Upgrading to a quality aftermarket Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost exhaust can marry the car’s sound with its performance. This guide will cover everything you need to know about EcoBoost Mustang exhaust upgrades. We’ll start with the basics about the different types and sizes of exhausts before we look at the benefits of installing them. We’ll also provide some of our own recommendations regarding the best sounding and performing EcoBoost Mustang exhausts on the market.
Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost Exhaust Considerations
Before jumping right into our recommendations, there are a couple of things that we need to cover first regarding Mustang exhausts and their many varieties. Ultimately, EcoBoost Mustang exhausts aren’t a one size fits all situation type of part. Some exhaust types will work better for some people than others, and the overall design of an exhaust plays a major role in how it sounds and performs.
Simply deciding that you want an upgraded exhaust for your EcoBoost Mustang is the first step and determining which kind of 2.3 EcoBoost exhaust is the next step. While it might seem like a pretty straightforward decision, there are actually a number of different styles to choose from. The three types of Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost exhaust include turbo-back, cat-back, and axle-back options.
Turboback systems replace every exhaust component after the turbocharger, including the factory downpipe. That is beneficial from a performance standpoint, as turbo-backs allow you to be able to enlarge the diameter of the entire system, allowing a larger volume of exhaust gas to escape. Additionally, most EcoBoost Mustang turbo-back exhausts eliminate the factory catalytic converter, freeing up airflow even further.
Catbacks are the most popular system for the EcoBoost Mustang and offer the best value for money. Catbacks replace all of the factory components from the catalytic converter to the exhaust tip/tips. While cat-backs provide marginal performance benefits on highly modified EcoBoost Mustangs, sound and aesthetics are the main reasons to upgrade to a cat-back Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost exhaust. Aftermarket EcoBoost Mustang cat-back exhaust systems can vary a good amount in terms of their pipe diameter, tip diameter, and how they exit the vehicle.
Axle-back systems are the last type of exhaust style and are popular for those looking for a budget way to get a bit more sound from their 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang. As their name suggests, axle-backs replace all of the components from the rear axle to the exhaust tips.
In this guide, we’ll be primarily concerned with cat-back EcoBoost Mustang exhausts, as they bridge a solid middle ground between price, sound, and appearance.
In addition to the style that you choose, the diameter also plays a big role in exhaust sound and overall performance. The factory Mustang EcoBoost uses 2.25” exhaust piping which is a bit small for the flow demands of the engine, especially when upgraded or modified. The small diameter exhaust piping also hampers sound quite a bit, as there isn’t much room for sound waves to resonate.
As a result, most aftermarket piping is larger in diameter than the factory piping. The right diameter exhaust piping for you can vary depending on your goals. Most EcoBoost Mustang owners agree that a 2.5” exhaust is the sweet spot for optimal velocity and sound. 3.0” exhausts are also frequently used, but those tend to be better for highly modified 400+whp EcoBoost Mustangs that would benefit from reduced backpressure in the rest of the exhaust system after the downpipe.
In addition to the piping diameter itself, exhaust tip sizing also plays a role in how the engine sounds. Most 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang exhaust systems feature much larger tips than the factory 3.5” ones. In most cases, they tend to be in the 4” to 4.5” range. Compared to the smaller OEM ones, the larger aftermarket tips produce a much deeper and fuller tone.
Upgraded Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost Exhaust Benefits
- A louder, deeper tone
- Enhanced visual appearance
- Marginally improved performance
When it comes to the benefits of an upgraded Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost exhaust system, it is important to first state that money could be better spent elsewhere if you are looking for performance gains alone. Even with a full 3” EcoBoost turbo-back exhaust, you can really only expect around a 15-20 horsepower improvement over the stock setup. The same can be said for a cat-back, which might only yield a 5-7 horsepower improvement. Upgraded exhaust systems will only provide significant power gains if the engine actually needs improved flow capacity.
Despite the underwhelming performance gains, there are actually a few good reasons to upgrade your Mustang’s exhaust. At the end of the day, cat-back exhausts are cosmetic and sound-improving modifications. The factory 2.3 Mustang exhaust is very underwhelming from a sound perspective, especially when compared to the 5.0 Mustang. While a twin-turbo inline-4 isn’t ever going to sound like a V8, a cat-back exhaust is a fantastic way to better match the sound of your pony with the speed of your pony.
The other aspect is the look of the exhaust itself. Between the small tip diameters and the fact that you can see the piping inside the tips themselves, the stock arrangement looks pretty tacky. A quality exhaust with larger, higher-quality tips makes a huge visual improvement. While appearance obviously boils down to personal preference, some Mustang owners want to have a cool-looking exhaust to match the upgraded sound.
Exhaust Complimentary Mods
As previously mentioned, upgrading the exhaust on your 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang is likely to yield only minor performance improvements, and none that you’ll notice by feel. Nonetheless, it is possible to enhance the overall performance of an aftermarket Mustang exhaust by combining it with other performance modifications.
