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 countermeasures, to deal with light-based enforcement technology.
The best remote model we've tested is the Escort Passport 9500ci ($1999 MSRP), now superseded by the pricier Escort Passport Max ci ($2999).
The 9500ci is controlled by a thumb-sized control unit that's backlit, making the buttons easy to locate at night. The module can be concealed and is often tucked away in the ash tray or console.
Information is shown in an LED text display. (In contrast, the Max ci uses an OLED display that looks great in photos but washes out badly in sunlight.) The display can be replaced by a flush-mounted bi-color LED for a cleaner look. A powerful external speaker provides voice alerts that spell out the nature of a threat.
The 9500ci uses GPS to automatically lock out nuisance signals like radar-controlled automatic door openers. Drive past one a few times and it's automatically added to the memory. Next time you drive past, there's no alert.
The 9500ci's radar antenna is low to the ground, helping to shield it from Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) systems. These use radar in the back bumper to sense nearby vehicles and warn when a lane-change is risky. They share K band with police radar and make many radar detectors false-alarm hysterically.
The 9500ci also benefits from speed-variable sensitivity that automatically dials back range at lower speeds when it's not needed. This reduces K-band false alarms, including those from BSM radar.
Compared to windshield-mounted models, the Escort Passport 9500ci has significantly better performance than anything we've tested—with one exception. The Escort Redline nearly equals the Escort 9500ci in radar-warning range.
Not surprisingly, both Escorts are built on the same M3 electronic platform, long considered the best ever produced by Escort.
In a separate test the Escort Laser ShifterPro laser "shifter" system worked equally as well, jamming some of the guns down to point-blank range.
The Escort Passport 9500ci has a commendable mix of features and performance. Small wonder that we rank it at as the best custom-installed radar detector.