When it is about the performance of the vehicle, many people go for an upgrade that influences the engine to perform better. In turbo cars, installing a top mount intercooler is such an upgrade that improves the performance by making the engine perform in a cooler condition.
In most cases, the stock intercooler is good enough to get the job done but the aftermarket one is made to do it better. I know that you’re searching for the best top mount intercooler for WRX for this reason. So, I have something for you.
I’ve researched several TMICs intercoolers offered in the market for Subaru WRX to find out the best ones. This took a long time as I had to check user reviews, expert opinions, manufacturer’s descriptions, and many other factors besides my own experience.
But finally, I could come up with a list of the top five WRX top mount intercoolers in my opinion. For your convenience, here I’m going to talk about those in detail. I’ll be discussing the factors I’ve loved about those and the downsides. You’ll find a lot of other essential info too, including the buying guide. Overall, this article is written to help you from several aspects.
Without talking much, let’s start talking about our topic.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top Mount Intercooler Product Comparison Table
- 2 Top 5 Best Top Mount Intercooler for WRX in 2022
- 3 1. GrimmSpeed 090070 Intercooler Kit
- 4 How to Install GrimmSpeed Top Mount Intercooler
- 5 2. Mishimoto MMTMIC-WRX-01SLRD Top-Mount Intercooler
- 6 3. Rev9 ICK-059_1 ICK-059_1 Top Mount Intercooler Upgrade
- 7 4. Mishimoto MMTMIC-WRX-15XBK Top-Mount Intercooler
- 8 5. CXRacing-Top Mount Intercooler
- 9 Buying Guide for Best Top Mount Intercooler for WRX
- 10 Compatibility
- 11 End Tank
- 12 Core Construction
- 13 Size and Fitment
- 14 Ease of Installation
- 15 How Top Mount Intercoolers Improve Engine Performance
- 16 Benefits of Getting Aftermarket Top Mount Intercooler
- 17 Performance Improvement
- 18 Upgrade in Budget
- 19 Easy Upgrade
- 20 Top Mount Intercooler vs. Front Mount Intercooler
- 21 Piping
- 22 Efficiency
- 23 Heat Soak
- 24 Installation
- 25 Fitment
- 26 FAQs About Top Mount Intercooler
- 27 I’m still confused. How an intercooler improves horsepower?
- 28 Is there any way to fight heat soaking?
- 29 Are intercoolers good for upgraded vehicles?
- 30 How to Install Subaru Top Mount Intercooler (Video)
- 31 Final Verdict
Top Mount Intercooler Product Comparison Table
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|CXRacing-Top Mount Intercooler||
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|GrimmSpeed 090070 TMIC Kit||
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|Rev9 Top Mount Intercooler Upgrade||
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Top 5 Best Top Mount Intercooler for WRX in 2022
1. GrimmSpeed 090070 Intercooler Kit
For 2015-2018 Subaru WRX, maybe you won’t find any top mount intercooler better than this one for GrimmSpeed. Being manufactured with the precise design and top-notch build quality, it is ready to serve you smoothly for a long time
It has a cast aluminum end tank that has made it light yet durable. The splitters are also made from quality materials for dependable performance. Its whole construction is TIG welded to ensure strength as well as durability.
It is designed and made to take place of the factory-installed intercooler but performs better. For this, the splitters are made to cover as much area as possible so that they can collect more air compared to factory-installed ones. To make sure that it is free from the impact of vibration, it comes with vibration isolation mounting.
The package includes everything needed to run the system properly. You can install it just after picking from the seller. With a moderate understanding of your vehicle, you can install it.
You’ll surely see the difference between your stock intercooler and this aftermarket one from GrimmSpeed. In my case, the performance of my engine was visibly better than I thought. So, going for this one is not a wrong decision to make. Even if you don’t find the improvement that significant, it helps your engine to run longer than usual.
How to Install GrimmSpeed Top Mount Intercooler
2. Mishimoto MMTMIC-WRX-01SLRD Top-Mount Intercooler
Mishimoto offers a lot of intercoolers in the market. If you own a 2001-2007 Subaru WRX, going for this one from the brand is not something you should regret later. I’ve had an amazing experience with this as it gave me an amazing experience sitting under my hood.
The end tank in this system is also made of cast aluminum for ensuring lightness and durability. Coming with a unique single inlet design, it ensures maximum airflow. This also ensures proper dispersion of air. The bar-and-plate construction like most other TMICs allows it to perform its job perfectly. Multiple silicone hoses have made it efficient and durable enough to serve you.
