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 under powered 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 a Ram 1500 intake upgrade. Previously we have looked at Ram 1500 Header Upgrades, and this is the next step for your 5.7L HEMI.
Ram 1500 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.
Ram 1500 Intake Upgrade Benefits
Some of the benefits of a Ram 1500 intake upgrade for the 345 HEMI include:
- Improved fuel economy
- Improved throttle response
- Increased intake and engine sound
Horsepower and torque gains are typically the biggest reason for upgrading the intake on the Ram 1500. 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 increases with a Ram 1500 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.
1) S&B Ram 1500 Cold Air Intake
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.
2) Vararam Air Grabber Intake
The Vararam Air Grabber Intake for the Ram 1500 is one of the most unique intakes on the market. It is the one short ram style intake on our list, and it fits with all OEM hoods. It is a true forced induction system that uses the speed of the vehicle to increase the airflow into the intake.
The Ram 1500 will see gains of 8-12whp/wtq after installing the Vararam intake. It is dyno proven to add power throughout the powerband, and it looks aggressive and mean. The Vararam is available in three colors and comes with a pre-oiled filter, and the install is a breeze and takes only 30 min, even for first timers.
The Vararam for the Ram 1500 is solid and one of the most highly reviewed and reputable intakes on the market. Many 5.7L HEMI Ram drivers swear by the Vararam as the only intake they would ever use or recommend. As mentioned, it also has proven dyno gains, and has been used on many high horsepower 5.7L HEMI builds.
3) Moe’s Performance Carbon Fiber Cold Air Intake
The final entry on our list for Ram 1500 intake upgrades is the Moe’s Performance Carbon Fiber Cold Air Intake. It is a true cold air intake that reroutes the filter as low as possible in the engine bay. The Moe’s Performance intake places it just behind the headlight, which allows for the coldest air possible without risking water intake issues.
The carbon fiber piping allows for the quickest possible heat dissipation, and that helps reduce heat soaking. Another unique feature of the Moe’s kit is that you can easily adapt it into a full track intake setup with minimal hassle. Which is beneficial for those looking to take their Ram to the track.
The 345 HEMI will see 8-13whp/wtq with the Moe’s Performance intake after install. Moe’s also offers ported throttle bodies with their intake, 85mm or 87mm, which will certainly add even more power if combined together.
Ram 1500 Intake Upgrade Summary
A Ram 1500 intake upgrade is a solid option for those looking to add performance to the under powered 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!