Best Cold Air Intake

To determine the best cold air intake kits, we considered the following criteria: ease of installation, the air filter, and compatibility. An easy to install kit is essential, especially for first-time vehicle modifiers. An air filter that can be washed is also critical as this helps to extend the lifespan of your cold air intake kit and also makes maintenance easy to complete. And most importantly, confirming compatibility with the year, make, and model of your vehicle is critical to finding a cold air intake kit that properly fits.

After reviewing all of the above, we selected the K&N Cold Air Intake Kit that was designed for select SUV and truck models from Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac that were made between 2014 and 2020. We liked the easy to install design that only required basic hand tools and the fact that it featured a washable air filter that wouldn’t need to be serviced for up to the first 100,000 miles. Continue reading to learn more about our other top picks.

Top 5 Best Cold Air Intake Reviews

 #1  K&N Cold Air Intake Kit – Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: A cold air intake kit designed for a wide range of domestic SUV models with an easy to install design that can improve your SUV’s performance in as little as an hour.

Pros
  • Best for Chevy, GMC, & Caddy
  • Easy to install design
  • No maintenance up to 100,000 miles
Cons
  • May increase engine noise
  • Fit issues with select car types

For SUVs, they often struggle when it comes to towing or driving uphill. The K&N Cold Air Intake Kit for select SUVs & Trucks manufactured between 2014 and 2020 from Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac is our Top Pick because it offers an easy installation process while providing as much as 50% increased airflow to your engine. Specifically, if you own a Silverado 1500, Suburban, Tahoe, Sierra 1500, Yukon, Yukon Denali, or Escalade, this might be the best way to improve your vehicle’s performance.

For beginning vehicle modifiers, the bolt-on installation will make this an easy way to upgrade your truck or SUV without needing to be a pro. No cutting or drilling is required. The filter is guaranteed to perform without needing to be cleaned for up to 100,000 miles. And the state of the art air filter helps to protect your engine from contaminants. Speaking of keeping your car clean, read about the best car floor mats for your ride.

 #2  K&N Cold Air Intake Kit – Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: A quality cold air intake kit that’s specifically designed to improve the performance on domestic pickup trucks from Dodge/RAM.

Pros
  • Best for Dodge/RAM
  • Estimated gain 15.66 HP
  • Up to 100,000 miles maintenance-free
Cons
  • May void vehicle warranty

Truck owners understand that you buy a vehicle for the power it can provide. And that includes improved performance for key features like towing. This K&N Cold Air Intake Kit is specifically designed for Dodge/RAM trucks manufactured between 2009 and 2019. The 1500, 2500, 3500, and 1500 Classic are compatible with this cold air intake kit.

We like that with this cold air intake kit you can gain up to 15.66 ponies. And as with the other K&N cold air intake kits featured in our roundup, you’ll like the easy to install process that doesn’t require any cutting or drilling. Also, the filter has the same guarantee that it won’t need to be cleaned for up to 100,000 miles. And you’ll also enjoy a state of the art air filter that helps to eliminate contaminants in your engine. Since we are talking air filters, the best breathalyzer is also a must-have device for your vehicle that will keep you safe.

 #3  Million Parts 4″ Perfit Formance Cold Air Intake Kit – Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: An affordable cold air intake kit that offers the widest range of vehicle make and model compatibility as well as automatic and manual transmissions.

Pros
  • Best for GMC & Chevy
  • Lasts up to 100,000 miles without service
  • Compatible with automatic and manual transmissions
Cons
  • Inconsistent vehicle fit

If you’re ready to upgrade your vehicle but you’re not ready to splurge on some of the more expensive models we’re featuring in this guide, the Million Parts 4” Perfit Formance Cold Air Intake Kit is a great place to start. You’ll like that this kit is designed to fit a wide range of Escalades, Avalanches, Silverados, Suburbans, Tahoes, Sierras, and Yukons from 1999 to 2006. Although you should check to confirm that your specific trim or model number is compatible.

You’ll like that although this is budget-friendly, you still have the peace of mind that your cold air intake filter won’t need to be cleaned for up to 100,000 miles. We also liked that this is compatible with automatic and manual transmissions — adding to the versatility. And installation is also easy with common hand tools. A cold air intake is just as important as the best ice scraper for scraping your windows.

 #4  K&N Cold Air Intake Kit – Best for Uphill Towing

WHY WE LIKE IT: A premium performance cold air intake kit designed to improve the uphill performance and towing of power domestic SUVs and trucks.

Pros
  • Best for Chevy, GMC, Cadillac
  • Up to 50% increased airflow
  • Improved acceleration & uphill performance
Cons
  • Inconsistent fit with 2007 Cadillac Escalade

Driving uphill or towing can put any vehicle to the test. But often for truck and SUV owners, this is where they realize that the factory parts under the hood are holding them back. If you do a lot of uphill driving or towing in general, then we recommend this K&N Cold Air Intake Kit. It’s designed for the Silverado 1500, Suburban, Tahoe, Avalance, Sierra 1500, Denali, Yukon and Escalade trucks manufactured between 2007 and 2008.

