Escort Passport 9500ix Radar and Laser Detector Review

Escort Passport 9500ix Radar and Laser Detector Review

You’re headed to work with your morning coffee in hand and your favorite song playing on the radio. Traffic is very light today and you’re speeding along at a good clip – maybe a little over the speed limit? Who knows. Who cares, it’s a beautiful morning. Life couldn’t get any better. Well, it could; but you have to work today.

Suddenly, you see those dreaded flashing lights in your rear view mirror. Unfortunately, you were distracted and you didn’t see the cop car hiding behind the billboard just waiting to catch unsuspecting speeders like you. The policeman has you clocked at 47 mph in a 35 mph zone. Great. Now you have a speeding ticket. That means a fine, points on your driving record, and higher insurance rates. Your day is ruined!

This situation could have been avoided if you only had a radar detector. You could have been alerted to police radar being used ahead. You could have slowed down and drove right past the police car. No fine, no points, no higher insurance rates. Plus, you could have slowed down, started paying attention to the road, and became a safer driver.

Keep reading this review of the Escort Passport 9500ix to see how it could have avoided this situation.

Description

The Escort Passport 9500ix is a sleek radar detector which provides extreme long-range detection of all bands of speed enforcement radar in use today (X, K, superwide Ka, and Ku) including Instant-on POP. It’s multiple front and rear laser sensors provide total 360-degree laser detection. In addition, the 9500ix smart radar detector is capable of using GPS to pinpoint red light and fixed-position speed cameras to alert you to upcoming speed monitoring. Furthermore, the Passport 9500ix learns where the false sources of radar are located so you won’t be alerted to them again.

Important Features of the Escort Passport 9500ix

Detects all bands of speed enforcement radar

The Escort Passport 9500ix provides extreme long-range speed enforcement radar detection of all frequency bands. This includes X, K, Superwide Ka (including photo), and Ku (mostly used in Europe).

The X band is being used much less often for speed enforcement and is occasionally used in long distance monitoring of traffic. It is commonly used for automatic door openers and motion detection security devices. Unless you are sure X band radar is not used for speed monitoring in your area, X band alerts should be taken seriously nonetheless.

K band signals could be traffic radar or maybe not. K band is now being used for automatic door openers and motion detection devices as well. Some radar detectors (mostly Cobra and Whistler) will emit K band frequency pulses. K-band signals also can come from the Adaptive Cruise Control found on newer vehicles from Ford, Mercedes, Mazda, GM, Kia, Hyundai, Jaguar, and others. Both X- and K-band signals are being used less for police radar due to their widespread use everywhere else.

The most serious threat is Ka band. Ka radar is found on most new radar guns and speed monitoring devices. Ka is always nearby and most likely speed enforcement radar. However, some cheap detectors also emit Ka signals which can appear as Ka radar. Until it is determined to be a false alert, Ka band alerts should be taken seriously and your speed should be adjusted to within the legal speed limit immediately.

The 9500ix is capable of detecting the POP/Instant-on (Pulse) radar guns used by many local police municipalities in North America. Instant-on technology is commonly used to defeat radar detectors by generating a quick burst of radar which doesn’t last long enough for detection – usually under 0.5 seconds. Although the 9500ix can detect Instant-on radar, if the radar is targeting you, there will not be enough time to react before being tagged by the police. Instant-on detection however can still be very useful since it can also detect the radar when used on other cars by sensing reflected radar signals. Instant-on detection gives the driver a fighting chance to know radar is being used ahead and to slow down if needed.

360-degree laser detection

The laser beam is a tiny, thin beam of light and can be used to track you from any direction. From 500 feet away, a laser beam can be 18″ wide when it hits your vehicle. Multiple high performance sensors in the front and back of the 9500ix can detect the laser beam from any direction and alert you quickly.

Defender Database on-board

The 9500ix ships with a pre-loaded Defender database which Escort updates weekly. Simply install database and firmware updates via the USB port on the side of the radar detector using any Internet-connected PC or Mac. Updates are free for 90 days. An update subscription must be purchased thereafter. A 1-year subscription is currently $24.95 and a 3-year subscription is $49.95. However, you can continue using the Passport without updates. It will only then notify you of locations that were in the last update. It will still detect additional radar signals and you can use the learning features to help mark new locations of red light cameras and fixed speed trackers.

Mark location

Based upon your GPS location, the 9500ix can compare your location to that of known fixed position cameras and speed traps found in its built-in Defender database to alert you to upcoming speed monitoring devices. As you drive and discover new speed traps and speed monitoring cameras, simply press the MARK button on the 9500ix and the GPS location and the radar frequency will be recorded into memory.

