3.6 pentastar cold air intake volant performance
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3.6 Pentastar Cold Air Intake Ultimate Guide

Chandler Stark

Meet Chandler

Chandler is an automotive expert with over a decade of experience working on and modifying cars. A couple of his favorites were his heavily modded 2016 Subaru WRX and his current 2020 VW Golf GTI. He’s also a big fan of American Muscle and automotive history. Chandler’s passion and knowledge of the automotive industry help him deliver high-quality, insightful content to TuningPro readers.

Since 2011, Chrysler’s 3.6 liter naturally aspirated V6 Pentastar engine has made quite a name for itself. Chrysler has primarily used the engine inside the Dodge Charger, Challenger, Ram 1500, and Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator, where it has won over many fans. Depending on the vehicle, the engine makes 285-305 horsepower and 251-269 lb-ft of torque. However, when compared with the larger 5.7 HEMI engines, the 3.6 Pentastar feels woefully underpowered. That’s why one of the most popular upgrades is a 3.6 Pentastar cold air intake. With an upgraded intake, you can see gains of 10-15 horsepower and torque. 

Read on to learn about the best 3.6 Pentastar cold air intake upgrades. Make sure you check out our other 3.6 Pentastar content, including our 5 best 3.6 Pentastar performance upgrades, 3.6 Pentastar supercharger guide, 3.6 Pentastar oil filter housing problems guide, 3.6 Pentastar engine guide, and our most common 3.6 Pentastar engine problems guide

3.6 Pentastar Cold Air Intake Basics

First, let’s start off with what a cold air intake is. The air intake is the first part of the intake chain for the engine. On the 3.6 Pentastar, the air intake consists of an air filter, an air box to enclose the filter, and tubing that connects the filter to the throttle body. Air enters the airbox and then air filter, where it travels through the tubing and eventually into the engine. As you can tell, the air intake is one of the most important parts of the 3.6 Pentastar engine. 

Technically, the factory air intake can be considered a cold air intake. That’s because a 3.6 Pentastar “cold air intake” is simply an air intake that locates the filter toward the fenders and wheel-well of a vehicle. This allows for it to take in cooler air because it is further away from the engine. Cooler air has more oxygen than hotter air, which means it will make more horsepower and torque.
On forced induction engines, cold air intakes don’t do a ton for performance. However, on a naturally aspirated engine like the Pentastar, cold air intakes will be more beneficial. Since the factory intake is already a cold air intake, the majority of the power gains from an aftermarket 3.6 Pentastar cold air intake come from the less restrictive tubing and larger air filter. These allow for increased volume and velocity of air flow, which helps performance. 

Typically, with a 3.6 Pentastar cold air intake upgrade, you’ll see gains of about 10-15 horsepower and torque. You can get even more gains combining an intake with ECU tuning.

3.6 pentastar cold air intake volant performance
3.6 Pentastar cold air intake from Volant performance

Open vs Closed Systems

There are two main types of 3.6 Pentastar cold air intakes: open or closed intakes. Open intakes do not use an airbox and leave the filter completely exposed or “open.” Closed intakes use an air box to enclose the filter. The purpose of the airbox is to protect the filter from dirt and debris, shield the filter from heat, and allow for more consistent mass airflow meter (MAF) readings. 

However, many people dispute the real world benefits of an airbox and claim they can actually hurt performance. The truth is somewhere in the middle. An airbox will generally decrease intake temperatures by 5-10°, will protect the filter from dirt if your engine bay is dirty, and will help with MAF readings. However, the actual performance difference is incredibly minimal, and due to the added price of an airbox ($50-100), they should not be considered necessary. 

3.6 Pentastar Cold Air Intake Benefits

The top benefits of adding a 3.6 Pentastar cold air intake are:

  • +10-15 horsepower and torque
  • Improved power band and throttle response
  • Increased air flow
  • +0.5-1.5 mpg
  • Increased engine noises
  • Improved engine bay look

The most noticeable benefit from a 3.6 Pentastar cold air intake upgrade will be the increase of 10-15 horsepower and torque. Most of this increase comes from the larger diameter and less restrictive tubing, which allows for superior airflow. With ECU tuning, you can add even more horsepower and torque. 

In addition to having better peak numbers, a 3.6 Pentastar intake will improve the entire power band. You’ll notice the car is much more responsive everywhere, which is part of the benefit of the upgraded intake. You might also notice a small increase (0.5-1.5 mpg) in fuel economy, which again is better with tuning. 

Aesthetically, an upgraded 3.6 Pentastar cold air intake will make the engine sound louder and will make the engine bay look much cleaner. Compared with the OEM airbox, aftermarket intakes have less insulation (or no airbox at all). Which makes them much more audible. They also make the engine bay look more like a performance engine, and are a clear indication of increased performance. 

