The Best Radar Detectors
Find the radar detector with the right features to suit your needs and budget
While we wouldn’t suggest you do it, if you are someone who might occasionally drive a little north of the posted speed limit, having one of the best radar detectors available with you could save you some potential problems. The average cost of a speeding ticket in the United States is $150, but the average insurance rate increase for an average speeding ticket is roughly $350, so if you get caught going a little too fast, it could end up costing you up more than $500. And that cost can increase exponentially if it happens more than once in a year.
Fortunately, you can greatly lessen your chances of getting speeding tickets, as many of the best radar detectors on the market will alert you of a police presence in time to slow down. The problem is that there are many radar detectors available with a massive range in pricing, leading some people to wonder which brands are the most trustworthy. After all, you don’t want to pay for a radar detector only to continue paying for speeding tickets.
We have put together a list of the most popular radar detectors on the market today, highlighting the key features and advantages of each.
Lead photo by Vilgun/Shutterstock.com
Table of Contents
Editor’s Choice Overall – Escort MAX 360C: Shop Now
Best Long Range - Uniden R7 : Shop Now
Best Budget - Cobra RAD 380: Shop Now
Best Simple Operation – Radenso XP: Shop Now
Cobra RAD 480i: Shop Now
Whistler CR93: Shop Now
Valentine One V1 Gen 2: Shop Now
Escort MAX 3: Shop Now
Cobra XRS9370: Shop Now
Uniden DFR9-BLK : Shop Now
1. Editor’s Choice Overall – Escort MAX 360C
If you want the best radar detector on the market today, we would direct you to the Escort MAX 360C. Escort is one of the oldest, most trusted and best known brand names in the world of radar and laser detection. The MAX 360C is its most advanced detector, monitoring for both radar and laser speed measurement systems with the help of online system information via a built-in WiFi connection. It even works with your smartphone to help prevent you from getting tickets beyond the traditional radar or laser detection systems.
The Escort MAX 360C offers 360-degree protection with front- and rear-facing sensors that detect any radar or laser signals around your vehicle. Blue arrows around the perimeter of the face of the device light up to let you know the basic direction of the source of the radar or laser signals. The basic function of the MAX 360C is more advanced than the average radar detector, but when you have a WiFi connection through your vehicle or your smartphone, you can tap into the Escort Live community app. That uses real time information to know when you are nearing an area where another vehicle using an Escort connector radar detector sensed an officer monitoring speed.
The Escort MAX 360C also has the ability to recognize non-speed enforcement radar signals, such as crash avoidance systems on other vehicles or building security systems, and it remembers those false alarm sources from buildings when you pass them in the future.
- Advanced detection protection including online communication with other vehicles, 360-degree sensors, speed limit display, vehicle speed display
- Upper end of the price range, requires a wired power source
2. Best Long Range - Uniden R7
If you spend your high speed driving time in a flat, open area, it is important to know as soon as possible about a police officer running the speed gun. The farther an officer can see, the farther away he or she can catch you speeding, so in open areas, the best radar detector is one that has an extensive sensor range. According to the folks at Uniden, the R7 Extreme Long Range radar detector has unsurpassed range and a greater ability to detect radar and laser signals at extended distances.
The Uniden R7 protection starts with front and rear sensors, offering 360 degrees of monitoring for radar and laser detection, with arrows that show you the direction of the signal. The R7 has the ability to detect radar or laser signals that did not come from a speed measurement device, such as building security systems or crash avoidance systems on other vehicles. It then uses GPS to remember that false alarm signal, so that it won’t be an issue in the future. The Uniden R7 will even alert you to speed cameras and red light cameras, differentiating between the different warnings so that you know whether you are approaching a speed trap or some other type of system.
- Long detection range, 360-degree sensors, speed limit display
- One of the more expensive options, required a wired power source
3. Best Budget - Cobra RAD 380
The key problem with many of the best radar detectors on the market is that they are expensive. While the pricier radar detectors are chock full of features to justify the price, not everyone has a pile of money to spend on a speeding ticket avoidance device. Fortunately, there are some great options on the market for anyone looking for a radar detector at a great price point and one of the best of that group is the Cobra RAD 380.
The Cobra RAD 380 showcases the brand’s LaserEye technology, featuring a front and rear antenna to provide 360 degrees of coverage against both radar and laser speed enforcement devices. The Cobra RAD 380 uses a next generation IVF filter to reduce false alerts from things like vehicle crash avoidance and building security systems. This unit also offers adjustable sensitivity and Digital Signal Processing to differentiate between an actual speed enforcement system or some other non-threat as quickly as possible. There are city and highway modes with different sensing sensitivity and AutoMute for sustained alerts, for when you are sitting in traffic with an officer ahead.
- Very inexpensive, double the range of other low priced radar detectors, easy operation, 360-degree protection
- No directional indication, no updates, no advanced protection via WiFi or Bluetooth technology
4. Best Simple Operation – Radenso XP
Many of the best radar detectors on the market today offer all sorts of protection services with embedded GPS and connectivity technology with your vehicle or smartphone. The problem with those devices is that they require some measure of setup that might be too technical for some drivers. If you want advanced protection against speeding tickets without any setup that will require you to be comfortable with modern gadgets, the Radenso XP is your best bet.
The Radenso XP comes ready to mount, plug-in and power up with full functionality. There are three modes of operation, Highway, City and AutoCity, with unique sensitivity settings for each. This radar detector filters out vehicle crash avoidance systems and traffic monitoring systems from far away, recognizing between real and fake threats in plenty of time to slow down. The Radenso XP also uses GPS technology to remember fake alerts, including red light cameras and building security systems. That GPS feature also allows the XP to display vehicle speed, giving you the ability to select certain speeds below which the detector will not go off.
