Escort MAX 360 MKII Review: Cool Blue Radar Detector Offers Red Hot Performance

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Escort MAX 360 MKII Crash Course

  • The MAX 360 MKII is the successor to the original MAX 360 radar detector.
  • New dual-antenna platform provides increased range detection.
  • Upgraded digital signal processing technology minimizes false alerts.
  • Compatible with Escort’s radar-mounted dash cameras and laser shifters. There have also been marked improvements to the Drive Smarter app.
Escort MAX 360 MKII 20 scaled
Escort MAX 360 MKII
Range Detection
False Alert Filtering
Drive Smarter App
Learning Curve for First-Time Users

Our Review Process for Radar Detectors

Automoblog is a member of the Radar Detector and Countermeasures Forum to ensure truth and accountability when covering radar detectors. The Forum has members with years of experience testing and validating radar detectors. Those members can provide additional context and insight if you have more in-depth questions about a specific radar detector.  

Whether we receive a radar detector from a manufacturer to review or purchase it with our own money, there are four main points we consider, listed below. Our primary driving areas with any new radar detector include the Detroit metro and the Ohio Turnpike.

  • False Alert Filtering: While no radar detector is entirely immune to false alerts, units that prioritize a quiet drive, alerting only when absolutely necessary, receive an extra feather in their cap during our review process. In and around Detroit, we deliberately drive past shopping plazas, industrial areas, places with digital signage, and other locations with sources of non-police radar while evaluating a given radar detector. These locations can and will produce a false K band alert. Some radar detectors do better than others, as they have embedded technology to address and mitigate alerts caused by non-police radar.   
  • Range Detection: During our radar detector evaluations, we drive roadways in the Detroit area with regular high-volume traffic. Our go-to roads include Woodward Avenue, Telegraph Road, I-696, and M10 during afternoon rush hour. In these areas, we are looking for the most advanced notice possible of police radar. We pick high-volume traffic times as law enforcement vehicles in Michigan are often nondescript Ford Explorers and Chevy Tahoes, which blend in easily in traffic and can be hard to spot visually. Our friend Vortex Radar from the Radar Detector Forum has the most comprehensive range testing, documenting everything in charts and graphs. We often follow his guidelines when it comes to range detection.
  • Price & Value-Added Features: We look at the cost of each radar detector versus the amount of features it offers for the money. Examples of value-added features include Bluetooth connectivity, segmentation filters, and directional arrows.
  • Ease of Use: The best radar detectors should provide a seamless user experience, whether you are a first-time user or have owned a radar detector for years. Ease of use becomes more critical in our evaluation process as the price and feature set of the radar detector in question increases.
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Escort MAX 360 MKII Review Summary

The Escort MAX 360 MKII is the successor to the popular MAX 360 radar detector. When it debuted in March 2023, Escort said the MAX 360 MKII would provide a higher degree of false alert filtering for a quieter ride and a 50 percent improvement in detection range.

During our review and evaluation of the MAX 360 MKII, we found it a worthy upgrade to the original MAX 360, so much so that we included it as the top pick on our list of best radar detectors. A Blackfin DSP chip and a revised dual-antenna platform give the Escort MAX 360 MKII an edge over the original MAX 360.

Below, we will cover the main features and specifications of the Escort MAX 360 MKII, including the key differences between it and the original MAX 360.

Escort MAX 360 MKII
Get Best Price

Automoblog may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Upgraded dual-antenna platform provides increased range detection, especially in heavy traffic.

Blackfin DSP chip minimizes false alerts, prioritizing only the most relevant threats.

Compatible with Escort’s radar-mounted dash cameras and laser shifters.

Save $50 with the promo code AUTOMOBLOG50 on Escort’s website.

Escort MAX 360 MKII vs. MAX 360: Primary Differences

Aside from the sleek blue hue of the MAX 360 MKII, the price will likely be the first noticeable difference. Aside from any specials that might periodically run, the original MAX 360 goes for $500, while the MKII retails for $600. Here are the features you get for the extra $100.

Better False Alert Filtering 

Inside the Escort MAX 360 MKII is a new Blackfin DSP (digital signal processing) chip to increase the level of false alert filtering. Supplied by semiconductor company Analog Devices, the Blackfin is a family of embedded microprocessors designed for a wide range of applications. 

With regard to radar detectors like the MAX 360 MKII, the embedded Blackfin DSP chip allows the unit to more quickly and accurately decipher between all the different radar signals that could be present in a given area. The Blackfin DSP chip determines which radar sources are real threats versus false alerts and what should be prioritized on the display.

