Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engines are a big focus on this blog. We’re big fans of the twin turbo V6 EcoBoost engine for good reason. The 3.5 twin turbo engine is capable of 500-550+whp on stock turbos with simple bolt-ons. Impressive numbers. However, some are always looking for more and that’s where twin turbo upgrades come into play. In this article, I discuss F-150 3.5 EcoBoost turbo upgrades, power gains, supporting mods, reliability, and more.
*A lot of the turbo upgrades we discuss in this article specifically fit F-150 models. In essence, the F-150 is our primary focus in this article. However, many of the concepts, power gains, supporting mods, etc. also apply to other 3.5 EcoBoost engines.
Can the 3.5 EcoBoost Handle Turbo Upgrades?
There are many various reasons to opt for F-150 and 3.5 EcoBoost upgraded turbos. Sometimes the stock turbos fail and upgrading the turbos at that point isn’t a bad idea. Others do it to make a “modest” 450-550whp with greater reliability than stock turbos. Then there are the ones who want to push the limits and build 600-700+whp setups.
This section is mostly for those pushing the Ford 3.5 V6 to 550+whp. It’s a stout engine that’s generally very safe and reliable under 550whp. However, pushing above that power for the long-term leaves a lot of question marks. How long will the engine last? What’s the chance of blowing up the F-150 EcoBoost engine? There’s never a perfect answer to this question as it can vary depending on supporting mods, tuning, luck of the draw, and many other factors.
Anyways, we’ll dive a lot deeper into this topic throughout the article. We mostly wanted to discuss a few general points here. For one, the 3.5L twin turbo V6 is a stout engine but it’s not invincible. All else equal, the further you push the engine the greater the risk. With a good setup most shouldn’t have major concerns around the 500whp ballpark. There are a lot of unknowns once you start pushing into 550-700+whp territory, though.
One more important general topic before diving into specific details about 3.5 EcoBoost turbo upgrades. The design of the engine and relatively small turbos mean it can make a lot of low-end torque. If you’re pushing the limits this is where you really want to be cautious. F-150 3.5 EcoBoost engines can easily make 600+wtq by 3,000 or 3,500 RPM’s (with the right setup, tuning, etc).
Too much low-end torque can be tough on the engine. At lower engine speeds the pistons are moving slower. This means the engine is subjected to high boost pressures and high cylinder pressures for a longer period. It increases the risk of the 3.5L V6 engine pre-detonating due to high heat & pressures combined with low engine speeds. A recipe for bending rods, breaking pistons, etc.
Again, there is no perfect number for longevity or reliability. However, if you’re shooting for big numbers we’d recommend tuning out some low-end torque. Upgraded turbos on the 3.5 EcoBoost will help the engine hold power and torque further right on the curve. Allow the turbos to do their job in the mid-range and upper RPM’s. Work with an experienced, knowledgeable tuner and keep torque to a reasonable number below about 3,500 or 4,000 RPM’s.
Changes by F-150 Year & Model
The 3.5 EcoBoost originally came out in the 2011 F-150 and still remains in these trucks as of model year 2022. Ford made a number of updates to the engine for model year 2017. These later engines are commonly known as the 2nd gen EcoBoost and include some of the following updates:
- Turbo upgrades
- Electronic waste-gates (EWG)
- Lighter turbine wheels
- Addition of port injection
- Compression ratio increase from 10.0:1 to 10.5:1*
- Camshaft updates
A number of other updates were a part of the 2nd gen 3.5 EcoBoost in 2017. However, the above list covers most of the performance and turbo upgrades over older EcoBoost engines. All of the updates do make the newer 2nd gen engines more capable. The addition of port injection makes the fuel system more capable. A higher compression ratio allows the engine to make more power and torque. Cams were optimized to save weight.
*Engines in the Ford Raptor did NOT receive the compression increase. The 3.5 EcoBoost in the Raptor uses the older 10.0:1 compression ratio.
Other EcoBoost Differences
Outside of the above there are even more differences in F-150 EcoBoost turbos. There were some changes throughout the years. Generally, you’ll notice turbo upgrades are different for the following years:
However, the 1st gen vs 2nd gen difference is the major topic. 2011-2016 3.5 EcoBoost turbos are NOT interchangeable with 2017+ turbos. This is due to the differences in waste-gates. There are some conversion kits and DIY options to make it work. It’s generally complex to swap the more capable 2nd gen turbos to a 1st gen engine. As such, simply upgrading makes sense instead of doing a full conversion.
