According to the manufacturer, a second, rear-facing antenna enables the Escort Max 360 to show the direction of an incoming radar beam. An improved microprocessor and GPS are said to allow it to recognize bogus signals and refrain from alerting, a feature dubbed AutoLearn. The same software lets the Max 360 dial back sensitivity at low speeds to further reduce false alarms. Learn more about the Escort Max 360...
In contrast, the Escort RedlineXR's two antennae point forward, a move claimed to increase range. And it has no arrows to point toward the radar, no GPS either. Learn more about the Escort RedlineXR...
The value of the arrows can be debated—the universal reaction to a radar alert is to slow down, no matter what direction the beam is coming from. And radar to the sides is harmless; it only works accurately when the paths of target and radar are in alignment.
Regardless, we were curious to see which design is more effective. To find out, we gathered the two contenders and measured their radar range, speed of response and resistance to false alarms. Then we spent days living with them on the road. Here's what we found.
Tested at our Hill/Curve site, the Escort Max 360 lagged 10 percent behind the RedlineXR on X band while delivering 12 percent better K-band range. But performance on Ka band, the overwhelming favorite of state highway patrols, was disappointing: 19 percent less range against 34.7 GHz radar, 11 percent less on 35.5 GHz.
We learned that the Max 360 usually ignored radar signals less than 1.0 second in duration. This can reduce false alarms but also guarantees that it will miss the sub-second blasts of instant-on radar spotted by the RedlineXR.
We also found that a troubling effect of the Max 360's rear radar antenna was a doubling in the number of false alarms. It would alert, say, to a phantom K-band radar on the front antenna which, after an interminable wait, would stop as we passed the source. Then a new alert would sound, this time when the rear antenna saw what it thought was a new threat.
Urban Loop False Alarms
To measure their resistance to false alarms we created a 91-mile-long urban loop. Aside from 26 miles of freeways, the remainder was split evenly between city streets and county roads. On the first lap we logged the false alarms using a built-in model, the Escort Passport 9500ci. We found that most of the false alarms were caused by radar-controlled door openers.
When we made one more lap with each contestant, both Escorts were run in Auto mode to reduce false alarms.
The Escort RedlineXR false-alarmed six times over the 91 miles, all on K band. The Escort Max 360 barked 10 false alarms, one each on X and Ka bands, the rest of them K-band.
On this occasion one of the advantages of GPS was lost—we were traveling a route where the Escort Max 360 hadn't yet locked out the abundant radar-controlled door openers. But it still benefited from our slow speed over much of the loop, where it automatically lowered sensitivity.
We also found the Max 360 to be uncommonly vexed by automotive Blind Spot Warning Systems. Like traffic-monitoring radar and automatic door openers, these share the K-band frequency with police radar.
The Max 360 seems to regard them all as equally threatening. On a 1,280-mile freeway blast from Texas to Arizona, for instance, it alerted 72 times on K band. Seven were from the radar on highway department message trailers; the other 65 were false alarms, many of them triggered by BSW systems on nearby vehicles. It was similarly confused on Ka band: Of 16 alerts, only six were police radar.
Without the hypersensitivity on K, the Escort RedlineXR gave nine K-band alerts on the return trip to Texas, each caused by the radar safety systems aboard other cars. All seven of its Ka-band alerts proved to be legit.
On a daily commute over familiar roads, GPS would shift the odds in favor of the Escort Max 360, likely keeping it quieter than the Escort RedlineXR.
For those who demand it, GPS capability can be added to the Redline with Escort Live, the crowd-sourced early warning system. This app links a smartphone (iPhone or Android), to the detector via Bluetooth. Using the smartphone's GPS, it can lock out nuisance signals and cut false alarms substantially. Warnings of red light and speed cameras are another benefit.
Even without GPS, though, we judged the Escort RedlineXR the better traveling companion with noticeably better performance, quicker response and fewer false alarms.