While the specific increased horsepower isn’t specified with this exact kit from K&N, we do like that you’ll get all the other features we’ve highlighted from their other products in our roundup. This includes the easy installation process that only requires simple hand tools. And again, the filter is guaranteed to not need maintenance for up to 100,000 miles. And the state of the art air filter helps block contaminants from entering your engine. It installs as easily as the best car subwoofer, though it performs a more important function.

 #5  K&N Cold Air Intake Kit – Best for SUVs

WHY WE LIKE IT: A powerful cold air intake kit that’s designed for performance to improve uphill driving and towing for domestic SUVs and select trucks.

Pros
  • Best for Chevy, GMC, Cadillac SUVs
  • Improved engine sound
  • Improves airflow up to 50%
Cons
  • Installation may require drilling

SUVs are power cars but more often than not, the factory parts under the hood might not be designed to optimize performance. In that case, we recommend this K&N Cold Air Intake Kit. This particular kit is designed for select Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac SUVs and trucks manufactured between 2009 and 2014. The Silverado 1500, Suburban, Tahoe, Avalanche, Sierra 1500, Yukon, and Escalade from within those model years are compatible with this kit.

As you’ve noticed from our guide, the K&N cold air intake kits all offer the same performance guarantees. This includes an easy installation process that utilizes simple hand mechanic tools. Likewise, the filter offers the same guarantee that it won’t need cleaning for up to 100,000 miles. And you’ll also enjoy a high-quality art air filter that prevents contaminants from damaging your engine. This will protect the engine, just as the best car alarm protects the whole car.

How We Decided

Cold air intake kits are ideal for people who want to improve their vehicle’s performance. But considering that there are limitless options, we narrowed the field by looking at the following features — ease of installation, the air filter, and compatibility.

Compatibility is the most important first step for narrowing your choices. So, you’ll note that we indicate not just which auto brands are compatible, but the years and makes. If you’re looking for the most versatility, we recommend our Best Budget selection as it offered the widest level of compatibility among domestic cars. You’ll also note that none of the recommendations we featured were marked compatible with import cars. So, be mindful of this as you shop for a cold air intake kit.

Next, we looked at ease of installation. All of the options we featured are designed to be easily installed with nothing more than hand tools. This will be important if a cold air intake kit is your first time tinkering with or modifying your car from the factory settings.

And finally, we looked at the air filter and maintenance. All of the products we highlighted promised easy maintenance with an air filter that wouldn’t need to be cleaned for up to the first 100,000 miles. It’s important to note that this is also dependent upon your driving. Some people may notice that they need to clean their filters sooner. However, all of the options in our guide feature washable filters which aid in the longevity of your cold air intake.

You’ll notice that we didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on horsepower. And this is because many brands don’t include that information. Where available, we’ve mentioned it. But the actual increase in horsepower that you experience can be dependent upon whether the cold air intake kit was properly installed, the overall care that’s given to your engine in general, and your driving behaviors.

Cold Air Intake Buying Guide

 

The Most Important Things to Consider

  1. Compatibility
    One of the biggest factors you need to keep in mind is compatibility. Just like with many other auto parts, cold air intakes are often designed to fit a specific car. And even then, you may find that certain parts are still designed for a select range of model years or trim levels. So always confirm that a part is designed to work with your car before you buy it.
  2. Heat Shields
    A thermal barrier will help to keep your cold air intake part working properly. Specifically, a heat shield helps to protect the cold air intake from the heat generated by your car’s engine. Cold air intakes with heat shields tend to offer better performance than those that don’t have this feature.
  3. Air Filter
    This critical component helps to keep dust, debris, and other contaminants out of your engine’s combustion chamber. Without this important piece, your engine could struggle with performance and even experience damage over time.
  4. Tubing
    The tubing is also important since it’s the only pathway for cold air to be channeled into the engine. Typically, you’ll find that the tubing is made from aluminum, rubber, plastic, or even stainless steel. And usually, the tubing is run through your car’s grill.
  5. Mass Flow Sensor
    A mass flow sensor helps to gauge how much air is flowing through the cold air intake and being pushed into the engine. There are usually two types of mass flow sensors, the vane meter, and the hot wire. This is an important component as it helps to optimize your engine’s performance.

Cold Air Intake FAQs

Do cold air intakes make a difference?

While the actual amount of added horsepower may vary depending on the manufacturer and whether you properly installed your cold air intake, the truth is yes they make a difference. You should see an improvement in your car’s performance when installed properly. And often, when paired with other engine modifications, you can ultimately create a more efficient engine system.

Can a cold air intake damage your engine?

This is a common question, but the answer is no. As long as you properly install a cold air intake, you should see an improvement in engine performance rather than problems.

How much horsepower does a cold air intake add?

It’s important to note that horsepower gains may vary based on whether your cold air intake was properly installed and the overall claims made by the brand you selected. However, in general, most car owners who install a cold air intake should see gains from five to 20 ponies.

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Dorian Smith-Garcia

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a bridal and beauty expert/influencer and the creative director behind The Anti Bridezilla. She is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, consumer goods, and tech. She also writes for Inverse, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications. When Dorian's not writing she's collecting stamps in her passport, learning new languages, or spending time with her husband and daughter.

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