Escort Max 360 Radar and Laser Detector Review

Escort Max 360 Review

Is it important to have a radar detector? For some drivers, it’s an essential part of their vehicle. Many of these people drive for a living and really need a well-made, feature-rich radar detector to help them avoid being ticketed during their daily travels. These drivers aren’t necessarily trying to speed or break the law. People who drive for a living often find themselves in unfamiliar territory and simply do not always know the posted speed limits. Or they may become distracted while trying to find a certain address.

But does the average driver who traverses the same route all the time need an expensive radar detector? An expensive radar detector may have features that are rarely needed. The average driver may need nothing beyond the most basic feature of an entry level radar detector. It’s often difficult for these drivers to justify spending more than $70 or $80 on a sophisticated radar detector that they may never fully use. Are the extra features worth the extra expense? Reading this review of the Escort Max 360 can hopefully answer some questions and help you make a decision about spending the extra money on an expensive radar detector.

Description

The Escort Max 360 is a hefty, sate-of-the art radar detector that definitely isn’t for everyone. In its most basic form, it provides total 360 degree protection against radar and laser with long-range detection and super-fast response time. Combined with those features is the GPS-powered AutoLearn feature which rejects false alerts making the Max 360 pin-point accurate. Along with its directional alert display, the OLED screen provides drivers with a rich set of data that helps them monitor speed and any radar and laser alerts. This GPS-enabled radar detector connects to the Escort Live app and network where other motorists share real-time information about the location of police radar and speed traps.

Important Features

Dual Antennas

The Max 360 has front and rear antennas to provide 360 degree, long-range protection against all bands of radar and laser used throughout North America. This includes X, K, Ka, Pop, and Laser. For an explanation of the different types of radar and laser, see our Radar Band page.

Directional Arrows

The Max 360 has four direction arrows on the right side of the display. These arrows indicate the direction of the radar or laser threat. The display can show an arrow for one threat at a time or for multiple threats at a time. The arrows indicate front, left, right, and rear directions.

Defender Database on-board

Escort has built an extensive database of known speed trap and fixed-camera locations throughout the United States and Canada. Each week, Escort adds more red light and speed camera locations as they are discovered by drivers across North America. By connecting the Max 360 to any Internet-enabled PC or Mac, database and firmware updates can be installed via the USB port on the side of the radar detector. For the first 90 days, the updates are free. After that an update subscription must be purchased. Updates are not required and the Max 360 will continue to use the last Defender database installed. A 1-year subscription is currently $24.95 and a 3-year subscription is $49.95. It’s also important to note, that the driver can mark known locations of speed traps and speed camera locations. For drivers who travel the same route constantly, updates may not be as important as they are for someone who drives in many unfamiliar areas.

AutoLearn

In an effort to eliminate as many false alerts as possible, Escort has developed AutoLean technology. The Max 360 uses the GPS location and exact frequency of the signal being detected to learn and automatically reject unwanted, fixed-position false alerts. See more about this feature in the “Filtering” section below.

Mark Location

The driver can mark any fixed-position radar threat as they are encountered. The Max 360 will store the GPS location and exact radar frequency of the threat. This information is kept in the user portion of the Defender database and can be backed up on the Escort website for safe keeping.

AutoMute, SmartMute and CruiseAlert

When an alert is received, the Max 360 will sound the alert initially at your set volume level. If the alert continues to occur, AutoMute will turn down the volume of the alert automatically as to not become annoying to the driver.

If the Max 360 has already engaged AutoMute for one threat and it detects another higher priority threat, then it once again will sound an alert at the driver’s set volume, Once the higher priority alert has been sounded, the SmartMute feature will turn down the second alert as well. Both threats detected will be shown on the display but only the audio alert for the highest priority alert will be heard.

Alerts can be annoying when the vehicle is moving slowly or not moving at all. Escort has developed CruiseAlert to provide a single alert when the vehicle speed is less than 20 MPH. The 360 will emit one double-beep alert. The CruiseAlert speed is set to 20 MPH by default but can be changed by the driver.

