One of the best first-time upgrades for your Mustang 2.3L is a new intake system. Turbocharged engines such as the 2.3 EcoBoost benefit greatly from upgraded intakes because of the higher compression ratio. This results in more horsepower.
Compared to other modifications, a performance intake offers the best value for money per horsepower when comparing power gains and installation costs.
If you use a cold air intake along with a tune (like the Burger Motorsports JB4) and other modifications (like upgraded downpipes), you’ll see even greater gains in performance, as increased airflow is the foundation of power generation.
We’ve compiled a list of the best performance mods for 2.3 EcoBoost Mustangs if you’re looking to get more out of your vehicle.
2.3 EcoBoost ‘Cold Air Intake’ vs. ‘Performance Intake’
Nowadays, the terminology used to describe intakes is quite perplexing. If you’re looking for a new intake system for your Mustang, you’ll likely come across terms like “cold air intake,” “performance intake,” “ram air intake,” and a slew of other variations.
Traditionally, cold air intake refers to a vehicle’s intake air filter being located lower to the ground, usually within the front bumper, in Japanese vehicles. This particular intake design is based on the premise that air located further away from the engine will be colder than air closer to it. A turbocharged engine, on the other hand, doesn’t place as much emphasis on the location of the intake.
Open vs. closed intake systems are the most critical considerations.
As a result, the name of your 2.3 Mustang’s intake system is largely meaningless.
Open vs. Closed Performance Intake Systems
The air filter of an intake system is considered “open” when it is completely exposed to the engine compartment and not enclosed. Open systems don’t have the filter enclosed, while closed systems do.
Since there is less restriction around the filter itself, open intake systems will allow more air to flow into the 2.3 EcoBoost. Although closed systems have less airflow, the air they send into the intake system has a higher pressure because of the higher pressure.
Fans with closed intakes will assert that an open intake will bring in warmer air when in fact the opposite is true. Closed systems, such as those with open intake fans, will have less air flow than open systems. Both statements can be verified as factual.
Our preference is for open intake systems because they allow for more modifications due to increased airflow, while higher intake temperatures aren’t a problem on turbocharged engines with intercoolers, especially if the intercooler has been upgraded.
There is virtually no difference in overall performance between the two. It’s best to go with the open intake if you’re thinking about making further modifications. Open intakes make more noise and have a cool “whooshing” sound to them that a closed system does not have, which is my final point.
Benefits of an Upgraded Performance Intake – Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost
- 15-30whp gains
- 10-25 lb-ft. torque gains
- Improved airflow and less restriction results in increased turbo efficiency
- More throttle response
- Faster turbo spool
- Awesome “whooshing” intake/engine sound
Best Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost Intake Systems
For the 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang, there are dozens of different air intake systems to choose from. We’ll go over a few of our go-to supplements from well-known manufacturers. As a result, the vast majority of intakes are virtually identical from one manufacturer to the next. What matters most is deciding between an open and a closed system.
Also, keep in mind that certain intakes are designed for use with either 2015-2017 or 2018-2021 Mustang models. Due to the fact that we can only link to a single intake system, please double-check your order before making a purchase.
1. Mustang 2.3 JLT Cold Air Intake
The JLT 2.3 EcoBoost Mustang Cold Air Intake is an open intake system. The engine block’s high temperatures are protected from the intake’s heat shield, which wraps around the outside of the intake.
There is a 5′′ filter on the JLT Mustang intake, and it bolts up to the stock 2.25′′ turbo inlet with no modifications needed. The addition of a 4′′ piping allows the intake to be used with a turbocharger that has been upgraded, as well as larger inlet sizes. S&B is one of the best filter manufacturers, and they made the filter in question.
JLT estimates a power boost of 15 to 20 whp from the intake. While manufacturer-stated power gains aren’t always reliable, we believe a tune like the Burger Motorsports JB4 can deliver gains of more than 15-20whp.
2. Roush Cold Air Intake Kit – Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost
It’s an open-air design for 2015-2017 models. The intake design, which is a closed intake design, was slightly revised for 2018-2021 models. The fact that Roush products are backed by the manufacturer means that they don’t void any factory warranties.
The open and closed intakes are both bolt-on replacements for the stock unit. According to Roush, this intake system is 74% less restrictive than the stock one. According to Roush’s dyno results, the intake kit by itself can produce gains of up to 30whp and 28wtq.
With upgraded turbochargers, Roush uses the same “step-down” coupler.
3. K&N 2.3 EcoBoost Intake System
In the market for performance intakes and filters, K&N is a well-known name. At around $300, it’s one of the more affordable upgrades for the 2.3 Mustang. The K&N intake, like the JLT’s, is an open-air design with a heat shield to protect the filter from the hot engine block temperatures..
In comparison to the stock system, this one has a smaller and fatter filter, but it still increases airflow. K&N claims a 19-whp increase in power with their air filter. It’s the exact same design for all 2015-2021 models, and installation couldn’t be easier thanks to the direct bolt-on. Fitment varies slightly between 2015-2017 and 2018-2021, so shop around to make sure you get the right intake system for your vehicle.
2.3 Mustang EcoBoost Upgrade Intake Summary
The higher the pre-turbo air pressure, the less work the turbocharger has to do to compress the air as it draws more air into the engine. The advantages of a turbocharged engine’s upgraded intake system are astounding. A faster turbo spool and better throttle response are made possible by increased airflow, which reduces restriction and increases turbo efficiency.
If you’re going to tune your 2.3 EcoBoost, you’ll need an intake. Increasing the turbo boost pressure necessitates drawing in more air and compressing it more quickly in the turbo. Your turbo will be overworked trying to compress the air to higher boost levels if you have a restrictive stock intake. As a result, the turbo has less power and is less dependable.
No matter what you decide, there is no wrong answer when it comes to new intake systems. These devices all do exactly the same thing: they boost engine power by introducing more air to it. As previously stated, we prefer open air systems, but closed systems perform just as well and will not be constrained by power or performance constraints.
Increasing airflow and upgrading your stock intake are more important than which brand or model of intake you use.