2001-2007 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner
2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007
Rick Carlton has served as a professional automotive/motorsports journalist, writer, researcher, editor, and publisher for thirty years. He has also served as a press/media consultant for a range of professional motorsports organizations. He contributed several vehicle profile articles to Crutchfield's Research Garage.
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In a Nutshell
In this article, we'll tell you how to install car audio gear in your Escape or Mariner. The stock receivers are hopelessly out of date at this point, so that's the best first thing to upgrade in these trucks. Look for a new receiver with Bluetooth connectivity, Pandora® Internet radio controls, and other modern features.
The speakers sit very low in the doors, which isn't great for sound. We'd suggest a set of component speakers that will bring all the details of your music. If you're keeping the factory amp, go for speakers that are especially efficient, preferably with dome tweeters.
To cap off your system, add an amplifier and a subwoofer. If you've installed components in the front doors, consider a 4-channel amp to drive them and the rear speakers, and then add an amplified custom-fit sub in the back
Overview of the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner
The first-generation Ford Escape (and its sibling, the Mercury Mariner, to which all of the following info can be applied) was a phenomenally popular trucklet that took the small SUV market by storm. Developed in collaboration with Mazda, who also sold the same basic vehicle as the Tribute, the Escape was a spacious, comfortable SUV that, when equipped with the optional a 3-liter V6, had all the power needed (and a little bit more) for daily driving or weekend towing duties.
The same, alas, can't be said of the factory stereos, which weren't great to begin with and haven't improved with age. The Escape is reasonably easy to work on, though, so you should have a lot of fun upgrading your entertainment system. With plenty of room for people, bikes, camping gear, and whatever else you need, the Escape is a handy vehicle to have around. And once you upgrade the stereo, it'll also be a nice place to be.
The base factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Factory stereo system
The Escape came with two entertainment options: the base system and the Mach system. The options changed a little from 2001 to 2007, but in general the Mach system added an amplifier, a subwoofer built into the rear side panel, and (starting in 2004) tweeters in the front doors.
Factory radio in the 2004-up Mach system (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory radio
The base system centered around an AM/FM/cassette/CD receiver through 2003, then switched over to an AM/FM receiver with a built-in 6-disc CD changer in 2004.
The opening in the dash looks like a double-DIN slot, but is actually a little smaller. A single-DIN aftermarket car stereo fits right in there with the help of a mounting kit. A double-DIN kit is also available, but you'll need to modify the Escape’s sub-dash to accommodate the new receiver. As a result, you will not be able to re-install the original Ford radio after making these modifications.
Taking the receiver out of the dash is pretty straightforward, and doesn’t require much effort aside from insuring that you don’t mar the plastic dash trim as the pieces come off the dash assembly. Once you have the receiver out, the dash cavity offers better than 9" in depth, so almost any car stereo will fit in here. However, bear in mind that the heater box does offer some obstruction at the back of the cavity, so take care when you're shoving everything into place.
You'll need a set of DIN tools to remove the original radio — you poke these U-shaped tools into the front of the Ford radio and it'll pop right out. A harness is also available that lets you connect the new car stereo without having to cut off the plug that connected to the Ford radio. The mounting kit, DIN tools, and harness are available at a deep discount with your Crutchfield stereo purchase.
Replacing the radio in the Mach system is just about the same as with the basic system, but the amplifier in the upgraded system adds a couple of wrinkles.
First, you'll need the right harness to connect your new car stereo to the Ford amp, which is available at a special proce with most receiver orders from Crutchfield. You'll also want to select a car stereo that features dedicated subwoofer preamp outputs in order to get the best performance from the Mach system's factory subwoofer.
Finally, the Ford amp is used to getting a 5-volt signal from the stock radio, so the 12-volt signal from a new stereo will cause an audible (and annoying) thump every time you turn on the vehicle. You'll need to purchase an inexpensive 12-volt to 5-volt adapter to cure this problem. Trust us, it's worth every penny.
Tools needed: Small flat-blade screwdriver, DIN tools
The front door speakers sit pretty low in the doors. They're easy to replace, though. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory speakers
In vehicles equipped with the base system, the front and rear doors hold 4-ohm 6"x8" speakers, located way down low in the door panels.
There are only six steps required to get the front-door panel off the door, then remove and replace the front speakers. You have plenty of room in those doors, so a wide selection of speakers will fit. You can also install 5-1/4" speakers with the help of a mounting bracket. Harnesses are available for both doors so you don't have to cut off the factory plugs.
Since the speakers are down by your feet, you should consider component speakers up front to raise the soundstage to a more satisfying level. Installing the tweeters in the sail panels involves a bit of customization, but it's worth it. It'll sound like someone removed a blanket from your speaker system.
Factory tweeter location in the 2004-up Escape (Crutchfield Research Photo)
With the Mach system, speaker replacement is identical to the non-Mach setup, except that Ford added a 2-5/8" tweeter to each of the front doors beginning in 2004. You can pry off the sail panels with a panel tool, so removing the tweeters is pretty simple. You'll have to fashion some kind of mounting bracket to hold the new tweeters, but that's not difficult. We suggest getting a couple of our universal backstraps to help with the job. They can be bent or cut to the size and shape you need. A wiring harness isn't available for this tweeter location, so you'll have to cut off the factory plugs to attach the wires to your new tweeters
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, small flat-blade screwdriver, panel tool, 7/32" socket, ratchet and extension
You'll find the factory sub and amp behind the right rear quarter panel. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Bass in your Escape or Mariner
In the Mach system, you'll find an 8" subwoofer in a plastic enclosure behind the rear quarter panel. Replacing it is easy, but you'll need to drill some new holes for the mounting screws. The factory sub is a dual 1.3-ohm voice coil model, so you'll lose a lot of volume if you replace it with a DVC sub with a higher impedance. If you're going to go in that direction, you should also replace the sub's amplifier.
You'll find several custom-fit subwoofer choices for the Ford Escape from MTX and JL Audio. The MTX ThunderForm is a loaded enclosure carrying a 12" woofer that fits right into the driver's side rear quarterpanel. JL Audio’s StealthBox is a loaded enclosure carrying a 10" woofer that drops into the same spot. MTX also offers an unloaded enclosure that will hold a 12" woofer of your choice.
JL Audio Stealthbox (JL Audio photo)
Other options for your Escape or Mariner
Here are a few more ideas for your SUV.
If you're keeping your factory radio, most (but not all) models work with Peripheral's iPod adapter, so you can use your Ford radio to control your playlist.
A Dynamat Xtreme Door Kit is the perfect way to seal in sound. This heavy-duty insulating material is easy to install, and it really makes a difference. One kit will take care of the front doors in your Escape.
Installing a security system in your Escape or Mariner isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's definitely a good idea. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.
Find the audio gear that fits your car or truck
Visit our Outfit My Car page and enter your vehicle information to see stereos, speakers, subs, and other audio accessories that will work in your vehicle.