Chevy LS6 Intake Upgrade Guide (Explained)

In 2001, Chevrolet introduced the LS6 and its little brother, the LS1. From 2001 to 2005, it was found in the C5 Z06 Corvette and the first-generation Cadillac CTS-V before being replaced by the LS2.

The LS6’s factory output was impressive for its time, putting out 405 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. A cold air intake system, on the other hand, might be on the minds of the American Muscle crowd looking for more power.

In comparison to cars with forced induction, these aren’t as easy to modify because their LS6 engines can handle so much power. Long-tube headers, upgraded cams, ported or performance heads, stroker kits, and forced induction will provide the most power gains for the LS6.

Traditional aftermarket additions like a cold air intake, on the other hand, maybe beneficial in certain situations

LS6 Intake Upgrade Benefits

Improved airflow is the most important advantage of a new intake system. More power, in general, necessitates the use of more air. Most intake systems, such as the LS6’s, are more than adequate with stock and mildly modified power levels.

Intakes become restrictive as you begin to make more significant modifications, as they are no longer able to pull in enough air to support the increased horsepower.

LS6 Intake Upgrade Benefits

Even though they’re referred to as “cold air intakes,” the real benefit comes from the increased airflow that these systems provide. Compared to the stock intake system, an aftermarket LS6 cold air intake will not lower IATs (intake air temperatures). The current system was well-designed and provides.

Performance Benefits on a Stock LS6

To be brief and to the point, an upgraded intake offers very little in the way of performance gains over a stock LS6. Starting with long-tube headers will give you the most bang for your buck if you only want to add a little extra hp to your LS6.

The factory-installed LS6 intake is extremely well-made and provides plenty of airflow. It’s actually so good that many LS1 owners have switched to aftermarket brands in favor of LS6 intakes and intake manifolds on their cars.

  • 2-5 horsepower gains
  • 2-5lb-ft. torque gains
  • 1-2mpg gains
  • Slightly better throttle response
  • Louder intake noise from engine

Upgrades for 2-5hp gain aren’t worth the money when a good intake costs $500 or more, and even a 5hp gain isn’t a guarantee.

Instead of installing an entire intake system, opt for a K&N or SLP filter.

Performance Benefits on a Modded LS6

In stock LS6 engines, a cold air intake won’t make much sense, but it does make sense on modified LS6 engines. If you’re installing a supercharger or turbocharger, your intake system needs to be upgraded.

If you don’t want to go the forced induction route, your options are limited. Because of this, the intake manifold is no longer the primary source of airflow restriction in an LS6 equipped with stock heads and an aftermarket intake manifold. Only so much air can be held and moved through the intake manifold and heads before they become a hindrance.

If you’re also replacing your intake manifold, cams, and heads, we recommend upgrading your LS6’s intake as well. If you don’t have these modifications, then the stock intake will suffice.

  • 10-15 horsepower gains
  • 10-15 torque gains
  • 1-2mpg gains
  • Better throttle response
  • Quicker acceleration
  • Cool intake sounds from engine

Swapping an LS6 Intake into an LS1

As previously stated, the LS6 intake was so well-engineered from the factory that it has become the most popular option for LS1 owners looking to upgrade their stock intake. The LS6 intake manifold is also a popular choice for manifold swaps because of its excellent flow characteristics.

Swapping an LS6 Intake into an LS1

When installed on an LS1, the LS6 intake and manifold add 25whp and 20lb-ft of torque.

Due to the fact that GM no longer produces these intakes, the only way to obtain them is through a salvage yard. This is great news for LS6 owners because you can now sell your manifold and intake for close to $1,000 to an LS1 owner and use the proceeds to upgrade your own intake and manifold!

Best LS6 Intake Upgrades

Here are our top picks for those looking to replace their LS6’s stock intake system:

  • Blackwing SLP
  • Halltech Venom/Killer Bee
  • Vararam

LS6 Blackwing SLP Intake

The Blackwing intake system from SLP will be the best value for money on the market when it comes to LS6 intake systems. SLP claims an increase in airflow of up to 90% and an increase in power of up to 18whp. This is a great system for modified LS6 engines, but we doubt you’ll notice any performance gains with a stock engine.

The removal of the factory intake box by Blackwing results in significant power gains. By removing the stock intake box and mounting the SLP filter directly to it, you create an open-air system that improves air flow.

Halltech Venom & Killer Bee

The Venom and the Killer Bee are Halltech’s LS6 full intake systems. Both of these options are more expensive due to the fact that they include an intake tube as well as a filter. Increasing the air flow to the throttle body is as simple as upgrading the tubing and filter. Both Halltech intakes, like the Blackwing one, do away with the factory air box.

Halltech Venom & Killer Bee

However, the Killer Bee system has an LS7-style MAF, whereas Venom’s is similar but not identical.

Killer Bee boasts 24hp gains, while Venom claims a 13hp bump. It is also possible to get up to 800hp from the Killer Bee system.

Vararam LS6 Intake

While there are a few different ways to get colder air into your car, the Vararam system is one of the most unusual. This is the only system that truly uses cold air as an intake. The two scoops send air to an enclosed air filter, which connects to the vehicle’s stock intake piping.

With a wide range of RPMs, Vararam claims “up to 40hp”. There have been dyno tests that show an increase of around 15whp. We recommend the Vararam system to anyone concerned about the temperature of the intake air.

Because it’s an enclosed system, it’ll have less flow than the Halltech and SLP intakes, but the IATs will be a few degrees cooler because of its placement at the bottom of the bumper.

Summary: Should I Upgrade My LS6 Intake System?

In general, upgrading the intake system on a stock LS6 engine is not necessary. There’s no need to upgrade the intake unless you’re running forced induction or making a significant head, cam, or manifold modifications.

To be clear, an LS6 with the factory air filter cannot have its intake modified. It won’t hurt anything, and you’ll gain a little more power, better throttle response, and even better gas mileage as a result. The only drawback is that, in our opinion, the performance benefits aren’t worth the cost of doing so.

When used in conjunction with other serious modifications, an intake will yield the best results.

You’re running an LS6 intake, right?

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