AutoLearn

The Passport 9500ix uses GPS technology to automatically learn where the false radar signals are located and permanently eliminate them from causing false alerts in the future. You can read more about the 9500ix’s filtering further in this review.

Variable speed sensitivity

The Passport 9500ix uses GPS to measure the vehicle’s speed and adjust the radar sensitivity accordingly. For trawling on the highway, the radar sensitivity is set to maximum for the best protection. For slower speeds, the sensitivity of select radar bands is tuned down to help eliminate false alerts.

By pressing the SEN button, sensitivity can be set to Highway, Auto, or Auto No X. The Auto No X setting turns off X band detection since this band is most commonly used for automatic door openers. This is a very useful feature when traveling near shopping centers to help avoid unnecessary false alerts.

Audio and visual alerts

Each specific radar alert has its own unique chirp, voice announcement, and visual readout on the LED display. The chirps increase in rate as the vehicle approaches the radar source and will turn into a solid tone when the radar is at its strongest. The LED display will show the radar band and strength of the signal hitting the vehicle. The alert chirp changes to a short, double-tone when the vehicle is traveling less than 20 mph. Ka radar and Laser alerts produce a solid tone and will display a maximum signal strength on the LED screen since they are immediate threats and nearby.

Voice alerts can be toggled off and on by type in the 9500ix’s setup menu.

Mute, AutoMute, and AutoVolume

When approaching a radar source, easily mute the solid tone audible alert by pressing the MUTE button. Once the radar threat has passed, the 9500ix automatically unmutes audible alerts. The Passport 9500ix can also be set to turn down the alert volume to a user defined preset level once a radar threat has been detected and the alert has been given. AutoVolume can be used to adjust the alert volume based on the ambient noise inside the vehicle.

SmartCord coiled power cord

The 9500ix communicates with the SmartCord base allowing it to act as a secondary control center. The base has a yellow LED which flashes at varying speeds to indicate a radar threat’s strength. This feature is very handy when the radar detector is placed into dark-mode where nothing is displayed on the LED readout and no audible alerts are sounded. The SmartCord base also has a mute button which may be more handy than reaching up to the windshield to mute the radar detector.

Using the SmartCord for visual queues and muting will help conceal the use of a radar detector from onlookers outside of the vehicle. Radar detectors are common targets of thieves and concealing your use of one is another level of protection for you and your property when driving.

The SmartCord is half straight and half coiled for a cleaner looking and longer length cord. The cord and base measure approximately 33 inches in length. The SmartCord plugs into a standard 12v power port or cigarette lighter receptacle on older vehicles. There also is a hardwired version of the SmartCord which wires directly into the cars electrical system. The hardwired cord can be purchased online.

Filtering Out False Signals

One of the most annoying aspects of radar detectors is receiving false alerts. False signals can be caused by automatic door openers, motion detectors, and other radar-based devices which operate on the X and K frequency bands. The 9500ix features a TrueLock/GPS filter which helps permanently eliminate false radar signals. Any time a false alert is received, simply pushing the MUTE button three times will record the signal frequency and exact GPS location.

All future alerts at that same GPS location and same radar frequency will be ignored. However, if a new radar threat is detected at that same location, the driver will be alerted in plenty of time to take appropriate action.

Through the use of AutoLearn intelligence, the 9500ix will scan for frequencies that have been known to cause false signal alerts. Once the same radar frequency has been discovered, the GPS location and radar frequency will be blocked from causing alerts. The 9500ix will alert the driver that a location has been blocked through a single beep and by displaying the frequency band on the LED display.

The Passport’s auto-intelligence can also unblock specific locations and frequencies to protect against new and changing radar threats. If the 9500ix detects that a radar frequency is no longer present at a location, the location will be unblocked so that future threats will cause an alert.

Performance

The Escort Passport 9500ix is one of the most advanced detectors on the market today. It defends against all speed enforcement bands of radar as well as laser. There are other detectors that can detect radar from further away; but none of them has GPS technology and the intelligent circuitry found in the Passport 9500ix.

Unfortunately, even the most advanced radar and laser detectors aren’t 100 percent accurate. In general, if your radar detector can “see” radar and laser, then the machines sending those beams can see you as well. Radar and laser are line of sight. In other words, they travel in a straight line. The radar and laser beams do not go around corners unless they bounce off of something. Therefore, the detectors often fail to detect threats when the vehicle travels around bends or travels on hilly terrain until it is too late. Radar signals coming from the side cannot detect speed. Radar and laser must hit the front or back of the vehicle so it can measure the vehicle’s speed.

