Coyote V8 inside the mustang GT.
Direct Injection Fueling Explained
One of the most important aspects of the 2.3 EcoBoost is the Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) fueling system. Commonly referred to as just direct injection, DI is a relatively old technology that has just recently started to come into mass production use. The technology was originally developed in Germany in the 1950s following the Second World War, but Ford did not start using it until the mid-2000s.
The difference between a DI-system and a normal electronic fuel injection system is where the injector sits. In standard systems, the injector sits above the valve and squirts in fuel when the valve opens. In a DI-system, the injector sits on top of the combustion chamber and squirts fuel directly into the chamber, hence the term direct injection, sometimes referred to as direct-port injection.
DI-systems have high pressure fuel pumps which pressurize the fuel to as much as 3,000 PSI, roughly 50x more than a standard fuel injection system. The high pressure atomizes the fuel as it squirts it into the combustion chamber, which minimizes emissions and improves fuel economy. The DI also allows for more precise fuel injection timing, which also helps to boost fuel economy, improve emissions, and increase performance.
EcoBoost Direct Injection Downsides
You might be wondering what the downside is to DI systems, and it comes down to complexity and cost. Every part of a DI-system, from the injectors to the high pressure fuel pump, is incredibly expensive. DI-technology is much more complex than standard fuel injection, making everything costlier.
In addition to the added cost and complexity, since DI-systems are very new in the industry they are not the most reliable. High pressure fuel pumps are common failures, especially if you experiment with ethanol blends. Injectors have also been known to become problematic for some people, which can be very costly.
However, by far the biggest disadvantage and downside to using DI is the build-up of carbon on the intake valves. In standard fuel injection systems, the injectors spray fuel over the intake valves, washing off oil before it turns into carbon deposits. However, since DI injectors are placed directly in the combustion chamber, they do not wash over the intake valves.
This leaves them to develop carbon deposits over time. Exhaust valves burn off the excess carbon due to the heat of the exhaust gasses exiting. However, the intake valves see much cooler temperatures, so the oil is never burned off and it leaves behind carbon.
For most people, the buildup of carbon is very minimal and will not affect operation of the engine for well over 100,000 miles. However, in some cases the carbon deposits can build up too much, causing issues with misfiring, starting, and engine stalling. The only way to remove the carbon is through a process known as walnut blasting, which is unfortunately somewhat expensive and not always easy to find.
However, the vast majority of people will not have issues with carbon buildup affecting anything, at least not for well over 100,000 miles. Some people will try to use seafoam to clean their valves, but we would not suggest wasting money on that. Your best bet is to leave your valves alone unless you experience problems with misfiring, stalling, and/or starting.
Ford 2.3L EcoBoost Common Problems and Reliability
Objectively, the Ford 2.3 EcoBoost engine is very reliable, as is the rest of the engine series. Since their debut in 2009, the series has shown to be capable of handling lots of mileage without massive problems. The 2.3 L EcoBoost follows the trend, and so far through its first eight model years has been fantastic.
You should feel very confident that a stock 2.3 EcoBoost engine will make it to 100,000 miles without issue. Most people will probably be able to reach 200,000+ miles reliably without a major rebuild, provided all maintenance is followed and the engine is stock. There haven’t been too many 200,000 mile 2.3 EcoBoosts yet, as it’s still pretty new (it would require 25,000 miles per year), but there are already a few that have pushed past the finish line without issue.
Still, the 2.3 L EcoBoost is not completely without problems. One of them we covered earlier, carbon buildup on the intake valves. As we mentioned, for most people this won’t be an issue, but it is still worth mentioning.
One theory holds that the intake valves become relatively saturated after about 10,000 miles, and the difference between a 10,000 and 100,000 mile intake valve is pretty minimal. Another theory posits that an “Italian tune-up,” or getting the engine temperature hot through spirited driving, will effectively burn off excess carbon buildup on the valves before it becomes a problem. Neither of these are 100% proven to be true, but they are very popular theories within the EcoBoost community.
As we mentioned earlier, the one true way to clean your intake valves is through walnut blasting. The only other methods are to either install a port injection system, which places the injectors upstream of the valve and uses fuel to wash off the carbon. Or you can install a methanol injection system, and use methanol to wash the intake valves.
