I don’t drive that fast.
I mean, sure, I’m never the slowest car on the road. Sometimes, I’m the fastest. But compared to other automotive journalists, I’m a saint! The average car writer, fueled by a dangerous combination of periodic track-driving instruction at new vehicle launches and the confidence that comes with driving someone else’s car, tends to drive like they’re being chased by Formula 1 drivers turned into vampires.
Still, I will fully admit: from a letter-of-the-law standpoint, I might occasionally exceed the speed limit. So, just to be on the safe side, I almost never climb into a car I’m driving without my radar detector: the Escort Max 360c.
Using a radar detector feels like gaining a sixth sense (and not the kind that lets you see dead people). Police cars well out of sight ahead of you are suddenly revealed; not just the ones occupying speed traps, but the ones that are just driving down the road ahead of or behind you. (Lots of cops, it turns out, leave their radars on all the time.) You come to learn how many of those police cars sitting along the roadside seemingly waiting to pounce on speeders actually don’t have their radar on at all, but are merely there to caution against going too fast. You learn that many of those electronic orange-and-black road signs spit out radar beams as well, in case they ever need to be coopted to tell you your speed.
But all that applies to any radar detector, in theory. So why am I kind of obsessed with the Max 360c? Well, simply put, because it’s the best radar detector on the market.
A cheap radar detector is one you can’t trust, which makes for a bad wingman; indeed, if anything, the false sense of security it can instill makes you more likely to get pinched. The Max 360c’s $650 price tag may be steep, but that buys you a machine with all the latest and greatest in tech: front and rear antennas that pair with directional arrows to tell you not just how strong a radar signal is, but where it’s coming from; GPS-connected AutoLearning, which enables it to learn your routes and filter out repetitive fake signals; and, by connecting with a Wi-Fi signal (either one in your car or from your house), it can update itself to new speed traps, speed cameras and red light cameras from a crowd-sourced network of users on a constant basis — as well as connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth to enable you to hop into the Escort Live community yourself.
And like many great devices, the Max 360c rewards you more the more you get to know its features. Delve into the settings (a task that, admittedly, could be easier, as the controls are hardly intuitive), and you can change no fewer than 24 different settings, ranging from the aesthetics (the color of the OLED display) to the radar and laser bands it scans. If your car uses lasers or radar for its active cruise control or other safety systems and it interferes with the detector, you can always disable those frequencies. You can even choose how much information you want it to bombard you with by switching between Novice and Advanced modes.
Oh, and one more thing: Escort is confident enough in their products to offer a ticket guarantee: if you get a speeding ticket while using one of their detectors, they’ll pay you back for the amount of the ticket, up to $250. How’s that for standing by a product?
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