The vast number of Passport 9500ix owners feel this detector has helped them spot radar and laser threats from as much as three miles away and has helped save them possibly thousands of dollars in tickets and other costs. AutoLearn has proven to be not so perfect, especially in city driving, but has been generally received as a very much appreciated feature.

Numerous 9500ix owners have complained about being ticketed while never receiving any alert from their detector. While each case has its unique circumstances, there are several things to consider.

In many cases, the police officer was using Instant-on radar technology. Instant-on is specifically used to defeat radar detectors by emitting a very short (less than 0.5 seconds) burst of radar in the Ka frequency band. While the 9500ix can detect Instant-on and will give a steady alert to show the threat is immediate, it is very possible the radar detector did not detect the radar beam due to its very quick burst. The radar source was probably too near (creating a more narrow radar beam) and hit too low on vehicle for the 9500ix to pick up the signal before it was gone.

Laser can also be tricky at times to detect. The laser beam must directly hit the laser sensor or the beam must reflect into the sensor. If the police laser hits the car in a low spot, such as the license plate, the 9500ix will not detect the laser beam since the beam did not hit the laser sensor on the 9500ix nor did it bounce and reflect into a sensor. The police laser gun has a screen which shows the officer exactly where the laser will hit the vehicle. Officers are trained to aim low to avoid radar and laser detector.

Out of the box, the Passport 9500ix is detectable by police using a radar detector detector. Escort makes a laser interceptor (jammer) product called the Escort ShifterPro which can make your vehicle’s speed undetectable by law enforcement who are using laser guns. Used in conjunction with the 9500ix, drivers will have a better chance at avoiding a ticket when targeted by a laser gun. The ShifterPro has the ability to change as laser technology changes through the use of software updates. The ShifterPro is available online for around $600.

To help users avoid traffic tickets even further, Escort has created the ESCORT Live Community where radar and laser sources are tracked in real-time. To join the community, a driver needs to have the ESCORT Live app installed on his or her smartphone. The ESCORT Live app is available for free from the Google Pay store and iTunes.

In addition, the Passport 9500ix is not Bluetooth capable and requires the purchase of the SmartCord Live in order to connect the Passport 9500ix to the smartphone. The driver’s smartphone pairs with the SmartCord Live through Bluetooth once the app is installed and a user account has been created.

When the driver receives either a X-band or a K-band alert, he or she can decide whether or not to share this alert with the ESCORT Live network. X-band and K-band alerts are not automatically shared due to the large number of false alerts from these bands. Alerts from laser and Ka-band are automatically shared with the ESCORT Live community.

All ESCORT Live members will receive “Police Spotted” speed trap alerts, mobile and fixed-position speed camera alerts, multiple map and dashboard views on their smartphone, the ability to share their threat reports with the ESCORT Live network, and receive automatic reminders of previously marked locations. The app also allows the user to access the 9500ix settings directly from a paired smartphone.

By upgrading to ESCORT Live Premium, the driver will also receive real-time alerts from other radar detector users in the area; detailed threat information including time-sensitive color-coded warning icons on screen; GPS-guided information about vehicle speed, posted speed limit, over speed limit alerts, and compass and directional headings.

ESCORT Live Premium is $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year and can be purchased from within the app. A premium subscription is also free for one year with the purchase of any Bluetooth enabled Escort device such as the SmartCord Live.

For those who are experienced with the use of radar detectors, the Passport 9500ix offers an Expert Meter mode. This mode will display up to three different radar threats a once along with a 4 bar signal strength for each one. By switching the display to “DisplaySpec” mode, the 9500ix will display the type and exact frequency of the radar hitting the vehicle.

One apparent downside to the Passport 9500ix is that it does not display safety warning messages. The Safety Warning System and Safety Alert system are used by emergency vehicles (police, fire, ambulance) to warn traffic of emergency vehicles in the area. These systems use the K band to transmit a coded signal which is received by radar detectors and translated into a text or voice alert.

In reality, this safety system is not widely used. Each emergency vehicle must be outfitted with an expensive transmitter that costs $1,000 or more. Since the majority of drivers don’t use a radar detector, only a few drivers would know about the warning being transmitted. In most cases it comes down to money. It often is not feasible to spend money on expensive transmitters that will only benefit a few people.

Since the Safety Warning System uses the K band frequency, any radar detector will see the signal as K band radar and alert the driver. Even without the ability to translate the safety warning, the radar detector will still alert the driver to radar usage in the area.

When the 9500ix is first used, it will only rely on the database stored in memory to alert about known red light and speed camera radar threats. When the driver first uses this radar it is possible to receive many false alerts triggered by X- and K-band radar usage for non-speed enforcement purposes. The driver will need to mark these locations (and specific radar frequencies) by pressing the MARK button.