The system is designed to be the direct replacement for the stock TMIC. So, the size of the inlet or the design of piping- nothing can be an issue. You can easily install it after getting rid of the stock intercooler system. Necessary components and hardware come with it.
No matter you own a stock vehicle or a modified one, this WRX top mount intercooler can do wonders for you. Vehicles with up to 350 HP can be benefited from this system. In my case, it performed great and showed around a 10-12 HP increase and a huge drop in the temperature. I don’t guarantee but you can expect such or even better result.
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3. Rev9 ICK-059_1 ICK-059_1 Top Mount Intercooler Upgrade
If you’re willing to make physical changes to your vehicle for installing a TMIC that maximizes performance, you can go for this without any hesitation. It offers efficient performance sitting at the place of the factory-installed TMIC but requires a bit bigger space. So, modification is required.
For 2008-2014 Impreza WRX, this is a perfect kit that ensures an instant boost in performance. The reason is it is thicker than the one installed by the Subaru. Going a few miles for installing it gives you the performance you need.
Being made of quality materials, this top mount intercooler comes with the strength and durability you’re looking for. The core comes with a bar-and-plate design that improves its performance in keeping the environment as cool as possible.
It is made to support engines with up to 430 hp. I guess this capacity is decent enough for you.
From the price point, it is cheaper than most other intercoolers you’ll find in the market. However, adding the cost of modification, if you’re taking help from a professional, it exceeds the price of some. As it doesn’t come with any installation manual, I suggest taking assistance from a professional at the time of installation.
I was satisfied with its performance. It gave me a good improvement in the horsepower, about 13-15 hp. Also, the temperature under the hood was satisfactory too.
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4. Mishimoto MMTMIC-WRX-15XBK Top-Mount Intercooler
I’ve already talked about one from Mishimoto, but I can’t avoid another one from the same brand in my list of Best Top Mount Intercooler for WRX. Being made for WRX 2015+, this intercooler should be the one you’re looking for. It boosts up the performance of your engine by ensuring an efficient airflow towards the turbocharger.
Besides a robust and dependable bar-and-plate design, it comes with an end tank fully made of cast aluminum. This construction has made the intercooler one of the most durable and reliable ones in the industry.
It is made to sit at the place of the stock TMIC and supply cool air to the engine. Compared to the stock intercooler, it is proven to supply 12% more cool air which keeps the temperature as low as possible. Thus it can bring visible improvement in the engine performance, which is your main objective behind replacing the stock intercooler.
If you have a tuned WRX, it supports it to perform a lot better just after being installed. So, I suggest going for this. While I was testing it, I found a drastic change in the performance after getting it installed under the hood.
It gives you the scope of choosing from three color choices- white, black, and golden. I prefer the black one, but you can make your decision independently. Go for the one you like.
5. CXRacing-Top Mount Intercooler
CXRacing is focused on designing and manufacturing parts for performance improvement. This intercooler is nothing different. It comes with the ability to sit on the stock intercooler’s place and improve the capacity of the engine from the point of performance.
CXRacing has designed this particular TMIC for 2002-2007 WRX. So, if you own one from this range, you can try this one.
Being made of 100% aluminum and machine cut and stamped construction, the hand-welded end tank of this intercooler offers strength and durability. The 4-inch thick core is made following the bar-and-plate design to ensure comparatively better performance in cooling under the hood.
One issue with this intercooler is it doesn’t come with the additional hardware required to install. In most cases, it fits directly into the stock hardware. But in some cases, you may have to get some parts from the stores.
However, it fits in the place of the stock intercooler excellent. So, you can easily avoid any hassle with installing it. Even you won’t have to cut any part of your hood.
Talking about my experience with it brings a point in the first place- I haven’t faced any issue with it installed under the hood. There was a minor but visible improvement in the engine performance. I won’t say that it was great when compared to the others from the point of performance. However, it comes with a very rational price tag and from that point, it was great.
Buying Guide for Best Top Mount Intercooler for WRX
Buying the best Subaru top mount intercooler is not a tough task. Still, you have to focus on several issues while going for this. Here I’m going to talk about a few points that you must check before finalizing the best intercooler for your Subaru WRX.
While buying anything for your vehicle, you should focus on compatibility. Picking the best intercoolers also demand this in the first place. You should look for compatible intercoolers because these are vehicle model-specific.
