Toyota Tundra owners are always looking for ways to improve the looks, performance, and/or sound of their trucks. In our opinion, one of the easiest and most affordable upgrades is a new exhaust system. In this article, we’ll be looking into the best exhaust systems for Toyota Tundra. We’ll also discuss the many types of Tundra exhaust systems along with the variances in sound, performance, and price.
The Tundra is Toyota’s weapon of choice in the hotly-contested and hugely-profitable light truck segment. It has the size, towing capacity, and standard V8 engine to make it worthy of praise against other frontrunners like the Ford F-Series and Chevy Silverado. The Toyota Tundra is also a great off-roader. The standard model has rear-wheel drive with an automatic limited-slip differential while part-time 4WD with an electronic transfer case and Auto LSD is optional.
While exhaust systems are one of the most overlooked components in a vehicle, installing a nice exhaust upgrade is enough to yield dividends in terms of acceleration, sound, and throttle response. But the big question remains: Is a Tundra exhaust kit worth the extra price over a stock OEM exhaust unit?
Best Exhaust Systems for Toyota Tundra
1. Flowmaster Outlaw Series Cat-Back Exhaust System
If what you want in an exhaust kit is a louder and more aggressive roar along with making a visual impact, you can’t go wrong with the Flowmaster Outlaw Series cat-back exhaust system. Equipped with 3-inch dual mandrel-bent stainless steel tubing, stainless steel Super 10 Series mufflers, and two 4-inch double-wall exhaust tips finished in black ceramic coating, this Flowmaster Outlaw Series is one of the best cat-back exhaust systems for the Toyota Tundra.
Flowmaster exhaust kits are engineered to improve exhaust flow while significantly reducing engine backpressure when towing or riding with a full load of passengers and equipment. Flowmaster cat-backs are proudly made in the USA and are backed by Flowmaster’s sterling limited lifetime warranty.
Best of all, this cat-back system is easy to install and is a direct fit on both 2WD/4WD and all wheelbase models of the Toyota Tundra. The kit includes all the necessary parts and hardware for a hassle-free installation with no cutting or bending required.
- Aggressive exhaust sound
- Exhilarating performance
- Faster acceleration
- Reduces engine backpressure
- Sportier look
- Easy to install
- It’s pricey
2. MagnaFlow MF Series Performance Cat-Back Exhaust System - 15367
If you don’t prefer a dual tailpipe layout, this MagnaFlow MF Series cat-back system offers many benefits without ruining the stock look of your Toyota Tundra. Designed with a single passenger-side rear exit tailpipe, this stainless-steel cat-back exhaust is designed to boost the exhaust sound while improving your Tundra’s acceleration and high-speed performance.
Featuring mandrel bent 2.5-inch exhaust tubing and a stainless steel MF series muffler, the kit also includes a 3.0-inch exhaust tip finished in a durable black coating. The kit includes the necessary hardware and exhaust hangers for a hassle-free installation using basic hand tools.
- Stock look
- Loud and aggressive exhaust sound
- Stainless steel construction
- Improves horsepower and torque
- Easy to install
- Higher price
3. MagnaFlow MF Series Performance Cat-Back Exhaust System - 15306
This MagnaFlow MF Series cat-back exhaust kit is designed with dual side-exiting tailpipes. Featuring 2.5-inch mandrel-bent stainless steel tubing, a single MF Series free-flow muffler, and dual 3.0-inch side exiting tailpipes, MagnaFlow’s MF Series will not only improve horsepower, torque, and the exhaust sound of your rig, but it also translates to better off-the-line performance whether on the street, highway or a bushy off-road trail.
And with MagnaFlow’s patented MF series muffler, you get all the performance and sound benefits without that annoying exhaust drone at cruising speeds.
- Sporty dual tailpipes
- Mandrel bent construction improves flow
- More horsepower and torque
- No drone at lower speeds
- Easy to install
- It’s a bit pricey
4. Rugged Ridge Heavy-Duty Axle-Back Muffler Kit
This Rugged Ridge axle-back muffler is one of the more affordable choices in this list of best Tundra exhaust kits. And since we’re talking about an axle-back system, it’s easy to install using simple tools with no need to cut, grind, or bend some tubing.
Featuring an aluminized steel construction finished in a black high-temp coating, this Rugged Ridge axle-back system does not come with an exhaust tip. However, it offers better exhaust flow and a louder exhaust sound than the factory exhaust in your Tundra.
- Heavy-duty aluminized steel construction
- Improves exhaust flow
- Faster acceleration and more torque
- Easy to install
- Incomplete kit
5. Borla Cat-Back Exhaust System
Borla is a revered name in performance exhaust systems. The company is known for setting the goalposts in terms of manufacturing and materials. This particular Borla cat-back exhaust kit is constructed from premium austenitic stainless steel to offer lasting performance.