A cat-back can provide more significant power gains when paired with other performance modifications that improve exhaust flow and airflow overall. If you are looking for more noticeable gains, a high-flow or catless 2.3 EcoBoost downpipe is where most of the performance will come from.
An aftermarket EcoBoost Mustang air intake will also help to make the most of an aftermarket exhaust as well. The more air that enters the engine, the more exhaust gasses it produces, which is where an aftermarket Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost exhaust has an advantage over the stock setup.
Of course, a tune for your EcoBoost Mustang is the most important piece of this equation. Without a tune, the engine’s PCM will fight against the changing airflow and exhaust parameters, pretty much nullifying the positive effects of the mods. A tune is needed to get the full benefits of a cat-back exhaust and pretty much any other performance modification.
If you are interested in learning more about the best performance modifications for the Ford Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost, take a look at our Best Ford Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost Performance Bolt-On Mods Guide.
Best EcoBoost Mustang Exhausts
Exhaust upgrades are undoubtedly one of the most popular modifications for the 2.3 Mustang. As a result, the Ford EcoBoost aftermarket is full of options. The sheer number of exhausts can get overwhelming and it can be hard to decide on one particular exhaust. But the goal of this guide is to narrow down the number of choices to hopefully make picking easier. Here are our top picks for the best Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost exhausts:
- Magnaflow Street/Competition
- Borla ATAK Cat-Back
- Flowmaster Outlaw Axle Back
- MBRP Armor Plus Catback
- Tomei Expreme Ti Cat-back
If you’re more of a visual learner, take a look at our video that covers the best 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang exhaust options in detail.
1) Magnaflow Street/Competition Catback Exhaust
Kicking off our list, we have the Magnaflow EcoBoost Catback system. Magnaflow is one of the most well-known names in the performance exhaust space, providing high-quality systems for nearly every car under the sun, including the EcoBoost Mustang. Magnaflow’s offering is interesting, as they provide their Mustang cat-back in both ‘Street’ and ‘Competition’ forms, with the most significant difference being sound level.
The Street variant is a more subtle system, albeit with a good amount of rumble regardless. The Competition variant of the Magnaflow exhaust operates at a higher decibel level and with a slightly deeper timbre. The primary difference between the exhausts is their muffler design, with the Competition variant featuring smaller mufflers at the tail end of the exhaust piping.
Both the Street and Competition variants of the Magnaflow EcoBoost Mustang exhaust feature a dual split rear exit design with 2.5” diameter piping for optimal flow and sound. Both systems also make use of large 4.5” tips, enhancing sound even further. As is consistent with Magnaflow’s quality, their cat-back is built using mandrel-bent stainless steel for exhaust flow and corrosion resistance.
Both the Street and Competition exhausts come in at the same $1,406 purchase price, truly making it a decision between louder or quieter. While it might seem like a no-brainer to go with the louder option, the Magnaflow Street won’t be as loud inside the cabin or drone as much on the highway.
It is also important to note that EcoBoost Mustangs equipped with active exhaust from the factory are not compatible with either exhaust.
2) Borla ATAK Cat-Back Exhaust
Just like its make would suggest, the Borla ATAK EcoBoost Mustang cat-back is one of the most aggressive-sounding exhausts on the market. Borla’s ATAK system is also one of the most popular exhaust options out there for the EcoBoost engine family in general, with it being a fan favorite in the 2.7 EcoBoost and 3.5 EcoBoost communities as well.
Like the Magnaflow listed above, the ATAK features a single split rear exit design with large 4.0” tips. However, the Borla does have a slightly smaller pipe diameter of 2.25,” which does benefit exhaust velocity but might not be the best option for those planning on extensive engine modifications in the future. In terms of sound, the Borla ATAK might be the most aggressive and raspy exhaust on our list.
Beyond just the look and sound, the Borla ATAK cat-back is built to last, made from mandrel-bent 304 stainless steel and backed by Borla’s million-mile warranty. The ATAK’s 304 stainless construction is a standout feature of the exhaust, as many of the other options on this list are made from less corrosion-resistant 409 steel.
Unfortunately, the Borla ATAK is not compatible with convertible EcoBoost Mustangs and those equipped with active exhaust systems.
3) Flowmaster Outlaw Axle-Back
Taking our number three spot is our first axle-back exhaust choice for the EcoBoost Mustang. Unlike the previous cat-back options that we covered previously, the Flowmaster Outlaw Mustang exhaust only replaced the exhaust components after the resonator. That comes with its own benefits though, as the Flowmaster is our best budget recommendation if you are just looking for sound and appearance improvements.
At $534.00, the Flowmaster Outlaw is the most affordable way to a good-looking, great-sounding exhaust. In terms of sound, the Flowmaster creates a bass-heavy, low and grumbly tone that is unique to its construction. A big contributor to that is the Flowmaster’s small, highly optimized mufflers, which were designed exclusively with sound in mind. The polished 4.0” tips also play a part too.
