The Escort iX succeeds the best-selling Passport 9500ix. In exchange for a higher price, the newcomer is claimed to offer greater sophistication, more features and better performance.
The iX is housed in a restyled case that's the same width but 10mm shorter than the Passport 9500ix's. A new windshield bracket attaches to the detector magnetically and is the only mounting option.
Aside from the new haberdashery, outwardly the most noticeable difference is an OLED display that replaces the 9500ix's LED display. Borrowed from the Escort Max family (Max, Max2, Max 360), it has the same drawbacks we've noted before. Among them: too much data crammed into too little space, tiny fonts and low contrast. The last point is noteworthy as the display washes out badly in sunlight and disappears when viewed through sunglasses.
Most of the iX feature set is also borrowed from the Max family. This includes the Overspeed Alert. Factory-set at 70 mph, every trip north of that speed elicits a verbal admonishment—"Overspeed!"—and the speed display ominously turns red.
The speed nanny can be disabled, but only by those willing to change the user mode to Advanced and navigate through the Preferences menu. Others will have to endure the meddling of this back-seat mother-in-law.
The iX is controlled by six top-mounted buttons. Similar in size to those of the 9500ix, for this application they've been shoehorned into a space that's 27 percent smaller. This was accomplished by decreasing the space between buttons from 4.5 mm to less than 1 mm.
An average-sized finger can easily depress four of the six Escort iX buttons simultaneously. Hunting for one of these controls requires deliberation and except when using the oversized Mute button, the safest way to operate the iX is while the vehicle is parked.
This unfortunate ergonomic miscue suggests that the stylist is someone without experience in using a radar detector.
Auto LoK lowers K-band sensitivity to reduce false alarms caused by vehicular Blind Spot Monitoring systems. We found that it chops K-band range by 65 percent while helping to decrease the effects of this irritating technology.
Auto NoX shuts off X band to reduce nuisance alerts triggered by radar-controlled automatic door openers. Using this mode is risk-free to drivers outside of Ohio, whose highway patrol remains the only one still using the Seventies-era radar frequency.
Auto NoX and Auto LoK can't be used simultaneously, however, giving drivers the choice between fewer X-band false alarms or fewer K-band false alarms.
We verified the claimed performance improvement at our Hill/Curve test site. Here the Escort iX delivered almost double the K-band range of the Passport 9500ix and 25 percent better range against 34.7 GHz radar. The gap narrowed on 35.5 GHz where the iX eked out a three percent lead over its forebear.
Improved performance aside, unfortunately the Escort iX is a step backward from its predecessor in utility and user-friendliness. Notably obtuse controls, an inferior display and annoying features make the Escort iX a less-effective device for avoiding speeding tickets.