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2008-2012 Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, and Mazda Tribute

How to upgrade the stereo system in your Escape, Mariner, or Tribute

2007-2012 Ford Explorer

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, Mariner, or Tribute.

Overview of the Escape, Mariner, and Tribute

The second-generation Ford Escape, along with its siblings, the Mercury Mariner and Mazda Tribute, further refined the "cute ute" qualities that made the first generation of these compact SUVs so successful.

Designed more for in-town driving than off-road adventures, the Escape triplets give you plenty of indoor comfort and cargo room in a comparatively svelte exterior package. Unless your requirements for an SUV include seating for an entire youth soccer team, these versatile vehicles offer all the utility you could want, plus a surprising amount of sportiness.

They don't offer much in the way of factory sound, though, so an aftermarket receiver and speakers will make a big difference in your driving enjoyment.

Mercury Mariner

The Escape, Mariner, and Tribute differ in some obvious cosmetic ways, but they're incredibly similar in most respects — including their factory stereo gear. Though you'll see the word "Escape" throughout this article, these removal and replacement instructions will work for all three vehicles.

Ford Escape radio

The base radio looks hard to replace, but it really isn't that bad (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The factory stereo system

The factory systems ranged from a base AM/FM/6-CD/MP3 system with four speakers to an Audiophile model that included a rear subwoofer. An optional navigation receiver was available as well, as was the Ford SYNC system.

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.

If you replace the factory radio, you'll lose the factory nav, but anything it did can be done better by an aftermarket receiver. On later vehicles equipped with SYNC, you'll need to choose a receiver with a rear AUX input and order a special adapter (available from Crutchfield) to retain the SYNC audio features. Both adapters are available at a very nice discount when you purchase your stereo from Crutchfield. You'll also get a nice deal on the dash kit you'll need to install the new receiver in your SUV.

A receiver with a fold-down face will not fit in the Escape, but you'll have a wide selection of single-DIN (2" tall) and double-DIN (4" tall) to choose from.

Hybrid note

If your Escape, Mariner, or Tribute has a gas-electric hybrid powertrain, replacing the stereo is a little more complicated. As you might expect, these hybrid trucks 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 SUV 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 nav radio

The nav receiver is even easier to deal with than the base model (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the factory radio

Removing and replacing the Escape's factory radio is a reasonable project for the average do-it-yourselfer, regardless of which radio you're dealing with.

You'll start by using a panel tool to gently pry out the upper vent trim panel and release the retaining clips. Place the panel on the top of the dash, and out of the way, but DO NOT disconnect the airbag harness. Seriously, don't do that.

When you remove the base receiver, you'll need an 8mm open-end wrench to remove a ground bolt from the passenger side of the radio chassis. The nav receiver doesn't have one, so no worries there. All the instructions you need to remove the old radio can be found in your MasterSheet.

To install the new receiver, secure it to the mounting kit following the included instructions; then do everything you just did in reverse order. Be sure to test the new receiver before replacing the vent trim panel.

Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, 7mm driver, 8mm open-ended wrench

For a look at how to do this installation, watch our stereo and speaker installation video at the end of this article.

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

Shop for car stereos that fit your Ford Escape

Steering wheel audio controls

In most cases, it's reasonably easy to retain your vehicle's steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with a compatible aftermarket receiver.

Removing the factory speakers

The Escape features 6x8 speakers in both the front and rear doors. They can be replaced by same-size models, or 5-1/4" speakers. If you go with the smaller ones, you'll need mounting brackets, which are included free with your Crutchfield order.

Ford Escape front door speaker

You'll need to remove the door panel to access the front speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Front door speakers

The door speakers aren't hard to deal with. You'll need to remove the door panels to get at them, but that's not tough at all. Starting at the top corner, gently pry off the sail panel to release the retaining clips. Moving down a bit, pry off the screw cover inside the door release trim, then remove the exposed Torx T30 screw. You'll also need to remove a Phillips screw from the door pull cup.

You'll then remove one Phillips screw from the front edge of the door panel, then two more Phillips screws from rear edge. With those out of the way, pry out the sides and bottom of the door panel to release the retaining clips, then disconnect the wiring harnesses and the door release cable before you remove the panel.

The factory speaker is held in place by four 7/32” screws, so remove those, then pull the speaker out and disconnect the harness.

To finish up, connect the speaker wiring adapter of the replacement speaker to the vehicle's speaker harness, secure it with the screws previously removed.