SmartCord

This is a coiled cord that supplies power from the vehicle to the Max 360. The cord also has a base with a blue power indicator light and an orange alert light which will blink during an alert. The base has a Mute button which can be used instead of the mute button on the Max 360. Many drivers prefer using the mute button on the SmartCord base since it is closer to them than reaching for the radar detector which is in the center of the windshield and towards the back of the dash.

Multi-color OLED display

The multi-color display can be set to red, blue, green, or amber to match the dash lighting in most vehicles. The display can be set to any one of 4 brightness levels: dark, minimal, medium, and maximum. When in Dark mode, there is no indication that the radar detector is on. Any alerts will be audio only and will cause the alert light on the SmartCord to flash. By default, brightness is set to Auto which allows the Max 360 to adjust the display brightness according to ambient light.

Performance

The Escort Max 360 is not very difficult to install. However, there are a few tips that are essential for getting the most of your Max 360. Your radar detector should be installed on the windshield in the center between the driver and the passenger. The radar detector should be installed as low as possible while having a clear view out both the windshield and rear window. Make sure when picking a mounting location that the radar detector is not installed behind windshield wipers, heavily tinted areas, or electric heating elements.

Some vehicles may have an Athmeric Windshield installed which helps reduce glare by blocking UV rays entering the vehicle. These windshields also block GPS signals and radar signals from entering through the windshield. Vehicles with this type of windshield usually have special non-coated areas to allow for the mounting of GPS navigation and radar detector devices. Some vehicles made by BMW, Ford, and Mercedes may have an Athmeric Windshield.

To install the Max 360, first, clean the windshield well. Then peel the backing away from the StickyCup Mount. Press the StickyCup firmly to the windshield and flip the locking lever down. Slide the Max 360 onto the magnetic mounting bracket until it is firmly seated. To make the Max 360 level, loosen the thumb wheel to adjust the angle of the mounting bracket. Then tighten the thumb wheel.

Take the SmartCord and plug the small modular end into the Max 360. Plug the big end into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter socket or an available 12 volt DC accessory power socket. The Escort Max 360 should automatically turn on if there is power in the power socket (cigarette lighter). Some cars do not supply power to the accessory power outlets when the ignition key is in the OFF position. If the Max 360 does not automatically turn on, make sure your ignition switch is in the ACC or RUN position. Then press the power button on the top of the unit.

Once you have the Escort Max 360 installed, it is important to become familiar with it before you use it during driving. This is a much more advanced radar detector and it has many features and settings that can be customized. Thankfully, Escort defaults the Max 360 with the most commonly used settings right out of the box. The radar detector will operate in Novice mode with sensitivity set to Auto and Brightness set to Auto. These settings will give you the best protection right out of the box. Settings and preferences can be customized further once you become more familiar with the Max 360.

The selling points for this detector are its long-range detection, its lighting fast detection and response time, and its threat direction arrows. These appear to be the features that drivers find most useful. Again and again, drivers who review the Max 360 have commented on its long range detection which provides more than enough time to react to an upcoming radar threats. Some drivers have stated that the Max 360 can easily detect police radar that is three miles away on a straight road. Some drivers find the threat direction arrows very helpful and use this information to help make braking and acceleration decisions. Other drivers say they don’t really pay attention to the arrows.

Threat direction arrows work in one of three modes. The threat direction arrows can be configured to show just one radar or laser threat at a time. In Single mode, this threat will be the most significant threat at the time in the event there are multiple threats. The arrows will show the direction in relation to the vehicle of the primary threat.

When configured to show multiple threats, the Max 360 will make the arrow blink for the primary threat and any other threat arrows will remain solid. When lit up, the front and side arrows will show in the same color as the rest of the display. The rear arrow will show in an opposite color as explained in the owner’s manual in greater detail.

The threat direction arrow display can also operate in Band mode. Each radar band is given a specific color code. A X-band radar threat is green, a K-band radar threat is blue, and a Ka-band/laser threat is red. When a threat is detected, the arrow will light showing the direction of the threat with its corresponding color. In a multiple threat scenario, the primary or most significant threat will blink the direction arrow and show its corresponding color. Any other threat arrows will light solid and display in the designated color code.

