The interior of most modern cars is a remarkably effective isolation chamber that blocks out road noise, vibrations, and all the sensations that normally say, “slow down.” No wonder even the unassuming Toyota Camry will have you reaching for the brake pedal after noticing that you’re well above the posted limits on the highway. If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, those oversights can quickly become an expensive ticket.
Maybe you need an Escort. The Ohio-based company has been selling radar detectors since the days when you had to order them out of the back pages of magazines, and the new Max 360c is its most advanced solution yet, with features like Wi-Fi, AutoLearn to block false alerts, and the Escort Live app for sharing alerts with other drivers.
But at $700, it’s literally the most expensive radar detector you can buy. Can it possibly be worth the staggering price tag?
Wi-Fi and a whole lot more
Escort is well known for the previous Max 360 model, released in 2015, but its rounded exterior already looks dated. The Max 360c modernizes the body with a premium, more angular look that’s much closer to the style of the Escort iX detector. The body is covered in a textured black plastic with silver buttons and front fascia. Unlike the regular Max 360, with directional arrows on the right side, the 360c places the 360-degree alert arrows all around the front display. The box includes a 12V charging SmartCord with 2-amp USB charging port, and an EZ Mag Mount, all of which fit neatly in the included Escort travel case.
Internally, the Max 360c is nearly identical to the regular Max 360, with the ability to detect laser or X, K, and KA radio bands with a range of over 2,500 ft. Four different modes are tailored to eliminate false alerts in different driving scenarios: Highway, Auto, Auto No X, and Auto Lo K. Escort’s AutoLearn technology can also recognize false alerts localized to an area you frequent, and automatically lock them out. A crystal-clear OLED display can shift between blue, red, green, or amber.
The Max 360c can connect to the internet via a modern car’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi system or by tethering to your phone.
The main differentiating feature between this new 360c and the cheaper Max 360 is the addition of an Wi-Fi, as the “c” stands for “Connected Car.” This means that the Max 360c can connect to the internet via a modern car’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi system or by tethering to your phone’s hotspot function. We also discovered that the system was also able to connect to our home Wi-Fi in the garage.
Escort promotes this feature as a way to instantly download firmware updates and connect to Escort Live for crowd-sourced alerts. Normally, you would have to connect the device to your computer via USB to download and push any firmware updates. However, older detectors like the Max 360 have only received a few firmware updates over the life of the device, and they aren’t common enough that the Wi-Fi system offers a considerable benefit.
The Escort Live crowd-sourcing capability is also possible if you connect a phone through Bluetooth to your detector and use the Escort Live app for alerts. But if you don’t want to bother with fumbling to connect Bluetooth and open the Escort Live app each time you drive, and have Wi-Fi available, then this feature may be worth the cost.
The first thing we noticed when setting off is the near-perfect accuracy of the speed sensitive “Cruise Alert” feature that mutes any alerts until you reach normal driving speeds. Other detectors with similar features like the older Beltronics GT-7 seem to spit out too many alerts when driving at low speeds through a shopping center. You can even modify the default setting of 20 mph if alerts are too frequent when driving through surface streets, where threats are low. When connected to Escort Live, alerts will only sound when driving at, or over, the speed limit it pulls from the database. Unfortunately, there are times when the app assumes a higher speed limit, and we wish you could modify settings to change the alert speed.
On a longer highway trip, we dialed the settings to the “Auto No X” mode and found that false alarms were extremely rare. We did find that a couple vehicles with blind-spot monitoring systems still triggered an alert, even with Escort’s improved BSM filtering system in place. However, these filters are much better than they were in the past, and alerts are infrequent.
Actual alerts from a strong Ka-band signal were detected early, and the directional arrows worked well to pinpoint the location. AutoMute helped to silence the alarm noise after the first couple of notices and the “mute” button on the SmartCord was easy to reach for quickly silencing alerts.
Worried about getting an alert from the same road sign or automatic door over and over again? The Max 360c’s AutoLearn feature was able to recognize false alerts on our local commute, and blocked them out after passing by the same location several times.
Escort warranties all of its radar products from any defects in workmanship for one year from the original purchase date. And there’s another big perk: Escort will pay for any speeding ticket you receive in the first year of ownership. Exclusions surely apply, but Escort will pay up to $250 off tickets where a radar was proven to catch you speeding, twice per Escort device. If you anticipate a rough life for your poor Max 360c, an Extended Service Plan can also buy two more years of warranty coverage for $30.Our Take
The Escort Max 360 and this Max 360c are truly the best you can buy when it comes to a radar detector technology. However, the $50 upgrade for the 360c doesn’t really seem worth it considering the limited benefits of the Wi-Fi connection, especially when the standard Max 360 is already expensive at $650.
Is there a better alternative?
Yes, the regular Escort Max 360 is already the ideal premium radar detector and can accomplish nearly all that the Max 360c can for $50 less.
How long will it last?
With direct firmware updates through Wi-Fi, the Max 360c will always have the latest information on things like speed cameras, and should give you accurate warnings for years to come.
Should you buy it?
No. Unless you have a Wi-Fi system in your car and can’t be bothered to connect to Escort Live through your phone, then the additional cost to an already expensive product won’t be worth it.