Installing a cold air intake system is one of the most inexpensive modifications you can make to get more power as an F150. While it won’t boost horsepower as much as a new exhaust, the return on investment is definitely higher, considering you can get the best cold air intake for a 2015 F150 5.0 for just a couple hundred bucks.
Cold air intake systems allow for more outside air to be pulled into the engine. This provides more oxygen to fuel the combustion, as well as lowering the air temperature inside the engine, giving you more power more efficiently.
Considering all factors, the AIRAID MXP is our top pick for a Ford F150 5.0L engine (>>> Find out how much it cost on Amazon). That doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for everyone, though. Let’s take a look at the main factors in our decision before we delve into the full product reviews.
|K&N 71-2591||AIRAID 401-293||AEM 21-8129DC||SPE-9033||K&N 63-2591||Velocity AF-VCIN-041|
|OEM Part Number||71-2591||401-293||21-8129DC||9033||63-2591||AF-VCIN-041|
|MPG increase||1-2 MPG||1-2 MPG||0.3-1 MPG||No data||No data||No data|
|Horsepower increase||No data||upt to 19 HP||5-10 HP||No data||No data||5-10 HP|
|Airflow increase||50%||No data||No data||50%||50%||up to 95%|
|Filter Type||Oversized Washable||Dry, Washable||Synthetic washable||Oiled, Synthetic||Oversized Washable||Dry, Washable|
|Price||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon|
Horsepower and Torque
This is what most people are looking for when they upgrade to a cold air intake system. Manufacturers of cold air intake systems increase engine power in a number of ways. The use of mandrel bends in the tubing prevents airflow restriction at the bends, providing more air to the engine. Removing the air box around the filter also allows for larger filters and intake tubes, giving you an uninterrupted airflow. Generally speaking, performance comes at a premium. The more power boost you want, the more you should expect to pay.
Best performance: AIRAID MXP Air Intake Kit
Engine sound is the most subjective of the factors involved in upgrading the air intake on a F150. Some people want a bold, aggressive roar when they step on the throttle. Others find it annoying to have the engine whine every time you accelerate. You can find cold air intake systems that roar, others that purr, and everything in between. Think about how much you want to hear the power when you’re making your decision.
Loudest system: K&N 71-2591 Cold Air Intake Kit
Quietest system: Spectre Performance Air Intake Kit
One function of the filtration system is to prevent fuel vapors from escaping in your exhaust. There are federal standards for emissions that all engine components have to meet. Some states, notably California, instead use the CARB standards, which set a higher bar than federal regulations. Double-check your state’s emission standards before you install a new air intake system in your truck to make sure it’s compliant.
Full Reviews: Best cold air intake for 2015 F150 5.0
The K&N 71-2591 Cold Air Intake Kit is the ideal upgrade for a Ford F150 if you’re looking for aggressive sound and performance. With a larger filter, it increases airflow by up to 50% over factory air intake systems. This is worth the extra investment if you’re looking for the cold air intake system with the maximum power.
This K&N cold air intake system lets you hear your engine’s power. If you like a nice engine roar, you’ll get it here. Some users do find it too loud, however, and there is a noticeable whine when accelerating. If you like a quieter drive, this isn’t the best air intake system for you.
When it comes to performance, the K&N cold air intake kit improves both horsepower and throttle response. You’ll notice better acceleration and more towing power, especially on hills. This K&N cold air intake system is also very user-friendly. It can be installed in less than an hour using basic hand tools, and it doesn’t need cleaning or maintenance.
- Increases airflow by 50% over factory components
- Low maintenance
- Easy bolt-on installation
- Improves horsepower and towing performance
- Rugged long-lasting construction
- Oversized air filter captures more dirt
- Too loud for some users, especially on acceleration
- No noticeable improvement to gas mileage
AIRAID MXP 401-293
The AIRAID MXP Air Intake System is designed to boost engine power without altering the way your engine operates. This increases the airflow without altering the air-to-fuel ratio. The gains in fuel economy, horsepower, and throttle response are noticeable compared to factory systems.
Installation of the AIRAID MXP is easy, though it’s not as fast as other bolt-on models. It does require some assembly out of the box. That being said, you can still install it quickly and easily using basic tools. Even better for DIY installations, you won’t need to reprogram your engine’s computer. There’s no need to take your F150 to the shop before you drive with your new air intake system.
The air filter in the AIRAID MXP system can be washed and re-used, reducing waste and ongoing costs. As for performance, it can increase engine horsepower in a F150 5.0 by up to 19. That’s a pretty sizeable boost for upgrading a single system.