Best F-150 3.5 EcoBoost Turbo Upgrades
Alright. With some of the background info out of the way it’s time to dive into the meat of this article. What are some of the best turbo upgrades for the 3.5 V6 EcoBoost engine? What are the best twin turbos to meet your goals and budget? We’ll dive into all of this and more in the rest of this article.
Anyway, we’ll break down the info in the following categories by goals:
- “Modest” 450-500whp builds
- 500-650whp turbos
- “Full send” 650+whp setups
Before upgrading your 3.5 EcoBoost turbos it’s important to know your goals. Are you looking for modest power with a more reliable turbo setup? Or are you one of the owners looking to make massive power? Of course, budget and expenses to get the F-150 there are a big factor. Worry not, though. We’ve got you covered on all of this info.
450-500whp Turbo Upgrade
The turbos we discuss in this section will primarily be OEM-like turbos. Yes, the stock 3.5 EcoBoost twin turbo setup can support this power. There are still benefits to upgrading even if you’re not looking for huge power gains. A few benefits to these “modest” F-150 EcoBoost turbos include:
- Better top-end power
- Flow more air at lower PSI
- Turbo longevity
- Less heat, back-pressure, etc
Many of these turbo setups are going to be stock frame turbos with internal upgrades. In other words, the stock turbo housing is bored to accept larger, higher-flowing internals. These 3.5 EcoBoost turbo upgrades will allow for better top-end power by holding more power on the top-end. If you look at stock turbo dynos you’ll notice they drop a lot of power and torque in the upper RPM’s.
Otherwise, larger internals allow the turbo to flow more air at lower boost. 3.5 EcoBoost turbo upgrades are simply more efficient. They will create less heat and lower back-pressures. All good stuff for turbo and engine longevity and reliability.
Recommended 450-500whp Supporting Mods
A few supporting mods that are a good idea for 450-500whp turbo setups include:
The above links for tunes, intakes, and downpipes route to more detailed articles on these mods. We’ll have an intercooler, fueling mods, and many other guides coming for the 3.5 EcoBoost. Anyways, these basic bolt-on mods are a good starting point to make 450-500whp. You will need a custom tune for upgraded turbos, so keep that in mind.
We recommend running E85 mixtures to make this kind of power. It’s not absolutely necessary for modest goals like 450whp. However, as you push closer to 500whp then E85 is an excellent choice. Older gen 1 F-150 EcoBoost engines will need some fueling upgrades to run that much power on heavy E85 mixes. The Livernois Motorsports HPFP upgrade is a great choice if you need more fuel flow. Most 2017+ fueling systems should hold up at this power. That said, let’s move into the actual 3.5 EcoBoost turbo upgrades to make 450-500whp.
Supporting Mod Costs: ~$2,000-3,500
1. CR Performance Stage 3 42mm Turbos (450-525+whp)
Price: $1,250 – 4,025
Fits: Options for 2011-2017
CR Performance (CRP) will make a few more appearances in this article. They’re a popular choice when it comes to F-150 3.5 EcoBoost turbo upgrades. They also have tons of options for ALL 2011-2020+ trucks. We’re limiting this to their 42mm stage 3 turbos, which are meant for 2011-2017 models. Stage 3 kits for 2018+ EcoBoost engines are larger and offer quite a bit more power, so they don’t quite fit in this section.
Anyways, there are two options for these turbos. The first uses brand new turbochargers from Ford, which are then upgraded by CR. These run in the $3,000 to $4000 ballpark but it’s a good option if you want brand new. Otherwise, you can source some used turbos or pull them off your F-150 to send to CR Performance for upgrading. This option starts at $1,650. 2013-2016 models do also offer a super core set for $1,275.
With a good setup on E85 or methanol injection the turbos can support north of 500whp on the 3.5 EcoBoost. Pump gas like 93 octane will likely be limited to the 440-460whp ballpark. The exception is 2017 models which will make about 500whp on pump gas, and even more on E85. Overall, these 42mm upgraded turbos are a good choice for 2011-2017 models looking to make 450-500+whp.