Picking something that is not made for your vehicle model is not going to help you in any way. So, make sure that you’re checking the intercoolers made for your vehicle model, make, and variation.
The end tank is another thing you should focus on- specifically the construction of it. You’ll find intercoolers coming with plastic end tanks. It is the lightest and cheapest option. It is strong too. But when it is about road debris and rocks, a plastic tank is not a good option. Sharp rocks can crack it easily. Also, the temperature under the hood damages it gradually.
You’ll see cut and welded tanks made of durable aluminum. Aluminum is a suitable option as it is strong and durable. But when it is cut and welded, there are many weak points. So, the risk of damage caused by road debris is still there.
Another option is a cast aluminum tank. Here a single piece of aluminum is used to make the tank. So, here you won’t find many weak points. Fewer failure points mean lesser scope of damages. Also, because of being made of aluminum, it is strong and durable. Even, the scope of damage from heat is minimal here.
You need to pick the end tank carefully.
You’ll find two common types of core in TMIC- Tube-and-Fin core and Bar-and-Plate core.
Tube-and-Fin design is very common in the case of stock intercoolers. This design makes the intercooler light. Also, the cost of manufacturing is low here. But you’ll find several issues here. It often fails or performs poorly because of its heat-soaking tendency.
On the other hand, the Bar-and-Plate construction core can handle more heat and the impact of heat soaking is very low here. It is more resistant compared to Tube-and-Fin when it is about tolerating pressure and damage. Also, there is a scope for improvement through versatile designs. There are the reasons why being a bit expensive and slightly heavier couldn’t reduce its demand.
Going for a Bar-and-Plate core is the best choice you can make.
Size and Fitment
You should make sure that your aftermarket intercooler sits at the place of your stock one if you don’t want to make any changes. You’ll find a lot that come in exactly the similar size as the stock ones. You can pick those.
If you’re open to making necessary changes to fit your chosen one, you can leave this point. However, don’t go for something too big to sit under the hood properly.
Ease of Installation
Installing the ones that come as the similar size to the stock ones is very easy, except for some exceptional cases. On the other hand, the ones that require you to cut the hood or make changes are not that easy, especially if you’re the one who is installing it.
I prefer the ones that are easy and quick to install. Even if you take help from a mechanic, easy-to-install intercoolers save you a few bucks because the installation fee is low.
How Top Mount Intercoolers Improve Engine Performance
TMIC plays a great role in the engine performance by reducing the heat generated by the combustion process of the turbo-charged systems. The process creates a high heat that doesn’t allow the engine to work properly at its full pace.
A top mount intercooler receives air and sends cool air to pass through the turbocharger. It results in a significant temperature drop in the air of the surroundings. This helps the engine in two ways.
Because of the temperature drop, the engine gets the scope of running better to deliver the best of it. Also, cool air comes with a higher density. This high density of air allows the engine to have a large volume of air, which gives the engine more air to burn.
The combined impact of these two results in a massive improvement in the engine performance. The engine gets the scope of using its potential as much as possible.
Thus your intercooler helps the engine to run better and shows a significant change in the performance.
Benefits of Getting Aftermarket Top Mount Intercooler
Getting an aftermarket TMIC brings several benefits for you. This is why it is one of the most common upgrades for WRX and STI. Let’s see the benefits you’ll get from such an upgrade.
Your vehicle may come with the best among the stock intercoolers, but there are several scopes for improvement. An aftermarket Subaru top mount intercooler can help you to increase the performance of your vehicle in several ways.
Most stock TMICs come with a Tube-and-Fin design whereas aftermarket ones come with a Bar-and-Plate design. I’ve already said that Bar-and-Plate design is better from the performance perspective.
Also, stock TMICs are prone to heat soak whereas aftermarket ones are less prone to this issue. There are many other significant differences between stock TMICs and aftermarket TMICs.
Such differences allow you to enjoy an improvement in the engine performance by efficiently reducing heat from the air of the induction system.
Upgrade in Budget
Upgrading your vehicle requires a huge amount of money in most cases. Compared to most of the upgrades, installing an aftermarket TMIC keeps the cost lower.
An aftermarket TMIC can ensure a good amount of performance upgrade if installed properly. Getting such improvement in a budget is not something you should miss. If you’re on a tight budget yet want to upgrade your vehicle for better performance, going for TMIC is a great option.
Besides being a reasonable upgrade, an aftermarket TIMC is also an easy one. Installing an intercooler is not a huge issue for sure. You can install most of the TMICs by yourself. Even the ones that require minor cutting are also easy to install.
