One of the first aftermarket performance upgrades we here at Stage 3 Motorsports always recommend along your way to building the perfect F150 is a cold air intake system. We highly recommend one of our 2015-2016 F150 3.5L EcoBoost Cold Air Intake Kits as your starting point for getting improved performance. We recently tried out an aFe Magnum FORCE Pro 5R Cold Air Intake Kit on our own project truck and were impressed right away. Then again, how can you go wrong with aFe? With any of the cold air intakes we offer you're going to be adding much more efficient and powerful components that will allow you to get the most out of your F150's engine.
The next most popular upgrade for the 2015-2016 F150s is a leveling kit. 2015-2016 F150 Leveling Kits, true to their name, raise up your truck's front ride height by a slight degree to get rid of their front rake and to provide some extra clearance for larger tires. Leveling kits can be broken down into two basic types. First, you have the more basic 2015-2016 F150 Spacer Leveling Kits that consist of a puck or bracket that installs onto your front strut and brings up your ride height without too much change in your F150's performance or ride quality. The second type is a 2015-2016 F150 Coilover Leveling Kit. These systems consist of either a full coilover or lifted strut assemblies that raise front ride height while improving suspension performance, though they are a bit more pricey than spacer kits. Our 2015 F150 3.5L EcoBoost Project Truck's first suspension upgrade was an Auto Spring 2" Leveling Kit and had great results.
After having the leveling kit above installed, we wasted no time in ditching those factory stock tires for a more rugged set of 33" MT tires since we'll be spending a decent amount of time exploring some off-road trails. We picked up a set of LT295/65R18 Pro Comp Xtreme M/T2 Radial Tires and you can see for yourself the difference from the photos above and those with our truck with the new tires pictured below. The tread pattern is beefy and since it's a Mud Terrain tire, we'll have no problems navigating through any snow or mud and driving through rocky ravines will be much easier to get through as well.
These rugged 33" Pro Comp tires provide that aggressive off-road look we were hoping to get without causing any rubbing or other issues. While the tread pattern is pretty aggressive, they still ride extremely well and look absolutely awesome. If your future plans for your F150 involve weekend warrior trips off-road or demanding work that finds you in mud, snow or rainy weather, a set of our 33" MT tires are a great way to strike a balance between the looks and performance of a rugged off-road tire that will get you out of trouble when you need it most while keeping excess tire noise to a minimum.
Besides the exterior and interior upgrades we've added to our 2015 3.5L EcoBoost so far, all of the other modifications we've made will have an effect on the way the truck performs. Leveling or lifting your truck changes the geometry of the F150 and adding much larger tires will also change the performance. Fortunately, you can easily tie all of these modifications together and regain your performance with the help of a custom tune and handheld programmer. Our friends over at 5-Star Tuning took all of the technical information about all of the modifications we made and wrote specialized custom tunes that were able to use to re-write the original factory PCM tune for increased horsepower, torque and improved fuel economy. The new custom tunes get loaded on an SCT Livewire TS+ tuner and vehicle monitor which gives your EcoBoost much more improved performance. 5-Star's tuning adjusts your engine's boost pressure, ignition timing, fuel curves, and other parameters that your F150's engine computer controls to add big power to your F150's output.
5-Star offers up Economy Tunes, Performance/Tow Tunes, outright Performance Tunes, and Transmission-only tunes in several different octane levels so that you can find the tune combinations that are perfect for your application or available fuel octane. We personally chose a 91 octane Performance Tune, which allowed our 2015 F150 3.5L EcoBoost to put down an impressive 420lb-ft of torque and 310 horsepower at the tires, up from a baseline run of 360lb-ft of torque and 300 horsepower, a gain of 60lb-ft of torque and 10 horsepower at its peak. With roughly an 18% drivetrain loss on our 4WD F150, that equates to 512lb-ft of torque and 378 horsepower at the crankshaft. While our peak horsepower difference was fairly small, there was a difference of over 30 or more horsepower earlier in the RPM band. On top of the power gains, we got improved shifting and fuel economy.