I've had an Escort Passport 9500ci custom installed radar detector and laser shifter system installed on my C6 Corvette Z06 now for the past 2 weeks, approximately, and thought it about time to give some impressions to date for those considering the purchase.
My overall impression is positive. There are some definite flaws in the design, but overall it is a good device that serves its purpose. It has been a suitable replacement for my aging (and melting, see my previous review) Escort Passport 9500i windshield-mount radar detector.
I had my unit installed by a professional installer at a car stereo shop about an hour from here (there's no official seller/dealer for Escort near me capable of installing). This was the first unit they had installed, and it took approximately 2.5 hours to install. Some of this was undoubtedly spent reading the instructions and the installer familiarizing himself with the setup. I watched the majority of the installation first-hand.
Escort recommends a professional installation be done, but the packaging and instructions are clearly designed to be useful to those who are comfortable working on their own cars. If you have ever installed a stereo in your car, you'll have adequate skill to install this unit. Escort makes the wiring and connections as fool-proof as they can.
There are nine (9) components in total that need to be located and installed. One (1) radar receiver, two (2) front laser receivers/shifters, one (1) rear laser receiver/shifter, one (1) "GPS module," one (1) control module, one (1) display module, one (1) amplified speaker, and one (1) "interface" that all the wires plug into.
The radar receiver is a largish box, significantly larger than most standalone winshield-mounted radar detectors, that is designed to be mounted inside or behind the front grill (assuming you have a plastic grill). It needs a view of the road ahead free of any metal obstructions especially, but the less material you put in the way, the better (this includes plastic, which is not always transparent to radar, depending on the coatings of it (metal/chrome paint or coverings, for example). Mine fit comfortably behind my grill, centered, level with the road, as the grill is dark plastic with a very thin cross-hatched pattern. It's noticeable only with light hitting it at the right angle (e.g., a flashlight). I'll also note that this is a small design problem. The radar receiver has no view whatsoever of the rear and you are dependent on reflections off of cars and other reflective objects in front of you to reflect back signals from behind (as opposed to most windshield-mounted units that can pick up signals front and rear, at least to some degree). Granted, signals from behind are of lower threat (you're driving away from the source), but it's still a threat. The other small flaw in this design is that the receiver is mounted unusually low. The best location for the radar portion of a radar/laser detection system is as high as possible. It's more likely to pick up stray radar reflections there than closer to the road where hills and roadside obstructions could block the signals.
The front laser receivers/shifters are small, black, rectangular devices with a "top" side. They are designed to be mounted in plain view of the road ahead, preferably "halfway between the license plate and the corner of the vehicle" according to the instructions. If you are in a state that doesn't require front license plates, the ideal location would be as close to the headlights as possible. If you must have a front plate, halfway between the plate and the headlights would be a good compromise. Mine mounted nicely in some factory gaps on the chin spoiler, which is also black plastic using the included clamps (essentially C-clamps designed to clamp onto any flat surface roughly parallel with the ground, such as slits in a grill), and is within 12" of both the headlight and the fog light on each side. Included in the kit is an older style mounting bracket designed to be screwed into bodywork or metal behind the grill. This is a more permanent installation that I chose not to pursue. Theoretically, you could use good-old double sided tape to mount them as well, though this would have it's own strengths and weaknesses. The most important thing when mounting the front laser shifters is to make sure they are mounted absolutely level with the pavement. The manual mentions +/- 2.5 degrees, but Radar Roy tested it and found it to make a huge difference if you could keep it within +/- 1.5 degrees of level. Both included mounts allow for adjustments to the level. There is no mention in the manual of the shifters having to be aligned perfectly straight down the road (i.e., parallel to the direction of travel) from left to right. This makes some sense as you never really know where the police officer with the gun may be aiming from (how much of an angle), and the units are likely designed to scatter a wide cone of light left to right but not so much high to low. Also note that the laser shifters are shipped with a default setting of "receive" rather than "shift" which means you have to go through the menu and activate the shifting capability. The manual warns you of this.
The rear laser receiver/shifter is a simpler mount. It comes with a built-in metal plate that has holes for the license plate screws. This can be a little tricky if you have a license plate frame (depending on its design). You must remember to not block any of the text on the license plate (including the state name) or the light that lights up the plate at night (when your headlights are on). The metal plate on which the device is mounted is intentionally bendable to allow the shifter to be mounted parallel to the pavement (again, preferably within +/- 1.5 degree). Unlike the front shifters, the rear one doesn't appear to have a "top" or a right-way-up. This is likely intentional, allowing for the shifter to be mounted out of the way of license plate text from either the top or bottom holes.For those who are interested, on a C6 Corvette, mounting to the upper license plate screws and out of the way of the text of the state name still allows one sufficient room to press the trunk-release button without difficulty, though it hinders access to the key hole (the only one on the car, in case of power loss in the car, so you can access the trunk, though all you need do is unscrew the license plate screws in that case).
The GPS "module" is relatively small (about 3" by 4" by 1") and black. It has a magnetic base and can be placed on the roof of a vehicle (as long as it's metal). Again, you have the double-stick tape option as well as a windshield-mount bracket with included suction cups to mount the GPS much like you would a stand-alone radar detector. Please note that it appears this is a "module," not just an antenna, so the rest of the GPS circuitry seems to be built in to this little box. This means it is subject to heat, and direct sun exposure while sitting on a dash will shut it down due to overheating (when parked in the sun). Mine does this on a daily basis. Also note that mounting anything on a painted surface by magnet for extended periods will discolor the paint (due to differential sun exposure plus trapping moisture). This is another aspect of the design that needs to be rethought.
The control module and display module are both about the same size (roughly 3" by 1" by 1", it's similar in width and slightly taller than the typical Escort standalone detector display). There is an included flush-mount bezel in the kit so that one could presumably cut a hole in the dash and flush-mount the display in-dash. This seems a little extreme to me, especially since you cannot flush-mount the control module, but be my guest. The control module has 5 buttons on the front (large Mute button in center, 4 buttons at the corner: Brightness, Sensitivity, Volume, Mark) and a power button on top. The expected mounting choice is double-sided tape. It should also be noted that there is a small red LED included that is apparently intended to be mounted in the instrument panel (the manual shows between the tach and the water temp gauges) with the help of a drill. Again, do you really want that permanent of an installation?
The last two pieces are not as concerning, at least in terms of location. The amplified speaker is a 3" speaker in its own enclosure which can be mounted anywhere in the cabin. Ideal locations would include under the dash, under a seat, or in/under the center console. Your choice. The control module is intended to be under the dash so that all the wires coming from the other components can easily reach it. It's also handy to place it close to your fuse box as you'll need a power source and ground.
One final note, there is a plug for a wire to connect to your car's audio system to auto-mute the car radio when an alert comes through. Not all car radios have such an interface, but it's a nice touch.
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