The Escort Max 360c is the most sophisticated radar detector that I've reviewed. It doesn’t just rely on the GPS to filter out false alerts, but uses it to help you maintain awareness of your driving habits. The display is miles ahead of other detectors, in terms of readability and quality. Not only did the detector performed the best but it was also the easiest to use. It's our pick for the best radar detector overall because it's designed to improve your driving habits.
The Escort Max 360c's highway performance was impressive, receiving an A grade by comparison to the other detectors. Only the Valentine One and the Escort RedLine EX had longer ranges on average. In some tests, the difference between those detectors and the Max 360's range was less than 30 yards. The biggest range difference was 0.2 miles on the perpendicular test where the gun is aimed across the road. Even then, the Max 360's range was measured at a half mile, which should be plenty of range for you to adjust your speed, unless you're driving at ridiculously fast speeds.
The city performance was even better, earning the Max 360c an A+. With directional arrows, it tells you whether the radar is coming from in front, behind, left or right. This makes it exceptionally easy to find the source quickly. In addition, the internal GPS automatically adjusts the sensitivity according to your speed. If you're driving very slowly and you drive past a radar source, you'll still receive a visual alert, but you won't be bothered with beeping. As you drive faster, the sensitivity increases and you're more likely to receive alerts from both police radar and false source, like motion detectors, but this helps you keep your driving awareness high without becoming too annoying and without missing potential threats.
The Max 360c is the easiest radar detector for novice users. The only detectors that come close are other Escort detectors. They are designed to be used right out of the box. There's almost no learning curve associated with this device. The controls are labeled clearly with singular functionality. The only downside, however minor, is the controls are all located on the top of the detector, which is the most common placement for them. Unfortunately, you can't see the buttons from the top position, unless you put the detector low on your windshield, but putting it low on the windshield makes it more difficult to reach. Having at least some front-facing controls, such as the muting button and the location marker, is better.
The GPS connects to the satellite automatically and it has an auto-learn function that makes it easy to get the most of the GPS. The more you drive around your city, the better it's able to recognize false alerts. Every alert you get records a GPS coordinate. When the detector starts recognizing that you're getting an alert in the same location, it recognizes that source as a false alert and automatically mutes it. You can still mark locations manually when you know an alert is from a false source by hitting the mark button.
The mounting device uses a combination of adhesive and suction. It connects to the detector with a strong magnet. The idea is to provide a strong connection to the window (which is necessary because this is a very heavy detector) while providing a quick release if you get pulled over. In most states, you can't be ticketed for having a radar detector, but it's unlikely to win you any sympathy points if a cop sees it. Unfortunately, I found the magnet to be too strong. Almost every time I tried removing it, the magnet pulled the suction mount off the windshield.
As with all Escort detectors, it has four sensitivity controls – highway, Auto, Auto No X and Auto Lo K. Each of the auto settings uses the GPS to adjust the sensitivity to your speed, increasing the sensitivity as you drive faster and decreasing it as you slow down. The only difference is types of radar it looks for. The Auto No X, for example, doesn't detect X-band. The Auto Lo K only detects strong K-band signals, ignoring low power signals.
This radar detector also features built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities, which connects it to your smartphone and your car or home's Wi-Fi. The Bluetooth is meant to connect the detector to the Escort Live app, which gives you community sharing alerts. If your car has Wi-Fi, you can get the same community sharing alerts but without using your phone. The Wi-Fi also makes it easy to get firmware updates to keep the GPS coordinates for red-light cameras and speed cameras up to date. For example, if your home Wi-Fi reaches your garage or driveway, it updates automatically. With every other detector I've reviewed, you must remove the radar detector and take it inside your home and connect it to your computer via USB port to update the firmware.
The best alert feature is the over-speed alert. Using the GPS, the radar detector alerts you when you've exceeded a speed limit, which you can adjust from 20 to 160 mph. If you're a habitual lead foot, you need this feature. Law enforcement has several methods of measuring your speed and issuing a speeding ticket without using radar. Detecting radar isn't a fool-proof plan, but having a device that alerts you every time you've exceed a speed limit ensures that you're aware of your driving.
The next best alert feature is the directional arrows. Few radar detectors provide any spatial awareness of the radar's location. With arrows telling you the direction the signal is coming from, your spatial awareness is improved. It also makes it easier to spot when an alert is from a false source, like a motion detector.
When you receive an alert, the Max 360c beeps for a second and then a voice tells you what radar band is detected. You can see the strength of the signal in a bar graph. Unlike most radar detectors that beep incessantly until you hit the mute button, these alerts are loud for only a few seconds before automatically lowering to a quiet volume. even when a source is muted by the GPS, you still get visual alerts, reminding you that radar is in the area.
The Escort Max 360c is the pick for the best radar detector overall because it does everything better. It raises your awareness, making you a better driver. It provides a super long range on the freeway and it doesn't become a squawk box in the city.