Whistler CR90 vs CR93 Review: Which Radar Detector is Best?

When you are considering a radar detector, you want to ensure that the unit can give enough warning for you to check and adjust your speed when there’s a radar ahead.

The whole reason you have a radar detector is to protect you from speeding tickets, unnecessary court costs, legal expenses and increases in your insurance policy. Saving a few dollars doesn’t always make sense when it comes to protecting your driving record.

With that said, the Whistler CR93 (and CR97) are both excellent value for money. The real question is if they can provide the protection you need on the road.

In this review, we look at the performance and features of the CR90 and CR93 radar detector. We check out if they have kept up with times, provide adequate filtering, and if you should consider purchasing one for your vehicle.

Our Verdict (If you’re in a hurry)

The affordable price point and built-in GPS makes the Whistler CR90 and CR93 a very appealing option. With over 1,000 positive reviews on Amazon and an average score of 4.5, you wouldn’t think you could go too far wrong getting a CR93.

However, in our opinion, the overall performance of these models are not as good as some of the latest products within the price range. (Eg the Whistler CR97 or the Uniden DFR7)

With the release of the CR97 model, Whistler has addressed many of the range and off-axis detection issues of earlier models. With a 150% and 200% increase in range on the K and Ka bands, these changes put the CR97 on a similar footing to its competitors.

When you consider it has a built-in GPS and can be purchased for less than $300, we feel the CR97 is a good option for around town. However, if you do a lot of highway driving and want a GPS enabled radar detector in this price range, we would recommend the Uniden DFR7 as a better option.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Also has Laser Detector
  • Built-in GPS of radar and non-radar threats
  • Stay Alert feature
  • English and Spanish
  • Improved off-axis detection

Cons

  • User manual is hard to follow
  • No overspeed alert
VIEW ON AMAZON

All about the Whistler CR90 and Whistler CR93

What is in the box?

Made from a low gloss and impact resistant plastic, the construction quality is quite good. The bright OLED display is easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions and is easy to see even in bright sunlight.

The top of the unit has four buttons that are easy to locate and provide good tactile feedback when they are pressed. A combined volume and power button is located on the side on the unit, along with a USB port that allows you to keep the internal red light and speed camera database up to date.

cr90 accessories - Whistler CR90 vs CR93 Review: Which Radar Detector is Best?

The box contains:

  • Laser Radar Detector
  • Dash Pad
  • 12V Power Cord
  • Windshield Bracket Kit
  • User Guide

If you live in a state that doesn’t allow radar detectors to be mounted on your windscreen, the dash pad can be used to mount the unit on top of your dashboard. However, our recommendation is to buy a mirror mount and to mount the unit as high as possible to increase the detection range.

Feature Summary

All units have the following features:
Laser : 905 +/- 50 nm
X Band : 10.500 – 10.550 GHz
K Band : 24.050 – 24.250 GHz
Ka Band : 33.400 – 36.000 GHz

Feature CR90 CR93 CR97
X/K & Ka Filter Y Y Y
Speed based filter Y Y Y
Ka RSID Y Y Y
Pulse Alert Y Y Y
GPS Alert Y Y Y
Updatable database Y Y Y
Laser detection Y Y Y
LSID Y Y Y
SWS Mode Y Y Y
POP Mode Y Y Y
Traffic Flow Filter Y Y Y
Collision Avoidance Filter N Y Y
Improved range N N Y

Radar Detection Range

In the end, a detector is only as good as the amount of warning it can give you. You certainly don’t want to be just outside (or even within) the kill zone before you are alerted.

In independent tests, the CR93 only gave 1/3rd mile warning when the radar was parked on the side of the road and failed to warn when the check came from a vehicle hidden behind an overpass.

It’s worth noting that the second test was always going to be tough. The overpass was in the way, the radar was offset in a parking bay, and the radar was pointing in the other direction. Five of the detectors were able to catch the signal reflected off a nearby hill and this also skewed the results in their favor. However, the CR93 didn’t give any warning at all.

When it came to testing on an angle with the gun aimed slightly across the road on the K band, the detector provided a warning of just under a third of a mile and only a few hundred yards outside the kill zone. Most of the other models provided a warning at a mile or more. This was quite surprising considering the CR93 can detect a radar nearly 2 miles ahead when the gun is located ahead of the vehicle on an open road. Of course, this is not always going to be the case in the real world.

