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Ram 1500 Intake Upgrade

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.

Performance intakes have long been one of the most popular mods that people do to their cars and trucks. They are one of the first upgrades many people do to their vehicle, and they have a plethora of benefits. Not only are they relatively cheap and easy to install, but they improve gas mileage, increase power, and sound awesome. We have noted before that the 5.7L HEMI in the Dodge Ram 1500 is a bit underpowered from the factory. A performance intake helps wake up the 345 HEMI and makes it pull stronger and longer.

This guide will discuss all things intake related to the 2003-2022 Dodge Ram 1500. We will look at benefits, costs, horsepower and torque gains for an intake upgrade. Previously we have looked at Ram 1500 Header Upgrades, and this is the next step for your 5.7L HEMI.

Ram 1500 Cold Air Intake Upgrades - Best Dodge Ram Intakes

Intake Designs

There are two main types of Ram 1500 intake upgrades, either short ram or cold air. Both are popular options on the 5.7L HEMI in the Ram, but typically cold air intakes will offer a little better performance.

Short ram intakes have minimal piping and take air directly from the engine bay. Short rams rely on the motion of the vehicle to increase the air pressure flowing through the intake. They are designed to be as nonrestrictive as possible to allow for max air flow. Unfortunately, the location of the filter on short ram intakes makes them susceptible to the hot air of the engine bay.

Cold air intakes reroute the filter to either the bottom of the engine bay or near the headlight or fender. Some people will refer to performance intakes on the Ram 1500 as a cold air intake, but that’s not entirely correct. Most Ram 1500 intakes will keep the filter in the same location as the stock airbox. That means they are not true cold air intakes, but they still offer increased performance – typically even over short rams.

Intake Upgrade Benefits

  • +5-15whp/wtq
  • Improved fuel economy
  • Improved throttle response
  • Increased intake and engine sound

Horsepower and torque gains are typically the biggest reason for upgrading your intake. With just an intake alone, most cars will see gains of around 5-10whp/wtq. Yet, with other mods, like exhaust headers or tuning, the 5.7L HEMI will see closer to 15whp/wtq or more. Not only will the throttle deliver more peak power, but it will also be more responsive in general. The entire powerband should see moderate increases with an intake upgrade.

Another reason intakes are so popular is they improve gas mileage. However, the gains are not as substantial as some make them out to be. Most cars will see 0.2-0.5 MPG increases from an intake at the most, but over time that can seriously add up. On a 20-gallon tank, a 0.5 mpg increase is 10 miles over the life of the tank. An upgraded intake will also increase air induction sounds and the sound of your engine, and it makes the 5.7L HEMI sound much more aggressive and dynamic.

Best Ram 1500 Intake Upgrades

Now it’s time to look at our recommendations for the top Ram 1500 intake upgrades. This is not a complete list of all available intakes, as that list would be too exhaustive and not helpful. Here, we have broken down the top 3 options for intakes on the Ram that balance cost, performance, and quality.

  • S&B Ram 1500 Cold Air Intake
  • Vararam Air Grabber Intake
  • Moe’s Performance Carbon Fiber Cold Air Intake

Our Top Pick – S&B Ram 1500 Cold Air Intake

Price: $349.00

Fits: 2003-2022

The first spot on our list for Ram 1500 intake upgrades is the S&B Cold Air Intake. This is one of the most popular intakes for the Ram 1500 and it offers a great combination of performance and value. It also has a CARB Exempt ID for those living in CARB regulated states and places with strict emissions.

The S&B intake is very close to a true cold air intake, but it is not quite a “pure” version. The filter sits close to the fender and it comes with a scoop that can reach into the fender, but the actual filter sits in the same location as the OEM airbox. However, the S&B actually has two intake inlets, and the kit lets you customize if you want to use one or both. One takes directly from the fender and the optional inlet is larger and takes from the side. The kit comes with a block-off plate that can be installed in seconds.

S&B claims 45% airflow improvement, and the Ram 1500 will likely see increases of 5-10whp/wtq with just the intake by itself. It comes with either an oiled cotton cleanable or dry extendable type filter, and both are similar in terms of performance. It is also unique in that it has a clear cover over the top of the airbox, allowing for increased style while retaining performance.

S&B Cold Air Intake (2003-2008)

S&B Cold Air Intake (2009-2021) (Classic Body Style)

Ram 1500 Cold Air Intake (2019-2022) (New Body Style)

An Intake Is One Way To Wake Up Your Ram 1500

A Ram 1500 intake upgrade is a solid option for those looking to add performance to the underpowered factory 5.7L HEMI. The 345 HEMI is an absolute beast of an engine, and it responds great to most aftermarket upgrades. Adding tuning will help you squeeze the most out of your intake upgrade.

Most intakes will only give about 5-12whp/wtq by themselves, but adding more mods like exhaust headers or tuning will give you a few more ponies from the intake itself. Gas mileage will improve a little bit and so will throttle responsiveness, although it will not be dramatic increases. The install is very easy for the Ram 1500, and it can be done by even inexperienced enthusiasts.

We looked at three intakes today, and all of them are solid options. The S&B is probably the most well known and popular on the market, and it offers good performance at a low cost. The Vararam is our short ram entry on the list, but it still makes really good power when compared with our other options. It also has a very aggressive and intimidating look. Our final entry, the Moe’s Performance intake, is the truest cold air intake on our list and offers fantastic performance.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with any of these options, as they are all similarly priced and excellent quality. What has your experience been with Ram 1500 intake upgrades? Are you considering doing one yourself or have you already done so?

Let us know in the comments below!

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