7 Best Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost Performance Upgrades

How to Improve Your 3.5L EcoBoost-Powered F-150s Performance, Fuel Economy, and Reliability

When the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 Turbocharged engine was introduced in 2011, it created a seismic shift in the pickup truck industry. Big, Bulky V-8 engines that were bad on gas took the back-seat to smaller, turbocharged engines in not only fuel economy, but also performance. The 2011 Ford F-150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost engine could out-tow Ford’s 5.0L V8 engine and get better fuel economy while doing it. Fast forward to today, and the 3.5L EcoBoost engine is still around, and it still leads the pack in terms of capabilities, especially with the high-output EcoBoost engine variant. Just because something is good, doesn’t mean you can’t make it better though. In this post, we’ll go over the 7 best Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost Performance upgrades to improve performance (horsepower, torque, acceleration), fuel economy, and reliability.

Photo taken from the Ford Media Website.

1. 3.5L EcoBoost Tuning

One of the most substantial 3.5L EcoBoost Performance Upgrades you can purchase is tuning. Tuning your 3.5L EcoBoost V6 Engine will increase horsepower, torque, acceleration, and even fuel economy. Traditionally, tuners provides the greatest benefits to diesel trucks, but because of the 3.5L EcoBoost’s Diesel-Like characteristics, this engine benefits significantly from tuning too.

3.5L EcoBoost Box Tuners

When it comes to 3.5L EcoBoost Tuners there are two distinct paths you can go down. Most tuners like Bully Dog’s BDX or the Edge Evolution CTS3 provide tunes straight out of the box. These tunes are built for the masses, however they are tested extensively and designed to meet all emission standards put forth by the Clean Air Act. 3.5L EcoBoost Box Tuners provide moderate gains and the easiest installation. Most of them are simply plug and play.

Before purchasing any of the tuners below, confirm fitment on the manufacturers website with your specific vehicle. Most of the tuners listed below will work with 2011-2020 3.5L EcoBoost trucks, but you still want to make sure.

Banks AutoMind 2 Programmer

Banks is without a doubt one of the biggest names in truck performance parts for a reason. They’re well-known for researching and testing their products against their competitors and broadcasting their results. The Banks AutoMind 2 Programmer provides increased performance via box-tunes that improve horsepower, torque, and fuel economy.

Edge Evolution CTS3 3.5L EcoBoost Tuner

Edge Evolution CTS3

The Edge Evolution CTS3 is a highly capable monitoring device and tuner for the 3.5L EcoBoost Engine. It offers limited tuning for 3.5L EcoBoost engines but the parameter monitoring and other features make this a very valuable product to keep in your truck. This tuner does not offer 3.5L EcoBoost Custom tuning.

3.5L EcoBoost Performance Upgrades: Tuners

SCT Livewire TS+ Performance Programmer

SCT’s LiveWire TS+ Performance Programmer offers box tunes and custom tuning capabilities. It also offers a smaller degree of parameter monitoring characteristics.

SCT BDX PROGRAMMER - 3.5L EcoBoost Performance Upgrades

SCT BDX Programmer

SCT’s BDX Programmer offers both box tunes and custom tunes. It also doubles as a monitor and can be customized to display parameters of your choosing!

3.5L EcoBoost Tuners with Custom Tuning

If you want to give your Ford F-150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost Engine the most horsepower and torque possible, then you need to go with custom tuning. With custom tuning, you will be required to purchase a box tuner that comes with the capability to store and upload custom tunes to your truck. SCT and Bully Dog build the most popular tuners to use with custom tuning for Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost trucks.

Once you’ve selected a tuner or programmer to use, you will need to find a company that designs 3.5L EcoBoost Custom Tunes. You will then have the option to purchase multiple different tunes that optimize different styles of driving. For example, you could opt for a max fuel economy tune or a towing tune. High performance tunes are also available. It is important to note that in the United States, custom tunes that disable emissions devices are illegal. Emissions Deleting 3.5L EcoBoost tuners should be avoided altogether unless your vehicle is used solely for racing or off-roading.

