Much to the chagrin of 2010 S197 buyers, the 2011 Mustang brought about a massive change in the engine line-up. Gone were the reliable but aging 3-valve 4.6L modular V8 and 4.0L V6. They were replaced with the first-gen Coyote 5.0 and Cyclone 3.7L V6, which were much more powerful.
Though the 2011 kept the interior and exterior style updates from 2010, this Mustang was a whole new beast underneath. That means the 2011-2014 Mustangs have even more potential for power and aftermarket mods than the previous S197s. In this guide, we’ll look at some of the most popular and effective upgrades for your late-model S197.
Though they already make lots of horsepower, the 2011-2014 motors are easy to upgrade for even better performance. The 3.7L V6 makes 305 hp, a tad more than the previous V8. The Coyote used in the late S197s makes 412 hp. With a few mods, these numbers can be increased even more.
Cold Air Intakes
Cold air intakes allow more cool air into the engine, providing better efficiency and more power. Cold air intakes will only net a few extra horsepower on their own. The real benefits come when they’re combined with a tune and a cat-back exhaust. While most cold air intakes do better with a tune, some of them actually require one.
ECU tuners allow users to calibrate their car’s computer to alter its performance. They’re very popular on their own, but are often used in conjunction with a cold air intake and exhaust kit. Simply plug them into your OBD-II port to load your new settings.
The V8 Coyote engine, especially, can see big gains with a tune. For example, the Ford Performance tuner can offer gains of up to 16 hp with hardly more work than pushing a button.
A supercharger adds immense power to your Mustang, but it’s also the most expensive and time-consuming mod. If you don’t have lots of mechanical experience, you should have an expert do the install.
The Roush Phase 2 supercharger can bring you up to an incredible 625 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque. Supercharger installs are massive projects, but you can’t get results like this from any other method. For those going to the track or drag strip, there’s no substitute.
Get more sound and power out of your 2011-2014 Mustang with a cat-back exhaust. Installation is easy, and no cutting is required. If you’re on a tighter budget, an axle-back offers the same sound optimization. Although you’ll have to cut pipes and you won’t see any performance gains, they’re a more affordable way to get your Mustang sounding the way you want.
If you have a GT, check out our full 2011-2014 exhaust guide for a more in-depth look at the different options.
Handling for the 2011-2014 Mustangs was slightly improved over 2010 and noticeably better than the earlier S197s. However, it’s still not up to the level of the S550. It doesn’t have independent rear suspension and isn’t quite as sharp or dialed-in.
Luckily, aftermarket mods can significantly improve handling. Lowering springs and upgraded shocks/struts are highly recommended. The stock brakes are solid, but can be improved with new rotors or pads.
Aftermarket shocks and struts, coilover kits, and sway bars are just a few of the ways to improve your Mustang’s handling. With more rigidity, better body control, and tighter steering feel, they’ll completely transform the way you drive. You’ll notice superior cornering ability without any loss of ride quality.
Lowering springs give you a lower center of gravity for less body roll and more direct handling. Springs are one of the most affordable suspension upgrades. They also change your S197’s stance. The Ford Performance springs will give your Mustang a 1 ½ inch drop.
You don’t need brake upgrades unless you’re adding a lot more power under the hood or heading to the race track. Rotor kits will help you get the improved stopping power you need. If you just want a better feel and confidence for autocross or the street, brake pads are the way to go.
Wheel and Tire Packages
Aftermarket wheels will often help you “add lightness.” Since they’re rotational mass, you’ll see an exponential decrease in unsprung weight. To get performance tires at the same time as your new wheels, get a wheel and tire package. Wheel and tires come pre-mounted and balanced, so they’re ready to be installed out of the box.
Even if you don’t care as much about the performance aspects, wheels have arguably the biggest impact on your Mustang’s exterior style. There are colors and styles to fit every aesthetic.
Customizing your Mustang isn’t just about horsepower. There are endless ways to upgrade your S197’s looks both inside and out.
Exterior and Body Appearance
The 2011-2014 Mustang is already a looker, but there are ways to accentuate its body lines even more. Body kits and grilles are popular choices. LED lights add style, but also make it easier to see and be seen. Even something as subtle as new emblems (or taking your factory badges off) will make a big difference in your S197’s appearance.
While Roush’s high-flow grille adds tons of style, it also enhances air flow to your car’s radiator. For a classic muscle car look, add some quarter window louvers.
Interior Parts and Accessories
There are lots of upgrades you can make to improve the way your interior looks. And though it’s not really about appearance, the Accelatec clutch pedal extension is a game-changer for clutch pedal feel. It makes it much easier to actuate the pedal, especially for those that don’t have long legs.
A custom shift knob is an item you’ll notice every time you shift. Plus, adding a pop of color is something your passengers are sure to notice. For those that want to protect their factory upholstery and carpet, seat covers and rubber floor mats will do the job.
Finding the Best Mods for Your 2011-2014 S197
The updated style and power of the 2011-2014 S197s makes them highly desirable in the used car market. If you’re ready to start your journey as a Mustang enthusiast, this is a great car to pick.
If you’ve got an earlier S197 Mustang, check out our 2005-2010 Mustang mods guide. While its factory power levels weren’t as good as its successor, some aftermarket upgrades can bring it up to the same level.
This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.