LS6 Upgraded Intake System
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Chevy LS6 Intake Upgrade Guide

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and TuningPro. He has over a decade of experience in the automotive industry including parts sales, writing, DIY modifications & repairs, and more. Jake is currently converting his N54 to a single turbo and building a Miata track car. He’s an experienced, hands-on automotive enthusiast who delivers in-depth, well-researched content.

Producing 405hp and 400lb-ft. of torque, the LS6 was pretty stout from the factory for it’s time. However, for us American Muscle folks looking for more power, a traditional cold air intake system might be on your mind.

While these LS6 engines can handle a ton of power they aren’t quite as easily modified as forced induction cars. The biggest power gains on the LS6 will come from long-tube headers, upgraded cams, porting or performance heads, stroker kits, and forced induction.

With that being said, traditional bolt-on modifications like a cold air intake can be beneficial under certain circumstances. In this guide we’re going to discuss the benefits of cold air intake upgrades, and discuss whether they are worth it or not on the LS6.

LS6 Intake Upgrade Benefits

The biggest benefit of an upgraded intake is improved air flow. Generally speaking, more power requires more air. Most intake systems, as is true with the LS6, are completely sufficient at stock power levels and when lightly modified. However, when you begin adding more serious mods, the intake becomes restrictive as it is no longer capable of pulling in enough air to supply the horsepower being produced.

While these systems are usually called “cold air intakes” the true benefit comes from increased air flow. An aftermarket LS6 cold air intake isn’t going to lower IAT’s (intake air temps) over the stock intake system. The stock system was built extremely well and provides

Performance Benefits on a Stock Engine

  • 2-5 horsepower gains
  • 2-5lb-ft. torque gains
  • 1-2mpg gains
  • Slightly better throttle response
  • Louder intake noise from engine

To cut to the point, on a completely stock LS6 an upgraded intake has very few performance benefits. If you are just looking for a little bit of extra power I would recommend starting with long-tube headers and ignoring the intake as an intake won’t be worth its cost. The factory intake is actually built really well from the factory and has plenty of air flow. It is actually so good that a ton of LS1 owners swap LS6 intakes and intake manifolds onto their cars.

Benefits When Modded

  • 10-15 horsepower gains
  • 10-15 torque gains
  • 1-2mpg gains
  • Better throttle response
  • Quicker acceleration
  • Cool intake sounds from engine

While it might not make sense on stock engines, modded LS6 engines certainly have a better case for a cold air intake. If you are adding forced induction such as a supercharger or turbocharger you should absolutely upgrade the intake system.

We recommend upgrading your LS6 intake if you are also upgrading your intake manifold, cams, and heads. Unless you are adding these mods you just don’t need more air than the stock intake can supply.

Swaps into an LS1

As I mentioned above, the LS6 intake was built so well from the factory that is actually the most popular choice as an LS1 intake upgrade. Additionally, the intake manifold is also a fan favorite for manifold swaps as well.

Both the intake and manifold bolt directly onto the LS1 and provides power gains of nearly 25whp and 20wtq. GM doesn’t make them anymore so you can actually sell your factory ones for about $1,000 to an LS1 owner which will help cover the costs of an upgrade.

Is it Worth it?

Overall, for stock LS6 engines there really isn’t a need to upgrade the intake system. Unless you are planning on running forced induction, or making major modifications like heads, cams, manifolds, etc. then the stock intake provides plenty of air flow.

That isn’t to say that you can’t upgrade your intake on a stock LS6. There is no harm in doing so and you will still see a little power, some throttle response improvement, and even a little gas mileage improvement. The only downside is that the cost in doing so isn’t really worth it for the performance benefits you get, at least in our minds.

You will see the most performance benefit when you couple an intake with more serious mods.

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One Comment

  1. Cool website! Am I mistaken, or did the 2001 and 2002 LS1 f-bodies come with LS6 intake manifolds? I thought they did but I can not find any confirmation on this yet lol

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