Escort, a name synonymous with radar detectors for decades, has released their MAX 3 radar detector. Based on a different platform than previous units in the MAX series, the MAX 3 offers a variety of features for those looking for a decent, easy-to-use radar detector. Beyond that, the Escort MAX 3 works with Waze and other navigation apps to provide drivers with real-time alerts.
We recently reviewed the Escort MAX 360c and M1 Bundle, which is at the higher end of the pricing scale. The MAX 3, by comparison, slots below the MAX 360c and the Redline 360c, so it’s a much more affordable radar detector at around $400. If you end up avoiding the cost of a couple of tickets (and the jump in your car insurance rate), then the MAX 3 ends up paying for itself.
However, we were curious if a budget-friendly unit, like the MAX 3, was really worth it. After all, other Escort products offer more features, including Escort’s famous “directional arrows” that indicate which way the threat is coming from. Is it worth it to just spend the extra money, or can you get away with the MAX 3?
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The Escort MAX 3 is the upgrade to the MAX 2 and features the following improvements. The best updates, in my opinion, come with regard to range and advanced filtering.
Longer Monitoring Range: This allows you more time to reduce your speed. Long-range detection is useful for avoiding speed traps.
Fewer false alerts via advanced filtering: The Max 3 is better at filtering out false alarms, and only the most relevant alerts are received (the boy who cried wolf comes to mind). Escort’s AutoLearn and GPS technology will continuously “learn” any false signals and silence them accordingly.
Intelligent speed sensitivity: Gives you greater sensitivity to signals when you need, like on the highway, when you’re traveling faster than you would on city streets.
One feature that really stands out: Escort’s Defender Database (part of the Escort Live app and available via a subscription) provides shared alerts from other drivers, including weekly updates of red light and speed camera locations. The Defender Database makes the MAX 3 more than just an ordinary radar detector, but rather a daily driving companion.
Although there is an extra cost involved, I also think Escort’s Defender Database is worth it. We recommend the three-year subscription ($49.95) versus the one-year plan ($24.95) as it’s a better value overall.
Escort Driver Live App
When downloaded to your phone, the Escort Live App allows you to receive vehicle-to-vehicle alerts from more than 100 million other MAX 3 users. Like the Defender Database, the Escort Live App makes the MAX 3 more than just a regular, over-the-counter radar detector. The information from the app provides you with real-time alerts on:
Speed limit data.
Traffic and accident alerts.
Live radar and laser reports.
Road construction and hazards.
Traffic and law enforcement cameras.
Crowd-Sourced Traffic Alerts
When I set out on this review of the Escort MAX 3, my first thought was, “there’s an app for that!?” I am not much of a technical person, and, offhand, I could not see the need for a radar detector to have an app. After all, there are driving alert apps like Waze that provide you with helpful traffic information and law enforcement activity. So why not just run Waze on my phone like usual?
Well, herein lies the “gap” the Escort MAX 3 closes. Waze is based on a crowd-sourcing or networking platform. True, Waze does a great job of alerting you to road conditions and police activity. Still, it relies on user reporting, which isn’t 100 percent accurate. I found that the Escort MAX 3 and Waze complement each other to provide the driver with even more information about the route ahead. If for whatever reason, red light and speed cameras are not being reported by Waze, there is a chance they will show up in Escort’s greater driver alert community.
One of the features I liked the most is the automatic GPS Lockout. While driving your regular route, the Escort MAX 3 learns any and all stationary false alerts. The device then commits these regular false alerts to memory. You don’t have to hit the “mute” button each time you drive by a grocery store with the MAX 3 like you did with radar detectors back in the day.
After only a couple of trips, the device will recognize the same false alerts it has stored and no longer alert the driver. That is the type of no-brainer technology I prefer, which is why I was so impressed with the feature.
On The Road With The Escort MAX 3
To conduct my test, I used the radar detector myself in several different driving situations, including on the highway, in the city, and on a few country roads.
Whether you are taking a road trip or just driving around town, the MAX 3 impressed me as a comprehensive driver alert system. Aside from the price point, I liked the fact the unit was easy to understand and use. I would rather not spend a ton of time watching a YouTube video on how things like this work. When I buy something, I want it to do what it is supposed to do with little or no hassle, which the MAX 3 did.
