Like many of you I am not an expert on radar, laser and the science behind detectors. However I have owned various radar detectors since I was 18 (thanks dad) and have used a Valentine 1 for over 15 years now. Also like many of you I don’t use them to drive recklessly. Rather I see them as a way to make myself a safer driver while understanding where strict speed enforcement is on my journey.
15 years is a long time to use a single piece of tech. While my Valentine 1 has served me well, it’s now easily confused by today’s radar cruise found on many cars and physically is feeling its age. All told it was a solid $400 investment in 2005. But I wondered what would 15 years of tech and design advancement do? Enter the Escort Max 3 – the latest product from Escort that brings a bunch of high-end and connected features to a $400 price point. So we reached out to Escort and they agreed to lend us an Escort Max 3 to test a month of summer road trips in a variety of BMWs and MINIs. Here’s what we found.
I’ve always loved the old-school approach of the V1 but things in the consumer electronic space has changed dramatically since 2005. Escort gets this and delivers an excellent on-boxing and installation experience. While there were plenty of instructions found in the box, I needed very little from the box to the windshield. It just worked.
The first thing that blew my mind was the magnetic attachment and suction-cup mount. So simple, so effective and miles above anything I had experienced previously. Even the cord with its partial straight and partial coiled design made the unit fit unobtrusively in all four of our cars tested. These welcome design choices and smart nuances point to a product team that clearly cared about the end consumer experience.
As with any detector there’s a language of flashes and beeps to learn. However Escort combines this with natural language announcements that make it clear what band is detected. the other gam-changer (coming from a V1) was the OLED multi-color display that makes it clear what those beeps are.
But what really matters is detection and it’s one area that had a learning curve. In the world of radar detectors, the band that matters most is Ka which is used most often by police. Unfortunately I found the Escort Max 3 had more false positives than I was used to with my V1. However in doing some quick digging I found the solution was to use Highway mode which limits filters (a software update is now available solving this issue). Problem solved. Once in Highway Mode I found the detector was highly successful in sniffing out KA from impressive distances. Sometimes they were so far out I questioned the accuracy. Until of course I saw the state trooper in the median.
It also was a pro at filtering false alerts such as automatic doors and stationary radar signs. Because of something called GPS lockout, it would learn false alerts (after a few passes) and “store” that point in its databank. So from that point onward it would detect that spot but mute the alert and keep the display grayed-out. Smart stuff and not something I expected from a radar detector.
In Highway mode the Escort Max 3 seemed unbeatable with immense range, great filtering and Laser jamming integration. Its multi-color display and natural language communication brought it all together in a way that left me confident and totally comfortable with it’s detection. Exactly what you need out of a detector.
Then there’s the cloud integration with Escort’s own app (which you’re connected with via Bluetooth) and database. That means you’re alerted to speed cameras, red light cameras and even real-time speed-traps. This last bit blew my mind as I found it truly changed my expectations of what a detector could do.
Intelligent software combined with the excellent hardware, the Escort MAX 3 has been a revelation to use from the moment it went on my windshield. So much so that my trusty V1 has been on the shelf since the Max 3 was unbloxed. That doesn’t mean the MAX 3 is perfect. It doesn’t offer 360 protection (the V1 famously invented that) and doesn’t have the range of either the V1 or V1 Gen 2 released earlier this year. But for the price it represents a great choice. It’s easy to set-up, is very transportable and you can quickly master its capabilities. Perhaps most importantly it works exceptionally well as a detector of all things we enthusiasts hate; speed-traps, speed cameras and red light cameras. And it does it with great hardware and intelligent software and great design.
You can read more about the Escort Max 3 at the official website.