The color display also shows the threat type and its signal strength. In Standard display mode, the band (X, K, Ka, Laser) of the threat will be shown along with its signal strength bar graph. When a Laser signal is detected, the display will read “Laser” no matter how weak the signal strength. When multiple threats are detected, the Max 360 will determine which one is the primary threat and display information about it first.

By default, the Max 360 is set to a display mode called Standard FR1 where both threat band type and direction are shown along with a bar graph of front and rear signal strength. The strongest signal strength among front and rear bar graphs indicates the direction of the source. This display mode also only shows information about the most important radar/laser threat as determined by the Escort.

Want a little more information? There is Standard FR2 mode where the display can show up to two threats at once. The primary threat is shown on the left with the second most serious threat being shown to its right. When only one threat is being detected both the front and rear signal strength bar graphs will appear. When two threats are being detected only the strongest of the front or rear signal strength bar graph will be shown for each threat. Front signal strength and rear signal strength will appear in different colors, blue and red for example, depending upon the colors chosen for the display.

For more experienced users, the Max 360 has Spec FR1 mode. In this mode, the most significant threat is displayed on the screen. The Max 360 will display the type and direction of the primary threat along with its front and rear signal strength bar graph and its frequency.

Other advanced user display modes include Spec FR2 and Expert FR. Spec FR2 can display up to two threats at a time. Each threat displayed will include it’s type, front and/or rear signal strength bar graph, and its frequency. In Expert FR display mode, the Max 360 can display up to four simultaneous threats. The display will include the threat band type along with the front and/or rear signal strength bar graph of each. Expert FR mode does not display the frequency of any threat.

It is also worth noting that locked-out signals will be shown on the display when they are detected. However, the information displayed about the threat will be gray instead of being displayed in color. During a locked-out threat alert, no audible alert will be issued.

The display will also show two numbers on the left side. This is the Speed Display. The first number is the Over-Limit speed which Escort sets at 70 MPH by default but can be changed by the user. This number has “OSP” displayed under it. When connected to Escort Live, the Over-Limit speed is the posted speed for your area if known and will have MPH displayed. The second number is the vehicle’s current speed as determined through GPS. If the vehicle reaches the Over-Limit speed, the background for the current speed will change to red. The Speed Display can be turned off by the user if this feature is not needed. In the event Speed Display is turned off, the vehicle’s battery voltage will be displayed instead.

Along with a visual display of radar and laser alerts comes audio alerts. By default, the Max 360 is set to use Standard alert mode with Geiger counter type tones. These tones increasingly repeat faster and faster as the radar/laser signal strength becomes stronger indicating the source is coming closer to the vehicle. There are separate tones for X-band, K-band, Ka-Band, Laser, and Pop signals. There is also Standard Plus mode where standard tones are used for the primary threat alert and double-tone sounds are used for any additional alerts.

The Max 360 also offers Mild alert mode. Theses are softer, simpler tones which are less distracting to the driver. In this alert mode, X, K, Ka, and Pop radar alerts are a doorbell chime sound. Low signal strength is indicated by a double chime. High signal strength is signaled by a triple chime. If an alert lasts more than 15 seconds, a single chime is issued. Laser alerts have the usual single “brat” sound.

The 360 also has Voice announcements in English or Spanish for alerts and selection feedback. Voice announcements are enabled by default but can be turned off.

Audio alerts can be muted as well by simply pressing the MUTE button during an alert on either the Max 360 or on the SmartCord. Once the threat has passed, mute will be deactivated and the next threat will sound an audio alert as usual.

The Escort Max 360 uses the Defender Database to help locate known sources of red light and fixed-position speed cameras. Unfortunately, more and more cameras and speed monitoring equipment is installed every day. Once the driver has discovered a location not defined in the database, the location and signal can be marked for future automatic alerts. To mark a location as a source of police radar, press the MRK button. The display will show “Mark?”. Press MRK again to bring up a list of marker labels. Use the + and – buttons to select the appropriate label. Press MRK one more time to confirm the selection. “Marked” will be displayed on the 360’s screen.

