Tested: Escort Passport Qi45 remote radar detector
Popular legend has it that if you're stopped for speeding and you're packing a radar detector, the officer is more likely to slap you with a ticket. Unlike with a lot of urban legends, this one is true.
"To me, a radar detector is the moral equivalent of burglar's tools," veteran traffic officer Bill Balcom told me during a ride-along years ago. "Why do they have a detector if they're not trying to break the law? I stop 'em, they're not getting any breaks."
He's not alone in his opinion, either. Although few officers believe that radar detectors are effective, to many, a detector's mere presence is proof of intent. If they stop someone for speeding and there's a detector hanging from the windshield, it automatically means a ticket.
That's why savvy drivers often turn to remote radar detectors whose discrete components can be built-in to the vehicle. Aside from incurring less official displeasure, a remote detector is also far more protected from theft.
But there's been a traditional downside: price. Aside from a purchase price that starts at $1,600, installation labor alone on high-end systems—Escort Passport 9500ci, K40 Calibre—often exceeds $400, particularly if it's going into a car whose bodywork doesn't easily accommodate the front radar antenna and front/rear laser jammer modules.
For this reason alone the new Escort Passport Qi45 remote radar detector ($549) merits some attention. In price it occupies the middle ground between high-end remote systems and a high-performance windshield-mount model. The Qi45 doesn't compete with its high-end sibling as it has no GPS capability or standard laser jammers.
The Escort Passport Qi45 is operated by a small control/display module. If an even stealthier installation is preferred, the display can be tucked away and visual warnings can be conveyed by a multi-color LED. This can be panel-mounted or hidden in the gauge cluster.
The Qi moniker stands for Quick Installation and Escort claims that it can be installed in less than 45 minutes, about one-fourth of the time required by most systems. A smaller tab for labor and the friendly price of admission are its key selling points. It also has a [laser] Shifter Pack ($250) option that adds dual front laser jammers.
Total it up and an integrated package with radar and front laser protection comes in at under a grand, about half the price of the Escort Passport 9500ci or a K40 Calibre with Defuser EX laser jammers. (There's not much to show off, however. In the photo above it's hard to spot the Escort Passport Qi45 control/display module resting at the lower edge of the cluster, between the speedo and tach. Everything else is hidden.)
A sub-45-minute installation time is a pretty tall claim—I've often spent nine hours completing a nicely-finished installation—and it seemed worth investigating.
First we spent several days performance-testing the Passport Qi45 linked to the optional Shifter Pack. For the sake of comparison, we also tested a K40 Calibre remote radar detector along with a K40 Defuser EX laser jammer.
Each system was tested against every commonly used model of radar. We also ran a separate three-day test to check the effectiveness of their laser jammers versus all of the mainline laser guns.
It was good that we took the time: one of the laser jammers proved to be an underachiever and one of the radar detectors was critically near-sighted when facing the most frequently encountered Ka-band radar frequency.
Then I installed both systems on one of the most installer-unfriendly vehicles I've encountered, an Acura ZDX. (Some compromises on the installation were needed but it was a success. See if you can spot the Escort Passport Qi45's twin laser jammers and radar antenna on the ZDX in this photo.)
You can read the comparison test and review on Radartest.com.