3.5 EcoBoost Intake Upgrades
Cold air intakes are one of the most popular engine mods for good reason. This is especially true on turbo engines like the Ford F-150 3.5 EcoBoost. Intakes offer solid power gains along with plenty of other benefits. They’re also pretty inexpensive making cold air intakes a popular choice. In this guide, we discuss the benefits of intakes and list some of the best F-150 3.5 EcoBoost cold air intake options.
*aFe Power Stage 2 Intake System pictured above
F-150 EcoBoost Upgraded Intake Performance
The Ford 3.5 EcoBoost intake is effective on stock engines running stock boost. However, once you begin tuning and modding the F-150 EcoBoost the intake becomes restrictive. Increasing boost and power requires a lot of extra air-flow, which can quickly overwhelm the OEM intake system. Efficient cold air intakes for the 3.5L twin turbo engine are able to meet the demands. A few benefits of Ford 3.5 EcoBoost cold air intakes include:
- Similar torque gains
- Easier maintenance
- Quicker turbo spool
- Sound improvements
Again, the stock F-150 EcoBoost intake is pretty effective on stock trucks. In these cases an intake upgrade may provide little to no power gains. However, once the 3.5L engine is tuned an intake will likely offer about 5-10whp. Those pushing the limits of the EcoBoost turbos or opting for upgraded turbos will possibly even see 10-15+whp. Torque gains are also pretty similar. Quicker turbo spool is yet another improvement. Though, it may not be noticeable since the F-150 3.5 turbos are already quick to spool.
A good cold air intake can also save some space and make maintenance a bit easier. Most filters with 3.5 EcoBoost intake upgrades are easy to clean and maintain. Sound improvements are another awesome benefit of intake mods – in our opinion. You’ll likely notice a lot more turbo and induction noises.
3.5L Twin Turbo Intake Designs
Alright – we’re guilty of it, too. We’ve been referring to 3.5 EcoBoost intake upgrades as cold air intakes (CAI). Technically a cold air intake reroutes the stock intake piping to a lower point outside the engine bay. The idea is to pull in the coldest air possible. However, most Ford 3.5 intake upgrades aren’t truly cold air intakes. Even if they are true CAI it’s a load of crap on turbo engines.
Once the air enters the filters it continues on to travel through incredibly hot turbochargers. Air also heats up as it’s compressed by the turbos. It’s then cooled by the F-150 3.5 EcoBoost intercooler. The temperature entering the intake filters has very minimal to 0 affect on the intercoolers ability to cool the charge air. Cold air intake is primarily a generic term for performance intakes.
Anyways, the whole point of this topic was to lead us to the next point. The main difference between 3.5 EcoBoost intake upgrades is open vs closed systems.
Open vs Closed Intakes
An open air intake design does not use an air-box. There may still be some form of housing on the intake, but the intakes remain open to the engine bay. They’re going to generally pull in warmer air, especially at idle. However, it’s a moot point on turbo engines. Closed intakes utilize an air-box that protects the filter from the engine bay.
Our preference is an open intake system for the 3.5 EcoBoost. We come from the BMW world and open dual cone intakes have been the go to choice on twin turbo engines for over a decade. They generally offer the best flow, loudest induction and turbo sounds, and are often cheaper.
Regardless, most quality intake systems for the Ford F-150 EcoBoost will offer similar performance benefits. However, those shooting for bigger power numbers will definitely find the most potential in an open dual intake for the 3.5L EcoBoost. If you don’t want loud induction sounds then a closed intake might be the best choice.
Best F-150 3.5 EcoBoost Cold Air Intakes
In this section we’ll discuss a few of our favorite cold air intake options for the Ford F-150 3.5 EcoBoost. A few quick notes before diving in, though. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Tons of intake options exist for the F-150 EcoBoost engines. We’re simply listing a few that we believe offer a great balance of price, quality, and performance.
Additionally, different year F-150’s require different intakes. 2011, 2012-2014, 2015-2016, and 2017+ models all have their own unique fitment. We may link to a few products that only fit a specific year. We’ll also clarify if any intake systems aren’t available for certain F-150 EcoBoost models. Always verify fitment before purchasing anything, though. That said, let’s discuss a few of the best F-150 3.5 EcoBoost cold air intake upgrades.
1) F-150 aFe Stage 2 Dual Cold Air Intake System
This option may be a bit pricier than other F-150 EcoBoost intake options. However, we like this product for its dual filter design that offers about 44-92% (depending on year) more flow than stock. There’s an option for a 3″ or 3.5″ system depending on needs. It’s an open intake design that’s sure to offer plenty of flow and sounds. aFe also offers an intake system cover for those who don’t want too much induction noise.
Furthermore, aFe has some single filter systems that come in a little bit cheaper. They’re good options if you’re on a tighter budget and don’t need quite as much flow. However, we’re sticking with the dual filter system for its performance potential, awesome looks, and improved sound. aFe has options for all 2011+ F-150 EcoBoost models.
Price: ~$480 – $585
2) K&N 3.5 EcoBoost Performance Cold Air Intake Kit
Everyone has probably heard of K&N. They’re likely the best known company in the industry for their aftermarket air filters and air intake systems. Their 3.5 EcoBoost intake kit is also very well priced. It’s an open intake design with a large single filter.
Overall, the K&N F-150 EcoBoost intake is pretty simple, but it’s also very effective and budget friendly. At $299.99 you can’t go wrong with an intake system from one of the biggest and most reputable brands around.
Buy Here: K&N F-150 3.5 Cold Air Intake
3) S&B Filters F-150 3.5L Cold Air Intake
S&B Filters is another big player in the aftermarket air intake and air filter industry. We’ve run S&B Filters dual cone intakes on our BMW’s for a long time with great success. However, unlike the previous options this is a closed intake system. It’s still going to offer solid flow, sounds, and performance. Although, it’s likely not as capable as the open systems (especially the aFe dual filter option).
Anyways, S&B makes great products and this 3.5 EcoBoost cold air intake kit comes it at a great price. If you’re looking for a closed intake system this is among the best options, in our opinion. You can also choose a few different filter options making this a flexible kit to meet specific needs.
Buy Here: S&B Filter 3.5 EcoBoost Cold Air Intake
F-150 3.5 EcoBoost Cold Air Intake Summary
Performance intake systems are among the most popular aftermarket upgrades for good reason. They offer a good balance of performance, sounds, and price. This is especially true on the 3.5 twin turbo EcoBoost engine where air-flow is essential. Power gains can even be as high as 10-15whp peak on tuned and modded F-150 3.5L engines.
We prefer open intake systems as they usually offer the best improvements in flow and sound. However, on a modest tune or upgrades open and closed systems will offer similar benefits. Those looking for maximum flow should consider a dual filter open system.
aFe offers tons of excellent intake options for the F-150 EcoBoost. Choose between single filter, 3″ dual filter, or 3.5″ dual filter intake systems. You can also opt for an intake system cover if you decide the open intake sounds are too loud. K&N and S&B are big brand names in the industry and it’s hard to go wrong with their products. Regardless of your specific choice – mod away and have fun! The Ford 3.5 EcoBoost is an excellent twin turbo engine that responds well to basic bolt-on mods like a cold air intake.