In the world of radar detectors, performance rules. The farther away it can spot radar, the more protection a detector delivers. Performance, along with features, rises in lockstep with price. No surprise that $600 models deliver more of both.
But the industry sales numbers say that most of the best-selling radar detectors today retail for under $300. Here's a look at some front-running models in that price segment.
The Escort Passport X70 fills the slot vacated by the discontinued 8500 X50. It's the entry-level Escort and compared to its up-market siblings, the X70 offers few features.
It demonstrated good radar performance at our Hill/Curve test site. On X band it trailed the front-running Max 360 by a negligible seven percent. The gap widened to 25 percent on K band and it was well behind the front-runners on Ka band.
Enthusiast drivers willing to spend more will likely prefer the Redline, but the budget-minded will probably find the Passport X70 a worthy X50 successor.
The BEL is plug-and-play but also offers seven user-selectable options, one of them voice alerts. These make threat identification nearly idiot-proof and speed the process of getting acquainted. Alert tones are also available.
The Pro 300 uses the same M4 radar platform as the Escort Passport X70 and the two are equal in performance. The Pro 300's lavish array of features and long radar range make it a top pick in the under-$300 price class.
The Pro 200 occupies the middle ground between the Pro 300 and the entry-level Pro-Series offering, the Pro 100.
Like its upscale siblings, its housing made of a matte-black, soft-touch material. This rubber-like finish makes it very resistant to generating windshield reflections.
The BEL Pro 200's radar range was beyond our expectation. On X band it scored within 10 percent of the BEL Pro 500 and was within a few feet of it on K band as well. Given the Pro 500's $399 retail price, the scores of its little brother were doubly impressive.
We like the BEL Pro 200's high performance, comprehensive features and user-friendly operation. It reigns supreme in the under-$230 price class.
The Pro 100 is the entry-level BEL whose upmarket siblings include the Pro 200 and Pro 300.
The BEL Pro 100's red digital display is the same quality piece found on BEL's high-end models and we found it to be far more readable in sunny daylight than the OLED display found on some detectors.
The Pro 100 turned in very class-competitive radar scores, nearly identical to those of its forebear, the Vector 955. It lagged far behind the others on X band, not a big concern except for those who drive in Ohio where X-band radar remains in use by the highway patrol.
A good overall showing and we remain impressed by the Beltronics Pro 100's performance, competitive feature set and user-friendly operation.
The Whistler CR90 is the company's entry in the windshield-mount, GPS-enabled class of radar detector and occupies the top spot in the CR-Series. Close family relations include the non-GPS CR85.
Both voice alerts and tones are provided, easing the Whistler CR90’s information-delivery task. Visual alerts are displayed on its high-contrast OLED screen, augmented by two dazzling blue LEDs that flash during radar and laser attacks.
The CR90 proved unusually adept at spotting lasers, including several new laser guns that outwitted even some of the best radar detectors we’ve tested lately.
Against radar threats the Whistler CR90 delivered good K-band range although it lagged well behind the Escort and Beltronics models on Ka-band, the frequency used by nearly every highway patrol. But it's also the least expensive detector able to warn of red light cameras.
Whistler's range-topping non-GPS model, the CR85's features are similar to the CR90's. It has Ka RSID, for example, that verifies whether a Ka-band radar signal is coming from a police radar gun or from another source that poses no threat.
The Whistler CR85 delivered nearly identical radar performance to the CR90, hardly a surprise since both use the same electronic platform.
The Whistler CR85 stands out for its sophisticated, feature-rich design, not to mention its effectiveness in countering radar and laser guns.