When the MAX 360 MKII detects a legitimate radar source, the Blackfin DSP chip presents it on the display screen, showing vital information like signal strength, band types, and frequency. The ability of the MAX 360 MKII to analyze and sort radar sources to this depth translates to a quieter drive with fewer falses versus the original MAX 360, especially on the K band frequencies. 

The original MAX 360 has digital signal processing, but it’s the degree to which DSP is applied for false alert filtering. With the Blackfin DSP, the MKII has a greater degree of false alert filtering versus the original MAX 360, putting it on par with other premium offerings from Escort that also feature the chip, like the MAXcam 360c and Redline 360c

Digital signal processing is a fascinating and in-depth topic, and Analog Devices provides this helpful beginner’s guide if you want to learn more. While no radar detector is entirely immune from false alerts, Escort cuts them down tremendously with the integration of the Blackfin DSP. 

Additional false alert filtering comes from Escort’s proprietary IVT Filter, or “in-vehicle technology” filter. The IVT Filter decreases the number of false alerts caused by collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control systems of other vehicles, which are radar-based.

The K Notch filter can be activated in the settings menu for the same reason, reducing false alerts caused by certain cars and their radar-based collision avoidance systems (between the frequency ranges of 24.190 and 24.210 GHz).

I run my Escort MAX 360 MKII with the K Notch filter on.

Longer Detection Range

While the Blackfin DSP is separating real threats from false alerts, Escort’s next-generation, dual-antenna platform provides increased detection range. Like the original MAX 360, the MKII also has directional arrows thanks to the dual-antenna platform, which identifies if the threat is in front of or behind you.

However, the difference in range detection between the two units is noticeable while navigating high-traffic and well-patroled areas here in the Motor City, like I-696, M-10, and Telegraph Road.

On Telegraph Road specifically, law enforcement will stay in the far left lanes, so it’s easy for them to whip around via a Michigan Left and catch speeders heading towards them. With the wider expanses, hills, and turns on Telegraph Road, it’s relatively easy for law enforcement to hide in plain sight in heavy traffic with a non-descript Ford Explorer or Chevy Tahoe patrol vehicle.

The upgraded dual-antenna platform of the Escort MAX 360 MKII makes it well-suited for areas like this, providing more advanced notice versus older Escort radar detectors if an officer is coming toward you. 

Physical Construction & Display Screen

The Escort MAX 360 MKII looks and feels more like the original MAX 360c and MAX 360c MKII, which can connect to Wi-Fi for automatic firmware updates (that little “c” stands for “connected,” meaning the original MAX 360 and MAX 360 MKII cannot connect to Wi-Fi, so firmware updates are done with a hardwired connection via Escort’s website).

Since the Escort MAX 360 MKII shares its physical design with its connected brethren, the directional alert arrows are positioned around the center display versus the right-side cluster like the original MAX 360. The display screen of the MKII has an arguably more modern font versus the seemingly blocky text of the original MAX 360.  

Escort MAX 360 MKII In-Depth: What It Offers

The MAX 360 MKII comes with a 12V power cord, a suction cup windshield mount, a carrying case, and a quick start guide (you download the full owner’s manual from Escort’s website). The 12V power cord has a USB port on the backside, so you can still charge your phone. It’s a nice feature if your vehicle doesn’t have a wireless charging pad.

Along with increased range detection and better false alert filtering, here is a list of other top features.

Band Detection: Ka, lidar, Mesta Fusion

The Escort MAX 360 MKII will alert you to X, K, and Ka radar bands, laser (lidar) guns, and MultaRadar CD and CT, written as MRCD and MRCT for short.

MultaRadar is often associated with traffic light cameras and other photo enforcement devices. It changes frequency, making it harder for older radar detectors to catch. The default setting for MRCD and MRCT is off, but both can be switched on via the settings menu under the “Band Enables” tab. 

The Escort MAX 360 MKII also detects Mesta Fusion, a long-range, multi-lane, and multi-target enforcement strategy supplied by French technology company IDEMIA. Mesta Fusion towers, which combine a Doppler radar and high-resolution camera, were deployed in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, after city officials received a demonstration from IDEMIA in 2017.

Escort enabled Mesta Fusion detection on the MAX 360 MKII as the technology could be used in the United States.  

Sensitivity Modes

The Escort MAX 360 MKII has four sensitivity modes: Highway, Auto, Auto No X, and Auto Lo K, the latter being my preference here in Detroit.

Highway is the maximum sensitivity mode, which essentially “opens the radar detector up,” so it’s more likely to alert to potential threats. In Highway mode, K band sensitivity is at its maximum. I use this setting, but only on the open road, usually on a longer trip.

Auto sensitivity is convenient as it reduces X and K band sensitivity according to your speed, while Auto No X does the same for K bands but shuts off the X bands.