Once both speakers are installed, give them a listen. If they sound good, start putting the doors back together. Before you do, though, make sure that the wires don't interfere with the windows and test the door locks to make sure they're working properly.

Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, Torx T-30 driver, Phillips screwdriver, 7/32" hex driver

Ford Escape rear door

And the same is true for the rear door speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Rear door speakers

Pretty much everything about replacing the Escape's front door speakers, from the speaker sizes available to the tools and techniques needed, applies to the rear doors, too.

Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, Torx T-30 driver, Phillips screwdriver, 7/32" hex driver

Read our Car Speakers Buying Guide for more information.

Shop for speakers that fit your Ford Escape

Ford Escape subwoofer

The factory subwoofer has an amp attached to the enclosure (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Bass in your Escape, Mariner, or Tribute

If your truck is equipped with the Audiophile package, there's an 8" subwoofer (with an amp attached) located in the far right rear side panel. You'll need to replace both if you install an aftermarket sub.

Removal and replacement isn't especially difficult, but there are several steps involved and you'll need a few tools that you haven't pulled out of the toolbox yet. Details and illustrated directions can be found in your MasterSheet.

You'll want to use self-tapping screws to secure your aftermarket sub to the enclosure, so if you don't have any already, you'll need to make a run to your local hardware store before you start this project.

If your truck doesn't have a factory sub, or if you just want more bass than a single 8" model can deliver, the Escape offers plenty of room for a subwoofer box. With a 40" W x 20" H x 26"/33" D space, you can add some serious thump if that's what you're into.

Of course, if you're also into putting things like kids, dogs, and stuff into your SUV, you might want to go with something smaller. We offer several powered subwoofers that will give you plenty of bass without taking up a vast amount of cargo space.

Tools needed: Panel tool, 8mm & 10mm sockets, ratchet and extension, Torx T-20 driver

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

weathertech custom floor liners

Protect your truck's carpeting with a set of custom-fit WeatherTech FloorLiners

Other options for your Escape, Mariner, or Tribute

With popular vehicles like these, there are lots of ways to upgrade your everyday driving experience. Here are some of the ways Crutchfield can help:

Floor mats

No matter how much you pamper your Escape, you're eventually going to get involved in some sort of truck-like activity that gets you and/or it dirty. When that happens, it's a good idea to have a set of WeatherTech Floor Mats on the floors. These incredibly durable mats trap moisture, contain dirt, and keep your factory carpets looking good.

Sound damping

With its blocky shape and tall stance, the Escape can be a bit noisy on the highway. 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. The rear doors and the rear hatch are also good areas to target if you build a serious sound system.

A set of inexpensive foam speaker baffles is another way to ensure that your speakers give you the performance you want without the rattling and booming you don't. They'll also protect your speakers form moisture, dust, and other harmful things.


The Escape has plenty of room for an aftermarket amplifier, so if you want to take your sound to the next level, you won't have to worry about space in most cases. Learn more about adding amps to your system in our Car Amplifier Buying Guide.

Remote start and security systems

Adding remote start capability to your vehicle lets you warm it up in the winter or cool it down in the summer. The iDatastart system is incredibly convenient and makes it easier than ever to install a remote start system, so we highly recommend it. The module requires a vehicle-specific T-harness (sold separately) to connect with your vehicle's computer, security, and ignition systems, so we ask that you call to order so that we can make sure you get the right harness for your ride.

You can also talk to your Crutchfield Advisor about a security system. They’re not as easy to install (we usually suggest letting a professional do the job), but we can help you choose a system that’ll work in your vehicle.

Watch a quick installation

Now that you have some idea of what's involved in upgrading the audio gear in your Escape, watch our short installation video to see for yourself that the task isn't that hard.

This video is a quick look at the installation. For a step-by-step, detailed look, watch our full-length version of how to install a stereo and speakers in a Ford Escape.

