Best Cold Air Intake for 2018 f150 3.5 ecoboost

cold air filter in 2018 ford f150 3.5 ecoboost

Are you interested in adding a little more get-up-and-go to your 2018 or newer Ford F-150 3.5 Ecoboost pickup? If so, installing the best cold air intake is the way to achieve it. The stock intake works fine, but it can be upgraded to produce a lot more performance.

An aftermarket cold air intake is an inexpensive modification that will give your truck a power boost without costing you an arm and a leg. It can also create a louder, more satisfying engine roar.

Best Cold Air Intake Options for 2018 F150 3.5 Ecoboost:

 Roush 422089K&N 63-2599Spectre Performance 9034aFe Power 54-73114aFe Power 54-32972aFe Power 51-32972-B
OEM Part Number42208963-2599903454-7311454-32972-B51-32972-B
MPG increase1-2 MPGNo data2-3 MPG1 MPGNo dataNo data
Horsepower increase14 HPupt to 26 HPNo dataNo data19-22 HPNo data
Airflow increase25%50%No data52%92%68%
Filter Typedry filter, washableOversized Washableoiled, syntheticOiled, 5-Layer FilterOiled, 5-Layer Filter3-Layer Filter, NON OILED
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There are many changes that truck owners can do to boost engine performance. You can add a turbo, modify the exhaust system, or maybe install a turbocharger. But those add-ons can cost you serious money and they require a lot of time and effort. Changing the cold air intake can be done for a few hundred dollars, is quick and easy to install, and will give you great bang for your buck.

The job of an air intake system is to pull in additional outside air into your engine, providing more oxygen to be used during combustion. As you move the intake away from the engine compartment, it is able to process cooler air that contains higher levels of oxygen (as air heats up it expands and contains less oxygen) and deliver that cooler, oxygen-richer air into the combustion chamber. An engine is basically just a combination of gas, air, and spark. By increasing the ratio of any of the three, you can get a power boost. If you own F150 with 5.0 engine check cold air filters buying guide here

Important Features for Cold Air Intakes

Horsepower – this feature is the one most people are looking for when they replace their stock intake and upgrade to an aftermarket cold air one. Cool air intakes deliver less restricted air at a greater rate, improving engine performance. On average your truck’s horsepower rating will increase about 5 to 20 horsepower. (Learn how to keep your cold air intaker cool here)

Best Intake for Horsepower: K&N Cold Air Intake 63-2599

Sound – who doesn’t love an increased roar when leaving the line at a stop light or stop sign? For the majority people who purchase cool air intake systems, increased engine noise is one of the benefits they hope to achieve. Because the intake tubes are larger and shorter, they will emit a throatier roar. Be aware that some manufacturers attempt to limit the amount of noise by placing a muffler in the tubes. If you’re after the roar, avoid purchasing air intakes such as these.

Best Intake for Sound: aFe Power 54-32972-B

Thermal Barrier Protection – the whole point of adding a cool air intake to your F-150 is to pull dense, oxygen-rich air into the combustion chamber. The cooler the air the more dense (oxygen rich) the air will be. That’s why these intake kits move the point of air intake away from the engine. The air will be cooler (denser) if it is collected closer to the truck’s grill or fender well. To provide better performance the intake needs to be protected from thermal contamination. It should be constructed from composite materials like carbon fibers, or special heat-resistant plastics that will act as a thermal barrier and keep the air entering the intake cooler than the rest of the air under the hood.

Best Intake for Thermal Barrier Protection: K&N Cold Air Intake 63-2599

 Best Cold Air Intake for 2018 F150 3.5 Ecoboost – Reviews of The Top Options

Roush 422089

Roush 422089 cold air filterThis intake delivers an aggressive sound with above-average performance increases. Installation should take less than one hour; everything you need is in the kit. It won’t void the manufacturer’s warranty and the intake doesn’t require additional PCM (powertrain control module) calibration.

The Roush has a washable, re-useable filter that doesn’t need oiling. If looks were one of the important features, this Roush intake would be a hands-down winner; it looks absolutely great under the hood. For even more sound, run it without the top cover.

Even though the manufacturer states that this intake improves airflow 25 percent compared to Ford’s stock intake, the users state there is very little improvement in fuel economy. It adds, on average, only 1 or 2 miles per gallon.


  • 25 % less intake resistance
  • Washable, re-useable, non-oiled filter
  • Aggressive engine sounds
  • Hassle-free to install


  • Non-CARB certified – doesn’t meet California emissions standards
  • On the expensive side for the amount of power added
  • No dyno test results provided by Roush

K&N Cold Air Intake Kit – 63-2599

KN 63-2599 cold air filterThe K7N Cold Air Intake 63-2599 has been dyno-tested to have up 50 percent better airflow than Ford’s stock air intake system. This creates a large, up to 26 horsepower increase in your truck’s engine performance. Along with the horsepower, increase comes a much better throttle response. It will not void the manufacturer’s warranty.

