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The Banks Ram-Air out-flows and out-performs aFe and S&B with a 49% gain in MAF on the flow bench, and a 40% gain in intake air density when measured in real-world drive testing where temperature and humidity become involved.
For the best power and efficiency, you need a free-flowing intake design that also keeps intake temperatures low. Denser, cool, heavier air improves fuel economy since your engine and turbo have to work less hard to make the same horsepower and boost target.
For a cold air intake to improve efficiency and power, you need to reduce intake temperature and increase inlet pressure. Blowing tons of hot air like S&B, or sucking cold air through a straw like aFe will not give you the winning combo.
It takes both to increase air density, which is exactly what the Banks Ram-Air delivers and that data doesn't lie.
Banks Big-Ass Filter is able to hold more dirt while being less restrictive with almost 40% more filter surface area than the competition and a massive obround filter outlet that is 3x larger than S&B.
The Big-Ass filter sits angled down in the air box to discourage dirt and debris from getting wedged in between the pleats, while the Banks Super-Tube fits perfectly over the top, which has an integrated collar to smoothly transition airflow from the air box to the turbo with the lowest resistance and drag.
The Ram-Air system draws cool air from two key locations; the stock forward hood scoop and a down-facing inlet.
So why not utilize a 3rd passenger fender opening also like the other guys?
Once you're up to operating engine temp on the road, our testing revealed the side fender was a source of hot air upwards of 125 °F! Once the sensors were installed, testing began.
We used a stretch of the 57 freeway up a 2.5mile grade to acquire real-world data-logs with the engine under load. 4th gear pulls from 40-65mph were recorded for each system 3 times and averaged together to compare the change from ambient air conditions all the way down to the compressor inlet.
Density takes into account temperature, pressure, and humidity. Yes, flow is important, but if the system flows more hot air, you’ll often see a loss in horsepower. The greater the air density at the compressor inlet of cool dry air, the more efficient your engine will be since your turbo will work less hard to reach the same boost target.
This can translate to better fuel economy on the highway since you can maintain the same speed with less throttle input. You'll also have more dependable power under load when you need it as the Banks Ram-Air maintains cool intake air temps during passing or towing.
For a better understanding of Air Density, see this article.
The stock intake draws air from a single location; the front intake scoop, and directs it underneath the battery into the airbox. There is another foam inlet where some minor airflow does occur facing the engine bay as seen in the photos, though this is more of a check valve in case the front duct gets blocked.
The stock design is the most restrictive system from testing and was used as a baseline of comparison for intake temperatures and pressure loss.
AFE draws air from only one location as well and splits the airflow.
Although this method draws the coolest air to the compressor vs stock on our road test, its restrictive design reduced air pressure within the air box dropping total Mass Air Flow improvements to a 28% gain vs stock for 3rd place.
S&B draws air from 3 locations, the front intake scoop, battery side foam inlets, and a fender side inlet. S&B provides a plug to close the fender side inlet; therefore, it was tested with and without.
While the extra openings do reduce restriction, intake temps shot up substantially, reaching between 56-75% hotter than stock both with and without the side passenger fender plug. Given the raised air box and inlet temps, engine bay heat soak and hot air ingestion are the likely causes. With nothing but a lot of hair air, total Mass Air Flow gain was 30% vs stock for 2nd place.
The Banks Ram-Air system draws air from two locations, the main front scoop as well as a bottom opening towards the front. Tests were done to see if running an extra fender inlet would improve performance, though this caused intake temps to rise reducing MAF.
Thanks to its low restriction and access to true cold air for minimal air-temperature increase, total MAF gain was 40% over stock making it the air density king at 1st place.