The Escort Passport Max Ci twins, the Ci ($2,995 MSRP) and Ci 360 ($3,595 MSRP) succeed the discontinued Passport 9500ci ($1,995), the remote (built-in) model we considered the best ever.
Like their 9500ci forebear, both versions of the Escort Max Ci include what Escort diplomatically calls laser "shifters" as defense against light-based technology. These are an upgraded design claimed to offer protection from variable-pulse laser guns, ordinarily able to outwit laser jammers.
Otherwise identical, the Max Ci 360 comes with two extra laser jammers, for the rear, and a rear radar antenna. This lets it indicate whether a radar or laser threat is coming from the front or rear, a feature introduced on the Max 360c windshield-mounted model.
The jury's still out on the need for a rear radar antenna—the universal reaction to a radar alert is to spike the brakes and worry later about whether the source is in front or behind. Plus, in tests we found that sensitive detectors with a forward-facing antenna can detect radar behind the car at a considerable distance.
The Max Ci and Max Ci 360 feature sets are identical except for display options. With its rear radar antenna, the Max Ci 360 can offer seven settings for displaying alerts.
The Max Ci's thumb-sized control unit is backlit, making the buttons easy to locate at night. The module can be surface-mounted or concealed; it's often tucked away in the ash tray or console.
Information is shown in the same OLED color display shared with high-end Escort dash-mount models like the Escort Redline 360c. This can be replaced by the included multi-color LED for a cleaner look. It glows green to signify power-on, solid blue when connected to the Escort Live smartphone app and flashes red during radar and laser alerts.
Like other Escorts the Passport Max Ci/Ci 360 has a good audible information-delivery system with a choice of voice alerts or two sets of tones. The latter includes the standard Escort tones or doorbell-like chimes.
Much of the Max Ci feature set is borrowed from the Redline 360c, including the annoying Overspeed Alert. Factory-set at 70 mph, every trip north of that speed elicits a verbal admonishment—Overspeed!—and the speed display ominously turns red. When linked to Escort Live, the Overspeed Alert threshold speed is automatically set to the posted limit.
The speed nanny can be disabled but only by entering Advanced mode and tweaking the user preferences. Others will have to endure the meddling of this backseat mother-in-law.
Built-in Bluetooth allows the Max Ci to pair quickly with Escort Live, during which time the posted limit is displayed alongside current speed.
The Max Ci receives an updateable IVT filter, software to identify and ignore the nuisance signals generated by Blind Spot Monitoring systems. These systems use K-band radar transmitters mounted in the rear bumper and set off radar detectors up to 1,000 feet away.
IVT is intended to combat these without having to shut off K band, a risky move since 20,000-odd K-band radar guns are still in use nationwide, not to mention a growing number of radar-triggered red light cameras.
On the road we found the Max Ci likely best suited to drivers who prefer set-and-forget operation and rely on voice alerts for important news
For minimal false alarms, particularly on K band, we found the Auto LoK sensitivity setting to be optimal. With radar range to burn, we rarely found the need for maximum-sensitivity Highway mode with its attendant increase in false alarms.
The Max Ci clearly benefits from its new front radar antenna and revised signal processing. On the all-important Ka band the Max Ci delivered significantly more range than the Passport 9500ci.
The Max Ci assumes the Escort Passport 9500ci's crown as the best-performing remote radar detector we've seen. But some shortcomings—notably the price—may induce some to consider a far less expensive dash-mount model instead. And one of these is similarly undetectable by the police.