Featuring a series of mandrel-bent stainless steel tubing, a straight-through muffler system with multi-core technology to improve the exhaust flow, and a pair of highly-polished stainless-steel tips, this Borla cat-back offers a ton of features for the money. It may be among the most expensive in this list, but it also comes with Borla’s million-mile warranty.
- Superior quality and construction
- Noticeable gains in power and torque
- Powerful exhaust sound
- Easy bolt-on installation
- Better styling with dual exiting tailpipes
- Still pricey
6. MBRP Installer Series Single Side Cat-Back Exhaust
The MBRP Installer Series is offering a more affordable cat-back exhaust system with a single side exit exhaust tip. Featuring 3-inch aluminized piping and a massive 4-inch polished stainless steel exhaust tip, this cat-back exhaust is engineered by MBRP to provide a rich and mellow exhaust note while improving acceleration and overall performance.
According to MBRP, the Installer Series cat-back exhaust can improve fuel economy by up to 2 mpg depending on the application. Best of all, this kit is easy to install using common hand tools and includes all the necessary hardware.
- Louder exhaust sound
- Aluminized steel construction
- Better acceleration
- Massive 4-inch polished exhaust tip
- More affordable
- Easy to install
- Not as loud as other cat-backs
7. Gibson Cat-Back Dual Exhaust System
The Gibson cat-back dual exhaust system has every right to be included in our list of best exhaust systems for Toyota Tundra. It comes with aggressively angled dual 2.5-inch slashed exhaust tips that are designed to sit after the rear wheels on both the driver and passenger side.
It not only looks good, but it also comes with a superflow performance aluminized muffler to offer unrestricted exhaust flow. The result is a louder exhaust along with stronger acceleration. This Gibson exhaust kit is also among the most affordable cat-back exhausts in this list.
- Angled dual slashed exhaust tips
- Improves horsepower and acceleration
- Easy to install
- Aluminized construction
- Affordable price
8. Flowmaster Outlaw Extreme Axle-Back Exhaust
Flowmaster also has an axle-back exhaust kit for the Toyota Tundra. The Outlaw Extreme features premium stainless-steel construction, a 3-inch Outlaw muffler, and a large 3-inch down exit. However, the kit does not include an exhaust tip. But then again, it offers a powerful exhaust sound while boosting acceleration and performance.
This Flowmaster Outlaw Extreme axle-back exhaust is proudly made in the USA. It also comes with the required hardware for an easy, hassle-free installation.
- Aggressive and powerful exhaust sound
- Sterling build-quality
- Faster acceleration and more horsepower
- Easy to install
- More affordable than cat-backs
- Not as loud as cat-backs
- Does not include an exhaust tip
9. Flowmaster FlowFX Cat-Back Exhaust Kit
For a little less money than other cat-back exhaust kits, you can have the Flowmaster FlowFX. Designed for the 2009 to 2018 Toyota Tundra with either a standard 4.6-liter or optional 5.7-liter V8 engine, the Flowmaster FlowFX is dyno-tuned to deliver maximum performance and an aggressive exhaust sound.
The kit includes larger 2.5-inch stainless steel tubing and a pair of massive 4-inch side exit ceramic-coated exhaust tips. This is an easy to install kit and comes with the necessary hardware. Flowmaster’s been in the business for over 30 years and is one of the leaders in the aftermarket exhaust segment.
- Superior quality
- Louder and more dominant exhaust sound
- Large 4-inch ceramic coated exhaust tips
- Stainless steel tubing improves exhaust flow
- Faster acceleration and better throttle response
- More affordable option
10. Banks Power Straight Pipe Kit
The most affordable Tundra exhaust in this list is the Banks Power Straight Pipe. It offers maximum performance and sound for off-road or racing applications. Featuring massive 2.5-inch stainless steel tubing, it connects directly after the catalytic converter to deliver powerful acceleration and a race-bred sound.
Starting at less than $70, this Banks Power exhaust kit is perfect if you’re looking for uncompromising off-road performance.
- Race-bred exhaust sound
- Easy to install
- Low price
- For off-road/racing applications only
OEM vs. Aftermarket exhaust: Which is the best choice for my Toyota Tundra?
The stock exhaust system in any car is engineered to achieve maximum fuel economy and silent operation. Unless we’re talking about high-performance sports sedans or hot hatchbacks, modern vehicles are equipped with silent exhaust systems straight from the factory, and there’s a reason for this.
