Pros / This was one of the best performing radar detectors in all the tests.
Cons / There's no front-facing mute button.
Verdict / The Escort Passport IX performs almost identically to the best radar detectors. It's not the cheapest radar detector around, but you get a high-performing GPS device at a mid-range price. That's why it's our pick for best value.
Escort leads the radar detector industry as evidenced by our tests. Though the Escort Passport IX may be edged out by the comprehensive features of the Escort Max 360c and the highway range of the Escort RedLine EX, when you consider the price, the Passport IX might be the most attractive radar detector on the market. It provides high-end GPS performance at a midrange price.
In the highway performance test, the Passport IX received an A- grade for range. In each of the five scenarios, it consistently had the 2nd or 3rd longest range, which is why it didn't receive a higher grade. The Escort RedLine EX and the Valentine One had the longest ranges and the Escort Max 360c was only slightly better. While these detectors provided a longer range than the Passport IX, all of these detectors provided ranges that provide ample reaction time.
Even the shortest range of the Passport IX, which was a half mile with the radar gun pointed across the road, would provide plenty of time to adjust your speed, unless you're driving at dangerously fast speeds.
The Passport IX’s city performance received an A grade, just slightly lower to the other Escort detectors. This was the result of being a bit less active during the city drive, which could mean it was better at filtering out false alerts. The performance was still very good, especially at its price point. It uses the same GPS auto setting that the other Escorts detectors use, which adjusts the sensitivity according to your speed.
The display's readability received an A+ mark. It's identical to the Max 360c's multi-color OLED display. The text is sharp and easy to read. The use of different colors makes it easier to differentiate between different parts of the display, such as the speed you're driving and the radar detected.
Escort knows how to design a radar detector for novices without sacrificing advanced functions. The Passport IX received an A for ease of use. The controls are clearly labeled and the functions are clear. Not once did I consult with the instruction manual to use this radar detector. Many radar detectors are too geared towards hobbyist that know how to interpret obscure symbols and signals. Having a device that you can use right out of the box is important because you're more likely to use it consistently.
Having all controls on top of the radar detector is inconvenient but a common trait. Even the Max 360c has all the controls on top. This isn't ideal because you can't read the buttons from the driver's seat. You only see the display but you have to blindly use the controls. Fortunately, the control locations are easy to memorize and use blindly. It's would be better if at least the mute button was on the front so you don't have to feel around for it.
The internal GPS works just like the more expensive Escort detectors. It measures your speed accurately and it uses your speed to adjust the sensitivity when you're in any of the three city modes. The GPS is also smart. It records the coordinates of every alert you receive, and as you receive multiple alerts in the same coordinate, it mutes the alert on the assumption that it’s a false radar source. It still provides a visual alert to the radar, which is necessary because it reminds you that even though there is a false alert in the area, it doesn't mean there isn't also police radar.
Most radar detectors beep until you mute them. Some have a voice that identifies the radar band. Only the Escort detectors automatically quiet down to a whisper after a few seconds. This detector starts out with loud beeps, then a voice identifies the radar, then it continues beeping at a whisper until you mute it or it no longer detects radar. This is far less annoying than other detectors, which beep at full volume until muted.
The over-speed alert, which was first introduced by the Escort Max several years ago, is one of the best parts of the Escort Passport IX. Next to your speed, which is measured by the GPS, is a speed limit, which you can set between 20 and 160 mph. If you exceed the speed, a voice says "over-speed." It's just a simple reminder and heeding it enough to keep you from getting a speeding ticket.
The performance, display and ease of use with the Escort Passport IX nearly matches the Escort Max 360c, which is the best radar detector overall. It doesn't have directional alerts and range was slightly shorter, but overall this detector is almost as effective at helping you become a better, more aware driver. When you consider it's $300 less than the Max 360c, it's clear why it's our value pick.