Marker labels include: Red Light Camera, Red Light & Speed Camera, Speed Camera, Speed Trap, and Other. Once the location has been marked for the first time, the vehicle must travel at least one mile before an alert will sound at that location again. The Max 360 will provide advanced warning when marker locations are approached. Locations marked as Red Light Camera and Red Light & Speed Camera will receive an alert when within 250 feet or 10 seconds. Speed Camera locations will receive an alert when with 500 feet for speeds below 55 MPH or within 1,000 feet for speeds 55 MPH and over. Speed Trap locations will receive an alert when within approximately 1,584 feet (0.3 miles). Locations marked as Other will be treated the same as Speed Camera locations.

There are a few things the Escort Max 360 cannot do. It cannot detect Traffic Safety Warning signals which warn of upcoming emergency and traffic hazards. While this system is not currently in wide-spread use across North America, its use is growing in numbers every day. This would be an important feature that would help the Max 360 remain somewhat future-proof.

Also, the Max 360 can be detected by police using radar detector detectors. Also, this radar detector cannot detect the use of VG-2 or Spectre I/IV radar detector detectors. While this may appear to be a big issue, in reality it only effects a small portion of radar detector owners. Radar detectors are legal to use on non-commercial vehicles across 49 states in the U.S. Only Virginia and Washington, DC, have made their use illegal. Unfortunately, most Canadian provinces have outlawed the use of radar detectors.

Filtering

Unfortunately no detector is perfect and there are many instances where they will report false alerts to the driver. Occasional false alerts are to be expected and most drivers would rather be safe than sorry. But too many false alerts can be annoying and distracting. False alerts mostly come from X-band and K-band radar. X-band radar is rarely used by police these days. It was largely being phased out about 20 years ago. But there are times when a driver may encounter it. X-band false alerts are mostly caused by automatic door openers, motion sensors for security systems, and microwave communications towers.

The K-band also now heavily used for non-police purposes. K-band radar is also used in automatic door openers and motion sensing equipment. However, K-band radar is still in wide-spread use and should be taken seriously until its source can be determined to be non-police related.

To aid the driver as much as possible, the Escort Max 360 has a number of built-in filtering features which will help eliminate or at least reduce false alerts. The filtering features are discussed below.

Highway, Auto, or Auto No X

The Max 360 can be set to one of three sensitivity modes. Escort recommends Auto mode for everyday driving. At the Auto level, the Max 360 will continuously analyze incoming signals and intelligently adjusts the sensitivity to provide long-range warnings with minimal false alarms. There is also Highway mode which sets the sensitivity to its maximum level for all radar bands. For those who want to avoid X-band radar alerts, the Auto No X provides the benefits of the Auto sensitivity mode while ignoring any X-band radar signals. Sensitivity can be adjusting by pressing the SEN button to cycle through each selection.

The user can also individually modify detection of radar and laser. The user can turn off X, K, Ka, Ka Pop, Laser, and TSR (automatic Traffic Sensor Rejection). By default detection of all these bands is set to On. Only Ka Pop is turned off by default and must be enabled by the user. Ka Pop signal detection is very sensitive and can produce many more false alerts.

TrueLock

The Escort Max 360 is equipped with a TrueLock GPS Filter to lock out and store in memory any false alerts. For any X-band, K-band, or laser false alert, simply press the MUTE button three times (on the 360 itself or on the SmartCord) while the alert is taking place. The first press will silence the alert as usual. The second press will cause the 360 to display a prompt which reads “Lockout?”. The third press confirms the lockout. The radar or laser signal’s frequency and GPS location will be stored in memory. The Max 360 will display “Stored” to confirm the signal and location have been stored in memory. The next time the vehicle approaches this location and the same signal is detected, the Max 360 will display an alert on the screen but no audio alert will occur.

To unlock a stored signal and location, simply press and hold the detector MUTE or SmartCord MUTE button while receiving the locked-out alert. The display will read “Unlock?”. Press MUTE at either location to confirm the unlock. The display will show “Unlocked”. GPS filtering can be turned off if desired. However, this will disable all GPS-enabled features.

