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2001-2007 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner

How to upgrade the stereo system in your Escape or Mariner

2001 Ford Escape

In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your SUV's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. We'll tell you all about:

Then, use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your Escape or Mariner.

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 spend time.

Ford Escape factory stereo

The Escape's standard radio is a pretty basic unit (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The 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.

The Mariner's dash doesn't look like the one in the Escape, but the radio removal is the same.

Hybrid note

Replacing the stereo can be a bit more complicated In vehicles equipped with hybrid powertrains. As you might expect, these vehicles contain some very sensitive electronics, so here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to only use a multi-meter when testing wires, and NEVER use a test light to test wires in this vehicle. Doing so could cause some serious (by which we mean dangerous and expensive) damage.
  • A hybrid is not the vehicle to choose if you want to build a massively powerful audio system. The thirsty current draw of a high-powered stereo is not a good thing for the hybrid system, so don't exceed a 30-amp current draw or 350-watt RMS power rating.

Ford Escape factory radio Mach system

The factory radio in the 2004-up Mach system looks a little different (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the 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. Thsi isn't terribly hard, especially when you follow the instructions provided with the double-DIN dash kit.

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.

Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions

MasterSheet image
With step-by-step disassembly instructions and plenty of up-close, detailed photos, our exclusive Crutchfield MasterSheet™ takes the guesswork out of removing the factory stereo and speakers. It's free with your Crutchfield order, or you can purchase one separately for just $9.99.

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 price 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

Read our Car Stereo Buying Guide for shopping tips and advice.

Shop for car stereos that fit your Ford Escape

ford escape front door

The front door speakers sit pretty low in the doors. They're easy to replace, though. (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the 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.

ford escape factory tweeter

The 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.

Also, 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

Read our Car Speakers Buying Guide for more information

Shop for speakers that fit your Ford Escape

ford escapr factory sub and amp location

You'll find the factory sub and amp behind the Escape's 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. Enter your vehicle info to see what's available. All the disassembly instructions can be found in your Crutchfield MasterSheet.

Learn more about building a bass system in our Car Subwoofer Buying Guide.

JL Audio Stealthbox

This JL Audio Stealthbox fits select 2001-12 Ford-built SUVs (JL Audio photo)

Other options for your Escape or Mariner

Here are a few more ideas for your SUV.

Protect your carpeting with WeatherTech mats

Whether you're doing outdoorsy SUV-type stuff or just tooling around town, your Escape's factory floor mats might not be up to the job. A set of custom floor liners from WeatherTech will help protect the carpeting from dirt and damage.


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.

Security systems

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.

Let's get started!

Ready to shop? Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your car or truck. If you have questions, give us a shout via phone, chat, or email

  • Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/15/2021

    Will, If you're talking about adding aftermarket tweeters to Mach-style sail panels, the answer is "Maybe?" Or, you could just surface-mount the new tweeters on the existing sail panels. But if I'm reading this wrong, you should probably give us a call and talk to one of our advisors. We can help you choose the right gear and give you the right advice on how to install it.

  • Will Tucker from Phoenix

    Posted on 2/12/2021

    OK, I have a 2006 Escape, with the base radio system. Can I just go to a salvage yard and get the correct sail panels and then add tweeters?

  • Vincent from Philadelphia pa

    Posted on 1/10/2021

    I have 2005 escape and would like to install a model Dual Tech navigation mechless reciever will there be a issue with sub woofer I have pre plugs located in back of the dual tech. Will that operate sub

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 1/11/2021

    Vincent, With questions like that, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. Give us a call and talk to one of our advisors. We can help you choose the right gear and give you the right advice on how to install it.
  • Steve C from Cary

    Posted on 11/22/2020

    I have a 2006 Ford Escape with the factory Mach system With Factory Sub and Amp. Bought a shallow mount 8" Punch P3 sub, Clarion XC2110 amp to power it. I replaced the four door speakers with Polk, and replaced factory head unit with Sony DSX A415BT. All bought from Crutch. The new Sony deck is connected with a wire harness, door speakers no problems. The problem is there is a Wire Harness in the back that was used to connect the factory amp with about 5 wires in it. I can find a harness anywhere that I can connect my Clarion amp to that will 'plug-in' to that factory amp harness. Trying to avoid running new wires all the way through the length of the car since the wiring is already there.. Any help?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 11/23/2020

    Steve, With questions like that, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system.
  • Griffin Forrest Sterling from Plymouth

    Posted on 3/26/2019

    One major sound improvement, which is usually overlooked is when upgrading factory head unit with factory sub and amp. Don't forget to use a RCA Y adapter. I run only my right sub preout... Connected to Y adapter making my R and L RCA's the same exact signal. Reason being the factory amp is a mono block. And running 2 differing signals to one channel causes distortion. I tried with and without.... Sound quality was greatly improved using Y adapter.

  • Russell Landry from Regina Saskatchewan

    Posted on 3/12/2019

    First off I think this was very helpful for me in deciding whether or not to replace the factory sub and amp. Secondly I would like to add u have owned a 2002 and a 2003 escape and they both came with the front tweeters in the sail of the doors as well as the factory 8 inch sub and amp as opposed to your the information that 2004 was the first year that came with the tweeters. That statement is incorrect 2002 was the first year it was available as an option when purchasing your escape.

  • Commenter image

    Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/9/2018

    Nate, Look for a metal bolt close to where the amp is going to go. If you can't find one, you can drill a hole for your own grounding screw or bolt. BUT, if you choose the latter, b sure to work carefully, know what you're drilling into and around, and always wear eye protection.

  • Ngordon from B

    Posted on 5/8/2018

    Where is the nest place to ground a amp in my 2007 ford escape xlt?

  • Commenter image

    Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/21/2017

    Ted, I've sent your question to our sales team, and they'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

  • Ted Motomochi

    Posted on 12/20/2017

    Hi, I have an '02 Ford Escape XLT, im the second owner, how can i know, what audio system the truck has, the first owner replace just the factory stereo whit an JVC, i would like to upgrade to new stuff, but need to know the tech specs... example: where the amp is (if has it), tnxs.

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