The Hill/Curve test site is designed to be a worst-case radar trap, the radar beam aimed at mid-curve and off into space. The detectors are looking for radar pointing away from them.
In the radar detector industry, a 20 percent improvement in sensitivity (radar detection range) will generate a major buzz around the office water cooler. When a carryover model delivers twice the range it has shown in one of our previous tests, that's page one news.
In an earlier test Cobra's XRS 9950 dash-mount model was inexplicably struck blind by three of the four radars we tested against. Yet its electronic twin, the XRS 9940, turned in a stellar performance in the same test. A mechanical mishap, no question, but that's the luck of the draw.
One year later a Cobra XRS 9950 stablemate, the Cobra XRS 9845--same electronic platform, nearly identical features--turned in outstanding scores. In fact, the Cobra and two competing models each registered gains in excess of 100 percent against one or more of our radars.
BEL (Beltronics) Pro 100
The trend is clear: After perennially trailing much pricier models like the
BEL (Beltronics) Pro 300, BEL Pro 200,
Escort Passport 8500 X50 and Escort Passport 9500ix, mass-marketers Cobra and Whistler continue trying to whittle
away at the performance gap.
Along with one BEL (Beltronics) Pro Series model, each manufacturer now has one or more models consistently showing 60 to 80 percent--at least when conditions are ideal--of the range of the big dogs, and this at attractively lower prices.
The perennial front runner in this segment, the BEL (Beltronics) Pro 100 led the pack against three of the four radars and effectively tied with the Whistler CR85 for first place honors against the remaining radar frequency.
At the Straightaway Test it detected all four radar frequencies at 5.7 miles, the maximum distance. The BEL Pro 100 again displayed class-leading performance against all of the common radar threats. Based solely on price, it carries the highest tariff in the bunch and ought to perform the best--it retails for $179.95 and discounts are rare.
Keep in mind that the latter test site is a no-brainer, a perfectly flat desert road with no obstructions to block the radar signal. In more typical terrain, that stellar range drops considerably. For that reason we'd suggest taking heed of the Hill/Curve test scores which, while a worst-case situation, is more reflective of how these low-priced radar detectors can be expected to perform in less-than-perfect conditions. Read the BEL Pro 100 review>>
The Whistler CR85's only direct competitor was the Cobra XRS 9845. The others were priced $20 to $40 higher, which is a big deal in the under-$200 segment.
Cobra XRS 9845
In particular, the Cobra XRS 9845 demonstrated significantly amped-up performance compared to its predecessor. Bargain shoppers can rejoice in the fact that since each detector shares a platform with companion models (differing only in
features and price), the enhanced performance comes in a variety of packages. Here's a look at a few of these models and their test scores.
The Cobra XRS 9845 scored within a few hundred feet of the leaders in every test save for X-band, which it showed less enthusiasm at detecting. But for
those unconcerned about X band, admittedly a fast-fading threat in most states, the XRS 9845 has performance to spare. Read more >>
Under the skin, the Cobra XRS 9845 and the up-market Cobra XRS 9960 are the same unit, differing only in features. The Cobra XRS 9960 has a larger, 1.5-inch OLED display and comes standard with GPS. An option on the Cobra XRS 9845, the GPS antenna plugs into a USB port on the left side of its housing.
The module itself is a bit problematic. This design was used in order to avoid infringing on GPS technology controlled by Escort. Korean manufacturer BG Tech, Cobra's source for radar detectors, was forced to mount the GPS antenna externally. And it tends to fall off when the detector is handled. But that's another story.
Most notable about the Whistler CR85's performance is its consistency on Ka band, the most-used radar band by highway patrols nationwide. At the fiendishly difficult Curve/Hill test site it was the first to equal the BEL (Beltronics) Pro 100 in range on 34.7 GHz Ka-band. It scored nearly as well on 35.5 GHz Ka-band. At the maximum-range Straightaway Site the two were dead equal save for on city-mode X band.
Buy the Whistler CR85 now
"...runs with the big dogs in performance"
Craig Peterson, President, Radartest.com
- Intense blue OLED display
- Voice alerts
- Dual blue flashing alert LEDs
- Class-leading range vs. radar and lasers
- Six filter modes limit false alarms
- TFSR rejects traffic sensor interference
- Selectable radar bands
I've tested the Whistler CR85's predecessors, the Whistler XTR-695SE, XTR-690SE and Pro 78SE, and while these appear different, underneath the skin all four are identical. Likewise, the quartet performs identically as well.
Aside from its new suit of clothes, the Whistler CR85 sports a new blue OLED display, Whistler's first use of this newer technology. (The Whistler XTR-690SE had a red LED display, the Whistler Pro 78's was blue and the Whistler XTR-695SE had an LCD display that was very hard to read on sunny days.)
The Whistler CR85 is joined by a step-up model with GPS, the Whistler CR90 ($199). It's the best GPS-enabled model under $300. Or scan its specs now.
For those who expect to encounter that oldest of radar frequencies, the Whistler CR85 had the best all-around X-band detection range of the group. For this reason it would be the better choice when driving in Ohio or New Jersey, the only remaining states where X band is still commonly found.
Unlike the BEL Pro 100's three operating modes, the Whistler CR85 has several additional filters. These allow some fine-tuning to further reduce urban false alarms, most of them caused by X- and K-band automatic door openers. The difference in behavior can be significant and in extra-noisy cities, it can give the Whistler CR85 a significant edge over competing models in resisting false alarms.