Though it's been surpassed by some other radar detectors, the Escort Passport 9500ix remains a great choice. It impresses experts and owners by warning them of speed traps, speed cameras and red-light cameras -- without all of the usual false alarms, thanks to its built-in GPS and optional crowd-sourced data. However, the newer Escort Passport Max (Est. $550) can do all of that, plus it adds even longer-range radar detection -- making it the current Best Reviewed pick as the best radar detector overall.
Ample warning of radar and camera traps, with few false alarms. Although not as long-range as some, the Escort 9500ix alerts you to speed traps in plenty of time to slow down -- more than half a mile away, in two tests. It also warns you when you're approaching speed and red-light cameras. It comes pre-loaded with the locations of thousands of these cameras nationwide, and you can keep the list up to date with an optional database subscription for one year (Est. $20) or three years (Est. $40). It's quiet, testers say; false alerts are nearly eliminated, thanks to built-in GPS that automatically "learns" which alarms on your route are false (automatic supermarket doors, etc.).
Smart detector with GPS and crowd-sourced warnings. The Escort 9500ix comes loaded with "smart" features. For example, it ramps up sensitivity when you're flying down the highway and turns it down when you're crawling around town (to minimize false alerts). With the optional Escort Live smartphone app (Est. $40), you get help from the crowd: When one Escort Live-connected detector notices a speed trap, every Escort Live detector nearby is automatically alerted (although the app gets mixed reviews from users). The 9500ix includes voice alerts as well as beeps and readouts. A couple of features are missing, though. There are no directional arrows (so you won't know whether you've already passed the speed trap), and it's not immune to police radar-detector detectors.
Straightforward to use. Even with all of its advanced features, testers find the Escort 9500ix simple to use. It slips easily in and out of its suction-cup windshield mount and plugs in with a SmartCord, which includes a handy second mute button and a tiny red light that blinks to alert you to speed traps when you're running in stealthy nighttime Dark Mode. Five distinctly shaped buttons on top of the detector control power, volume, mute, brightness, and mark false alarms and speed traps. You can choose between red and blue LEDs, both of which auto-dim at night and are easy on the eyes, testers say.
This enthusiast group thoroughly tests 15 different radar-detector models (including two copies of the Escort 9500ix). The 9500ix doesn't detect radar quite as quickly as some other detectors on either K or Ka bands, but it still provides ample warning.
Review: ECCTG October 2012 Radar Detector Test, East Coast Countermeasure Testing Group, October 2012
Peterson calls the Escort Passport 9500ix "the best GPS radar detector on the planet" -- although he has not yet tested the newer Escort Passport Max. The 9500ix won an earlier shootout among four GPS-equipped radar detectors, doing the best job detecting several types of photo radar and speed cameras.
Review: Review: Escort Passport 9500ix GPS-enabled Radar Detector, Craig Peterson, 2013
"Highly recommended," Sciacca concludes after his lengthy review of the Escort 9500ix. A longtime radar-detector user, Sciacca tests the 9500ix for several months in his own car. It saves him from three speeding tickets with minimum false alarms. Sciacca loves the crowd-sourced alerts, too. He only wishes the 9500ix had directional arrows.
Review: Cops Have Nowhere to Hide When Your Radar Detector Teams Up with Others Online, John Sciacca, Aug. 21, 2013
Karl Brauer, Edmunds editor-in-chief, tests the 9500ix and comes away impressed. It's pricey, but the extra protection you get from its GPS features (it remembers speed traps and red-light cameras, and cuts down on false alerts) make it "a bargain" -- although it could use directional arrows.
Review: Edmunds Tech Test: Escort Passport 9500ix Radar and Laser Detector, Karl Brauer, Feb. 17, 2010
5. Popular Mechanics
Popular Mechanics' Glenn Derene spends a week testing the Escort Passport 9500ix in speed-trap-rich southern Connecticut. He especially likes the unit's AutoLearn feature, which uses GPS to recall which repeated signals are false alarms.
Review: Escort Passport 9500ix Radar Detector Weeds Out False Alarms: Tech Test, Glenn Derene, Oct. 1, 2009
With more than 470 user reviews posted at Amazon.com, the Escort Passport 9500ix earns 4.2 stars (out of 5) overall. Most reviews are glowing, but some give Escort bad marks -- usually for bad customer service when their units malfunctioned.
Review: Escort Passport 9500ix Radar/Laser Detector, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of September 2013