Escort Passport SmartRadar
Cost-effective alternative to built-in radar detectors
By Radartest staff
Last updated: 2021
Note: Discontinued. See reviews of the latest models.
Not everyone prefers to hang a radar detector on the windshield, announcing its presence to the world. A remote model is built-in, keeping everything hidden. But invisibility is expensive, $3000 and up.
This increases the allure of the Escort SmartRadar ($299). Its radar antenna mounts inside on the glass, usually above the rear view mirror. A compact control-display module operates the system remotely.
Redundant controls are also built into the unit. A multi-function button on the right side controls audio volume and muting; next to it is a USB jack. On the left, a similar button handles power on/off; it also glows green to indicate power-on, blue when paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth. There are also phone-style jacks for 12-volt power, a serial data port and an external display.
The thumb-sized display/control module has an eight-inch-long power cord whose phone-style RJ9 connector plugs into the SmartRadar module. It has a red LED display and along its lower edge, buttons for power, audio volume/muting, display brightness and operating mode.
Escort SmartRadar operates as a stand-alone system, automatically switching on at engine start, off at shutdown. Without the display however, only its audible alerts, including voice alerts, are furnished. Without Escort Live and a smartphone, Escort Passport SmartRadar acts like a conventional high performance radar detector.
But add those to the equation and SmartRadar comes alive. Bluetooth enables the detector to communicate with the smartphone—either iPhone or Android—and its Escort Live app. With GPS and the Internet on tap, the phone now controls the detector and communicates with the Escort Live network.
With the Escort Live app running, trouble spots are displayed on a map, warning of radar traps, reported cop sightings and other perils. It likewise uses GPS to note the ID and location of nuisance signals, allowing them to be locked out by the user. For many, this feature alone is worth the price of admission.
We also checked SmartRadar's prowess at spotting radar, using one of our desert test locations. Surprisingly, the $299 SmartRadar had performance equal to the $799 Escort Passport 8500ci Plus. Compared to the Escort Passport 9500ix ($449) it showed 122 percent better K-band range. That gap widened to 144 percent greater range on one Ka-band frequency, 169 percent better on the other 34.7 GHz Ka band, 169 percent more on 35.5 GHz Ka band, outstanding numbers.