Top 5 Best 2015+ Subaru WRX Intercoolers

An intercooler upgrade is perhaps the best modification you can do to your Subaru WRX. The stock WRX intercooler does work, but only to an extent. It’s got a lot of room for improvement, especially if you’re planning to modify your car with many performance upgrades like aftermarket turbochargers.

There are a couple of good reasons why your Subaru WRX deserves an intercooler upgrade. For starters, the stock intercooler is subpar. It’s thin, has a low fin density, and is very prone to heat soak. Not to mention how it is barely capable of extended use, even under stock boost levels. It’s due for an upgrade. 

Upgrading it with some of the best WRX intercooler choices out there can open up doors for massive performance improvements. By doing so, your turbocharged car will receive a substantial bump in horsepower, consistent performance, and, more importantly, safer operating temperatures.

Choosing the right aftermarket WRX intercoolers can be difficult. Luckily for you, there are a bunch of high-quality aftermarket providers out there that can provide you with what you need. We’re also here to give you a list of what we think are the bang-for-buck intercoolers for your Subaru WRX. This list aims to provide you with good choices that you can consider buying or help you decide on what you think is best for you and your car.

Process West Verticooler Top Mount Intercooler 

  • Manufacturer: Process West
  • Configuration: Top Mount
  • Part Number: PRW PWTMIC14B
  • Vehicle Fitment: Subaru WRX (2015-2021)

This WRX intercooler upgrade is one of the most popular in the Subaru WRX community, and for good reasons. It has a pretty eccentric orientation that’s far different from your standard top mount intercooler, for starters. Instead of lying down, face-up on your engine bay, it sits 15deg, near a vertical angle. With this unique orientation and its other features, this intercooler stands out among the rest of the usual TMIC in the market today.

Process West’s new hood duct design force-feeds ambient air to the intercooler fins. The unusual 15deg positioning of the intercooler serves as an efficient exit for the force-fed airflow from the duct. Because of this, the airflow back down to the engine bay and goes out through the car’s underbelly. All of this fancy technology results in better cooling efficiency, more power produced, and better response.

The Verticooler provides the largest volume compared to the other WRX intercoolers today. With its 15.7” x 8.1” x 4.7” core dimensions, you can expect it to outperform the stock intercooler you may be currently using massively. By getting this TMIC, you’ll also get specially-formed silicone hoses, matching air duct/splitter, high-quality constant tension clamps, and of course, the intercooler body itself.

Process West Verticooler Top Mount Intercooler Features:

  • Core Dimensions: 15.7” x 8.1” x 4.7” 
  • Core Design: Bar and Plate
  • Unique TMIC orientation of 15deg near-vertical angle
  • Features a new hood duct design for straight airflow towards the intercooler fins
  • Largest volume amongst any aftermarket top mount intercooler
  • It comes with silicone hoses, air duct/splitter, constant tension clamps, and brackets
  • It comes with a black finish
  • Backed by Process West 1-Year Warranty

GrimmSpeed Top Mount Intercooler Kit 

  • Manufacturer: GrimmSpeed
  • Configuration: Top Mount
  • Part Number: 090070
  • Vehicle Fitment: Subaru WRX (2015-2021)

This intercooler from Grimmspeed is just one of the best WRX intercoolers you can get if you use your car for daily driving. It’s well suited for stock applications, but it performs decently with upgraded turbochargers too. Daily driving applications are where this intercooler works best because its high-density internal and external fins are capable enough of absorbing and dissipating heat, even if it’s just a top mount intercooler.

The large core dimensions of this WRX intercooler are responsible for carefully balancing both high heat transfer and low-pressure drop. Attached to the core are cast aluminum end tanks integrated with a two-piece splitter that can collect air using the entire width of the scoops. To carefully secure the intercooler pipes, you can use the 5-ply silicone couplers to ensure that they are fitted securely and can withstand spirited driving.

Other sweet features that come with this WRX intercooler upgrade are a water-methanol NPT bung (tapped and plugged for future use) and vibration isolation mounting to protect the system from fatigue caused by excessive vibration. And in case you want some charge pipes included, you can opt for Grimmspeed’s optional charge pipe add-on.

GrimmSpeed Top Mount Intercooler Features:

  • Core Dimensions: 13.1” x 10” 3.75”
  • Core Design: Bar and Plate
  • Uses cast aluminum end tanks
  • It comes with 5-ply silicone couplers
  • It comes with a water-methanol ⅛ NPT bung
  • Includes a vibration isolation mounting
  • Backed by GrimmSpeed Lifetime Warranty

Mishimoto Front-Mount Intercooler Kit & Intake

  • Manufacturer: Mishimoto
  • Configuration: Front Mount
  • Part Number: MMINT-STI-15
  • Vehicle Fitment: Subaru WRX STI (2015-2018)

This front mount intercooler is perfect for drivers who are planning to modify their cars to go beyond 500hp. It’s well optimized to deliver maximum flow to the engine, ensuring that pressure drop will be minimal. The 3.5” thick core can support up to a maximum of 600 whp or 30psi of boost pressure. A smooth cast aluminum end tank ensures that the airflow within the intercooler stays uninterrupted. This design ensures that this WRX intercooler can provide the engine with as much cold air as possible without experiencing excessive pressure drops.

Installing this intercooler is a breeze too. Mishimoto made it so that you can install it without performing any modifications to the front bumpers. This means you won’t have to worry about removing your stock fog lights. Additionally, it works well with both stock bypass valve and aftermarket blow-off valve. It even includes different turbo outlet hoses that would fit both stock and aftermarket turbos! To say that the Mishimoto Front Mount Intercooler is a steal is a bit of an understatement. 