At first, the 9500ix may be annoying or less accurate. As the driver travels the same routes in his or her daily routine, the Passport 9500ix will become more accurate as it learns where the false alerts are located. It will also use this information to spot other similar false alert locations and automatically alert the driver. As the user interacts with the 9500ix, it will only become more reliable and even more accurate in protecting against radar and laser threats.

It is recommended that the driver become familiar with the operation of the Passport 9500ix before using the radar detector while driving. The driver does not want to be fiddling with settings and trying figure out how to use the 9500ix while the vehicle is in motion.
It is worth noting that radar detectors are legal in 49 states. The use of radar detectors is prohibited in Virginia, Washington, DC and most Canadian Provinces. Radar detectors are not allowed to be used on any commercial vehicles since 1995. Some states may also have laws about objects being attached to the windshield. Check laws in your state to make certain the use of a windshield-mounted radar detector does not violate any state laws.

Additional features

The Escort Passport 9500ix comes with a suction-cup mount which easily attaches to the windshield. It is important that this detector have a clear view of the sky in order to have optimal access to GPS. With a press of a button, the 9500ix unlocks quickly from the windshield mount for easy removal from the vehicle.

In addition, the 9500ix has a 3.5mm earphone jack on the side. Motorcyclists will find this a handy feature to have. Either a earphone or external speaker can be plugged into the audio jack allowing the motorcyclist to hear all audible alerts.

Accessories

• Coiled SmartCord
• Suction-Cup mount
• Owner’s manual
• Quick reference card

Dimensions and weight

• 2.9″ wide
• 5.35″ front to back
• 1.4″ thick
• 8.32 oz

Pros

• Detects all radar and laser
• Uses GPS to alert to upcoming speed monitoring – speed cameras and red lights
• AutoLearn intelligent design remembers false radar signal locations
• Voice alerts and high resolution display
• Variable speed radar performance
• brightness controls
• Compatible with ESCORT Live app for real-time live ticket protection
• Quick release windshield mount

Cons

• Only first 90 days of software and database updates is free
• Have to purchase updates after 90 days to keep database current
• Doesn’t detect the use of radar detector-detectors
• Must purchase optional Escort Shifter to avoid being detected by police using laser
• Not Bluetooth compatible
• Must buy the SmartCord Live in order to connect to the ESCORT Live Community
• Does not provide safety warnings about emergency vehicles in the area
• Illegal in Virginia, Washington, DC, and all commercial vehicles

Consumer Ratings for Escort Passport 9500ix

The Escort Passport 9500ix is a well-made, highly respected radar detector. Over 83% of those who rated the 9500ix gave it the highest rating on numerous online retailer websites. Most reviewers highly recommend this product. People use words such as “wow”, “awesome”, and “love” when describing their first impression of the Passport 9500ix. It is easy to use and ready to go right out of the box. Most owners use this product for quite a while before changing any settings.

With every product, there are also negative reviews. In my experience, more people are likely to take the time to write a negative review than they are to write a positive review. They become motivated to spend time warring others about a bad product or to get back at the manufacturer or merchant for their bad experience.

Less than 1 in 10 reviewers gave the 9500ix a 1-star rating. One of the biggest complaints about the Passport 9500ix is that it only comes with free updates for the first 90 days. One year of updates is $24.95 and 3 years of updates is available for $49.95 – which is like getting one year free when you buy two.

Some customers also complain about many, many false positives during city driving, lack luster customer support, and not being warned about radar being used in their area. As the mounting suction cup ages, it seems to be problematic for many owners especially when the vehicle interior becomes hot. The suction cup deteriorates over time and to stretch more once it’s hot causing the radar detector to fall from the windshield.

Escort Passport 9500ix price

The Escort Passport 9500ix has a MSRP of $449.95 and comes in two different LED display colors – blue or red. Online retail prices range from around $100 to over $200 for the blue display model and from about $265 to over $400 for the red display model. It definitely pays to shop around the marketplace for this one.

Considering its features, the Escort Passport 9500ix would be an absolute steal if it can be had for around $100. Just one speeding ticket can cost $120 or and can add several hundred dollars to insurance rates for several years to come. Even paying over $400, it could potentially pay for itself by avoiding just one ticket.

Conclusion

Investing in the Escort Passport 9500ix is less like spending money and more like saving money. You are potentially saving $1,000 in costs over a three year period from just a single speeding ticket. Not only is this a financial investment; it’s an investment in your health and safety.

The GPS technology not only helps locate hidden red light cameras and remember the location of false alerts; it can also alert you to your speed. Becoming more aware of what is going on and causing you to slow down when speeding is an important part of driving safely.

Escort Passport 9500ix Radar and Laser Detector

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