Tonights Main Event K&N Cold Air Intakes vs AEM Cold Air Intakes

By: Andrew Bernhardt

Welcome to the air intake battle royale, where we force K&N Intakes and AEM Intakes to fight to the death…or at least until we have a clear winner holding the title of “Best intake for your auto." At face value, there are some similarities between these two fighters—both pack incredible pipes with the testing and training an intake needs to be a champion. We suspect the subtle differences are where the fight will be won; expect neither to be knocked out but rather jabbed into a bloody, stumbling, slurred submission.

In the black, red and orange corner we have K&N, the taller, heavier, more established fighter of the two. Sure, they’ve been slugging it out with other contenders for more than 30 years, much like an aged and grizzled fighter like Evander Holyfield. But, unlike Holyfield, K&N is sharper than ever, still packs quite a wallop, has their ears intact, and nobody is begging them to quit for their own good. K&N’s advantage comes from not only being the undisputed champion intake, but also from being the brand that practically invented the sport.

AEM cold air intake?struts in as the challenger; a slimmer, faster, younger fighter sporting flashy red and yellow trunks. Buoyed by newer technology and plenty of support in the sport compact realm, AEM’s plan is to take the lumbering K&N with speed, quickness and quality punches.

This challenger firmly believes they’re ushering in a new era of intake performance, design and maintenance.

The bell rings, and the two intake brands dance toward each other. They come together, and K&N lands a nice two-punch combination to the nose and jaw, thanks to their intake tubes. Their crosslink material tubes, available on the vaunted FIPK 57 Series and 63 Series Air Charger intakes, keep the incoming volumes of air much cooler than the metal tubes used with every AEM. Not to mention the price—crosslink plastic tubing helps a kit cost less. But, AEM relies on its smooth footwork to land a stinging gut shot, thanks to the dressy look of their pipes, which are slightly nicer in terms of engine compartment looks even when pitted against K&N’s 69 and 77 Series.

AEM also rallies to run K&N into the corner with Brute Force, their brawny truck and SUV intake that’s gaining street cred by the minute. But, K&N cold air intake?escapes damage by striking AEM with their 69 series—an unlikely point on the card for the veteran. Though AEM has the sport compact high ground, most of the 69 Series is able to be configured as a short ram intake or a cold air intake drawing from the wheel well. Then K&N drills AEM in the eye with filter technology, setting off suffocating swelling. K&N’s cotton-gauze with oil filtration system uses its time-tested formula and 1,000,000-mile warranty to land a big blow over AEM’s struggling bid to equal cotton-gauze performance with an oil-less filter.

Round and round they go, trading jabs and the occasional slug that re-engages the crowd to this clash of now-tiring titans. As the 12th and final round passes with many a fist thrown but few landed, the judges must go to the scorecard. Though AEM takes rounds judged on compact performance and looks under the hood, K&N wins the battle by decision with an extra 4hp on the dyno for the F-150 with a 5.4L V8, which happened to be the judges’ trucks. The cooler crosslink tube (which also costs less) helped put K&N over the top of AEM here, making it the current undisputed belt holder for cold air?intake performance. ButFree Reprint Articles, AEM will likely return soon with some new moves in its quest for the title.

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