Best Cold Air Intakes for 1994-2004 Mustangs

Best Cold Air Intakes for 1994-2004 Mustangs

Last Updated August 7, 2023 | Alison Smith

Whether you have a V6 or a V8 engine, a cold air intake can boost your SN95 Mustang’s performance. Cold air intakes help your engine breathe better, which can result in added horsepower and torque.

Mustangs with engine mods or an aftermarket exhaust will benefit the most from a performance cold air intake. But with so many different options out there, it can be difficult to decide. That’s why we put together this list of the best cold air intakes for 1994-2004 Mustangs, broken down by category. Check out the ones that are most relevant for your Mustang to narrow down your search.

Best for V6

Early SN95s with the V6 engine made 145 horsepower, with later models seeing an increase to 193. Adding a cold air intake can give the 3.8L engine a bump in power for a more enjoyable drive.

The BBK Fenderwell makes a good choice for both early and late SN95 models. These intakes are designed and dyno-tested to maximize performance. Chrome-plated tubes add a nice touch of shine to the engine bay as well.

The Steeda High Velocity cold air intake is another good option, featuring a design that allows for straighter and faster airflow. Both the BBK and Steeda cold air intakes have a heat shield that helps keep hot air out for cooler engine temps.

Best for GT

JLT Cold Air Intake Kit for 1999-2004 Mustang GTs

1994-1995 Mustang GTs came with a 5.0L V8 OHV engine with 215 hp. Later models had the 4.6L V8, ranging from 215-260 horsepower. A cold air intake can help open up your 1994-2004 GT’s engine so it can get the best performance possible.

BBK offers a Fenderwell Cold Air Intake Kit for 1996-2004 Mustang GTs. The intake is designed with the air filter located in the fenderwell instead of the engine bay. This keeps the airflow cooler for increased horsepower and improved throttle response. Not only does it offer more power, but it’ll look great under the hood of your GT.

The Airaid Cold Air Intake Kit with a SynthaFlow Filter is a slightly more expensive option. It uses a computer-aided design to offer the perfect fit and finish. The SynthaFlow filter is designed to provide max filtration without sacrificing airflow. These Synthaflow filters are washable and reusable. For more information on how to clean them, check out this guide on how to clean a reusable air filter.

The JLT Performance intake kit does a good job of optimizing airflow to support your engine’s increased performance. A vacuum-formed heat shield blocks heat at low speed and idle to keep temperatures cool.

Best for New Edge

Ford redesigned the SN95 halfway through the generation. The 1999-2004 models are known as the New Edge Mustangs.

Airaid offers cold air intakes that come with SynthaMax filters in either red or yellow. If you want to avoid plastic intake tubes, BBK offers metal options. The K&N Cold Air intake kit is another solid choice for the New Edge Mustang. The free-flowing tubing offers smoother, more direct airflow.

All these intakes offer more rear-wheel horsepower (RWHP), plus better throttle response and engine sound.

Top Picks by SN95 Owners

Sometimes the best recommendations come from other SN95 owners. Here are some of the top cold air intakes according to our SN95 customers.

Best No-Tune Cold Air Intakes

JLT Cold Air Intake Kit for 1996-2004 Mustang GTs

Some cold air intakes will need a tune after installation. But if tuning sounds too complicated, there are some great options that don’t require it. If you just want something you can install and be done with, here are some of the best no-tune CAIs for your SN95 Mustang.

BBK’s Black Out Fenderwell Cold Air Intake Kit doesn’t need a tune, and it’s also legal in all 50 states. It also comes with a heat shield to block hot air from the engine. It can easily provide a 7-10 horsepower increase. Plus the “blacked-out” finish offers a sleek look under the hood.

The JLT intake system also doesn’t require a tune and will work with 80mm and 90mm MAFs. You can see RWHP gains of 8-12 after installing this intake kit.

Bill’s Picks

Curious what CAI our resident Mustang expert would pick for his SN95? Here are Bill’s top picks for cold air intakes for 1994-2004 Mustangs.

The Airaid Performance MXP Series intake comes with a unique yellow filter and black tubing. This is Bill’s pick for New Edge GTs with projected gains of 8 horsepower and 6 lb.-ft. of torque.

For 1994-1995 5.0L Mustangs, Bill’s top suggestion for boosting horsepower, throttle response, and engine sound is the K&N 57 Series kit. He recommends the JLT Black Textured Series 2 Fenderwell kit for ‘96-‘98 Cobras as it’s one of the best-looking, fitting, and performing systems you can buy.

Best for Superchargers

JLT Ram Air Intake Kit Series 2 for 2003-2004 Mustang Cobra 2003-2004

The 2003-2004 Mustang SVT Cobra came with a 4.6L Supercharged V8 engine with 390 horsepower. That’s pretty powerful from the factory, but upgrading the cold air intake can help you get the most out of your supercharged engine.

The JLT Series 2 intake can increase RWHP by 18-26 and can support up to 550 RWHP. If you’re putting out even more horsepower, the JLT High Boost kit can support over 800 RWHP.

The K&N 57 Series and Steeda cold air intake are two other good options for the 2003-2004 Mustang Cobra.

Best Value

Although some cold air intakes can be expensive, there are some budget-friendly options. If you don’t want to break the bank, these CAIs offer the best value. They’ll be easy on the wallet but do all the things you need your intake to do: bring in cool air, add power, and look great doing it.

Mods to Complement Your New Cold Air Intake

Adding a cold air intake is one of the best upgrades you can make to your Mustang. But combining your cold air intake with a few other mods will give you a significant boost in power. Complete the bolt-on trifecta with a new exhaust system and a custom tune. Combining these three mods will give you the biggest power boost aside from adding a supercharger or turbo.

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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.