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

  • Kimberly from Sitka

    Posted on 10/7/2022

    I have a mercury mariner 2008. I've got the only stereo out and wired up the new one. There's a wire that was plugged in behind the top right of the old stereo that I can't find a place for in my new stereo. (Boss BE7ACP, purchased from crutchfield) it's a 4 pin plug. What is this for? Do I need it?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 10/10/2022

    Kimberly, 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.
  • Levi Shupick from Bar Nunn

    Posted on 11/8/2021

    I have a 2009 Ford Escape Limited with the audiophile package that has a factory 8" sub. I have been trying to figure out how to hook up a 12" sub to place in my car coming off of the factory subwoofer's connections in order to not have to run more cables from the front of the car.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 11/9/2021

    Levi, 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.
  • erick from boston

    Posted on 7/7/2021

    Thank you for this article, What about the Front Display Interface Module, it does not work when the aftermarket radio is installed. it there any way to make it function again?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 7/8/2021

    Erick, You're welcome! Alas, without knowing more about your truck, the stereo you installed, and the harness you used it's hard to say what's going on there or why. 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.
  • Spencer b jeffries from Puyallup

    Posted on 7/1/2021

    I have a 08 Escape with the basic OEM stereo. If I upgrade the system what will happen with my upper clock display?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 7/2/2021

    Spencer, It should be fine. When you enter your vehicle's info into our Outfit My Car tool, you'll see which stereos fit your car, plus the correct harness. If you have any questions, our advisors are available via phone or chat.
  • jeff from Spout Spring

    Posted on 5/1/2021

    I have a 2008 Mercury Mariner that I replaced the head unit with an Alpine ilx w650. My vehicle has the factory sirius installed. My question is can I use the factory sirius antenna on the sirius sxv300 or do I have to use the antenna that came with it. Also if this is possible are there any adapters needed to plug it in to the sxv300?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 5/3/2021

    Jeff, There is an adapter, actually. The iDatalink Maestro SAT1 cable allows you to connect your SiriusXM satellite radio tuner to your vehicle's original satellite radio antenna. 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.
  • Malachi Riedl

    Posted on 7/22/2020

    I have a 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid with the Audiophile Navigation System that shows all of the energy flow and gas mileage information. I want to replace it with a double DIN CarPlay stereo because the navigation system is outdated and honestly unusable. Since it is a Hybrid with that system, are there going to be special parts I will need to do the install and/or special steps I need to take?

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 7/22/2020

    Malachi, 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.
  • Ryan Wolland from Morton

    Posted on 5/8/2020

    I have a strange issue with the audio system on my 2010 Mariner Premium that I just purchased last summer. It has the OEM navigation audio system, and I'm assuming the Audiophile package since it has the OEM subwoofer and amp in the rear. Everything on the system works fine - radio, satellite, navigation, CD/DVD player, clock - but most of the time, the only audio output is coming from the rear subwoofer (hear/feel low bass and any talking/singing is mostly inaudible). Basically there is nothing coming out of the regular speakers. On very rare occasions, the regular speakers will suddenly start working, with no common reason for it happening (I've tried to run over bumps and stuff to see if that triggers it, but it doesn't). Right now, I have the trim panels all off (using your excellent video of course!), so that I could play with wires and connections. but I'm not finding any success in identifying the issue. Any ideas on what this could be? Is there a way to test my wiring connector that connects to the back of the radio? Is there a place in the system where all of the speaker wires (sans subwoofer) come together (besides the connector to the radio) that could be compromised? I'm interested in a new stereo but obviously have to resolve this issue before taking that step.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 5/11/2020

    Ryan, You're on the right track. The fact that the system comes on occasionally means it's all working, so you're good there. Check all the speaker connections, because all it takes is one wire or terminal touching something it's not supposed to and you wind up with, well, what you're wound up with. Hope this helps, and definitely give us a call when you're ready for that new stereo!
  • Daniel from St Charles

    Posted on 5/7/2020

    I have a 2011 Escape with premium sound, navigation and a backup camera. Is there an adapter or something to connect the factory camera to an aftermarket double din.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 5/8/2020

    Daniel, We can help with that. 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.
  • Rhey from Bay

    Posted on 7/25/2019

    In my 09 limited escape it has the factory sub n amp . Can I replace the sub n amp with bigger ones using the factory wiring that's in place so I don't have to tap into speaker lines or change the head unit ? And if so wich wires are which ? Thanks .

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 7/26/2019

    Rhey, In a broad sense, the answer is yes, but 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.
  • Walter W Wright from Norfolk

    Posted on 11/12/2018

    hi, still not clear on this: can the straight-up OEM factory sub be reasonably installed in a 2012 escape that currently doesn't have one? is it a pry/unscrew/clip/screw operation or is like cutting and drilling of plastic and running of wires through the vehicle required?

    Commenter image

    Jon P. from Crutchfield

    on 11/13/2018

    Walter, We're not experts on OEM swaps like this, but it's definitely a long way from "plug and play." In terms of pure performance, an aftermarket sub is the better choice. And installation might be easier, too.

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