Laser Detection

Laser gun technology is always evolving and some of the latest guns can be difficult to catch. Detectors rely on the scattered light bouncing off objects and the vehicles being tested ahead of you. When it comes to laser detection, these units perform well. They can pick up laser guns that operate at a wavelength of 855nm to 955nm, and that includes (but is not limited to):

  • Ultra Lyte
  • Dragon Eye Police LIDAR
  • LTI 20-20
  • LTI TruSpeed® S
  • Laser Ally
  • Pro Laser™ I II III
  • Laser Atlanta® Stealth Mode

Of course, you have to remember that laser guns are often used at close range and that the best protection is to remain behind other vehicles with enough room to see scattered beams from the vehicles being tested ahead. If you are first in a line of traffic or traveling too close to the vehicle ahead, you may not receive a warning until your speed has been read.

GPS Enabled

The CR93 and CR97 detectors both have a built-in GPS and red light/speed camera database that can be updated by adding points on the road, or by connecting the unit to your computer with a USB cable and installing a new database or firmware from the manufacturer.

Having a database of camera locations is a great feature. Fixed cameras don’t use radar to detect your speed and without an up to date database, you can easily drive through a speed trap without realizing you have been caught.

Note: You will need to connect the detector to the internet on a regular basis to update the location of cameras as they are added or moved.

Stay Alert™ Feature

The stay alert feature is designed to help keep a driver alert and active during a long trip.

Once the feature is engaged, the detector will sound two beeps every 30 to 60 seconds. The driver needs to respond within 3 to 5 seconds by pressing one of three buttons on the radar detector. Once the button has been pressed, the cycle restarts and another set of beeps will be emitted within another 30 to 60 seconds.

If the driver doesn’t press the button, an alarm sounds and the radar detector warns the driver that they need to get some rest before continuing.

TFSR (Traffic Flow Signal Rejection)

Have you ever wondered what the cameras mounted high on the side of the road are used for?

The chances are that these cameras are being used to monitor traffic flow and to report back to a control center or display information on overhead signs.

These traffic flow sensors use radar to detect the speed and movement of vehicles along the highway. To do this they need to use a radar signal that is on the same frequencies as the police radar.

The CR90, CR93, CR95 and CR97 models all have built-in filters to silence alerts from traffic flow cameras.

Comparison of a few top Whistler Radar Detectors

Model# Description Pricing Our Rating
CR90 Whistler CR90 $
CR93 Whistler CR93 $$
CR97 Whistler CR97 $$$
DFR7 Uniden DFR7 $$

**Below, you?ll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews.

Reviews

1) Whistler CR90 Review

This discontinued model can only be purchased on the second-hand market.

It was one of the first radar detectors with a built-in GPS to retail for under $300. It also became the base platform for the CR93, CR95 and CR97 models that were to follow.

In its time the CR90 was a fairly good radar detector with similar range and functionality as other models of its era.

Unfortunately, the addition of blind spot sensors and lane departure warnings on newer model cars means the older radar detectors tend to detect too many false positives to be useful. (The CR93 added FDSR to address this issue)

With that said, the CR90 has some great features that have been carried through into the later models. They include the Stay Alert function and the Alert Priority settings.

The main problem with the CR90 (and the CR93) is the reduced range of detection when the radar gun is not directly in front (or behind) the vehicle. When the gun is perfectly aligned, the detector has a range of up to two miles. However, when the gun is off center or around a sweeping bend, sometimes that warning is triggered as late as a 1/3rd mile from the target.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Laser detector
  • Stay Alert Feature

Cons

  • Difficult control layout
  • Short range warning (unless in direct line of sight)
  • No overspeed alert

The verdict

With the addition of FDSR and its increased range, we recommend that you get the CR97 model instead.

If you cant afford the CR97, consider the CR93 – but make sure you understand its range limitations on sweeping corners and off-center guns.


2) Whistler CR93 Review

Other than the addition of FDSR filtering (Field Disturbance Sensor Rejection), the CR93 model radar detector is identical to the CR90 reviewed above. (This includes the lack of range in highway mode)

Most recently, a lot of newer car models are starting to come out with blind spot and lane departure warning systems. These new technologies use the same frequencies as police radar guns. They also cause chaos with older detectors. In fact, some old detectors receive so many false positives that they are practically unusable.

