Not everyone wants to advertise the presence of a radar detector. Aside from being irresistible to thieves, a detector dangling from the windshield invites disapproval from gents wearing guns and badges. In recent years there's another incentive to consider an alternative: some cars won't allow a radar detector to operate correctly. Several manufacturers' windshield solar tint contains a metal film that's invisible to the eye but which renders a detector nearly useless.
The traditional solution has been the custom-installed remote radar detector whose components are built-in to the vehicle and not behind the windshield. Trouble is, these remotes are pricey. (The Escort Passport 9500ci, in our opinion the best remote model, costs $1,999.
But the base version of the 8500CI is only $549.95. It lacks GPS and can't offer the huge benefits afforded by that technology—protection from red light and speed cameras plus freedom from annoying false alarms. But the Escort 8500ci Plus does have GPS and delivers much of the goodness of the pricier BEL STiR Plus or its twin, the Escort Passport 9500ci.
The Escort 8500CI's performance mirrors that of the BEL Pro 500, a dash-mount model that perennially ranks high in our field tests. That's hardly a surprise as they share a platform and perform similarly.
In a recent comparison test of the Escort Passport 8500CI and the K40 Calibre, the Escort showed a convincing superiority over the pricier K40. With its comparatively modest price, stellar performance and stealthy, built-in design, the Escort 8500CI earns a best-buy recommendation.