3.5l EcoBoost Tuning Performance Upgrade

SCT X4 Custom Tuner

If you have access to a computer that uses a Microsoft Windows operating system, you can use the SCT X4 Tuner for your 3.5L EcoBoost. This tuner provides simple operation and a range of other features like parameter monitoring that pair great with custom tuning.

Just keep in mind, this tuner is not CARB approved, and you will not be able to purchase it if you live in California.

3.5L EcoBoost SCT BDX CUSTOM TUNER

SCT BDX Tuner

The SCT BDX Programmer makes accessing custom tuning for your 3.5L EcoBoost easy by downloading them directly from your custom tuning dealer by Wi-Fi. The BDX programmer also provides parameter monitoring that can be designed and modified to your liking. You can also adjust/change features on your truck using this programmer.

Bully Dox BDX Custom Programmer

Bully Dog BDX Tuner

The Bully Dog BDX Programmer is almost identical to the SCT BDX. This programmer makes accessing custom tuning for your 3.5L EcoBoost easy by downloading them directly from your custom tuning dealer by Wi-Fi. The BDX programmer also provides parameter monitoring that can be designed and modified to your liking. You can also adjust/change features on your truck using this programmer.

How Custom Tuning Works

All tuning increases vehicle performance by updating the vehicles PCM. You can adjust fuel tables, boost, timing, shift points, and more to enhance performance. By doing this alone, you can increase 3.5L EcoBoost Horsepower, Torque, throttle response, and fuel economy.

Tuning can come at the cost of reliability however, as high performance tunes can often cause increased wear and tear on components and ultimately a shorter lifespan. On the 3.5L EcoBoost specifically, tuners and programmers can cause early problems to occur. It’s important to be aware of the common 3.5L EcoBoost problems so you can look out for them.

Despite this, many drivers still decide to tune their vehicles but to opt for tunes that are more moderate in nature. Moderate tunes still give you decent gains, but they don’t cause massive reductions in your trucks reliability.

To sustain higher performance tunes and maintain reliability, you will need to spend a lot more money on supporting modifications. Your transmission specifically is one vehicle component that will take a beating, and many truck owners purchase a “built” transmission featuring more robust internals and an upgraded torque converting in high-horsepower/torque applications.

We recommend moderate tuning that keeps all emissions in-tact. If you are going to tune your vehicle however, we recommend following the severe service intervals listed in our 3.5L EcoBoost Maintenance Guide. This will help keep your vehicle operational and maintain reliability.

Installing and Setting Up Custom Tunes

If you want to use a custom tuner like the SCT X4 that requires manual uploading/downloading of tunes, you will first need to purchase a blank tuner. Upon receiving your blank tuner, you must connect your blank tuner to your truck’s OBD2 Port and pull your ECU Data. Then you send out the required Data to your Custom Tuning provider of choice who will use this data to design custom tunes for your vehicle. Once they’ve been designed, they will send them to you.

Upon receiving your device, you have to download them to your device from your computer. Once they’ve been downloaded to your device, you can upload them to your vehicle. Once the tunes are uploaded you can select which tune you want to use.

Programmers like the SCT BDX or Bully Dog BDX can download tunes through the cloud when connected to Wi-F. This makes installing tunes on your truck much easier if you are tech savvy. You can cut the computer out of the equation and download tunes directly from your custom tuning provider instead.

3.5L EcoBoost Custom Tuning Providers

When choosing a custom tuning dealer for your Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost, you should go with someone who specializes in tunes for EcoBoost engines. There are plenty of people out there capable of building tunes, but you want someone who knows the ins-and-outs of these engines and has a ton of experience designing capable and reliable tunes for the 3.5L EcoBoost engine.

Here are some reputable 3.5L EcoBoost Custom Tuning Providers that are highly recommended on Ford F-150 and EcoBoost Forums.

