Until recently, if you were looking for the best radar detector under $300, the Escort Passport 8500 X50 was it. But production ended and the torch has been passed to the Escort Passport X70. Once the supply channel empties, the X50 is gone forever.
The two are similar under the skin—both use the Escort M4 platform—and they perform identically. Read more about the Escort Passport X70...
- Excellent radar sensitivity
- Simple controls
- Extensive feature set
- No voice alerts
Once the range-topping Escort, the Passport 8500 X50 slots into the midrange of the lineup. It lacks the GPS technology of its upmarket siblings, the Escort iX and Escort Max 360, but for those not pestered by red light cameras and willing to tolerate a few more false alarms, this one will do the job admirably.
The Escort Passport 8500 X50 replaced the Escort Passport 8500 model we christened "World's Best Radar Detector" when we tested it for Automobile magazine. Among Escort's non-GPS models, the Escort 8500 X50 is positioned below the Escort RedlineXR.
A Ph.D in electronics isn't required to operate the Escort 8500 X50. A thumbwheel switch handles the power on/off function and regulates the volume of its audible alerts. A pair of multi-function buttons atop the case handles everything else except for manually-muting the audio. (Auto-muting is standard; after a short full-volume alert the Escort 8500 X50 automatically silences the audible alert to limit the annoyance factor.)
The Escort Passport 8500 X50 is plug 'n play, but it has an array of user-selectable menu options that allow it to be fine-tuned to the driver's taste.
Among the more useful menu items is a trio of city modes. City reduces sensitivity to combat urban false alarms.
A way to eliminate nuisance false alarms is to use the Escort Live crowd-sourced ticket-prevention system. Escort Live links a smartphone (iPhone or Android) to the detector via Bluetooth. By using the smartphone's GPS, users can lock out nuisance signals and cut false alarms dramatically.
Standard is a coiled Smart Cord whose power plug houses two LEDs and a push-button switch. A blue LED glows to verify that the unit is powered-up and ready; a red LED flashes during alerts. The switch controls the manual-mute function, allowing the driver to mute alerts without having to fumble with the detector.
To check performance, we tested the Escort 8500 X50 and a BEL (Beltronics) Pro 300. The two use the same platform and under the skin, they're identical. To no one's great surprise, the Escort 8500 X50 and the BEL Pro 300 delivered the same superior performance.
The Escort Passport 8500 X50 is a refined, sophisticated detector with well-balanced performance. While it can't match its pricier upmarket siblings in maximum range, it remains our favorite in the under-$300 price segment.