The introduction of FDSR filtering reduces the number of false alerts by effectively filtering out the signals coming from the blind spot detectors and lane departure warning systems of other nearby vehicles. They are still shown on the display – but they are effectively muted.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Bilingual (English/Spanish)
  • Improved filtering over CR90
  • Stay Alert feature
  • Laser and VG-2 Detection
  • Upgradable GPS database

Cons

  • Short range warning (unless in direct line of sight)
  • Difficult to understand user manual

The verdict

If you do a lot of highway driving, the lack of detection range may make you feel a little uncomfortable. However, if you normally drive within the speed limit, or travel mostly in city mode, it is an ideal (and cost-effective) solution for avoiding red light and speed cameras.

In our opinion, you would be much better off getting the Whistler CS97 or Uniden DFR7 model – especially if you do a lot of highway driving.


3) Whistler CR97 Review

With the release of the CR97, Whistler has addressed all of the shortcomings of their earlier models.

The latest model has increased sensitivity by around 6dB in the Ka-band (200% increase in range) and 3dB in the K-band (150% increase). As well as increased sensitivity, the CR97 does extremely well at filtering out the K-band collision avoidance system from Honda, Acura, and Chevrolet. The CAS systems from these manufacturers tend to cause significant problems with other detectors.

All of the other features are identical to the CR93. The detector includes SWS, VG-2 Detection, LSID, Ka RSID, POP™ Model Alerts, Pulse Protection®, selectable speed filters, audio and visual alerts, GPS based database alerts, FDSR and TFSS.

The unit is supplied with suction cups and a Velcro pad that can be used in states that do not allow devices to be attached to the windscreen.

By connecting the radar detector to your computer using the supplied USB cable, you can update the database and the firmware.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Equal performance to detectors costing twice as much
  • 200% increase in Ka detecting range (over CR90/CR93)
  • 150% increase in K-band range
  • Unique FDSR feature
  • Updatable database and firmware

Cons

  • User manual is hard to understand

The verdict

With the introduction of the CR97, Whistler has put themselves back into the game. We are impressed with the long-range detection and selective filtering options.

At half the price of the big boys, the CR97 provides similar highway performance to the Escort Max and Uniden R3.


4) Uniden DFR7 Review

We’ve included the Uniden DFR7 in the roundup because we feel it is a good alternative to the CR93 and CR97.

Even though it is not as good as some of the other top of the range detectors (ie twice the price), it performs well in its price range. It also has a built-in GPS which is not common at this price range.

When the Uniden DFR7 was tested against the Whistler CR93, it had a similar 2-mile detection result in the straight line test, but it was 150% more sensitive when targeted from the side. (Alerting at 0.45 miles instead of 0.3 miles) As most law enforcement officers shoot from the side of the road, the improved warning gives plenty of time to adjust your speed.

One of the best features is the overspeed alert. This is not found in the Whistler CR93 or CR97 models. By using the internal GPS database, the detector can warn you if you are traveling over the speed limit without relying on nearby police radar checks.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Overspeed Alert
  • Better detection than the CR93
  • Updatable GPS database
  • Good user guide

Cons

  • Less filtering options than the CR93

The verdict

This is an affordable radar detector with a reasonable range. With the built-in GPS and overspeed warning, you can normally find it online at Amazon for less than $200. In our eyes, this is a real bargain.

According to the manufacturer, it is also undetectable by Spectre I and IV


Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Also has Laser Detector
  • Built-in GPS of radar and non-radar threats
  • Stay Alert feature
  • English and Spanish
  • Improved off-axis detection

Cons

  • User manual is hard to follow
  • No overspeed alert

Conclusion

The affordable price point and built-in GPS makes the Whistler CR90 and CR93 a very appealing option. With over 1,000 positive reviews on Amazon and an average score of 4.5, you wouldn’t think you could go too far wrong getting a CR93.

However, in our opinion, the overall performance of these models are not as good as some of the latest products within the price range. (Eg the Whistler CR97 or the Uniden DFR7)

With the release of the CR97 model, Whistler has addressed many of the range and off-axis detection issues of earlier models. With a 150% and 200% increase in range on the K and Ka bands, these changes put the CR97 on a similar footing to its competitors.

When you consider it has a built-in GPS and can be purchased for less than $300, we feel the CR97 is a good option for around town. However, if you do a lot of highway driving and want a GPS enabled radar detector in this price range, we would recommend the Uniden DFR7 as a better option.

VIEW ON AMAZON

Image credits: amazon.com