Avoiding costly traffic fines means driving alertly, and nothing helps you stay conscious of your driving better than a radar detector (and backseat drivers). The Whistler CR93 is one of the few radar detectors under $300 that has a built-in GPS, though it doesn't take full advantage of it. In the performance tests, it was effective but fell short when compared to the other radar detectors I tested.
The Whistler CR93 was graded C in the highway performance test. It had the shortest range of any radar detector I tested. Even the much more affordable Cobra iRAD or the Cobra iRAD 450 had longer ranges. For example, with the radar gun aimed perpendicularly to the road, its first alert was at about 0.3 miles while the Cobra detectors recorded a 0.45 mile range. However, the longest range in that test, the Escort Redline EX, recorded a 0.7-mile range in that test. On a positive note, the CR93 had a 2-mile range when the radar gun was aimed straight down the road. So, if you're in the direct beam of the radar, you should have plenty of time to adjust your driving habits.
The CR93 earned a B grade while in the city mode. It strikes a decent balance between being too quiet and being too loud, but it leaned a bit too much towards being too loud. If it incorporated an automatic mute feature to quickly mute alerts, it would have received a better score.
The ease of use received a C+ grade, making it one of the most difficult detectors to learn. The controls are clearly labeled but the layout isn’t logical which is necessary because you have to access the controls blindly since they are on top of the detector. The detector has GPS and allows you mark locations, but there's no easy way to do this. I also found the windshield mounting device to be ineffective, as it had a difficult time sticking to the windshield.
Alerts keep you conscious to how you're driving, which can help keep you safe and free from costly traffic fines. The CR93 has almost every alert feature you'd expect in one of the best radar detectors. The voice alert vocalizes potential threats as they come in so you never have to take your eyes off the road. It tells you the speed you were going when you received an alert. However, it doesn't have an over-speed alert to let you know when you're over a predetermined speed. This is one of the best features you can find in a GPS radar detector because it helps you avoid speeding tickets without relying on radar.
The Whistler CR93 has red-light camera and speed camera alerts, which is excellent because these threats don't use radar. The internal GPS is connected to a database of known locations and alerts you as drive near one. The only downside to this is that it requires routine firmware updates to keep the database up to date, which requires plugging the detector into an internet connected computer.
The CR93 is one of the few detectors that I've reviewed that has a Stay Alert feature. When it's turned on, you hear two quiet beeps after a minute. After you hear the beeps, you have three to five seconds to press one of the buttons. If you don't hit a button, a loud alarm is activated. This is excellent for road trips and night driving because it helps you focus on the road.
The Whistler CR93 is one of the most affordable radar detectors with built-in GPS, though it doesn't take full advantage of what GPS has to offer. Mostly it's just used for red-light and speed cameras. The range was disappointing in our tests, but the city performance was above-average. If you're looking for a GPS radar detector under $300, the Uniden DFR7 is the better option.