While the sound and appearance of the Flowmaster are great, it does make some concessions to offset its price. For one, it is built from lower-quality 409 stainless steel, which doesn’t have the corrosion resistance of 304. It is also important to remember that an axle-back exhaust won’t provide any performance benefits.
In addition to the axle-back system itself, Flowmaster also sells a corresponding Y-pipe to be paired with the exhaust. The Y-pipe essentially replaces the factory mid-pipe with a split design pipe that also removes the factory resonator. Pairing the Y-pipe with the Flowmaster Outlaw essentially creates a full cat-back system, with the sound benefits of removing the resonator.
4) MBRP Armor Plus Catback Exhaust
While the Flowmaster axle-back listed above is our overall budget exhaust choice, you can’t beat the MBRP Armor Plus cat-back in terms of value for money if you are looking for a fully assembled EcoBoost Mustang cat-back exhaust. While MBRP might not have the same brand recognition as the big boys like Magnaflow and Borla, they still know what they’re doing, building performance exhaust systems for over 30 years.
The MBRP Armor Plus system is built using large diameter 3” piping, making it a perfect option for those that are planning extensive 2.3 EcoBoost engine modifications in the future that will require a fully unrestricted exhaust setup. The larger diameter piping also gives the MBRP a unique sound compared to the competition. In comparison to the Borla or Magnaflow, for example, the MBRP has a slightly more refined sound, leaving behind some of the rasp of the smaller-diameter designs. That can either be a positive or negative depending on what you prefer.
Like the Flowmaster listed above, MBRP had to make some concessions to offer such competitive pricing. Unlike more expensive options like the Borla, MBRP constructs the exhaust from lower-grade 409 stainless steel. While that isn’t a huge deal, it does mean that the MBRP won’t hold up as well if driven on salted roads or in other situations where corrosion is possible.
5) Tomei Expreme Ti Cat-back
Last but not least, we have the most unique EcoBoost Mustang exhaust option by far. While Tomei is the undisputed king of exhaust components when it comes to most JDM models, their name rarely pops up when it comes to the USDM scene. Regardless, their exhaust expertise applies to whatever car they choose.
The Tomei Expreme cat-back exhaust is the only single-exit exhaust option available for the EcoBoost Mustang. While all of the other exhaust options on this list feature a dual split rear exit design, the Tomei only exits the vehicle from the right side exhaust cutout with a large 3.5” burnt titanium tip. That not only gives the Tomei a very distinct look, but it will also make your pony stand out in a sea of others.
One of the biggest selling points of the Tomei is its build material. Unlike all of the other Mustang exhaust options on this list, the Tomei Expreme is made from titanium. Yeah, you read that right. There are a few notable benefits to that. For one, titanium will hold up far better than the lower grade 409 stainless, and even 304 stainless, options over time. It also offers a distinctive sound that no other build material can attain. Finally, and most importantly, it makes the total weight of the exhaust only 13.2 lb. That is a whopping 45.2 lbs lighter than the factory unit.
Ford 2.3 EcoBoost Exhaust Guide FAQ
Ultimately, the question of the best Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost exhaust is subjective. Since there are so many 2.3 EcoBoost exhaust options on the market, it really depends on your budget and your personal preferences in terms of looks and sound. With your budget in mind, take a listen to the sound clips in this article and determine which sounds best to you.
Both the Magnaflow Competition and MBRP cat-backs make a strong case and happen to be the best-selling on the list.
Outside of a cat-back exhaust upgrade, some of the most popular modifications include a cold air intake, an upgraded downpipe, a tune, an upgraded intercooler, and fueling mods. Some of those mods compliment a cat-back nicely. For example, an upgraded air intake, downpipe, tune, and cat-back combo would yield some pretty impressive performance gains over a stock EcoBoost Mustang.
Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost Exhaust Guide Summary
Purchasing an aftermarket exhaust system for your EcoBoost Mustang isn’t a cut-and-dry ordeal. There are a number of important considerations to take into account before making a final decision. With there being so many options available, it can be hard to determine which will fit your needs the best.
Ultimately, the first decision is making up your mind on the type of exhaust that you want. EcoBoost Mustang exhausts are offered in many different shapes and sizes, with turbo-back, cat-back, and axle-back exhausts being the most common. Cat-backs tend to be the most popular in the 2.3 EcoBoost community, as they offer a good middle ground between affordability and sound.
A 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang exhaust upgrade itself won’t provide very significant power gains in comparison to other similarly priced modifications. If you are looking for performance upgrades, a catless or high-flow 2.3 EcoBoost downpipe or tune is your best bet. However, an exhaust upgrade is a great modification if you are looking to match the sound of your Mustang with its performance.
What do you think is the best-sounding 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang exhaust? Leave a comment down below.