I run my Escort MAX 360 MKII in Auto Lo K sensitivity mode, which lowers K band sensitivity at all times. I turn the X bands off separately through the settings menu, so I don’t use Auto No X. However, if you buy a MAX 360 MKII, experiment and see what works best for you.

Segmentation Filters

Under the “Band Enables” tab in the settings menu or through the Driver Smarter app (covered more below), you can experiment with four different K Narrow and 10 Ka Narrow segmentation options or “custom sweeps” to dial in the detector’s response time. 

Turn either K or Ka Band detection off to activate the segmentation options (done either through the settings menu or the Drive Smarter app). This enables the “selectors,” which you will also see in the settings menu or the Driver Smarter app. 

Although it seems counterintuitive, turning off Ka band detection doesn’t mean you are leaving yourself exposed to the most common form of police radar. It simply means you can now work with the segmentation filters.  

When we deactivate the Ka bands, Escort’s factory default Ka Narrow settings take over, allowing our MAX 360 MKII to scan from 33.700 to 35.600 GHz. That aligns with law enforcement radar guns, not just here in Michigan, but all properly and legally tuned U.S.-spec police radar guns. 

Out of the 10 available Ka Narrow settings, the MAX 360 MKII will have 2, 5, and 8 turned on by default. It breaks down like this: 

  • KA Narrow 2: 33.700 to 33.900 GHz
  • KA Narrow 5: 34.600 to 34.800 GHz
  • KA Narrow 8: 35.400 to 36.600 GHz

The idea behind band segmentation is to imagine looking through a row of windows. It takes less time to look through three windows than 10, and the idea here is similar with band segmentation. A radar detector operating in a narrow segmentation versus a wider setting will alert quicker because it’s not scanning or “watching” the entire available frequency range.  

Escort MAX 360 MKII
Get Best Price

Automoblog may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Upgraded dual-antenna platform provides increased range detection, especially in heavy traffic.

Blackfin DSP chip minimizes false alerts, prioritizing only the most relevant threats.

Compatible with Escort’s radar-mounted dash cameras and laser shifters.

Save $50 with the promo code AUTOMOBLOG50 on Escort’s website.

AutoLearn Technology (Auto Lockouts)

AutoLearn analyzes fixed-location radar over time to determine whether such alerts are legitimate or false. Should the MAX 360 MKII encounter the exact frequency in the same location approximately three times—and that frequency is deemed false—it automatically locks it out and flashes a “Stored” message. The MAX 360 MKII uses Escort’s TrueLock GPS Filter to lock out and store fixed-location false alerts in its memory bank.

Although you can still manually lock out false alerts, Escort’s AutoLearn feature has become synonymous with its MAX family of radar detectors, and it can be a convenient tool while driving.

To lock out a false alert manually, tap the Mute button on the 12V power cord. When encountering a previously locked-out location, it will display in gray but not audibly alert.

Mark Locations

The MRK button on top of the unit will flag a location and then notify you the next time you are about to pass it. Unlike the lockouts (manual or automatic), the Mark Location feature is intended for areas with legitimate threats.

When marking a location for the first time, you can specify what it is, from red light and speed cameras to speed traps. You also have an “other” option if you need to mark a location for another reason.

Drive Smarter App

Escort has considerably improved the Drive Smarter app for the MAX family of radar detectors. When connected to Drive Smarter, your phone will receive real-time threat notifications in your area, be it a radar source, red light camera, speed camera, or police patrol, as reported by other Escort owners using the app (i.e., shared alerts).

Likewise, you can issue an alert for others via the app if you notice something like a speed trap or stationary patrol car.

In addition to sending and receiving alerts, Drive Smarter lets you adjust a host of settings for the MAX 360 MKII from your phone, including display colors and brightness, sensitivity modes, and more.

Connectivity & Crashing Issues

In the past, we experienced Bluetooth connection and crashing issues between the app, the detector, and our Motorolla phone with an Android-based operating system. However, with the release of the MAX 360 MKII came a revised Drive Smarter app, and Escort has continued to refine its performance, especially for Android operating systems. 

Customer Service

While working on this review, we chatted with customer service reps over e-mail from Cedar Electronics (you can contact a support rep through the Drive Smarter app). The reps we exchanged e-mails with about our issues were professional and courteous in each instance.

As of early 2024, all of the connection and crashing issues we had with Drive Smarter have been resolved, including minor glitches like how the speed limit in a given area might display as 74 mph on the app when it’s actually 75 mph.

Even with these fixes and improvements, Escort reps tell us they are continuing to refine the overall performance of the Drive Smarter app for their customers.

Drive Smarter app integration with Apple CarPlay.
Drive Smarter app integration with Apple CarPlay. Real-time threat notifications from Drive Smarter will appear on the vehicle’s touchscreen, meaning Escort radar detector users will not have to glance down at their phones.