AutoLearn

One of the most annoying aspect of any detector is when it “falses” or gives false alarms. Escort has developed AutoLearn to help reduce or even eliminate false alerts. The digital signal processor inside the Max 360 analyzes the radar signal and its strength to determine if it is police radar or just another source of X- or K-band radar. If it is determined that the radar source is not radar, the GPS location and exact radar signal frequency are stored in the Max 360’s database as a source of false radar signals. The Max 360 will not sound an alert but will indicate an alert on the display. Police radar signals will not be blocked and an alert will be sounded if it is truly a police radar signal being received.

The Max 360 must analyze signals over time and does not automatically lockout signals when first encountered. In fact, it takes an average of three encounters of the same signal frequency at the same GPS location before the AutoLearn feature will lockout the signal. When a signal is locked out, the display will show “Stored”. From this point on, the display will indicate the signal is locked out and no audio alert will occur. AutoLearn can also unlearn signals. If the Escort Max 360 no longer detects a signal at a locked out location, the signal will be unlocked to protect against possibly missing a signal at that location at a later time. AutoLearn can be turned off and is set to On by default.

IVT Filtering

As cars and trucks become more sophisticated, manufactures are making use of radar to monitor the vehicle’s position and speed. Some of this technology can cause false alerts since it emits K-band radar signals. Escort uses In-Vehicle Technology filtering to reduce false alerts from in-vehicle sources such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and collision avoidance systems. This is a software based technology and can be updated when needed through firmware updates.

Mute

Once an alert has been activated, it can be silenced at any time. Simply press and release MUTE on the unit itself or on the SmartCord. To lock out a false alert, press MUTE three times. While receiving a locked out alert, press MUTE twice and unlock the alert.

When connected to Escort Live and a X or K radar alert occurs, press and hold the MUTE button to manually report the verified source to the rest of the Escort Live network. This option also can be used to report a police officer observing traffic even if radar is not being used at that location.

Escort Live Network

Escort has created the Escort Live Community to provide drivers with real-time ticket protection. Joining ESCROT Live is free. Using your smartphone, simply download the Escort Live app from the Google Pay store or Apple’s iTunes. Once the app is installed create an account on Escort Live and you’re ready to go. In addition, the app also allows the user to manage the Max 360’s settings through his or her smartphone instead of using the buttons on the radar detector.

All Escort Live members will receive “Police Spotted” speed trap alerts, mobile and fixed-position speed camera alerts, multiple map and dashboard views on their smartphone, the ability to share their threat reports with the Escort Live network, and receive automatic reminders of previously marked locations.

X-band and K-band alerts are not automatically shared due to the large number of false alerts from these bands. The driver has the option of sharing these threats if they are credible and useful to other drivers. Laser and Ka-band radar alerts are never false alerts and are automatically shared with the Escort Live community.

For an extra $49.99 per year (or $4.99 per month), upgrade to Escort Live Premium. With Premium, the driver will also receive real-time alerts from other radar detector users in the area; detailed threat information including time-sensitive color-coded warning icons on screen; GPS-guided information about vehicle speed, posted speed limit, over speed limit alerts, and compass and directional headings.

Additional features

User Mode

The Max 360 has two user modes of operation. For those drivers who don’t have a lot of experience with radar detectors or don’t want to change many settings, there’s Novice Mode. In Novice mode, only the display color and units of measurement (English or Metric) can be changed. All other settings are set to the factory default values. To view or change any other settings, the Max 360 must be placed into Advanced mode. This mode allows the driver to fully customize the Max 360’s settings and preferences.

StickyCup

The Escort Max 360 comes with a StickyCup Mount for attaching it to the windshield. The radar detector can be attached and removed easily simply by pushing it onto the mount or by pulling it off. The mount is magnetic and firmly holds the Max 360 in place without the need for a release button or lever.

The StickyCup can be easily removed from the windshield as well. Simply lift the locking lever and pull the tab at the base of the StickyCup. The StickyCup can be cleaned simply by running it under warm water and gently wiping away any dirt. Allow the StickyCup to air dry and it’s good as new.