2. 3.5L EcoBoost Intercoolers

Number 2 on our list of the best 3.5L EcoBoost Performance Upgrades is the Intercooler. There are a couple of reasons for this. In Ford F-150’s with the First Generation 3.5L EcoBoost Engine, specifically the 2011-2012 model years, the intercooler is actually a problem point. A TSB was even issued because of condensation accumulation in the intercooler. The problem is mostly experienced in high-humidity climates, but it’s still a potential problem nonetheless.

Aftermarket Intercoolers also can benefit any truck, especially the 3.5L EcoBoost Engine. They provide your engine with cooler, denser air and can also hold greater boost. These are a great supporting modification that is excellently paired with other 3.5L EcoBoost Performance Upgrades on this list like Tuners.

Intercoolers can also be purchased as kits that also include new intercooler piping. New piping provides less restrictions and greater durability.

Best 3.5L EcoBoost Intercoolers

2011-2014 3.5L EcoBoost Intercoolers

2011-2014 Mishimoto 3.5L EcoBoost Intercooler Kit

Mishimoto 2011-2014 3.5L EcoBoost Intercooler Kit

Replace that problematic OEM Intercooler and piping with Mishimoto’s 2011-2014 3.5L EcoBoost Intercooler Kit. This will take care of that pesky intercooler condensation problem and simultaneously lower air temperatures entering your engine!

2015-2016 3.5L EcoBoost Intercoolers

2015-2016 3.5L EcoBoost Intercooler Kit from Mishimoto

Mishimoto 2015-2016 3.5L EcoBoost Intercooler Kit

The 2015-2016 3.5L EcoBoost Mishimoto Intercooler Kit provides an upgraded intercooler and piping solution to increase performance and provide your engine with cooler air.

2017-2020 3.5L EcoBoost Intercoolers

Mishimoto 2017-2020 3.5L EcoBoost Intercooler Kit

Mishimoto 2017-2020 3.5L EcoBoost Intercooler Kit

Increase Performance and Reliability with Mishimoto’s 2017-2020 3.5L EcoBoost Intercooler Kit. It includes an upgraded aftermarket Intercooler and new piping that reduces restrictions and provides cooler air to your EcoBoost Engine.

3. Cold Air Intakes

Cold Air Intakes are another item on our list of the best 3.5L EcoBoost Performance Upgrades. The stock air intake is adequate for completely stock applications, but it can be easily upgraded to provide performance gains in even mostly stock applications. Upgraded Cold Air intakes provide cooler, denser air to the engine which results in more power and fuel economy.

Best 3.5L EcoBoost Cold Air Intakes

2011-2014 Ford F-150 EcoBoost Trucks

Banks Ram Air Intake

Banks Ram Air Intake System

The Banks Ram Air Intake System is one of our favorite 3.5L EcoBoost Cold Air Intake Systems. Like other Bank’s Power products, its been highly tested, and the results speak for themselves. This intake system is up to 64.6% less restrictive than the factory unit and provides better fuel economy and power!

2011 AFE Power Magnum Force Stage-2 Intake System

For 2011 Model Year 3.5L EcoBoost trucks, AFE Power built their own Magnum Force Stage-2 Intake System. If you are a gearhead and like to hear your truck, this is a good intake system for you. Turbo noise is generally increased, but so does horsepower and torque!

AFE POWER MAGNUM FORCE INTAKE

2012-2014 AFE Power Magnum Force Stage-2 Intake System

Another good intake system is the AFE Power Magnum Force Stage-2 Intake System. If you like to hear those turbochargers, this is the intake system for you. AFE mentions you can gain up to 32 Horsepower and 35 lb.-ft of torque with this system. The model displayed here is only for 2012-2014 models. 2011 EcoBoost Engines require Part # 54-12182

S&B Filters Intake System

Another big name in the CAI marketplace is the S&B Filters. S&B’s 3.5L EcoBoost Cold Air Intake System is a well-built CAI system designed to increase performance and filter change intervals. The Clear sight-glass also makes checking filter condition very easy.

