Radar detectors have been commercially available for over half a century now, helping countless drivers save serious money by avoiding speeding tickets. While we don’t condone going over the limit on public roads, it’s not a bad idea to keep a little head up about cops running radar under the next overpass; that is exactly what the Escort Max 360c MKII is designed to do, so we wanted to give it a try.
We planned a road trip from our Ann Arbor, Michigan, headquarters to the New River Gorge area of West Virginia, with the Escort hitched the whole way. To be clear, this is NOT an instrumented test of the MKII – rather a demonstration of typical consumer use. We set it up, taped it to the windshield, and drove to the mountains and back, taking notes on the MKII’s performance. For our last instrumented radar detector test comparison, check out this article.
About radar detectors
Police radar primarily uses K- and Ka-band frequencies. X-bands may pop up, but they are rarely used these days. You’ll also hear the term “laser” thrown around, which is essentially a laser beam that’s extremely difficult to pick up unless it’s already aimed at your vehicle. You don’t want to encounter a police officer using a laser – it’s better to prepare for the ticket then and there.
Now, not every warning your radar detector displays is a cop out. We had plenty of false alarms on our road trip, and they can be set off by anything from other vehicles’ blind spot monitors to strip mall motion-detecting front doors—even other radar detectors. Higher-end detectors can filter this out, and with GPS lockout like the Escort has, the detector can “remember” where false alerts came from.
Notable features on the Escort Max 360c MKII
This is the second generation of Escort’s Max 360c, and the first improvement touted by the brand is a 50 percent increase in size over the previous generation. This is important because in our test of the Escort Max 360c MKI we noticed that the range distances were a little less than those of the competitors. This next generation improves on that nicely. Plus, a new DSP chip promises lightning-fast performance, dual-band Wi-Fi allows connected car capability, and new filtering software reduces false alerts.
The thing looks cool too, sleek on its magnetic mount. Blue directional arrows are designed to point to the source of the warning, but we found that they occasionally didn’t work or had a lag, just like with the MKI. Escort allows drivers to simply plug and play directly into the 12-volt socket. The power cable isn’t terribly long, so if your outlet is far from the mounting location, this could be a problem.
The brightness of the display screen is adjustable, and you can set the sensitivity setting to a variety of driving situations—we kept it on Auto or highway. There’s also a handy mute button on the power cord base for when things get really noisy.
For even more information and insight into your cruise, you can download the Escort Live app—it features community-based alerts for speed traps, police-spotted locations, and more. We tried it out and found it quite easy to pair with the radar, and the in-app experience was simple and informative. The only problem is that user-based alerts from, say, an hour ago often mean the officer is long gone.
The journey and our ride
Our destination was the New River Gorge area of West Virginia, which, if you haven’t been, is one of the most stunning areas east of the Rockies. We knew some mountain roads were in our future, so we crashed a Ford Bronco Everglades and hit the road.
The Bronco may not be a police magnet like a Lambo, but the brute still got a lot of attention. The radar detector was planted on the windshield, but just barely. The 12-volt socket is deep in the center console, and the detector’s power cord was at its length limit. It worked though, and we think the elevated position gave us a slight radar detection advantage.
More about the Escort Max 360c MKII
With nearly 1000 miles on our road trip, we’ve taken plenty of notes on the Escort’s performance. Setup was simple—plug and play, just like Escort said.
The MKII picked up a lot of K and Ka band readings, which blared obnoxiously enough to make us jump a little in our seats. We quickly turned down the volume. We would say there was about a 60:40 ratio of visible police presence to either an unseen policeman or false alarm with the K and Ka band alerts. We encountered three real speed traps, which the Escort warned us about with very advanced notice. 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 that the police had missed the detector. This may not be the Escort’s fault, but it is something to keep in mind with ownership of any radar detector.
The thing is not cheap, with prices usually around $700. However, you 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 a credit on your old radar detector when you upgrade and even a limited ticket warranty, meaning Escort will pay your speeding ticket in certain situations.
Yes, it is an expensive price, but the money goes to avoid spending on tickets. Depending on how often you get pulled over, this thing will pay for itself in time.
Overall, the Escort Max 360c MKII is an expensive yet technologically advanced radar detector. Using one is not an excuse to speed, but rather an early warning system for you to check your speedometer. It also doesn’t provide a bubble of invincibility, but can save you from otherwise hidden speed traps.
Our recommendation? If you get one, pair its use with a crowdsourced app like Waze, which can alert you to even more speed traps. We like using both the detector and Waze during the day, but you’ll definitely want to rely on the detector more at night.
So to reiterate, if this is your first time buying a radar detector, don’t expect a shield of speeding ticket invincibility. It just sniffs out Smokey running radar so you can check your speed and adjust accordingly. If you can bear the cost, the Escort Max 360c MKII is a good choice.
Associate Trade Editor
Collin Morgan is the Associate Commerce Editor at Hearst Autos, where he presents the best gear for your automotive endeavors. He’s been a technician in the trenches of Midwestern auto repair, explored the automotive sanctuaries in Central Italy, and now enjoys driving slow cars fast around various Michigan racetracks.