2. Garrett PowerMax Turbos (450-500whp)
Fits: 2011-2016 F-150
Garrett is a large company in the automotive turbocharging industry. They’re OEM for some brands and Garrett make some excellent products. We’re talking about brand new OE-style twin turbos for just over $1,700. It’s a price that’s tough to beat for new turbos that can use OE seals, gaskets, adapters, downpipes, and more.
Garrett claims these turbos flow about 22% more than stock turbos for the 2011-2016 EcoBoost engines. They should easily flow enough to meet 500whp goals, but it’s going to take E85 to get them there. Otherwise, on pump gas like 91 or 93 octane it will be tough to get much above 425-450whp.
We do really like the above CR Performance turbos. However, they’re pricey if you want new turbos and even rebuilding used stock turbos rivals the price of these Garrett PowerMax 3.5 EcoBoost turbo upgrades. As such, this is an awesome choice for anyone wanting brand new turbos capable of 500whp at a good price point.
Thoughts on 450-500WHP 3.5 EcoBoost Turbos
We normally like to include at least 3 options for each power goal. However, the above two options are great choices to make up to 500whp on the 3.5 EcoBoost. 42mm turbos from CP are available for the more capable 2017 EcoBoost, and these can make 525-550+whp. Otherwise, their 2011-2016 options are good for roughly 450whp on pump gas or 500whp on E85/methanol injection.
All in all, 450-500whp is a pretty modest goal for most F-150 EcoBoost trucks. It doesn’t take a whole lot in supporting mods to make the power. A few bolt-ons will run about $2,000, but fueling mods can add in another $1,000 to $2,000. These mods will be necessary for E85 to maximize the potential of turbo upgrades. Add in the cost of turbos and you’re looking at about $4,000 to $7,000 all in. Not bad for what should be a reliable setup with 500whp.
*No 2018+ 3.5 EcoBoost turbo upgrades were discussed above. That’s due to the fact most upgrades can easily eclipse 500whp and even 550whp. We’ll have some 2018 turbo upgrades coming in the next two sections. Of course, these turbos are more capable but are also great options even if you just want a modest 450-500whp.
500-650whp Turbo Upgrades
Those looking for even more power will find a number of options to meet 500-650whp goals. Most of these turbos still utilize OEM housing sizes and fitment just with larger compressor and turbine wheels. Of course, this is starting to push the limits of the F-150 3.5 EcoBoost. You’ll want to make sure you have a good setup with a quality custom tune and supporting mods.
These twin turbos are generally only about $300-500 more expensive than turbos in the previous section. However, depending on how far you want to go the supporting mod cost can add up. More on that in the next section. Simply understand 500-650whp can start to get pretty expensive. It’s also possible for things to start letting go, especially when pushing towards 600whp.
Mods For 500-650whp
We could go on a pretty lengthy list of the mods to safely make 500-650whp and actually put the power to the ground. As such, this isn’t an exhaustive list of all possible 3.5 EcoBoost upgrades for high power F-150’s. Here are a few of the basics, though:
- Basic bolt-on mods from previous section
- Turbo inlets
- Fueling mods
- Tons of other options
To start we recommend all of the basic bolt-ons like a custom tune, intake, downpipes, and intercooler. Fueling mods still may not be required on some setups running pump gas. However, if you’re sticking with pump gas don’t expect to reach the full potential of these setups. Turbo inlets are a big restriction, so it’s a good idea to upgrade those.
Otherwise, 2WD F-150’s will likely struggle to put all of this power down. You’ll want to consider some wheel and tire mods to put the power to the ground. You’ll probably still need some good rubber even with 4WD models. You can also go a lot further with supporting mods, especially for 600+whp EcoBoost builds. Things like suspension and brakes can be good mods. The list could go on and on if you want a really well setup truck at this kind of power.
Supporting Mod Costs: ~$2,000 – 5,000+
1. 2018+ CR Performance Stage 3 & 4 (550-600+whp)
Price: $1,650 – 4,225
Fits: 2018+ F-150 & Raptor
In the previous section we covered the 42mm stage 3 turbos for older EcoBoost engines. The 2018+ stage 3 option is a 46mm twin turbo setup capable of 550+whp on proper fueling. They’re good for 600+whp on full E85 and pushing the turbos. However, if you plan to make 550-600+whp for the long-term we would advise spending the $400 extra on their stage 4 turbo setup.
