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Radar detectors and dash cams have individual benefits, but there are some “two-in-one” options. Driving with a combo unit saves space on your windshield and can save you money since you’re buying one unit instead of two. This list includes three options for dash cam radar detectors. Two are combo units, while the other is considered a “radar-mounted” dash cam. I own all three and will recap my experiences with each.
Best Overall: Escort MAXcam 360c
Described by Escort as a complete driver alert system, the MAXcam 360c is an upgraded version of the MAX 360c radar detector with a 1440p camera. Escort is known for its high-end, tech-packed units, which is why the MAXcam 360c is the most expensive, but overall best, on this list.
- video quality
- Radar detector performance
- The app offers real-time alerts and access to videos
- The most expensive on this list
- App functionality still needs improvement
MAXcam 360c Radar Detector
The radar detector portion includes Escort features like front and rear antennas for increased range, alert directional arrows for better situational awareness, and AutoLearn Intelligence, which automatically blocks false fixed location alerts. Escort beefed up false alert filtering on the MAXcam 360c and included two convenient sensitivity modes in Auto No X and Auto Lo K. You also have the option of different Ka targeting filters.
Dash Cam Specifications and Features
The 1440p camera is powered by a Sony Starvis sensor that captures approximately 80 percent more pixels than a 1080p camera. A 16GB SD card is included that automatically stores footage in a running loop, which can also be accessed in real time via the Drive Smarter app. Additional features include an integrated G-sensor, parking mode, and a mayday emergency alert.
The MAXcam 360c is compatible with the Drive Smarter app, which connects drivers to a network of other Escort radar detector users. The Drive Smarter app gives you access to shared alerts, including active radar bursts, speed camera locations, and other road hazards. Similarly, you can issue an alert to others through the app if you notice something like a speed trap or a parked patrol car.
While the Drive Smarter app is marginally better than it was in the past, Escort still has a few bugs to work out. The good news is that you don’t necessarily need the app to enjoy the MAXcam 360c. The unit’s hardware is unaffected, which means it still has long-range radar detection and excellent camera quality. While you won’t be able to access your footage on the go, you can remove it from the drive later with the included mini-USB cable.
Best Budget Option: Cobra Road Scout
The Cobra Road Scout is similar to the MAXcam 360c in that it’s also a combo unit, but it doesn’t pack quite the same punch. It is the cheaper version of the MAXcam, offering similar features but less performance. Overall, the Road Scout isn’t a bad choice for a radar detector with a dash cam, but it’s not the best either, in our experience.
- detection range
- GPS lock capability
- You need two apps for full functionality
Dash Cam Features and Apps
An Ambarella A12 processor and Sony Exmor image sensor power the Road Scout’s 1080p camera. Meanwhile, Cobra’s Drive HD app lets you view, edit and share videos from your phone, similar to Escort’s Drive Smarter app. Drive HD differs from Drive Smarter in that you can only access dash cam footage through the Cobra app. Community-generated real-time radar alerts require separate iRadar app.
If you want to try both apps, you can switch between the two. On the Road Scout, press and hold BRT until “CAMERA” or “iRADAR” appears. While using the iRadar app, you will not be able to view real-time video footage. However, the Road Scout continues to record to the 16 GB SD card as long as the unit is powered on. Like the MAXcam 360c, the Road Scout’s radar detector and camera hardware will work without the apps.
Cobra Road Scout: Daily Driving
The Road Scout’s camera is sufficient, but the radar detector leaves a lot to be desired. Although false alert filtering is above average, detection range is medium, and GPS locks rarely hold, meaning any permanent digital signage on your daily commute will trip the Road Scout. Redeeming qualities include an information-packed display and an auto-sensitivity mode.
I have a Cobra Road Scout and an Escort MAXcam 360c. On any given day driving through the Detroit metro area, I’d lean more towards the latter. Granted, the MAXcam 360c costs almost twice as much, but so is performance (and without a doubt). The MAXcam 360c has a nicer camera and absolutely sets the Road Scout on fire when it comes to detection range, especially Ka alerts from the rear. It might be different if the Road Scout had a more powerful radar detector to pair with its camera.
Bolt-On Option: Escort M2 Dash Cam
The M2 is a “radar mounted” dash cam that connects to a compatible Escort radar detector, including the brand’s and Redline’s popular MAX and iX series. Despite having a 16GB SD card for capturing images, the M2 is not a standalone unit but rather an add-on accessory powered by the radar detector.
- easy installation
- mayday alerts
- Video includes GPS marks
- Bad app performance
- Add weight to radar detector
Camera features and apps
Following on from Escort’s M1 dash cam, the M2 is a marked improvement with 1080P resolution, 140 degree field of view, dual-band Wi-Fi, G-Sensor and built-in GPS. GPS records your speed, location, and other valuable information that could be useful during an insurance claim.
Meanwhile, when connected to the Drive Smarter app, you can view a real-time live feed over the camera’s Wi-Fi and save images to your phone. You can adjust different settings and configure your mayday alerts (ie emergency contact).
The M2 comes with a long bolt, two washers, and a windshield mounting bracket. There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to installation. The first is to place the radar detector closer to your steering wheel than you normally would. This “left shift” will allow the M2 to film from the center of your vehicle.
The second is how the M2 will add weight to an already heavy radar detector, especially if you’re running something like the MAX 360c or Redline 360c. To ensure the best possible seal, clean the suction cup mount of the radar detector and a small area of the windshield with isopropyl alcohol.
M2 Dash Cam Considerations
If you already own a compatible Escort radar detector, the M2 is a less expensive upgrade at $200 versus $400 for the Road Scout or $750 for the MAXcam 360c. If you don’t have an Escort radar detector and still want a dash cam, the MAXcam 360c is the best option. You’ll get the combo for less money than buying something like the MAX360c MKII ($700) or Redline 360c ($800) and adding the M2 later.
One idea is to consider pairing the Escort MAX 3 ($400) with the M2. That will get you the radar detector and dash cam combo for around $600. The MAX 3 isn’t quite as powerful as Escort’s higher-end models, but it’s still a solid radar detector.
Dash Cam Radar Detectors: More Information
For additional information, browse the Radar Detectors and Countermeasures Forum, which has entire discussion sections dedicated to nearly every brand of radar detector and dash cam (including radar detectors with a dash cam!) . There are tons of people there (myself included) who can help you with any questions or troubleshooting.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. He is a member of the board of directors of the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, a former president of the Detroit Working Writers, and a loyal fan of the Detroit Lions..