Review & Install Video
Justin: Hey guys, I'm Justin with americanmuscle.com and this is my detailed review of the Varex Catback Exhaust system from X-Force, available for your 2015 and newer Mustang GT. Now you should be checking this thing out if you're after a new catback for your GT and you want to have the ability to change the sound and the loudness of your exhaust from inside the car, and I think that's going to be the biggest appealing factor here with the Varex from X-Force. Now you should also be checking this thing out if you're after a top-quality system in regards to build and material and you don't mind throwing down a little extra money to get all of these things.
Now X-Force is a relatively new company here stateside, but they've actually been pretty popular and well-established down in Australia, where the company itself originated. Now the Varex here is the X-Force's bread and butter. It's her patented system. It originated back in 2009 and 2010, but the company as a whole have been gaining a lot of recognition and a lot of popularity here, again, stateside thanks to the system like the Varex and their soon to be released long tube headers. Full disclosure, guys, I actually reviewed the S197 Varex Axelback a little while back and I thought it was something that was going to be a gimmick product. Something that was going to be cool in theory but poor in execution, and honestly I couldn't have been more wrong. The Varex works very well and sounds pretty damn good.
Now the truth is, a lot of companies have tried the tunable exhaust thing with varying levels of success, and in my opinion the X-Force is one of the first companies to really nail the design from the execution down to the delivery, but of course ROUSH did a great job as well with their active exhaust systems for the S550.
Getting into this system a little bit further here, guys, I think you'll find the centerpiece for this catback are these patented Varex series mufflers here, which do feature this built in butterfly mechanism actually built into the muffler itself. And that's going to operate much like a more modern cutout would. Basically there's a flap in there that opens and closes, and all of it's controlled by the included remote. Unlike those traditional e-cutouts that are generally fully open or fully closed with no options in between, the Varex is going to give you some options here thanks to the adjustment. And as Varex puts it, it's going to give you essentially five mufflers in one. This is achieved by opening that butterfly valve in different increments, changing your sound as you go.
So what does this all mean when it comes to your overall sound and volume? Well as you guys heard with the sound clips earlier on here, the difference in sound between these different options is very impressive. Now for starters, with the valve fully closed this thing is very, very quiet. Very similar to what you might find with your factory muffler still in place. Maybe a touch louder, but not by much. However, with everything opened up it's a different story entirely here with the Varex. The sound really does come to life and it's a great sound at that. Nice deep tone overall, no real rasps to speak about here, guys, and a decent amount of volume. So with everything closed up, again, you heard the sound clips, I'm willing to give it a one out of five on my one to wake the neighbor scale here. Very stock sounding setup. But when you do open the Varex completely up, again it does come to life, so that number easily shoots up to a three, maybe even a four out of five again on my wake the neighbors scale.
Not going to be the loudest system you'll ever hear, but it does have a nice, deep tone to it and the best part is no interior drone while cruising. Now I can think of several reasons why having full control of the sound and volume of your exhaust would be appealing. The most obvious would be to be quiet when you need it to be. So whether you're entering or leaving the neighborhood or apartment complex, maybe you're driving by Johnny Law, maybe you have your significant other in the car and they're really just not a fan of loud exhaust systems, or maybe even you're just trying to play the role of the sleeper. Whatever the case, the Varex should be able to help you out.
Now that you know a little bit more about what to expect when it comes to the sound, let's talk about the build of the Varex here because you are getting more than just that adjustable sound. The Varex, again, is built very, very well. 304 grade stainless steel throughout, which, in my opinion, the best material to use on an exhaust system because it's going to be the best at reducing corrosion. Along with that 304 grade stainless, you are getting 3-inch mandrel bent tubing throughout. Very nice welds on this thing. And finally those four-inch slash cut tips embossed with the X-Force logo. Now the Varex actually does utilize a mid-muffler or mid-resonator system here in this capback, which is going to help round out the tone a little bit along with these Varex performance mufflers, which believe it or not are chambered, and that's where the butterfly valve comes in.
Now with that valve fully closed, the Varex is going to act like a chambered muffler through the outside portion of the Varex itself here. However, once that valve is fully opened up, the exhaust flow is going to take the path of least resistance and at that point the Varex is essentially a straight-through flowing muffler, increasing both your sound and performance.
Again guys, it's all controlled by the two included key fobs that X-Force throws in. Each one does have two buttons on it. One's going to open the valve and one's going to close it. So this does, again, give you some options here when playing with your sound and experimenting with the key fob. The butterfly valves are powered by a 12-volt power source. X-Force throws in the plug and play harness to get you guys up and running. Now what's going to happen is you're going to plug in both mufflers here using the water-resistant plugs. From that point you fish the harness inside your trunk and then run it to the center console, where it's to be plugged in. This is a total 100% plug and play install.
Now before we fully get into the install here with the Varex, let's quickly touch on the price. And as you might expect, things are not exactly cheap at just north of $1300 bucks, but you do have to remember what you're getting here. That fully adjustable sound in addition to the quality 304 grade build here. Again, very solid given the price point. You also have to consider that the ROUSH option, their active exhaust, is only offered in an axelback and it's going to cost you nearly double the price of the Varex here. Just in case you guys were wondering, X-Force does throw a warranty at this thing. One year for the electronics and five years for the mufflers themselves.
All right, as for the actual install itself here, guys, well I do have one small nitpick with the Varex and that is the design of the pipe. More specifically, the flanges they use to get everything bolted up. I'd say 99% of the aftermarket S550 catbacks utilize a slip-fit style system for the piping, which just makes everything going on a lot easier as far as the install. Now the Varex, again, they're going to utilize a more traditional flange here. There's nothing really wrong with that, it doesn't fit bad or anything like that, it just makes it a little bit more difficult to install compared to those slip-fit systems. That aside, the rest of this install as far as the exhaust is concerned is pretty standard in the world of catbacks for the S550 GT.
A buddy will definitely make this one go a little easier, guys. Trust me. But overall you're just looking at basic hand tools here for the exhaust. Basically a socket set is all you really need. When it comes to the wiring, again guys everything is 100% plug and play here. You're going to want to first plug in the mufflers using the harness. From that portion on there's a little rubber grommet located in the spare tire area in the trunk. You can get the harness through the trunk in there and actually inside the car. From there, you just need to fish it to the center console area, where it will be plugged in to your 12-volt power source or socket. This is probably going to be your most time consuming part because you're going to want to do this right and make sure to hide that wire good so it's a clean install.
I'm going to give this one a two out of three wrenches on my overall scale of difficulty. It's not exactly hard, guys, but it is a little bit more involved than a traditional catback install with the S550 GT. We do call this install two hours on the site here, but I wouldn't be surprised if it took you a little longer than that just getting this thing bolted up and, again, running that wire for a clean install.
All right guys, to wrap this one up, the Varex from X-Force is a very unique product. It's giving you the ability to change your exhaust tone and volume on the fly, and they've used some really solid materials in the overall build. Now the install might be a little bit more involved and the price might be a little high for some folks on a tight budget, but if having an adjustable exhaust sounds appealing to you, you are not going to be disappointed when checking out the Varex. So be sure to learn more about this catback for your GT right here at americanmuscle.com.