Adding GPS to a radar detector gives it some intriguing new capabilities. With satellite technology the detector knows where it is, letting it lock out nuisance signals like commercial radar-controlled automatic door openers that cause endless false alarms.
Another GPS benefit is the ability to warn of red light and speed cameras, important for those who drive in the 22 states with cameras.
Escort had this class to itself until the recent arrival of some competitors, the Radenso XP included. To see if the newcomer is a worthy competitor, we road-tested the two.
Aside from comparing features and performance, we also scrutinized their ability to filter out false alarms caused by door openers and Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) vehicular radar systems.
BSM radar in particular has become a plague on radar detectors, causing many to false-arm continuously. Millions of systems are in service and that number grows daily. Escort and Radenso both promise they are addressing the problem.
We looked closely at the items separating superior radar detectors from the also-rans: features, controls, mounts, audible/visual alert systems and value. Last, we tested them against the most widely used types of police radar. Here's how they stacked up.
2nd Place: Escort Passport iX
- Balanced radar sensitivity
- Advanced features
- Great windshield mount
- Clunky, low-contrast display
- Fussy controls
- Annoying features
The Passport iX ($499 MSRP) is the least expensive GPS-enabled Escort although it's still priced $100 above the Radenso XP. (The Escort's upmarket siblings are pricier still: the Max 360 is $649 and the Redline EX is $599).
Our testers found favor with the magnetic windshield bracket that clicks into place quickly. Its big, GPS-style suction cup clings tenatiously to the windshield. This is the only mounting option; visor mounts and windshield brackets from previous Escorts don't fit.
The iX has an OLED display that's found on other high-end Escorts and 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 can't be read through sunglasses. Learn more.
Borrowed from its upscale siblings is an annoying Overspeed Alert. Factory-set at 70 mph, every trip above 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 study the user guide, change the mode to Advanced and then deactivate this feature using the Preferences menu. Until then, better reconcile yourself to scoldings from the back-seat mother-in-law.
The iX is operated by six top-mounted buttons so closely spaced they're nearly touching each other. One finger can easily depress four of the six simultaneously. Controlling the iX requires deliberation and except when using the oversized Mute button, the safest time to operate this Escort is while the vehicle is parked.
A convenient touch is the coiled Smart Cord with a mute button in the power plug. It allows muting audible alerts remotely and also can be used to lock out nuisance signals like door openers.
The iX receives a feature exclusive to high-end Escorts, AutoLearn, which automatically locks out radar-controlled door openers. After a static signal like a door opener is encountered two or three times it's identified as bogus and locked out. The next time you drive past, there's no alert. If a new radar signal is detected at the location, it's considered a threat and an alert is given. Signal lockouts can also be done manually by pressing the Mute button during an alert.
Pressing the Mark button enters a location as a POI (Point of Interest) and the user can choose from six tags—speed trap and known aircraft patrolled areas among them—to later identify it.
The Passport iX has another Escort-exclusive feature called speed-variable sensitivity that regulates sensitivity according to speed. At low speeds when long range (sensitivity) is unneeded, it's dialed back automatically to help limit false alarms. At higher speeds, full sensitivity is restored to maximize range.
Although it showed balanced radar performance, the Escort Passport iX trailed the Radenso XP in two of the three tests. On K band it lagged behind by 7 percent and on 34.7 GHz Ka band by 8 percent. Against 35.5 GHz radar it alerted first by a seven-foot margin.
The Escort Passport iX has an advantage over the Radenso XP in its automatic signal-lockout capability. Drivers who demand set-and-forget operation with minimal interaction with their detector will likely find favor with this feature.
We also rated the quality of its audible alerts higher than the Radenso's. The Cruise Alert feature's double-chime warning is an elegant way to make the detector less intrusive at low speeds.
On the debit side, the low-contrast display and annoying overspeed alert cost the iX some goodwill. So did the user-unfriendly button layout and fussy controls.
Non-enthusiast drivers will be less affected by their absence, but the iX is missing many of the features an engaged driver looks for. These include effective Ka-band segmentation, user-adjustable alert threshold speeds and GPS alert warning-distance control, for instance.
If the two were priced the same, the choice could be a tossup for many. But given its $100 price premium over the Radenso XP and with no advantage in performance or utility, the Escort Passport iX ranked second in this contest.
- Superior performance
- Effective filtering
- No AutoLearn feature
1st Place: Radenso XP
The Radenso XP ($399 MSRP) is the lowest-priced GPS-enabled Radenso model. It has an upmarket brother, the Radenso Pro M ($599) which competes with the Escort Redline EX in its ability to detect the new Gatso RT3 and Multaradar.
The Radenso XP has an OLED display that was judged superior to the Escort's, with large fonts and significantly higher contrast.
Four top-mounted buttons control the XP; centered at the front, the mute button is the largest. Aside from manually-muting the audio, pressing it will also store a nuisance signal to memory and keep it from alerting in the future.
Unlike the Escort, during red light camera alerts the Radenso's voice reminds you of the posted limit. If you're over the limit it displays an Overspeed warning. This can be valuable since many red light cameras also watch for speeding.
With Beginner Mode selected, the Radenso XP operates as a set-and-forget device. But it also caters to power users looking to fine-tune its behavior.
In Expert Mode for example, a threshold speed for the onset of audible radar alerts can be set anywhere between 5 mph and 55 mph. Red light camera warnings can similarly be adjusted. City-mode radar sensitivity for each band can be adjusted independently, from 0 to 90 percent.
K bandwidth can be tailored, set to Wide or Narrow; it can also be turned off. Ka band can be left in the default Wide mode or the user can opt for Ka-band segmentation.
Unlike the Escort Passport iX's four Ka segments, the Radenso XP offers 10, making the feature genuinely useful.
Where the Escort offers a low/medium/high option for auto-muted alert volume, the Radenso's can be adjusted from zero to 80 percent in 20-percent increments.
And while the Escort offers no user control over GPS-alert warning distance, on the Radenso XP it's adjustable in three steps.
Both detectors have software that spots BSM radar and ignores it, but the Radenso also has user settings to augment the effort. For example, we found that reducing K-band city sensitivity to 40 percent, setting Low Speed Mute to 35 mph and raising City Mode Speed to 55 mph helped further reduce false alarms from BSM radar.
On K band the Radenso XP outpaced the Escort iX, giving 7 percent longer range. On 34.7 GHz Ka band it led the Escort by a similar margin. On 35.5 GHz Ka band the two were almost identical, the Escort edging out the Radenso by a scant seven feet.
The Radenso XP proved itself a match for the pricier Escort Passport iX. A more-legible display and superior control layout make the newcomer more user-friendly. While it lacks a couple of the Escort's false alarm-lockout tricks, it's equally effective at the task.
More impressive is the Radenso XP's greater range of user-adjustability, making it the better choice for the enthusiast driver.
The Escort iX offers a reasonable set of features and solid performance. But aside from a significantly lower price, the Radenso XP proved better at delivering information—and protecting drivers from tickets. That was enough to give it a first-place finish.