2015-2017 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost Trucks

2015-2016 3.5L EcoBoost Banks Ram Cold Air Intake System

Banks Ram Air Intake System

Banks Ram Air Intake System for 2015-2017 3.5L EcoBoost trucks offers a unique design compared to competitors. Instead of just sucking in more air, Bank’s Power designed this intake system to get colder, denser air from outside the engine bay. The results are astronomically better than other CAI systems as they simply draw air from the hot engine bay.

S&B Cold Air Intake System

S&B’s Cold Air Intake system is also designed to draw in cooler air from outside the engine bay. The result is increased performance and fuel economy. S&B also utilizes a sight-glass that makes viewing filter condition very easily.

Roush 2015-2017 3.5L EcoBoost CAI System

2015-2017 Roush 3.5L EcoBoost CAI System

Roush is a well-known and respected Ford performance provider. The Roush Cold Air Intake System for 2015-2017 3.5L EcoBoost engines offers increased performance and a less restrictive design than the factory air intake system.

2018-2021 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost Cold Air Intakes

S&B Cold Air Intake System

S&B Filter’s 2018-2021 3.5L EcoBoost Cold Air Intake System offers a less restrictive design compared to the stock system and brings in cooler air to increase engine performance. It also makes filter maintenance easier by offering greater filter visibility so you know exactly when its time to change it or clean it!

Roush Cold Air Intake System

Roush developed their 2018-2021 3.5L EcoBoost Cold Air Intake System to improve performance, fuel economy, and intake sound. It offers up to a 25% reduction in restrictions compared to the stock air intake system.

Mishimoto Performance Cold Air Intake System

Mishimoto developed their own 2018-2021 3.5L EcoBoost Performance Cold Air Intake System that is up to 46.4% less restrictive than the factory system and provides dyne-proven gains of up to 14 horsepower and 17 lb.-ft of torque.

4. Oil Catch Can Kits

Blow-by and carbon accumulation are known 3.5L EcoBoost problems, especially on early variations of this engine. To resolve this issue, several companies have come out with Catch Can Kits that capture blow-by and prevents build-up by accumulating it in a “Catch Can” that simply has to emptied periodically. Catch Can Kits are one of the cheapest and and most effective 3.5L EcoBoost Performance Upgrades that improves longevity and can help prevent repairs down the road.

2011-2022 J&L Oil Separator 3.0 Passenger Side

J&L’s Oil Separator 3.0 is an inexpensive solution to blow-by and offers a multi-stage filtration system that collects vapors/oil and stores it in a can. This helps prevent carbon accumulation and keeps the intake system clean.

2011-2014 Mishimoto Oil Catch Can Kit

Mishimoto’s 2011-2014 3.5L EcoBoost Oil Catch Can Kit helps reduce the impact of blow-by and keeps your intake system clean. This is especially important in 2011-2014 EcoBoost engines because they strictly use direct fuel injection.

2015-2016 Mishimoto Baffled Oil Catch Can Kit

Mishimoto’s 2015-2016 3.5L EcoBoost Baffled Oil Catch Can System helps reduce carbon accumulation and keeps your Intake system clean.

2017+ 3.5L EcoBoost Catch Can Kit

2017-2020 Mishimoto Baffled Oil Catch Can System

Mishimoto’s 2017+ 3.5L EcoBoost Baffled Oil Catch Can System utilizes a dual-can design to collect blow-by from both the PCV and CCV systems and offers greater storage capacity than other companies.

5. Performance Monitors or Digital Gauge Displays

When you’re adding horsepower and torque to your 3.5L EcoBoost, it’s important to stay on track of your truck’s vitals. Performance monitors, sometimes called digital gauge displays, don’t necessarily improve performance themselves, but they are still one of the best 3.5L EcoBoost performance upgrades you can purchase. They offer large scale data parameter monitoring and can be paired with EGT probes or other sensors to offer precise, real-time monitoring while driving. Some can even be set to alert you should you reach high EGTS or coolant temps.

