The Escort RedlineXR claims a lofty title: world's best-performing radar detector, better than the former title holder, its sibling, the Escort Redline. But better even than the $1,999 Escort Passport 9500ci? We decided to find out.
Experience has shown that hypersensitive detectors often false-alarm hysterically in town. Radar-controlled automatic door openers are often the culprits and some detectors—the Valentine One is frequently mentioned—won't stop yapping in their presence. So we also checked to see if the Escort was similarly afflicted.
Escort Live is offered as the solution for the company's non-GPS models. Using a special coiled Smart Cord with built-in Bluetooth, it links detector with smartphone, either iPhone or Android, and uses the smartphone's GPS. Once paired, the smartphone displays warnings overlaid on a map and also controls the detector. Learn more about Escort Live.
It doesn't have GPS like some high-end Escorts—Max 360 and Passport Passport Max CI among them. These store the coordinates of camera locations and using GPS, warn when approaching a red light or speed camera. They can also lock out nuisance signals that cause false alarms.
By adding Escort Live to the Escort RedlineXR, in theory it should deliver the same camera protection as, say, the Max. We calculated the combination's effectiveness using data from our tests of the camera databases and its K-band photo-radar range. Learn more.
How We Tested
To test its resistance to common sources of false alarms, we used a route developed for an earlier test. The 87.4-mile-long course in metro Phoenix meanders over 35.1 miles of 6-lane urban freeways and 52.3 miles over city streets. The latter portion is studded with X- and K-band door openers guaranteed to trigger alerts. Learn more.
To check performance against police radar we first visited the site where that 14-plus-mile record was set—and found it too short. Instead we used our Hill/Curve test site in the desert north of Phoenix.
The radar detectors were tested against Redflex photo radar, a low-powered design that's especially difficult to detect. Several runs were made, using each of the two travel lanes. This varied the distance from the radar, altering the ease of detection. Learn more about photo radar.
Urban False Alarms Test Results
Over the urban loop, our Escort Max control unit alerted eight times on K band, seven of these in reaction to door openers. It also alerted once each on X and Ka bands, most likely due to radio frequency interference (RFI) emanating from nearby radar detectors.
The standard Escort Redline alerted 17 times on K band and once on X band. All were caused by radar-controlled automatic door openers. In contrast, the Escort RedlineXR barked six K-band alerts, all of them due to door openers.
Police Radar Test Results
Here the Escort RedlineXR delivered 30 percent more K-band range than the Max and 10 percent more than the standard Redline.
The gap narrowed on Ka-band 35.5 GHz where the Max trailed both Redlines with 20 percent less range.
Against the 34.7 GHz radar used by many state police, the RedlineXR trumped the standard Redline by nearly 15 percent and the Max by 20 percent. The extra range can mean dodging a ticket.
Photo Radar Test Results
Redflex photo radar is tough to detect and with its hyper-sensitive K band, the RedlineXR was able to give a warning well before the others.
It was also much quicker in its response to radar. The others are factory-set to ignore signals of less than 1.0 second in duration, helping to reduce false alarms. But this leisurely response increases the possibility of missing sub-second bursts from instant-on radar guns. Learn more about the advantage of quick response.
With its record-breaking performance, the Escort RedlineXR is the best ticket-prevention device we've tested.
Protection level vs. all types of threat (continued)
In a test of GPS-enabled radar detectors, we found a few able to counter radar, lasers and photo-enforcement cameras with equal efficiency. The best of these warned of 95 cameras out of every 100 and protected capably against radar and lasers.
With no GPS, the RedlineXR couldn't match them in camera protection, costing it points in overall protection level.
Adding Escort Live erased that performance gap and, courtesy of its stellar radar sensitivity, propelled the RedlineXR to a first-place finish among the windshield-mount models.
The combination also imbued this Escort with the other advantages accorded its GPS-enabled siblings: real-time warnings of traffic cops and freedom from false alarms.
How we tested (continued)
Before departing on the first lap, we set the Escort's meter mode to Spec. This allows it to display a signal's digital frequency. Each time it alerted, we recorded the details: frequency and location.
In all, we counted 42 microwave signals: 24 X-band and 18 K-band. Every X-band and all but two of the K-band signals were from automatic door openers. The others were radar message trailers near the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
With the Escort RedlineXR reset to its usual configuration, a second lap was made and false alarms noted. Two more laps were then made, one each for the standard Redline and Max. This allowed a head-to-head comparison of all three detectors.