Keep in mind, both of these solutions are expensive and will require custom tuning, making them only practical on high horsepower builds. In addition, supplemental fueling and methanol injection only work to prevent carbon buildup, and are useless for removing it if it’s already baked on. If you want to use methanol or port fueling, you need to clean your valves first before installing to make sure they are already clean.
Engine Overheating and Head Gasket Issues
The next two problems that are frequently mentioned with the 2.3 EcoBoost engine are head gasket failure on the early Focus RS engines, as well as general overheating problems. We would not consider either of these problems widespread or catastrophic, but they are worth mentioning. Previously, we looked at these issues in-depth with our 2.3 EcoBoost common problems guide. We’ll just go over the basics here, if you want a more detailed breakdown check out our guide above.
The head gasket issue was most likely related to a production mishap that saw the focus RS get the Mustang head gasket instead of the correct RS head gasket. Though the RS and Mustang both use the 2.3 EcoBoost, the RS block is different, in that it has improved coolant passages. The Mustang head gasket blocks off some of these passageways from the head to the block, which led to overheating. This only affected a very limited number of early 2016 RS models, and was not an issue after the correct head gasket was sourced.
The overheating problems were again limited to early 2.3 EcoBoosts, and had to do with a lack of heat shields. After they were installed the overheating problem mostly went away. With that being said, in general turbos run hotter than naturally aspirated engines, which may have confused some new turbo owners when they saw higher oil temps than usual.
Ford 2.3 Performance Upgrades
The 2.3 L EcoBoost is most prominently featured in the 2015+ Ford Mustang EcoBoost, 2016-2018 Focus RS, and 2019+ Ford Ranger. While the Mustang makes 310-330 horsepower and the RS made 350 horsepower, the Ranger is considerably lower at 270 horsepower.
However, with just a few bolt-ons, you can easily make your Ranger match the Mustang or RS, or you can take your Mustang or RS to match the Coyote V8. Here is a breakdown of the top Mustang, RS, and Ranger Mods. Click the links to go to our in-depth recommendation guides for each mod.
Mustang EcoBoost and Ranger Mods
The first best mods for any 2.3 EcoBoost-powered car will be upgrading the tuning, intake, and exhaust. Tuning easily adds 10-20% in power without any hardware modifications and is by far the best bang for your buck when it comes to modding.
After tuning, you will likely want to look at upgrading the stock intake. While the OEM intake isn’t bad, upgrading to a performance cold air intake will give you an easy 10-20 horsepower increase.
After increasing airflow with an intake, your next step will be decreasing back pressure with a downpipe. Most of the time, upgrading turbo headers doesn’t result in big power increases. That’s why upgrading the downpipe is the preferred turbo exhaust upgrade. The downpipe has the catalytic converter, and getting a high-flow one will definitely improve exhaust restriction. Combining an upgraded downpipe with a quality cat-back exhaust is a great way to improve both sound and performance.
Finally, you’ll want to upgrade the cooling for your turbo system. The best way to do that is to get less restrictive charge pipes and a larger intercooler. The charge pipes also help shed heat, and bigger intercoolers can drop charge air temperatures by as much as 40° over stock. That means not only will you have more sustained power after back-to-back pulls, but your tuner will be able to increase fueling and timing to make a lot more power.
Combining all of these mods together is known as full bolt-ons (FBO), and will easily push the Mustang past 350 wheel-horsepower and 375 wheel-torque, and the Ranger past 325 wheel-horsepower and 350 wheel-torque.
Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Engine Guide Conclusion
Overall, the Ford 2.3 EcoBoost engine is a very reliable engine and a fantastic power plant for builds. Though it has only had a relatively short lifespan, so far everything in the first eight years has been encouraging. Apart from a few early issues with the head gasket and heat shields, the 2.3 EcoBoost has proven a very reliable machine.
In addition, the engine loves to make power from bolt-on modifications. Just upgrading the tuning, intake, exhaust, and intercooler, will make the Mustang EcoBoost pretty much on par with the Mustang GT powered by the Coyote V8. It can also make the Ranger compete with the F-150 featuring either of the larger 2.7 or 3.5 EcoBoost V6 engines. We would definitely recommend the 2.3 EcoBoost to anyone looking for a reliable turbo-four with endless potential.
Let us know about your experience with the Ford 2.3 EcoBoost engine in the comments below!