Apple CarPlay, Android Auto & Mapbox

The revised Drive Smarter app is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and has Mapbox built-in.

On your vehicle’s touchscreen, you will see all of the normal Apple CarPlay or Android Auto features alongside any real-time threat notifications from Drive Smarter. Similarly, Escort has added Mapbox functionality, meaning Drive Smarter effectively doubles as a navigation app. 

While Drive Smarter is optional and not necessary for the MAX 360 MKII to detect police radar, running it can increase situational awareness and may serve to better maximize your countermeasures setup. If your vehicle has a wireless charging pad, use that to help save your phone battery while running Drive Smarter.  

Escort MAX 360 MKII
Get Best Price

Automoblog may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Upgraded dual-antenna platform provides increased range detection, especially in heavy traffic.

Blackfin DSP chip minimizes false alerts, prioritizing only the most relevant threats.

Compatible with Escort’s radar-mounted dash cameras and laser shifters.

Save $50 with the promo code AUTOMOBLOG50 on Escort’s website.

Is The Escort MAX 360 MKII Worth Buying?

If you are running an older radar detector and want to upgrade to something with bigger muscles and more features, the Escort MAX 360 MKII is a solid option. If you have one of the original MAX 360 radar detectors, the MKII provides a marked improvement in false alert filtering and detection range. Or if you just like Escort products in general, the MAX 360 MKII is a must-have for your arsenal.  

By contrast, if you want a high-quality radar detector but don’t necessarily need all the extras, consider something more straightforward like the Uniden R4Radenso DS1, or Cobra RAD 700i. I proudly own all three of those radar detectors, and they get the job done. When I want a good “grab and go” radar detector for my drives around Detroit, I pick one of those three.  

Otherwise, if you purchase a new MAX 360 MKII and have questions, join us on the forum, and we can point you in the right direction. Make sure to periodically check Escort’s website for the latest firmware updates to ensure your MAX 360 MKII is working at its optimum. 

Carl Anthony is the Managing Editor of Automoblog and the host of AutoVision News Radio and AutoSens Insights. As a respected automotive industry thought leader, Carl has appeared on numerous podcasts and radio shows, including Wrench Nation, Cars Yeah, The Car Doctor, and Brains Byte Back, in addition to appearing as a regular contributor on MotorMouth Radio on WHPC 90.3 FM. His work can also be seen and heard 24/7 on the Automoblog YouTube channel.

Radar Detectors FAQ

Are Radar Detectors Legal?

Using a radar detector in a privately owned passenger vehicle is legal in the U.S., with the exception of Virginia and Washington D.C. Radar detectors are illegal in commercial vehicles. See this guide to radar detector laws for all 50 U.S. states if you have additional questions.

How Do Radar Detectors Work?

While proprietary technology can differ between each radar detector manufacturer, think of a standard radar detector in terms of receiving and deciphering.

Every radar detector has a “horn” or antenna (sometimes more than one) and an internal microprocessor. The antenna picks up or receives the police radar gun, and the microprocessor deciphers it, ultimately showing on the display screen important info like signal strength and band type.

Radar detector manufacturers build on that basic principle with their own hardware and software to achieve increased detection range with fewer false alerts.

Will My Radar Detector Alert to Laser Guns?

Yes, all radar detectors will alert to police laser guns, meaning your radar detector is also a laser detector by default.

Some radar detectors are compatible with an accessory called laser shifters, but those are different from laser jammers, which are illegal in some states. Police laser guns use a technology called lidar, which stands for light detection and ranging.

What Is The Best Radar Detector For Me?

The best radar detector for you will depend on where and how you drive and how much you want to spend.

If you love having the latest and greatest gadgets, you might enjoy the features a high-end unit will provide. By contrast, if you only need a gentle reminder of police radar in the area, you can find something more basic but still of good quality.

Popular radar detector manufacturers today include Cobra, Escort, Radenso, Uniden, Valentine, and Whistler. Some high-performance radar detectors, like the Escort Redline 360c, are compatible with a smartphone app that shares user-generated alerts.

I Saw a Police Car, Why Didn’t My Radar Detector Alert?

Sometimes, a patrol car will have its radar gun off, meaning there is nothing for the radar detector to alert to. Traffic officers also use an enforcement strategy called “Instant-On” radar, where they only use their radar gun at certain times (think like the storied image of the officer on the motorcycle hiding behind the billboard).

If this happens, traffic officers will only target one vehicle at a time. Most high-quality radar detectors will alert to Instant-On radar with plenty of advanced notice, although it’s still possible to get a ticket via Instant-On if you are not careful.