When Escort Passport Max was released more than five years ago, it promised never before seen technology from the Escort line. It should, especially when considering its retail price. But now that the company has newer radar detectors on its arsenal that have similar technologies such as Digital Signal Processing, AutoLearn Technology, and connectivity to Escort Live, is it still worth the price (which did not change as much as one would want)?
Let’s find out by looking at its design and features, and how these contribute positively or otherwise to the Passport Max’s performance.
When it comes to design, one of the things that come off as different from the Passport Max was its new Sticky Cup suction mount. This is not an advantage though—in fact, there have been complaints about its reliability. How it holds on to the glass is not the problem, because it does so strongly. It is when the radar detector is on it that it poses a problem. The adhesive material looks rather cheap and flimsy to support the Passport Max which is heavier than older models.
The weight of the Passport Max is also another strike against it, although it is a very minor one. It is not as compact as Escort would like it to be at 1.3” x 3.2” x 5.3”, and that works against the less than a robust mount. It does, however, position sensors and indicators rather nicely.
The buttons, which you’ll find using the most such as mute, volume, sensitivity, power and brightness, are on top. There is also a connector for the SmartCord, which is convenient so that you don’t have to reach the radar detector for functions like muting, as well as a mini-USB port and a jack for your headphones.
The Passport Max comes with a full-color OLED display. Despite its power-saving capabilities, and the option to adjust the color as well as brightness, it suffers from being washed out by sunlight. This complaint is not exclusive to the Passport Max as all other Escort models with OLED instead of LED have the same problem.
Forcing your eyes to squint to read off of the display is very inconvenient when you’re trying to concentrate on the road, which is where audio alerts should come in handy. The Passport Max, however, is also wanting in this respect. The sounds can easily be drowned by external noise.
Enabled with GPS
All top of the line radar detectors come with the GPS because it makes life a little more convenient. What it does for radar detectors is that it estimates where you are located, figure if there are speed traps and red-light cameras on the area, and alert you accordingly. This can mean more alerts, but that is something you’d rather be informed of than not. GPS also enables other functions, some of which we’ll get into more later.
Over Speed Alert
A feature that is available on built-in models as well, such the Max Ci. Everyone slips on the speed limit now and then, but with Passport Max, you would be alerted immediately through beeps and voice alerts if you’re going over it and risking yourself for a speeding ticket. Although this is something that has already been configured beforehand, you can adjust this based on your preferences.
Variable Speed Sensitivity
Different driving conditions need varying amounts of sensitivity. With Passport Max, it can gauge what you need based on your speed. In the city where many factors can trigger false alerts, the Escort radar detector can filter more non-threatening signals. On the highway where you drive considerably faster, the radar detector can go for long ranges.
This is a feature that is already a mainstay in many Escort models, although not all competitors have a matching technology. AutoLearn simply reduces false positives by storing signals you chose to ignore previously on your usual route and using that knowledge to keep it from beeping next time. It takes a week or two before it begins to ignore such signals, but once it does, you’ll have a considerably quieter drive with less annoying false alerts.
AutoMute and SmartMute
False alerts annoy everybody, but that’s just a consequence of using radar detectors. There is a way, however, to minimize the number you receive. On Passport Max are added options for muting: AutoMute is enabled once the detector has alerted you, minimizing the volume after the few seconds.
SmartMute, meanwhile, will let you mark locations of false alarms with three taps. It will still alert you once you pass by it, but it will no longer beep. Both can be done on the detector and the mute button on the SmartCord.
Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
This is a feature Passport Max claims to be of military-grade. It does two important things: quick identification of surrounding threats, and more accurate filtering of false alerts from actual, real threats. This way, you can adjust your speed as necessary ahead of time.
Traffic Sensor Rejection (TSR)
Here’s another feature that should obviously be included in most radar detectors but is still missing. Through the TSR, your Passport Max won’t alert you of signals from wireless traffic sensors, cutting down on more false alerts.
Escort Live app
Escort Live is a brand exclusive that allows you to connect with other users and crowdsource for information through an app on your phone, which is available in both Android and iOS. While very useful, this requires a different SmartCord from the one you have fresh from the box.
The new SmartCord, which is SmartCord Live, will replace your old one for added Bluetooth connectivity but it will not come cheap at $99.99. The radar detector is already expensive at more than $500.
The Passport Max is already preloaded with the Defender Database, an extensive, updated resource of red-light cameras and speed traps. It is also exclusive because after a few months, you will have to pay a $4.99 per month subscription. We’re not sure if that’s an entirely necessary addition, especially with a $49.99 expense per year.
- The Passport Max has improved detection range compared to older models
- There are more systems put in place to minimize false alerts such as DSP, TSR, AutoLearn Technology
- Sensitivity is adjusted depending on driving mode
- Escort Live-compatible
- Easy to use radar detector
- Expensive even in the availability of newer Escort models like the built in Ci 360
- Suction mount could be improved given the radar detector’s weight
- OLED display’s visibility suffers in bright, sunlit environments
- Voice alerts can be drowned by external sounds
- SmartCord Live is an added expense just for the Passport Max to be connected to Escort Live
- Defender Database is not indefinitely free
Q: Can I use the Passport Max outside the US?
A: Yes, although it has to be configured based on the most used radar and laser guns used in the country.
The Escort Passport Max can help you filter and minimize false alerts, connect with Escort Live for added protection, and adjust accordingly depending on your driving mode. You would need to pay a hefty price for it though, and pay for additional features such as SmartCord Live and Defender Database.
Still, even with its flaws, you can count on the Passport Max to deliver as you would expect a device of a similar price range would. And it does so efficiently, despite minor nuisance in the display and accessories.