Cold air intakes can help you get the best performance out of your S197 Mustang. Ford updated the engine lineup in 2011, so early S197s have different engines than later ones. Whether you have an early or late model, cold air intakes can make your engine more efficient and may even give you more rear-wheel horsepower (RWHP).
If you’re having a hard time finding the best cold air intake for your 2005-2014 Mustang, here are some of our top picks.
Best for V6
The 2005-2010 V6 models had a 4.0L single overhead cam engine, putting out 210 horsepower. Starting in 2011, the base engine was a 3.7L DOHC V6 with 305 horsepower, a big jump up from the earlier V6 models.
Even if you don’t have the more powerful engine found in the later S197s, a cold air intake is one of the best V6 Mustang mods.
The Roush Cold Air Intake for 2005-2009 V6 Mustangs can unleash an extra 12 hp and 9 lb.-ft. of torque while increasing fuel efficiency. It’s also 50-state legal.
The Injen Power-Flow intake system has its own patent-pending MegaRam Technology. The polished intake tubes will also look great under the hood.
The BBK Black Out intake has shown consistent gains of 15-16 RWHP. Plus the matte black finish can give your Mustang a stealthy look.
Best for GT
From 2005 to 2014, the Mustang GT had three different V8 engines ranging from 300-420 horsepower. Whether you have an older or newer model, a cold air intake can squeeze even more power out of your pony.
The Roush 402099 CAI kit for 2005-2009 GT Mustangs can improve fuel efficiency and unleash an added 17 hp and 9 lb.-ft. of torque. For 2010-2014 GTs and 2012-2013 Boss 302 Mustangs, the Roush 420131 intake can improve throttle response and engine performance.
BBK’s chrome intake kit is a bit more expensive but can provide a boost of 14-18 horsepower. It will also improve fuel economy.
Top Picks by S197 Owners
Ever wonder what cold air intakes are most popular with other S197 enthusiasts? Well here are some of the top CAIs according to our customers.
Best Tune CAIs
These intakes will require a tune to get the proper calibration.
Tuning ensures that your engine is using the best settings (i.e. air-fuel ratio, throttle, etc.) for optimal performance.
If you’re looking for a tune-required CAI for your V6, check out Ford Performance’s cold air tuner kit. It’ll work on any V6 Mustang from 2005-2009.
The JLT Performance Series II kit is a good option for 2011-2014 GTs or 2012-2013 Boss 302s. It’s compatible with aftermarket throttle bodies and manifolds, as well as the stock ones.
The Velocity cold air intake system from PMAS is another good option for GTs. It features a 120mm MAF and a custom open base filter design for maximum flow.
Best No-Tune CAIs
Some intakes don’t require a tune, which is nice if you’re looking for a plug-and-play installation.
Whether you have a V6 or a GT, BBK has no-tune required intakes that are dyno-tested and provide consistent hp gains. The 2005-2009 BBK Cold Air Intake is 50-state smog legal as well.
The Airaid MXP Series CAI kit doesn’t need a tune when paired with the included MVT tube. The computer-aided design helps ensure you get the best fit and finish.
Bill, our resident Mustang expert, has extensive experience under the hood and behind the wheel of all kinds of Mustangs. Here are some of his top CAI picks for S197s.
The K&N Blackhawk cold air intake kit is Bill's pick for all ‘11-‘14 GTs. This intake is great for boosting horsepower, throttle response, and engine sound.
Bill also recommends the Injen Power-Flow for GTs. For ‘05-‘11 GTs specifically, he’d go with the BBK Charcoal CAI. The Injen system offers increases of up to 11 horsepower and 12 lb.-ft. of torque, while the BBK intake can give you gains of 10-14 hp.
Best for Superchargers
There are CAIs designed just for the supercharged engines in the 2011-2014 Mustangs. They’ll improve the airflow for added PSI boost and increases in RWHP and torque.
Most of these intakes come with a programmer since a tune is required after install. The tune lets you adjust the boost, air-fuel ratios, and other engine aspects so you can increase efficiency.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a cold air intake, these are some budget-friendly options that still offer performance benefits.
The Injen Power-Flow is one of the best value for dollar options for 2011-2014 GT Mustangs. Not only will it boost performance, but the polished finish will dress up the engine bay as well.
The BBK Cold air intake for the 2010 GT is another affordable option that can result in 15-16 RWHP gains.
For 2011-2014 V6 Mustangs, the Roush cold air intake is a good balance between cost and performance. It’s 50-state legal, and it offers improved throttle response, engine performance, and fuel efficiency.
Mods to Complement Your New Cold Air Intake
Cold air intakes make a great standalone mod and can still offer many performance benefits for a stock build. But to get the most out of a new intake, you’ll want to pair it with a new exhaust system and a custom tune. These three bolt-on upgrades will go a long way toward increasing engine efficiency, power, and overall performance. Check out our S197 exhaust guides for some of the best options:
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