Front mount intercoolers are usually the option of enthusiasts who are more inclined with extra spirited driving, and this WRX intercooler upgrade is, by all means, something you consider.

Mishimoto Front Mount Intercooler Features:

  • Core Size: 28” x 8.05” x 3.5”
  • Core Design: Bar and Plate
  • No front bumper modification needed for installation
  • Retains stock fog lights
  • It comes with a steel crash bar
  • Available in different finishes (Silver, Black, Gold)
  • Backed by Mishimoto Lifetime Warranty

TurboXS Front Mount Intercooler Kit

  • Manufacturer: TurboXS
  • Configuration: Front Mount
  • Part Number: STi-15FMIC
  • Vehicle Fitment: Subaru WRX STI (2015-2019)

TurboXS has been flying under the radar for quite some time now, but all of those who’ve used their intercoolers would agree that what they’ve got to offer is a solid option. What they’ve got is arguably one of the best WRX intercoolers out there, and we’re leaving you the chance to judge it for yourself. This front mount intercooler kit can do its job pretty darn well, with reports stating that the intake temp would usually go no more than 20F above ambient.

So what’s with the TurboXS Front Mount Intercooler Kit? It’s an aftermarket intercooler that comes with all the pipes you’d need. It’s an FMIC that dwarfs your stock intercooler with its 28” x 8” x 3.75” dimensions. Its bar and plate core design ensures that it cools the intake charge pretty flawlessly. With this WRX intercooler upgrade, you can be sure of inconsistent power output due to sky-rocketing IMT. Its cast aluminum end tanks, free from failure points such as crimp connections and poor welds, can aid the intercooler in its efforts of transferring heat as efficiently as possible.

They’ve even thrown in a tubular steel mounting beam that’s fitted with a tow hook mount, which makes your car legal while ensuring that your front license plate isn’t blocking the airflow from the intercooler. This FMIC is a 100% bolt-on solution and leaves a lot of room if you’re planning to install an aftermarket horn soon.

TurboXS Front Mount Intercooler Kit Features:

  • Core Dimensions: 28” x 8’ x 3.75”
  • Core Design: Bar and Plate
  • Powder-coated with Bengal Silver
  • Features a steel mounting beam, incorporated with a tow hook mount
  • Allows the use of any License Plate Relocation Kit (w/ tow hook mount)
  • Uses cast aluminum end tanks
  • Pipes are available in wrinkle black and red 

Perrin Performance Front Mount Intercooler

  • Manufacturer: Perrin Performance
  • Configuration: Front Mount
  • Part Number: PSP-ITR-437-1BK
  • Vehicle Fitment: Subaru WRX (2015-2021)Subaru WRX STI (2015-2021)

Perrin Performance is quite popular amongst the Subaru WRX and STI community because their aftermarket game is on point, and their customer support is second to none. And what they have to offer for your car is notable too. Here’s a front mount intercooler for both the Subaru WRX and STI, an intercooler upgrade that requires no tuning, has all the necessary parts you’d need for installation, and some bonus parts that you’ll surely love.

The Perrin Performance Front Mount Intercooler boasts 28” x 9.25” x 3.5” core dimensions, slightly larger in width compared to the other FMIC on this list. WRX intercoolers like this one are not only capable of beating your stock intercooler in terms of cooling efficiency and manageable pressure drop, but it’s also very sturdy and robust. Compared to the typical tube and fin core design, its construction can withstand rocks and any other debris you may encounter while driving at high speeds. 

Perrin specifically designed their end tanks to spread the hot charge air across the entire intercooler core. They also eliminated any possibility of turbulence by removing the 90deg bends and replacing them with a smooth and gradual taper from top to bottom. Each end tank is integrated with an innovative mounting, ensuring a proper and secure fit to the intercooler core. This WRX intercooler comes with a mounting beam crafted from boxed steel instead of the typical aluminum, which most manufacturers use.

Perrin Performance Front Mount Intercooler Features:

  • Core Dimension: 28”x 9.25” x 3.5”
  • Core Design: Bar and Plate
  • Durable enough to withstand rocks and other road debris
  • Uses smooth and tapered end tanks integrated with an innovative mounting tab
  • It comes with a boxed steel mounting beam
  • It comes with a black finish
  • Backed by Perrin Performance 5-Year Warranty

Front Mount or Top Mount: Which Subaru WRX Intercooler Should You Choose?

Let’s face it: the stock top mount intercooler of the 2015-2021 models of the Subaru WRX and STI is unimpressive. It’s overworked, inefficient, and has design flaws that would make a seasoned tuner cringe. It was never meant to handle the level of power that the newer versions of the Subaru WRX produce, unlike the aftermarket top mounts and front mounts offered today. If you continue to use the ineffective stock intercooler, you’re risking debauched engine performance or even total engine failure!

This leaves us an age-old question: which aftermarket intercooler should you choose? A top mount or a front mount?

We’ll leave the answer short and simple.

If you’re not planning to go beyond 400hp, then you should consider getting your hands on some top mount intercoolers. They’re far cheaper than FMIC because they require more undersized pipes. TMICs also feed cold compressed air to the engine much quicker than FMIC because it takes the shorter path from your turbo to intake. However, top mount intercoolers aren’t ideal for performance-oriented driving.

If you’re going beyond 400hp and you’re planning to transform your car into an actual performance vehicle, then you should opt for front mount intercoolers. Due to their more extensive design, they’re more capable of delivering more airflow. FMICs are necessary, especially if you’re running on aftermarket turbochargers or any other performance modification capable of yielding more horsepower. The caveat with FMICs, however, is that they’re too expensive for some enthusiasts. Additionally, they’re more prone to damage road debris, not to mention the possibility of more turbo lag.

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