While newer editions of the 3.5L EcoBoost give you significantly more from the dash cluster, older models did not. So it’s even more useful for first gen 3.5l EcoBoost owners. That being said, newer truck owners can also benefit. Performance monitors also often give you the ability to read and clear DTC codes, re-calibrate the vehicles speedometer for bigger/small tires, and other cool features as well.

Best 3.5L EcoBoost Performance Monitors/Digital Gauge Displays

Banks iDash DataMonster

Banks iDash Datamonster gives you real-time access to almost 300 different parameters, and even some that are unique to Banks. You can also monitor almost anything you want if you purchase auxiliary sensors from Banks. The iDash Datamonster allows you Data Log everything, which makes it a perfect accompaniment to tuning. Up to 4 iDash Datamonsters can be connected to each other, allowing real-time parameter monitoring of up to 32 parameters at a time.

Edge Insight CTS3

The Edge Insight CTS3 is one of the most capable performance monitors available for your 3.5L EcoBoost. It offers the most data parameter viewing out of a single unit compared to other displays and it is also highly expandable with auxiliary sensors and probes.

Edge Evolution CTS3

The Edge Evolution CTS3 is the best of both worlds. It combines the Insight’s digital gauge capabilities and adds tuning. If you want moderate tuning and data parameter viewing, this product might be a good match for you.

Bully Dog BDX

Bully Dog’s BDX Programmer is another digital gauge/performance monitor with tuning capabilities. While it comes with box tunes, it is also a highly popular device to use with custom tuning.

6. Exhaust Systems

Despite the EPA crackdown on vehicular performance, exhaust systems are still valuable 3.5L EcoBoost Performance upgrades, and they do provide small additions in power and sound. Straight-pipe exhaust systems are a thing of the past, but you can still get better performance through a Cat-Back or Resonate-Back Exhaust system. Despite you only replacing a part of the exhaust system, you will still be reducing back-pressure and increasing exhaust flow. Exhaust systems also help reduce EGTs.

Before you purchase an Exhaust System for your 3.5L EcoBoost, check your local governments laws and sound ordinances.

2011-2014 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost Exhaust Systems

Banks Power Monster Exhaust System (2011-2014 Ford F-150 all Cab/Bed Configurations)

The Banks Power Monster Exhaust System brings Banks-Quality Engineering to your 2011-2014 Ford F-150. Designed to fit all cab and bed configurations, this exhaust system improves the look, sound, and performance of your 3.5L EcoBoost’s exhaust system.

Roush Cat-Back Exhaust System (2011-2014 Ford F-150 All Cabs/Beds)

Looking to improve performance and sound of your 2011-2014 F-150? The Roush Cat-Back exhaust system improves exhaust flow, increases exhaust sound, and provides a sharp aesthetic thanks to the dual exhaust tip design.

2015-2020 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost Exhaust Systems

Banks Monster Exhaust (2015-2019 Ford F-150 Crew Cab Short Bed)

Upgrade sound, lower EGTs, and improve performance with Banks Monster Exhaust system.

Roush Cat-Back Exhaust (2015-2020 Ford F-150 Standard Output)

Another quality Cat-Back Exhaust system is the Roush Cat-Back Exhaust System. Roush is a big name in Ford Performance and their kit has a more aggressive look and sound output.

7. Performance/Power Bundles

The Seventh item on our list of the best Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost Performance Upgrades are performance/power bundles. If you’re looking to knock out multiple performance upgrades without purchasing 6 different items, you’re in luck. There are a few quality power bundles out there that will help boost performance without breaking the bank.

2011-2014 Ford F-150 3.5l EcoBoost Banks Power Stinger Bundle

Experience performance increases of up to 72 horsepower and 87 lb.-ft of torque with the Banks Power Stinger Bundle. This system comes with a Monster Exhaust System, Cold air Intake, and an Automind 2 Programmer.

Learn More About the Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost

Visit some of our other posts to learn more about the 3.5L EcoBoost powered Ford F-150.

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