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Lifewire / Todd Braylor
User friendly and affordable
Signal strength meter
Frequent false alerts
Cheap feeling plastic
Minimal windshield mount
If you're looking for maximum affordability and maximum range in one radar detector the Passport S55 is worth your consideration, but be aware this unit works best for highway and rural driving.
The Escort Passport S55 is designed to deliver high-performance features in a low-budget package; this model has a great range and a high-intensity LED display. Let's take a closer look at some strengths and weaknesses to evaluate what kind of performance you can expect on the road.
The S55 is palm-sized, about comparable in size and shape to most other radar detectors. The plastic material feels a bit cheaper than other radar detectors I've tested, though the control buttons worked well and felt long-lasting and I never had issues with them sticking. The Passport S55 comes with a very small windshield mount that's functional, but you may want to consider an aftermarket mount. It's minimal with small suction cups and I'm not confident it will last long. Luckily, the lightweight design of the S55 means it doesn't need much to hold it in place.
The LED display shows bright red text/symbols for maximum visibility while driving. The S55 can show four signal strength meters at the same time, plus the numeric frequency of alerts. There's also a dark mode that turns off the display but doesn't disable the audio alert.
The speaker on this radar detector is very small, about a quarter-inch square, but the audio alerts are high volume. You can select between standard and loud tones. The SmartCord power cable for the S55 has a handy mute button on it so you don't have to reach over the dash.
The S55 is straightforward and easy to install. Simply stick the windshield mount in place and plug the SmartCord lighter adapter into your car's DC cigarette lighter input. Plugging the modular jack into the S55 will automatically power on the radar detector and you can quickly customize settings for display brightness, detector sensitivity levels, and volume. Then you're ready to hit the road.
The Passport S55 features Enhanced Radar Protection that delivers long-distance range for laser and radar bands, including K and Ka bands, widely used microwave frequencies for police radar guns. It reliably delivers on its promise of long-distance sensitivity. While testing the S55 in Highway mode I received Ka-band alerts over a mile and a half out from where I approached a highway patrol parked on the median of the interstate. This range was on par with much more expensive models.
It reliably delivers on its promise of long-distance sensitivity.
The S55 has different modes designed to adjust to specific frequency bands and sensitivity levels for city or highway driving. You can quickly customize the settings by using the included quick reference guide. You can also turn off specific frequency bands if they tend to give a lot of false alerts.
In terms of false alerts, the AutoSensitivity feature didn't really help in directing the overall high-sensitivity. This radar detector gave frequent false alerts from commercial door-openers and vehicle anti-collision warning systems. Unfortunately, the S55 lacks the advanced filters of more expensive models that help reduce the annoying frequency of false alerts.
With an MSRP of $128, the Passport S55 is a low-end radar detector priced accordingly. More advanced radar detectors can easily be several hundred dollars more expensive, and the S55 is a good deal if you plan to use it primarily on the highway. Door-openers along the city and commercial roads will frequently trigger false alerts. You get what you pay for with the Escort Passport S55—maximum sensitivity and range without advanced filtering capabilities.
You get what you pay for with the Escort Passport S55—maximum sensitivity and range without advanced filtering capabilities.
A popular competitor brand to Escort that makes a wide selection of radar detectors is Uniden. The Uniden DFR9 (view on Amazon) is a model that can be considered the next price tier above the S55. The DFR9's MSRP is $300 but it can often be found on sale for about $270.
The DFR9 has an excellent detection range and a color LED display. The DFR9 also features GPS technology that filters out stationary false alerts, a welcome addition in mid-level radar detectors, and supports database access which alerts you to red light and speed camera locations.
A basic radar detector that's ideal for beginners or anyone on a budget.
The Escort Passport S55 has reliable long-range detection, but I found its performance and range of features to be pretty basic. This unit never missed the presence of parked police down the highway who appeared to be using radar guns, which means I'm confident in recommending this model for those on a budget. However, buyer beware that false alerts are an unavoidable inconvenience with this model.