- Increased horsepower in both gas and diesel engines
- Improves response of acceleration
- Better fuel economy
- Can be installed easily without special tools
- No need for recalibration after installation
- Air filter can be washed and reused
- Most expensive option
- Requires assembly before installation
One way to increase airflow in an intake system is changing tube material. The AEM 21-8129DC Brute Force Air Intake System uses aluminum tubing with mandrel bends for freer air flow. It pairs this with an oil-free Dryflow synthetic filter that requires minimal long-term maintenance. All in all, the AEM Brute Force Air Intake System is a hassle-free way to boost your horsepower.
Now if you’re concerned about emissions, the AEM Brute Force Air Intake System isn’t for you. It meets EPA emission standards but doesn’t pass the CARB standards used in California. There also aren’t noticeable improvements to the fuel economy after installation.
Where the AEM Brute Force system beats out the competition is with its sound and power. It gives the engine a nice roar—not too loud, just enough so you can hear the power. Throttle response is smoother, too, and most F150 owners see a horsepower boost around 5-10 horses. Since the AEM Brute Force is built with F150s in mind, it’s an easy upgrade that delivers big results.
- Designed specifically for Ford F150s
- Dyno-tuned for serious horsepower gains
- Nice engine sound
- Easy DIY installation
- Can run up to 100,000 miles without cleaning
- Not CARB compliant (can’t be used in California)
- No noticeable improvement in fuel efficiency
Spectre Performance SPE-9033
For those who want a more affordable way to improve engine airflow, the Spectre Performance Air Intake Kit delivers power at a great value. While it doesn’t boost performance as much as costlier air intake systems, it’s the best cold air intake system for a Ford F150 on a budget.
The red Spectre air filter included with the Spectre Performance Air Intake Kit has a smart low-restriction design. It does require occasional cleaning, though it’s durable enough you shouldn’t need to replace it in the life of your vehicle. Both maintenance and installation are easy—experienced DIY-ers can get it on the engine in as little as 15 minutes.
The Spectre Performance Air Intake Kit won’t make your engine roar, but it does improve engine air flow over factory systems. This improved efficiency results in better gas mileage, and can get a 5.0L F150 engine up to around 400-500 horsepower, depending on what exhaust system it’s paired with. For most drivers, that’s all the boost you need, and at a very reasonable price. I
- Great value
- Includes everything you need for DIY install
- Faster acceleration
- Provides mild horsepower boost
- Improves fuel efficiency
- No noticeable change to engine sound
- Oiled filter can cause issues in some engines
Another great F150 intake system from K&N is their 63-2591 Cold Air Intake Kit. Like other air intake systems from K&N, it’s built for Ford drivers who need more towing power. It’s also ideal if you want a more aggressive engine sound.
The aerodynamic tube design in the K&N 63-2591 is what allows it to deliver such a powerful performance. It’s rotationally molded from high-density polyethylene for improved durability and airflow efficiency. It also features K&N’s proprietary oversized conical filter. Under normal driving conditions, the filter can go up to 100,000 miles between washings and can be reused for the lifetime of your vehicle.
The K&N 63-2591 Air Intake System can be installed in a Ford F150 in less than two hours and is designed to fit perfectly without modifications. Once it’s installed, you’ll hear the difference first. It gives the engine a nice throaty roar, especially if you also upgrade the exhaust system. It’s a great choice if you want to feel and hear the full power your truck can produce.
- Aerodynamic tube design improves airflow
- Significant increase in horsepower
- Improves torque response
- Requires almost no maintenance
- Easy to install in a home garage
- Aggressive sound
- May be too loud for some drivers
- Doesn’t significantly improve gas mileage
Velocity Concepts AF-VCIN-041
We’ll wrap up the list with another great choice for F150 owners on a budget. The Velocity Concepts Cold Air Filter Intake is built to be a direct OEM replacement for a Ford F150 5.0L V8 engine. If you own F150 with 3.5L engine check the list of best cold air filters here. It uses a high-efficiency filter that’s nearly twice as efficient as the paper filters installed at the factory. This translates to better gas mileage, more horsepower, and better torque response.
The Velocity Concepts Cold Air Filter Intake is also the most affordable way to get a more aggressive engine sound. It has a nice, deep rumble, and though there’s some whistling on acceleration, it’s not as noticeable as with other air intake systems.
The most significant improvement you’ll notice with the Velocity Concepts Cold Air Filter Intake system is to the throttle response. It’ll give your F150 a lot more pickup, and you’ll probably also notice more power and better fuel economy. The main disadvantage compared to more expensive air intake systems is that the filter does require more maintenance to keep it working at peak efficiency.
- Most affordable option
- Nice engine sound
- Improves torque response by 6-8%
- Increases horsepower by 5-10
- Easy to install
- Some whine on acceleration
- Filter requires maintenance
The Bottom Line
All of these cold air intake systems are easy drop-in replacements for a Ford F150 5.0L engine. The first question you should ask yourself is whether you want a big sound. From there, it’s a matter of deciding how much power you can get for your budget. We hope these reviews have helped you find the perfect cold air intake system for your Ford truck!