Unboxing & Installation
Every Escort MAX 3 comes with a SmartCord USB charger with AutoMute, an EZ MAG Mount, and a handy travel case.
Escort claims they improved the magnetic windshield mount, but I didn’t care for it at all. I installed the magnetic mount to the windshield, which is a sturdy suction cup that held just fine. My problem was with the magnet that attaches the radar detector to the mount. The MAX 3 kept falling off the mount when I hit a bump. This issue was further complicated by the tension on the power cord when stretched from where my car’s outlet is located and the device.
Thus, the issue I was having with the radar detector’s mount could be my problem rather than Escort’s because of the distance between the unit and my car’s power plug. Still, it is something to keep in mind.
Range of Detection
I was pleasantly surprised by the detection range of the Escort MAX 3. I covered all the bases when testing the effectiveness of the unit. I used Waze and my CB (old truckers have their secrets) to monitor speed traps along my route. I tested the MAX 3 while on a weekend getaway that had me on the highway and surface roads through two major cities (Detroit and Cleveland) and several small towns along the way.
The Escort MAX 3 radar detector didn’t let me down once. A few years ago, I learned ye olde Camry is governed at about 120 mph (please don’t try this at home). Now, I didn’t go near that fast on my trip to Cleveland, but there were a few times my lead foot made itself known. If you have a lead foot, then a MAX 3 is probably a good investment.
Modes & Filtering
At first, I had difficulty remembering to switch the unit from Highway Mode, which provides full sensitivity at all times, to Auto Mode. The Auto Mode reduces sensitivity on the X and K bands based on your speed. After using it for a few miles, I quickly remembered the adjustments I needed to make, which became minimal after that. Once correctly configured, the Escort MAX 3 does an excellent job of filtering out things like automatic doors in shopping centers and your neighbor’s garage door opener. In Auto Mode, the MAX 3 even filters out the alerts you sometimes receive from the blind-spot monitoring systems on other cars.
There are two other modes: AutoNoX and AutoLoK. AutoNoX is the same as the normal Auto Mode, minus X band detection. AutoLoK is also the same as Auto Mode but with lower K band sensitivity.
Should You Buy The Escort MAX 3?
I liked the Escort MAX 3 for several reasons: it is affordable, simple to use, and very effective. The MAX 3 is easy to learn, which is a massive plus for me. Not only am I not very technically savvy, but I also don’t like to have to keep tweaking devices and inputting data. As far as radar detectors go, the MAX 3 seems pretty self-sufficient once you get it set up.
Minus the suction mount, there wasn’t a problem with the MAX 3 unit itself, and that’s the primary reason I would recommend the device. I was also very impressed with the supporting phone and navigation apps and real-time updates. I also really liked the GPS Lockout since, like many people, I have a regular route I take to and from work every day.
The Escort MAX 3 may not be top-of-the-line when it comes to everything Escort offers for radar detectors. However, it is the one that I would recommend and buy myself based on the available features for the price.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is included with Escort MAX 3?
The MAX 3 comes with a soft-sided travel case, EZ Mag Mount windshield mount, 12-volt SmartCord USB, and quick reference guide.
Is there an earphone option?
Yes, older models require a mono earphone. Most current models have a stereo jack.
How does the MAX 3 mark a location?
To mark a particular location, press the “MRK” button. The display will read: “Mark?” Press the “MRK” button again to assign a label to it. There are four different labels: Red Light, Speed Camera,Speed Trap, and Other. To scroll through the labels, simply press the volume (+) or (-) buttons until you reach the desired label. Once you’ve selected the label, press the “MRK” button again to confirm.
How to block a false alert?
To lockout a false alert (X, K, or Laser only), press the mute button three times (either on the detector or the SmartCord) during the alert. Pressing the mute button the first time will silence the audio. Pressing it a second time will generate a prompt on the display that will read: “Lockout?” Press it a third time to confirm that you want to lock this signal out by location and frequency. A “Stored” message will be displayed.
Is the 12V SmartCord required to power an ESCORT premium radar compatible with BMW models?
Yes, the SmartCord is compatible with your BMW, but might require a Standard Female Hella(DIN) socket to Cigarette lighter type Socket adapter.
Born and raised in the Motor City by an autoworker’s family, to say that Michael Turashoff has a love of cars woven into his DNA is an understatement. Michael is a contributing writer with over 15 years of experience as a professional writer.