The CRP 3.5 EcoBoost stage 4 turbo upgrade also uses a 46mm compressor, but gets a larger 45mm 8 blade turbine wheel. 600whp on E85 is easily achievable and these turbos will likely make 650+whp. Again, CR Performance is a proven company in the space and they’ll make another couple appearances on this list. Hard to go wrong with their 2018+ F-150 stage 3 or 4 twin turbos if you’re looking for a consistent 550-600+whp.
2. 2011-2017 CRP Stage 4 & 5 (500-600+whp)
Price: $1,675 – 4,225
Fits: Stage 4 for all 2011-2017 models; stage 5 only available for 2013-2017 models
First up are the CR Performance Stage 4 twin turbos with a 42mm compressor and 45mm 8 blade turbine. On 1st gen 3.5 EcoBoost engines these turbo upgrades will support 525+whp with a proper setup. F-150’s may even see north of 550-575whp if you have the right tune, fueling, and really want to lean on the turbos. Solid numbers for 1st gen engines. 2017 2nd gen engines will see upwards of 525-550whp on pump gas alone. Add in E85 and 600+whp is possible.
Stage 5 turbos are not available from CRP for 2011 & 2012 F-150 3.5 EcoBoost models. However, 2013-2017 does have the stage 5 option. These use a 46mm compressor and 50mm 8 blade turbine. This all adds up to 550-600+ horsepower to the wheels on 1st gen EcoBoost engines. The 2017 F-150 3.5 EcoBoost will see ~560whp on pump gas with 600-650+whp possible on E85.
Stage 5 – 46mm compressor 50mm 8 blade turbine
3. Ford Performance Turbo Upgrade Kit (450-525whp)
Price: $2,500 – 2,900
Fits: 2013-2016 F-150 (some options for 2011-2012)
We’ll be a bit speedier on these turbos since we don’t know as much about them. We do know Ford Performance offers these brand new Borg Warner twin turbos. Borg Warner is the OEM manufacturer for 3.5 EcoBoost twin turbos. These simply use a larger compressor wheel. They might have been best in the previous section for sub 500whp builds. However, with proper fueling and tuning they should make upwards of 525whp if not a bit more.
Here’s a link to the Ford Performance 3.5 EcoBoost turbo upgrade kit. It can be a bit hard to track down on their website. Anyways, this certainly isn’t our favorite option since there isn’t much data, info, or proven results that we could find. Still, not a bad price for new turbos from the OE supplier of EcoBoost turbos.
Final Thoughts on 550-650whp Turbos
This section was mostly dominated by CR Performance turbos. Their stage 3 option for 2018+ F-150 and Raptor models can easily make 550+whp and 600+whp is possible with a good setup. Those wanting more should spend the extra $400 for the stage 4 turbo upgrade. Both great setups for the newer 3.5 V6 EcoBoost engines.
For 1st gen engines and 2017 trucks we really like the stage 4 and 5 turbos. Depending on year, model, setup, etc they’ll meet your 500-600+whp goals for a reasonable price. Last is the Ford Performance turbo upgrade kit for older engines. We don’t know much about them, but new turbos from Borg Warner is a nice proposition.
Anyways, if you’re shooting for the lower end of the power goals then all in costs will be about $5,000 to $8,000. This should cover the basic bolt-ons, turbo inlets, turbo upgrade, and fueling mods. Those wanting more should consider wheels and tires, suspension, brakes, and tons of other options. This can quickly drive all in costs north of $10,000.
“Full Send” 650+WHP Turbos
To be frank, we’ll likely end up short handing a lot of info here. If you’re really looking to build a 650+whp 3.5 EcoBoost then it’s going to be expensive. Sure, you could do budget builds. Yes, you can keep a stock block and internals and hope the engine doesn’t blow up. However, at this power we highly recommend doing things right.
It gets very expensive. Most people with these goals should also have a deep knowledge about the 3.5 EcoBoost, tuning, turbos, etc. Or at least have access to the right people and resources to help along the way. As such, we won’t dive into all of the specific details in this article.
