Knowledge is power. It's an axiom as old as time...or at least Francis Bacon. It's also a good summary of the reason to buy a radar detector.
You don't have to be a speed demon, street racer or other form of chronically reckless driver to understand the appeal in knowing where ticket-happy cops are hiding on the highway; pretty much all of us have exceeded the legal limit on occasion. With cars growing more powerful by the year and traffic flowing faster than ever, it's all too easy to accidentally wind up doing 18 over the limit without realizing it. And if you happen to get nabbed, well — between the actual fine and any subsequent increases in your car insurance rate, even a single ticket can wind up costing as much or more than a good radar detector.
And Escort's radar detectors have long been at the top of the heap. The brand offers several options at different price points, but the flagship models for some time have been the Redline 360c and the Max 360c, both of which offer 360-degree detection, advanced software tricks for filtering out false alarms, and arrows that tell you which direction the enemy radar is coming from. (The Redline's biggest differentiation — apart from a darkened palette — is the ability to ostensibly go undetected by radar detector detectors, which are indeed a thing to be worried about if you live in Virginia or drive a semi.)
For 2022, though, the Max 360c has scored an upgrade: the Escort Max 360c MKII, which promises impressive upgrades in range and capability. We took it for a spin to see how its bold claims stand up to the real world.
What's Good About the Escort Max 360c MKII
This radar detector is insanely good at picking out police.
At the heart of the MKII lies a combination of two antennas — one pointed forward, one pointing back — tuned to pick up radio frequencies in the radar bands, and a computer in the middle that sorts it all out and reveals what it sees on a little LCD display. While it may not look much different outside, the 2022 model boasts upgrades to both sets of systems.
The results speak for themselves: compared with my previous Max 360c, the MKII proved both capable of picking up police radar at a greater distances and processing what it saw more quickly, with less lag in its responses. Not that the old model was bad, mind you — but the new one is definitely a legitimate upgrade in terms of capabilities.
It's smart enough to not bother you with too many non-cop radar signals.
In this day and age, the road is awash in radar emissions. Most active cruise control systems and emergency braking setups use radar; some blind-spot awareness features use it, too; and don't forget all the automatic doors on stores, hospitals and other buildings that use the miracle of radio detection and ranging to figure out if you're heading towards them and Star Trek-swooshing open before you can run into the glass.
A good radar detector needs to sift out the wheat from the chaff, or else it might as well be useless. The Max 360c MKII does this remarkably well; in my testing, false signals from any of the above never cropped up once to strike panic into my heart.
The Max 360c MKII is configurable, upgradable and adaptable.
When you buy an Escort radar detector, you're also diving into an ecosystem. You can add on a dash cam or an on-board WiFi hot-spot — which is handy, because the Max 360c MKII can update its software over-the-air. Subscribe to the company's Defender database ($25 for one year or $50 for three), and your radar detector will stay up-to-date with the location of speed and red light cameras all across America. You can even pair the radar detector up with a phone app to adjust it more easily — a much easier task than trying to use the integral controls, which are about as intuitive as a Reagan-era VCR.
What's Not Ideal about the Escort Max 360c MKII
It's almost too sensitive.
When Escort announced that the MKII boasted 50 percent improved range over its predecessor, I was a tad incredulous. After all, the original 360c was already capable of picking out radar emissions from well beyond visual range; how much better could it really get?
In practice, however, it seems to be true — which means it almost gives you too much warning. Generally speaking, I'm of the habit of slowing down as soon as the radar detector starts to chirp, especially if it's shouting in the Ka-band frequencies primarily used by cops. The MKII, however, often starts chirping well over a mile before you actually reach the 5-0, and sometime almost that far before you even see them. During my testing, I'd hear the tell-tale Ka-band chirp and see the signal detection bars sequentially light up to the max, lift off the gas and tap the brakes to bring down my speed to the limit...
...until, after a minute of driving, I'd finally spot a cop sitting on the side of the highway. Or, often times, I never even saw any fuzz at all; with such range under the hood, it often picks up police cars that are on other nearby roads entirely.
Granted, I'd rather have a radar detector that's too sensitive rather than one that's not sensitive enough. Still, I'd love to see the MKII offer some way of better gauging the distance to the threat — different types of alerts, slower-activating signal bars, etc.
The Escort Max 360c MKII: The Verdict
At $700 (though you can often find it on sale, even on Escort's own website), the Max 360c MKII is hardly cheap; you can buy a pretty damn good iPad for that much, or one hell of a pair of headphones, even a decent set of winter tires. Still, used correctly, it offers a delightful dose of peace of mind. The hunter becomes the hunted; you discover when the police aren't using their radar and when they are — and in the latter case, where they are well before they see you. It's like having a superpower...and who wouldn't want that?