Top 3.6 Pentastar Cold Air Intake Upgrades

The 3 best 3.6 Pentastar cold air intakes are:

  • Mopar Challenger/Charger/300 cold air intake
  • Volant Wrangler/Gladiator cold air intake
  • Wrangler Banks Power ram air intake
  • K&N Ram 1500 cold air intakes

Due to the wide usage of the 3.6 Pentastar, it’s impossible for us to list intakes for every model. We’ve narrowed it down to the most popular applications for the 3.6 Pentastar. For now, this includes the Dodge Charger and Challenger, Chrysler 300, Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator, and Ram 1500. Don’t see your vehicle or year below? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get you set up with a recommendation for your specific build!

1) Dodge Challenger/Charger V6 3.6 Intake

First up, we’re going to look at 3.6 Pentastar cold air intakes for the 2011–2018 Dodge Challenger, Charger, and Chrysler 300. By far, the best engineered and most reliable is the genuine Mopar performance 3.6 Pentastar cold air intake. For those who don’t know, Mopar is the official parts wing of Chrysler/Dodge, and this is the only 3.6 Challenger/Charger/300 officially licensed air intake. 

According to Mopar, their 3.6 Pentastar cold air intake outflows the stock unit by 20%, and offers up to 10 horsepower increases. It also gives you 1-2 mpg better fuel economy, and comes with an open-top airbox. The only downside is the price, which at $462 makes it pretty expensive. Still, it does have the Mopar brand name, and will perform the best on the market. 

2) 3.6 Jeep Wrangler JL and Gladiator JT Volant Intake

For those of you with the 2018+ Jeep Wrangler (JL) or 2020+ Gladiator (JT), we highly recommend the 3.6 Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator Volant cold air intake. Volant doesn’t have the brand recognition or reputation that Mopar has, but they have a solid following for their many different intakes. The Volant Wrangler JL and Gladiator JT cold air intake comes with a closed airbox with a transparent top, as well as Volant’s patented PowerCore air filter. 

You can also get an optional throttle body spacer with the Volant intake for around $70. The Volant unit looks very clean and the airbox is a definite plus considering how much people use their Jeeps for off-roading and in more taxing environmental conditions. At $390 it is a little on the pricier side, but for the Wrangler JL and Gladiator JT it’s the top performer. 

3) 3.6 Jeep Wrangler JK 3.6 Banks Power Ram Air Intake

We didn’t forget about those of you with the 2012–2017 Jeep Wrangler JK. We suggest the 3.6 Jeep Wrangler JK Banks Power ram air intake. Banks Power is another well known name in the intake community, and they have a lot of different intakes for both gas and diesel engines. Technically, Banks Power calls their 3.6 Pentastar intake a “ram air” intake, but it functions the same as a cold air intake and puts the filter in the same location. 

As per Banks, potential gains are 8 horsepower and 11 lb-ft of torque. It also flows 64% better than the stock unit. Banks specifically designed the intake with a tuned Helmholtz resonator to eliminate drone. In addition, this intake is also CARB approved with an EO number, meaning it is 50 states legal. The Banks Power 3.6 Pentastar cold air intake has an open airbox, which helps shield it from heat, but will not protect the filter from much dirt or debris. 

4) Ram 1500 3.6 V6 K&N Intakes

For our final intakes, we’re looking at the Ram 1500. For the 3.6 Ram 1500, we recommend the 3.6 Ram 1500 K&N cold air intakes. K&N have been one of the leading manufacturers of intakes for many years, and they have several different options for every year of the 3.6 Pentastar-powered Ram 1500. K&N is widely known for their excellent filters, but their intake systems are also very popular, too.

While they have slight differences for each year, most of them offer open airboxes and pretty similar piping. As you can see from the above dyno plot, on the 2020 Ram 1500 with the 3.6 they offered gains of 13 horsepower and 11 lb-ft of torque over stock. You can’t go wrong with K&N, and they are also moderately priced, too. 

3.6 Pentastar Cold Air Intake FAQ

Does cold air intake do anything for the V6 3.6 Pentastar?

Yes. A cold air intake is a solid mod for naturally aspirated V6 engines. They will improve horsepower and torque, and can also increase fuel economy, too.

How much HP does a cold air intake add to a V6 3.6 Pentastar?

A cold air intake will add 10-15 horsepower and torque to the V6 3.6 Pentastar engine. With tuning you can add even more power.

Are cold air intakes even worth it for the 3.6 Pentastar?

Yes, a cold air intake is a solid mod for naturally aspirated V6 engines. They will improve horsepower and torque, and can also increase fuel economy, too.

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