The intake piping is made of crosslink nylon, which improves the piping’s temperature resistance, aging, and stress cracking. This heat resistant material remains cooler than metal tubes, delivering cooler air to the combustion chamber. Cold air contains less humidity, more oxygen, and improves fuel efficiency.

The K&N has an oversized, washable filter that the manufacturer claims will last 100,000 miles “under normal driving conditions” so that means less filter maintenance. As far as bragging rights are concerned, the K&N 63-2599 is “The Official Air Filter of NASCAR”.


  • Dyno tested, 50% increase in airflow
  • Increased engine “growl”
  • Increased gas mileage and torque
  • Washable oiled cotton filter


  • Requires more time to install, 90 minutes maximum
  • Non-CARB certified – doesn’t meet California emissions standards
  • May cause “check engine” light issues

Spectre Performance Air Intake Kit – SPE-9034

SPE-9034 cold air filterThe Spectre 9034 is the low cost entry point for people that want to increase engine noise and add to their truck’s fuel mileage. The intake contains more metal components (aluminum tubing and a 2-piece heat shield) than it’s competitors. The fact that there is so much metal will affect the temperature of the air drawn in through it. The heat shielding is powder-coated so this will help somewhat.

The intake includes a washable, red, synthetic material air filter that mounts on the left side of the engine compartment. Because the heat shield is two-piece, it is a little more difficult to assemble and to get the holes to line up properly. It will increase mileage 2-3 miles per gallon.


  • Cost – least expensive of intakes reviewed
  • Increased engine sound
  • Increased gas mileage on average 2-3 MPG


  • Metal tubing and heat shield
  • Poor fit and finish
  • Requires battery disconnect so that computer can recalibrate
  • Non-CARB certified – doesn’t meet California emissions standards

aFe Power 54-73114 Momentum GT Pro 5R Stage-2 Intake System

aFe Power 54-73114 cold air filterThe Power 54-73114 has a one-piece sealed housing and includes an auxiliary air scoop, which is a nice feature. This auxiliary scoop also comes with a urethane plug so that you have the option of shutting off the extra intake in winter’s colder air if you so choose.

The filter is large, 9 inches, which provides greater airflow through the filter, and is viewable without having to disassemble the intake. It is an oiled, 5-layer filter. On the downside, the intake produces only a modest engine sound increase and only increases mileage by 1 MPG on average.


  • One-piece construction
  • Auxiliary air scoop
  • 52% improvement on airflow over OEM system


  • Cost – 2nd highest reviewed
  • Thin construction
  • Only a slight mileage boost
  • Non-CARB certified – doesn’t meet California emissions standards

aFe Power 54-32972-B Cold Air Intake System

aFe Power 54-32972-B cold air filterThe aFe Power 54-32972 is a direct bolt-on kit so installation is fairly simple. The intake tube is almost completely straight and the manufacturer claims that it increases airflow by 92% over the stock intake.

Dyno testing resulted in maximum gains of 19-22 horsepower and the power off the line increases are impressive. The increased engine sound is significant and should please buyers looking for that throaty roar.

Even though aFe is located and does their manufacturing in California, this system is not CARB certified.


  • Fabulous engine sound improvement
  • Washable 5-layer filter
  • Straighter intake tube increases airflow by up to 92%


  • Time consuming assembly
  • Non-CARB certified – doesn’t meet California emissions standards
  • Throttle body replacement suggested (included with system)

aFe Power 51-32972-B Cold Air Intake System

aFe Power 51-32972-B cold air filterIt takes about one hour to install the aFe Power 51-32972-B and can be accomplished without any specialized tools or knowledge.

Tubing is very streamlined and claimed airflow improvement is said to be by 68% over OEM. The filter is 3-layered, non-oiled, and is washable. Being non-oiled enables the filter to require less maintenance and is slightly better at catching contaminants.


  • Very easy installation
  • Non-oiled filter
  • Airflow increase rated at 68%
  • No reprogramming required


  • Vehicle specific – may not fit some models
  • Non-CARB certified – doesn’t meet California emissions standards

Additional Cold Air Intake Tips:

  • Look for direct fit systems.
  • Spend your money on a good brand name.
  • Avoid metal whenever possible. Plastic doesn’t absorb heat as readily and will keep the intake air cooled overall.
  • Dyno testing results matter.
  • Use high-quality filters. An air intake is only as good as the filter in it.
Our Conclusion

Consumers preferred and raved about the K&N system and we agree. K&N’s intake delivered on two of the features we think are most important, increased horsepower and thermal protection. And racing enthusiasts will be impressed by K&N’s affiliation with NASCAR.

Although the aFe Power 54-32972-B provided more “roar”, the sound amplification of the K&N was sufficiently satisfying and comes at a lower cost. It also comes with a substantial manufacturer’s warranty and its easy installation can be accomplished in under one hour. K&N also includes information on dyno testing their system. >>> Check current price on Amazon