Battle of the Brands, Streety Injen Intakes vs Classic K&N

By: Andrew Bernhardt

Scrape the brand labels off of a K&N intake and an Injen intake, set them side-by-side, and it’s mighty difficult to tell them apart. There’s a mandrel-bent tube (probably metal). Also, a conical cotton-gauze filter that’s washable and reusable. If you’re trying to pick between the two for a quick upgrade project, this can cause quite a conundrum.

Telling apart the people who use K&N intakes and K&N Cold Air Intakes isn’t quite as difficult. Because K&N practically invented performance air induction and reusable cotton-gauze filtration, most of the performance drivers you see on the road could be using a K&N Cold Air Intake (or at least a K&N filter). You’ll see the logo on many a bumper or back window when you’re cruising the highway. The Injen guy, though, is almost always the miscreant buzzing by your bedroom window at 1am, armed with a slick sport compact and Yuban-sized tailpipe. Picking your next intake based on which group best fits you isn’t a bad way to decide between K&N and Injen.

That’s exactly how K&N would want you to pick—after all, most drivers fall into the broad K&N crew with ease, and are quite satisfied with the move.

Injen, though, touts its ability to bring new innovation and technology to the idea K&N pioneered, channeling a more tuned variety of intake performance into the manifold. And, they’re making moves to expand beyond the sport compact crowd, introducing tuned air boxes and a line of truck/SUV air intakes. They’re still big in sport compact circles, thanks to one of the chief reasons Injen intakes became popular to begin with: the look. An engine with an Injen is unmistakable; not so much the case with most K&N kits.

K&N cold air intakes end up being the better fit for most drivers, though, because of the reputation of quality, performance, and endurance. But, another factor is a big reason why K&N gets picked by a wide majority of drivers. While Injen deals solely in metal intakes, K&N makes their popular FIPK and 63 Series intake kits with crosslink plastic/nylon tubes. They’re not nearly as attractive, but they don’t need to be. The plastic intake tube substantially lowers the cost of the kit as a whole. And, it keeps the incoming air cooler, and thus denser, providing more horsepower—all thanks to the non-conductive material. A K&N that’s cheaper and more powerful is the clincher almost every time.

When it comes to the filter on the end of your kit, K&N has been the undisputed king of filtration for more than 30 years. This is another key deciding point between the two intake brands, as K&N uses their own proven filter formula in every intake kit. Injen uses another company’s filters, but they won’t disclose who actually manufactures the filter. With K&N, you know what you get; with Injen, you don’t.

In the end, it comes down to how much looks and brand identity matter in your intake choice. If you want the can’t-miss kit for your project, K&N is the choice—hands down. If you value the under-hood appearance factor most, or need to grasp at some street cred (i.e., if you’re doing-up a Lancer), Injen is worth a long look. That puts about 75% of drivers in the K&N camp. Were these the only two intake brands in the world, that number would sound about right. Though they’re notFind Article, K&N is still the overwhelming leader.

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