Earphone jack

The Max 360 has an audio jack for attaching an earphone or external speaker. This is especially useful for driving in a noisy environment or for motorcyclists.

Web-enabled

The user can plug the Max 360 into any Internet-enabled PC or Mac and connect to the Escort website. New database updates and firmware can be downloaded. User data also can be backed up for safe keeping.

Accessories

The Escort Max 360 comes ready to install with the included Sticky Cup magnetic windshield mount, SmartCord power adapter, quick reference guide, and soft shell case. Optional accessories include the Escort Live SmartCord.

Dimensions & weight

• Height: 1.36″
• Width: 3.60″
• Length: 5.43″

Pros

• 360 degree direction alert arrows
• front and rear antennas
• GPS powered to reject false alerts
• Bluetooth enabled
• Real-time ticket protection network with Escort Live
• USB port for installing software and database updates
• Weekly Defender Database updates
• Digital signal processing for extreme range with quick response time
• 5 brightness settings with full dark mode
• Quick release from magnetic windshield mount

Cons

• Expensive
• More complicated to setup and use
• Can be detected by police radar detector detectors
• Cannot detect VG-2 or Spectre I/IV radar detector detectors
• Cannot detect Traffic Safety Warning system signals
• Defender Database updates are free for only the first 90 days
• Must have paid subscription for Premium Escort Live access

Consumer Ratings for Escort Max 360

The Escort Max 360 is one of the best performers on the market. About 53% of online reviewers give it a 5-star rating. The owners site excellent range and receiving alerts well in advance of actually seeing any police radar sources. The AutoLearn feature is another valued trait. Drivers like not having to manually reject false alerts so much.

About 14% of raters give it a 1-star rating. One big problem that plagues many windshield mounted radar detectors is that they tend to fall off especially during bumpy rides. Escort has made some improvements with the introduction of its sticky cup.

The StickyCup works well if it remains sticky. Any dirt on the windshield or on the sticky surface and the cup won’t stay attached to the windshield. As advised earlier, it is important to clean the windshield well and don’t remove the protective backing from the StickyCup until it is ready to be installed.

Many users are also reporting that the StickyCup mount explodes with the locking latch and spring flying out. It’s simple to put back together but causes the StickyCup mount to come unattached. This seems to be a common complaint that Escort needs to address.

Escort Max 360 Price

The Escort Max 360 will run you on average about $600 with most retailers not going above $650. When purchased directly from Escort for about $650, you receive the Escort Radar Guarantee. If you get a radar or laser speeding ticket while using the Max 360, Escort will pay it for you.
Unfortunately, purchasing the Max 360 is not your final expense. A subscription to the Escort Live network is free as is the Escort Live app. The Premium upgrade goes for $49.95 per year but does add some very useful information to the Escort Live app. In addition, to keep the Defender database updated, a subscription is needed which will cost another $24.95 per year or $49.95 for three years. These subscriptions are not crucial to the operation of the Max 360 but not opting for them will definitely limit the full functionality of the Max 360.

Conclusion

The Escort Max 360 is one of the heftiest radar detectors on the market in both size and price. For someone who drives in many unfamiliar areas, this is most likely one of the best investments he or she can make. For the average person, this may not be the best choice. The different display modes and the alert direction arrows present the user with a good amount of information about threats which are occurring. But these features could be overkill.

The alert direction arrows are one of the major selling points. But is it absolutely necessary to know the direction of the threat? Most people will receive a radar/laser threat and immediately slow down until they know its safe to resume normal travel. Along with the directional arrow alerts come Escort’s long-range detection and lightening quick response time. These features are important to most drivers since they provide the driver with a greater advanced warning and thus providing the driver with much more time to react to an alert.

For some drivers who don’t drive in many unfamiliar areas, the added cost is worth it to receive the long-range detection and longer alert time on the highway. Others may feel the Max 360 is too complicated and there will be too many unused features. These people will be better off purchasing a lower cost radar detector with as many similar features as possible.

Escort Max 360 Radar Detector

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Escort Max 360 Radar and Laser Detector
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