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Hey guys, I'm looking at doing a new exhaust for my 06 2.4. Anyone got any ideas what I can do to upgrade? I've been thinking about the 2.5" ZZP catback setup. Only mod I have done is CAI. Looking for something that sounds decent, but not very loud and more so low pitched vs. high pitched. And obviously would like to get a little more power. Also been thinking of doing the ZZP shorty exhaust manifold while I'm at it. Let me know what you all think. Thanks in advance!
 

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A header (and a downpipe, as well - adding just a header won't do much, since it still has to breathe through the restrictive stock downpipe) will be a huge improvement in power - but be warned, it will significantly contribute to exactly the tones you do not want. Getting a catted downpipe will help some, but not remove all the rasp the header will add.

Still, for the power increase, it's worth it. It's an NA 4-cylinder anyway. Another option is (if you have a manual) to use an LSJ manifold/downpipe.

The GMPP Touring has always been a favorite for tone, though I'd imagine a Magnaflow sounds good, too (skip the Magnaflow-branded catback and consider the Mandrel Exhaust Systems catback with Magnaflow or Borla muffler, instead). @Parthros has the ZZP catback, so he can comment on how it sounds.
 
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First of all, I've got a full ZZP exhaust (midlength headers & downpipe and catback with resonator & muffler), and I'm very pleased with how it sounds. Having said that, if you want to keep it quiet, you'll probably want a cast iron exhaust manifold, as my headers made the car a bit drone-y on the highway, and definitely noticeably louder. The best compromise between increasing exhaust flow and reasonable noise level would probably be getting an LSJ exhaust manifold, and a ZZP downpipe + catback. If you find yourself preferring a bit more power and don't mind the noise, midlength header & downpipe is a good option.

Just a bit of advice - if you plan on getting a tune, then you might want to contact ZZP before ordering your downpipe and request a 200 cell cat instead of 400 or off road (no cat). If you aren't planning on getting a tune, get the 400 cell cat. Also, definitely get the resonator on the catback.

Finally, you never mentioned whether you had an auto or manual, so I just wanna point out that you'll need to select the appropriate downpipe for your transmission. They're different lengths depending on the transmission.

Product Links:
ZZP Downpipe For LSJ Manifold or Shorty Headers
ZZP Midlength Header & Downpipe
ZZP 2.5" Catback
Current ebay Listing for an LSJ Exhaust Manifold

---------- Post added at 11:49 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:43 AM ----------

Actually, if you go with an LSJ exhaust manifold and downpipe + ZZP catback, this is pretty much what you can expect:

 

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The 2.4L was definitely available with a 5-speed.

The catback is the same for all the cars (except the 2.0L Turbo SS/TC, which has a 3-bolt flange at the downpipe), regardless of transmission. The downpipe is what changes, due to the angle the engine sits at (the manual cars have the engine rolled back towards the firewall compared to the automatic cars).
 
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The manifold will fit regardless of transmission - the difference is made up in the downpipe, so all of that will work perfectly for you!
 

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As far as intake manifolds, you basically have the one to get, since you have a 2.4L (the 2.4L manifold is a common upgrade to L61 2.2Ls). The most you could do is upgrade to an LSJ throttle body - but that will require a tune.

If you're speaking of the air intakes, seems like K&N, AEM, Injen, ZZP all seem to be good choices.
 
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