Output of the stock 3.0L DOHC was also addressed. Thanks to a Vortech centrifugal supercharger (installed by Area 51 Fabrications) and a Gibson performance exhaust system, 0-60-mph acceleration was reduced by an impressive 1.32 sec over stock. However, toward the end of the quarter mile, the "check engine" light illuminated, and we quickly backed out of the throttle to avoid the potential of parts scattering caused by engine detonation. Revisions to the spark/fuel software (which will be completed by the time you read this) should cure the problem. Solid 15-sec e.t.s likely will result.

Inside, the Escape is treated to Classic Soft Trim custom leather seats and door panels, Nifty Products floor liners, and a Steel Horse pet barrier for the rear cargo area. An Alpine sound system with a dash-mounted, pop-out video screen offers stereo-functions adjustment along with a GPS map setup. An Alpine DVD system completes the entertainment improvements.

As a package, the Escape upgrades provide a nice balance that pleased our staffers. You can also thumb through a CCCC catalog to build a customized SUV of your own.

California Car Cover Co.