In the $300 price range, you won't find a better radar detector than the Escort Passport 8500 X50, reviews say. The latest X50 Black edition spots radar faster than some pricier detectors, and it doesn't skimp on handy features. Still, it lacks GPS -- so it can't warn you about speed/red-light cameras or lock out false alarms. For that, reviews recommend the Escort Passport Max (Est. $550) .
Dazzling performance for the price. Escort says its latest 8500 X50 Black edition has gotten a 40 percent performance boost -- and the impressed testers at the East Coast Countermeasure Testing Group say it sure seems that way to them. It's "a MONSTER" on Ka-band, pouncing on it almost as swiftly as a $1,300 custom-installed detector. It's "very respectable" on K-band, too, detecting it from more than a mile away in a straight line. False alarms are more of a problem with non-GPS detectors like the 8500 X50, though.
No built-in GPS, but it does have other smart features. The Escort 8500 X50 Black detects all types of commonly used speed guns and delivers spoken alerts as well as beeps. Handy features include a signal strength meter (to help you gauge how close a radar gun is) and AutoMute (to automatically turn down the volume during long radar encounters). Although it lacks a GPS false-alarm filter, its Highway, City and Auto modes cut down on nuisance signals -- for example, while you're creeping around town at 10 mph, it won't beep its head off about every speed trap a mile away. It's compatible with Escort Live (Est. $40) , an optional smartphone app that connects your X50 with your smartphone's GPS, but the app gets spotty reviews from users.
"Plug 'n play." You can buy the Escort 8500 X50 Black with either a red or blue LCD display. It's "plug 'n play," RadarTest.com says, with a few buttons on top that make it easy to customize. The Escort 8500 X50 Black comes with a SmartCord that plugs into your cigarette lighter, with a second mute button and a discreet light to deliver alerts when you're running in nighttime-stealthy Dark Mode. A quick-release suction-cup windshield mount is included.
The Escort Passport 8500 X50 Black is a surprise star of this 15-radar-detector shootout, finishing closely behind the first-place $1,300 custom-installed detector (and beating its near-twin, the Beltronics Pro 300). The test judges long-range, straight-line radar detection on K and Ka bands.
Review: ECCTG October 2012 Radar Detector Test, East Coast Countermeasure Testing Group, October 2012
Peterson calls the Escort 8500 X50 "the best radar detector at the $339 price point." However, in his test, the nearly identical Beltronics Pro 300 matches its performance and costs less.
Review: Escort Passport 8500 X50, Craig Peterson, 2013
The Escort 8500 X50 Black is one of the highest-rated radar detectors here, earning 4.3 out of 5 stars after about 100 reviews. Fewer than 10 reviewers give it less than 3 stars -- including one irate speeder who got caught by police laser (which no detector can outwit).
Review: Escort Passport 8500 X50 Black Radar Detector, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of September 2013
More stellar owner reviews for the Escort 8500 X50 here: It earns 4.4 out of 5 stars in more than 60 reviews. Although most owners are completely satisfied, about five say they got lemons that never detected radar correctly from the start.
Review: Escort - Passport Radar/Laser Detector, Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of September 2013