You can go to the mechanic for installing your aftermarket TMIC. They won’t charge much as its installation process is very easy.
Top Mount Intercooler vs. Front Mount Intercooler
You’ll find many front mount intercoolers in the market that comes to perform a similar task. So, you might mix these two types while checking the pros and cons. Let’s compare TMIC and FMIC for better understanding.
Piping matters because you have a very compact space under the hood. TMIC sit near the engine. As a result, it comes with the need for smaller pipes. On the other hand, because of the distance with the engine, front mount intercoolers require longer pipes.
Many say that the length of the pipe doesn’t matter that much. But I think even a little change may put a bigger impact. So, going for a WRX top mount intercooler is good.
Position matters, but efficiency matters more. In this case, the front mount intercooler wins.
FMICs allow larger space for the core under the hood whereas TMICs often eat up some space and don’t allow larger cores to sit properly. A larger core means more efficiency. As TMIC doesn’t allow you to get a larger core, you might not go for better performance while upgrading things under the hood.
Hot air from the engine goes up. So, sitting at the top, the top mount intercooler has to absorb some of the engine heat. This happens more when your car is sitting somewhere or waiting in a traffic jam. When it is running, the impact of heat soak is not that huge though.
Still, if something made for sending cooler air absorbs heat by itself, this creates an irony. Engine heat affects the performance of the TMIC somehow. This is a very small issue, but it matters.
On the other hand, FMIC doesn’t come with such an issue. So, this is the clear winner in this regard too.
TMIC is the winner when it is about installation. As TMIC is installed near to the engine, it doesn’t require heavy piping. This allows you to install your TMIC without spending a huge time or making tiring efforts.
On the other hand, installing an FMIC is much tiring and takes a lot of time. Installing an FMIC often includes cutting pipes and drilling holes. So, you might find it tough to do. Some vehicle-specific FMICs may come with lesser hassles than others, but that doesn’t mean those are hassle-free.
As TMIC requires less piping, it doesn’t create a mess or hampers the operation of other components under the hood. Its position allows it to stay away from making any type of issues or creating any barrier for other components.
On the other hand, FMIC requires so long piping. So, there is a chance of creating a barrier to the action of any other component under the hood. If you spend enough time is designing the route, maybe you can get rid of the issue. Vehicle-specific FMICs can help you in this case.
Both TMIC and FMIC have separate advantages and disadvantages. Making a choice depends on how you can tackle the advantages and maximize the advantages.
FAQs About Top Mount Intercooler
I’m still confused. How an intercooler improves horsepower?
The role of intercoolers in improving horsepower is not very complex. The first thing I want to make you clear about is intercoolers don’t directly increase horsepower. It just helps the engine to do better.
The engine works better in a cooler environment. The task of an intercooler is to keep the environment cooler by delivering cold air to the turbocharger or supercharger. This cold air makes the environment cooler than usual. Also, cool air is denser compared to hot air. Thus, the engine gets an ideal situation where it can perform better.
As a result of this, it delivers more horsepower than before. This is how an intercooler improves horsepower.
Is there any way to fight heat soaking?
Using a heat shield is a good way to fight heat soaking. You can use heat shields around the intercooler to reduce the direct heat soaking. Also, you can use a shield to cover heat sources. This seems to be a good way to protect everything else from heat. It is a bit tough practically but not impossible.
You’ll find several turbo insulation wraps in the market that keeps the heat trapped around the turbo. Going for these will help you to keep everything else safe beside the intercooler.
Are intercoolers good for upgraded vehicles?
If your vehicle is already upgraded with several aftermarket components for performance improvement, you may not find an intercooler that effective for improving the horsepower. Those come with the ability to work with a specific HP or lower than that.
However, several intercoolers can cope with upgraded vehicles. If yours is already improved with several upgrades, you should go for those.
How to Install Subaru Top Mount Intercooler (Video)
Upgrading vehicle for better performance is what car enthusiasts always love. Replacing the stock intercooler is a good upgrade when the budget is low.
As you’re looking for this upgrade for your WRX, I guess this article has helped you in some cases. The carefully picked suggestions for you are some of the best top mount intercoolers for WRX you’ll find in the market. So, going for any of those won’t be a mistake for sure.
I’ve talked about a lot of stuff I know about top mount intercoolers. I think now you know a bit better about these. It is time for you to go and check those so that you can pick the best one for you. Take your time to make a good decision.