One type of radar detector few notice is the custom-installed remote or built-in model. It escapes scrutiny by thieves and curious lawmen and some include laser jammers, the only proven defense against the light-based technology.
One of the best remote models was the Escort 9500ci, now out of production. It was controlled by a thumb-sized control unit that was backlit, making the buttons easy to locate at night. The module could be surface-mounted or concealed, often tucked away in the ash tray or console.
Information was shown in an LED text display, also designed for surface-mounting. Replacing this with the kit's bi-color LED resulted in a cleaner look, but the flashing LED delivered no information about threats. Instead the driver needed to monitor the voice alerts from the powered external speaker.
The 9500ci was designed before Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) radar systems in vehicles became a major nuisance. These lane-change radar systems detect vehicles in adjacent lanes and show a warning light in the outside mirror. This Escort dutifully alerts on K band each time a car with BSM radar is approached, a problem we also noticed in the much newer Escort Passport Max 360.
Good software along with GPS can dramatically limit these false alarms. The better models also allow the user to lock out nuisance alerts from radar-controlled door openers, a traditional problem in cities. High-end Escorts—Passport Max 360, Redline EX and Passport iX—have AutoLearn that does this automatically. In less expensive models—Radenso XP, Uniden DFR7—the driver pushes a button to accomplish the task.
GPS means they can also warn of the red light and speed cameras already found in 23 states. Models equipped with GPS come loaded with a national database of camera locations that can be updated online by a USB port.
Compared to windshield-mounted models, the Escort Passport 9500ci had significantly better performance than anything we'd tested—with one exception. The Escort RedlineXR slightly betters the Escort 9500ci in radar-warning range.
The Escort Laser ShifterPro laser jammer system worked equally as well, jamming some of the guns down to point-blank range and doing almost as well against the others. Learn more.
The Escort Passport 9500ci had a commendable mix of features and performance. Small wonder that we ranked it at as the best custom-installed radar detector.