Radar detectors have been commercially available for over half a century, helping countless drivers save serious money by avoiding speeding tickets. While we don’t condone speeding on public roads, it’s a good idea to warn the cops running their radar under the next overpass; that’s exactly what Escort Max 360c MKII designed for that, so we wanted to give it a try.
We planned a trip from our headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan to the New River Gorge area of West Virginia, escorted the entire way. To be clear, this is NOT an instrument test of the MKII, but a demonstration of typical consumer use. We installed it, taped it to the windshield, and drove it up the mountains and back, recording the MKII’s performance. For our latest radar detector testing comparison, read this article.
About radar detectors
Police radar uses mainly K- and Ka-band frequencies. X-bands may appear, but are very rarely used nowadays. You’ll also hear the term “laser,” which is essentially a laser beam that’s extremely difficult to capture unless it’s already aimed at your vehicle. You don’t want to run into a cop using a laser – better prepare for a fine right away.
Now, not every warning your radar detector displays is a police alert. We had plenty of false alarms on our cross-country trip, and they could be caused by anything from other cars’ blind spot monitors to shopping mall front doors with motion detection—even other radar detectors. Higher end detectors can filter them out, and with a GPS lock like the Escort, the detector can “remember” where the false signals are coming from.
Notable features of the Escort Max 360c MKII
This is the second generation of the Escort Max 360c, and the first improvement touted by the brand is a 50 percent increase in range compared to the previous generation. This is important because in our test of the Escort Max 360c MKI we noticed that the distance ranges were a little tighter than the competition. This next generation improves on that nicely. In addition, a new DSP chip promises lightning-fast performance, dual-band Wi-Fi enables car connectivity, and new filtering software reduces false alarms.
This thing looks cool, too, sitting smoothly on its magnetic mount. The blue directional arrows are meant to point to the source of the warning, but we found that this sometimes didn’t work or had a delay, just like with the MKI. Escort allows drivers to simply plug and run directly into a 12-volt outlet. The power cord is not very long, so if your outlet is far from the mounting location, this may be a problem.
The brightness of the display screen is adjustable and you can set the sensitivity setting according to different traffic situations – we put it in Auto or Highway mode. There’s also a handy mute button on the base of the power cord for when it gets really noisy.
For more information and insight into your cruise, you can download the Escort Live app — it features community-based alerts about speed cameras, police sightings, and more. We tried it out and found it quite easy to connect to the radar and interacting with the app was simple and informative. The only problem is that often alerts from users, say an hour ago, mean that the employee has been gone for a long time.
The trip and our trip
Our destination was the New River Gorge area of West Virginia, which, if you haven’t been, is one of the most beautiful areas east of the Rockies. We knew some mountain roads were in our future, so we hooked a Ford Bronco Everglades and set off.
The Bronco may not have been the police magnet that the Lambo was, but the beast still attracted plenty of attention. The radar detector was placed on the windshield, but barely. The 12-volt outlet is deep in the center console, and the length of the annunciator’s power cord has been maximized. However, it worked and we believe the elevation gave us a slight advantage in radar detection.
Learn more about the Escort Max 360c MKII
With nearly 1,000 miles on our trip, we took lots of notes on the Escort’s performance. Setup was easy—plug and play, as Escort said.
The MKII was getting plenty of K- and Ka-band readings, growling so obnoxiously that we bounced a little in our seats. We quickly turned the volume down. We’d say the ratio of visible police presence to invisible police or false alarms with K-band and Ka-band alerts was about 60:40. We ran into three real speed traps that the escort had warned us about in advance. So far, the escort seemed to be doing its job.
But we were not blinded by a false sense of security. We began to notice policemen who were missed by the detector. It may not be the Escort’s fault, but it’s something to keep in mind if you own any kind of radar detector.
It’s not cheap, usually around $700. However, you will get a lot of bells and whistles with this radar detector, and Escort is a reliable brand. Heck, Escort offers a trade-in program so you can earn credit on your old radar detector when you upgrade and even a Limited Ticket Guaranteewhich means that Escort will pay a speeding fine in certain situations.
Yes, it’s a high price, but the money goes to making sure you don’t waste money on tickets. Depending on how often you get stopped, this thing will pay for itself over time.
Overall, the Escort Max 360c MKII is an expensive but technologically advanced radar detector. Using one is not an excuse to speed, but rather an early warning system so you can check the speedometer. It also doesn’t give you an invincibility bubble, but it can save you from hidden traps.
Our recommendation? If you get one, combine its use with a crowd-sourced app like Waze, which can warn you of even higher speeds. We like using both the detector and Waze during the day, but you’ll probably want to rely more on the detector at night.
So, again, if you’re buying a radar detector for the first time, don’t expect a speeding ticket invincibility shield. It simply sniffs out Smokey’s running radar so you can double-check your speed and adjust accordingly. If you can move the cost, The Escort Max 360c MKII is a solid choice.
Deputy commercial editor
Colin Morgan is Associate Commercial Editor at Hearst Autos, where he brings you the best gear for your automotive endeavors. He’s been a technician in the auto repair trenches of the Midwest, explored automotive shrines in central Italy, and now enjoys making slow cars go fast at various Michigan racetracks.