Not all car buyers are huge fans of loud exhausts. And in this world where larger SUVs, crossovers, and pickup trucks are lording it over compact cars and midsize sedans, louder exhausts are usually reserved for high-performance variants of particular German, American, or Japanese SUV, and these types of vehicles are more expensive than stock.
If you prefer the smooth and silent operation of the stock exhaust in your Tundra, upgrading to bigger and louder exhausts should be the last thing on your mind. But if you’re looking to improve power without the desire for a louder engine, upgrading to an aftermarket air filter of cold air intake is a better choice.
However, if you’re the type of Tundra owner who’s looking to increase horsepower, acceleration, and engine sound but is not prepared to shed money on expensive go-fast engine mods, upgrading to an aftermarket exhaust kit is a wise investment.
What are the types of aftermarket exhaust kits?
There are three basic types of aftermarket exhaust systems for the Toyota Tundra: Axle-back, cat-back, and header-back or turbo-back.
Axle-back exhaust kit
Perhaps the most basic, most affordable, and easiest to install among all exhaust types is the axle-back. In a typical axle-back exhaust kit, it includes all the components from the rear axle to the exhaust tip. Although it doesn’t provide massive power gains, choosing a well-designed axle-back exhaust will yield noticeable improvements in exhaust sound, acceleration, and engine pick-up.
And since an axle-back unit is easier to install, you can finish the job in your garage using a basic set of hand tools. Additionally, if all you want is a louder and more aggressive exhaust bark, axle-backs are a more economical solution as well.
Cat-back exhaust kit
Compared to an axle-back exhaust, cat-backs are designed to replace everything from the tail of the catalytic converter to the tailpipes. A typical cat-back exhaust kit includes a muffler, tailpipe, and larger-diameter piping. Depending on the configuration, cat-back exhausts are classified as X-pipe, H-pipe, or Y-pipe.
With more components in each kit, cat-back exhaust kits are more expensive and harder to install. But then again, cat-backs can yield higher gains in exhaust sound and performance. In short, cat-backs are louder than axle-backs and can squeeze out more performance from the engine.
Header-back exhaust kit
Header-back exhaust kits are engineered to replace the entire exhaust system in your vehicle, starting from the headers to the tailpipes. Depending on the type of vehicle, header-backs can also include a combination of either headers, crossover pipes, intermediate pipes, catalytic converters, mufflers, and tailpipes.
However, header-back or turbo-back exhaust kits are costlier than a typical cat-back or axle-back exhaust kit. Header-backs or full-exhausts are also harder to install. In some cases, professional installation is highly recommended since you’ll be replacing the headers altogether.
What are the benefits of an aftermarket exhaust kit?
There are two main benefits: sound and performance. But if you want to be specific, aftermarket exhaust kits are constructed using better materials and modern manufacturing techniques. Aftermarket exhausts have larger diameter tubing to improve the exhaust flow. It also reduces harmful engine backpressure under heavy loads, basically allowing the motor to breathe better.
In order to get a better understanding of how this works, hold your breath, pinch our nose slightly, and try to exhale through your nose. On the other hand, upgrading the exhaust system is like breathing with no restrictions. Aftermarket exhaust kits are designed to do the same by allowing the engine to breathe easier while giving you a nice, rumbling exhaust sound.
Choosing a Toyota Tundra exhaust: Stainless steel or aluminized steel?
In terms of quality and longevity, stainless steel exhaust kits are your best bet. Stainless is engineered to resist corrosion and oxidation like an ordinary steel exhaust. However, stainless steel exhaust kits are more expensive than other varieties.
On the other hand, aluminized steel is crafted from ordinary non-stainless steel but is coated with aluminum-silicon alloy to give it the finish of genuine stainless steel. The protective coating forms a strong bond with the base material to provide better protection against rust and corrosion.
And even though aluminized steel is more affordable than stainless steel exhausts, the aluminum coating can scrape off of chip away by scrapes, heavy impacts, and rock hits. And when this happens, it’s easier for rust and corrosion to penetrate the base metal, unlike pure stainless steel.
In some cases, cat-back or axle-back exhaust systems are sold in both aluminized and stainless steel options. However, the stainless variant is usually a hundred or more dollars expensive than aluminized steel.
Mandrel-bent versus Crush bend exhaust tubing: Which is better?
The factory OEM exhaust in your Toyota Tundra is equipped with crush bend piping. Although this method is fast, easy, and more affordable, the pipe bends create performance-robbing restrictions that affect the engine’s performance.
This is the reason why aftermarket exhaust kits have mandrel bent pipes. This means the exhaust pipes are bent using a flexible rod that prevents the pipe walls from creating kinks in the assembly. This also means the piping maintains a consistent diameter in the bent areas, thereby allowing the exhaust to flow freely.
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