3.5 EcoBoost 650+whp Twin Turbo Mods
Building a useable, reliable 3.5 EcoBoost with this kind of power can take some serious mods:
- All previous mods
- Built engine
- Lots of tuning work
- Cooling mods
- All sorts of other options depending on goals, budget, etc
You’ll want all the previous mods to make this kind of power. We also think building the 3.5 EcoBoost is a good idea to ensure a reliable engine for the long-term. This would include rods, pistons, bearings, studs, etc at the least. You could go further with additional work depending on how much power you want to make.
Anyways, it will take a lot of time and effort with tuning to dial in a quality setup. You may need other engine cooling mods like oil coolers, radiator, and more. Again, the list could really go on forever. It all just depends on how far you want to go, how the F-150 will be used, so on so forth.
Supporting Mod Cost: $6,000 – $10,000+
1. 2018+ F-150 & Raptor CRP Stage 5 Turbos (650-700+whp)
Price: $2,450 – 4,225
Fits: 2018+ F-150 & Raptor
Once again CR Performance is on the list with their stage 5 turbos for 2018+ F-150 and Raptor models. The 3.5 EcoBoost stage 5 turbo upgrade uses a 46mm compressor with a 50mm 8 blade turbine. CRP turbos will support north of 560whp on pump gas and 700+whp on E85. It’s massive power that’s not for the faint of heart.
2. Garrett PowerMax Stage 2 Turbo Upgrade (650-700+whp)
Fits: 2017+ F-150 models
Garrett is making another appearance here, too. Their stage 2 PowerMax turbos are for 2017+ 2nd gen EcoBoost engines in the F-150. The price starts right around $3,000 for these brand new turbos. Again, Garrett is a big company in the turbo space and they make some awesome stuff. PowerMax stage 2 turbos use a massive 60mm compressor wheel and 50mm turbine wheel with a .45 A/R housing.
They’re good for 52% more flow than OEM turbos. Garrett claims they’re good for 700+ horsepower at the crank. However, it’s likely they’ll support north of 700 to the wheels with a good setup. Great turbo upgrade option for those looking to make huge power with the 3.5 EcoBoost F-150.
Thoughts on Full Send Turbo Upgrades
Sticking with the trend these more capable turbos aren’t much more expensive than in the first 450-500whp section. They’re only about $500 to $1,000 more expensive. However, supporting mods are where costs start to add up. We recommend a built engine to push to 650+whp for the long-term. That alone can run $5,000+ depending on how far you go.
Add in all of the other basics for another $3,000 to $5,000+, turbos for about $3,000, and other possible mods that can add up to thousands more. Once all is said and done you can easily find yourself $15,000+ deep. That’s why we added the title “full send”. These builds aren’t for the faint of heart. They’re for the die hard enthusiasts with deep pockets, lots of knowledge and time, or access to those resources.
3.5 EcoBoost Turbo Upgrade Summary
We went a lot deeper than expected on this article, and feel like there’s still a lot more details we could cover. In the future, we’ll address plenty more details and info for the Ford 3.5L V6 to tie all of this together. Anyways, turbo upgrades serve many purposes on the 3.5 EcoBoost engine. Some are simply replacing old turbos, others have modest goals, and then the few who want to push the limits.
There are turbo upgrade options for all of the various 3.5 EcoBoost owners. Whether your looking for 450whp or 700+whp there’s a twin turbo setup for you. We really like Garrett and CP Performance turbos and covered many of those options. They both build great twin turbo upgrades for all year 3.5 EcoBoost engines. Proper setups can support anywhere from 500whp up to 650whp and beyond.
Of course, the 3.5 EcoBoost isn’t invincible so it’s important to know your goals and budget accordingly. Lower power setups can be had for reasonable prices around $4,000 all in. However, if you want to push into the 600+whp ballpark then costs can quickly exceed $10,000. The options are endless but costs can spiral out of control. Regardless, a set of 3.5 EcoBoost F-150 upgraded turbos can take the trucks to truly incredible levels.
What’s your experience with F-150 3.5 EcoBoost turbo upgrades? Are you considering an upgrade?
Leave a comment and let us know!