Most importantly, the whole system works with a few basic buttons, with little concern beyond selecting the mode and volume level.
- No setup, easy to use, long range detection abilities, mid-range pricing, GPS tagging
- No rear-facing antenna, wired power source only
5. Cobra RAD 480i
If you like the general functionality of the lower-priced Cobra radar detectors, but you would like a bit more protection from speeding tickets with help from modern technology, the Cobra RAD 480i is a great option. With prices in the $150 range, this is still a relatively inexpensive option, yet it still features many of the high tech features of the best radar detectors on the market.
The features of the Cobra RAD 480i begin with front and rear antennas with the company’s LaserEye technology to provide 360 degrees of detection. The 480i showcases the latest IVF filter technology and advanced “anti-falsing” circuitry to detect the signals that you are not worried about, such as vehicle crash avoidance systems and building security systems. When coupled with the latest Digital Signal Processing technology, the Cobra RAD 480i provides faster processing to accurately warn you of speed traps without warning you of a car with a blind spot monitoring system – which also uses radar.
Where the 480i stands apart from the lower priced Cobra RAD radar detectors is in the Bluetooth connectivity to the iRadar app, which uses information from millions of other drivers to prepare for possible speed traps and to know about false alarms well in advance.
- Low price, 360-degree protection, online integration, long range, one of Cobra’s bestsellers
- Very basic display, limited information
6. Whistler CR93
Whistler doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other brands on our list, as the company doesn’t offer the same elaborate spread of options as the competition. However, if you are looking for a relatively high tech unit that rivals the best radar detectors on the market without the big price, the CR95 is a great option. Whistler does have a spread of radar detectors with pricing starting around $50, but for under $200, you can get a nice collection of features.
First off, the Whistler CR93 offers 360 degrees of protection against all modern radar and laser speed measurement systems with Radar System ID (RSID) and Laser System ID (LSID) to provide the broadest scope of detection while internal GPS tracks sources of repeated false alarms. The Traffic Signal Flow Rejection system with six different modes (three city, three highway) helps to cut down on false alarms from stoplight cameras or other signals, such as vehicle crash avoidance systems. The Whistler CR93alerts you with an LED text display and with voice alerts in either English or Spanish.
Finally, unlike most of the other radar detectors on our list, the Whistler CR93 has internal batteries, so you don’t have to drive around with the power wire hanging from your windshield or sun visor.
- Battery powered for wireless operation, 360-degrees of protection, low price, internal GPS
- No Bluetooth or internet connectivity, no direction warning indicators
7. Valentine One V1 Gen 2
If you are looking to buy one of the best radar detectors on the market, with all of the latest technology and one of the longest ranges available, but you aren’t worried about spending some money – the Valentine One V1 Gen 2 is the unit for you. While this radar detector offers a combination of real time detection from the internal antennas along with internet information from the V1Connection, this is one of the most expensive items on the list. It doesn’t look particularly fancy compared to the other high priced units, but it provides comparable protection.
First, the Valentine One V1 Gen 2 uses front and rear antennas to provide 360 degrees of protection against X, K, Ka, Ku and Super Wideband Ka signals along with all types of laser systems. When a signal is detected, the large arrow indicator tells you whether the officer is in front of you or behind, and on what side. Thanks to the military grade antennas, the Valentine One V1 Gen 2 can find a radar signal up to four miles away while K-Verifier technology helps to weed out the false alarms, such as vehicle crash avoidance systems, traffic light cameras and other non-speed enforcement radar systems. Finally, the V1 Gen 2 uses Bluetooth connectivity to communicate with your Apple or Android smartphone for a live stream of real world data from other drivers.
Best of all, unlike the other high end radar detectors, the Valentine One V1 has an internal battery, so it can be operated without a wired connection.
- Battery powered for wireless function, 360 degrees of protection, advanced sensing of all radar and laser speed enforcement systems, Bluetooth app connectivity
- Expensive, simple appearance
8. Escort MAX 3
The Escort MAX 360C is our best overall radar detector, but with a high price point, it might be out of your budget. Fortunately, Escort sells a variety of radar detectors and their MAX 3 offers similar protection with slightly less modern technology. Mind you, this isn’t a simple, old-school radar detector with an internal antenna and nothing else. The MAX 3 still connects to the Escort Live app for real time data and it still offers 360 degrees of protection, but it costs about half the price of the MAX 360C.
The features of the Escort MAX 3 begin with front and rear antennas for 360 degrees of sensing protection with a clear screen that displays vehicle speed, speed limit and detected signal strength. The company’s next generation filtering technology can differentiate between speed enforcement systems and non-threats, such as vehicle crash avoidance systems and building security systems. The Autolearn system uses GPS to remember false alarms while the automatic sensitivity system will not notify you as seriously when you are driving at lower speeds. Finally, as mentioned above, the MAX 3 can connect through your Android or Apple smartphone to the Escort Live app to use the data from other drivers to know in advance about threats and non-threats.
- Lower cost, internet connectivity for live data, 360 degrees of protection, signal filtering
- Still somewhat expensive, wired power source, less advanced signal processing
9. Cobra XRS9370
If you want the strongest in-car protection from one of the best radar detectors on the market today, the Cobra XRS9370 is a great option with a great price. This unit is in the upper-middle pricing range, but you take into account all of the things that this Cobra radar detector does on its own – without the help of a smartphone – the cost makes sense.
The Cobra XRS9370 uses the brand’s LaserEye technology with front and rear antennas, 14 bands of radar and laser sensing, simple city/highway mode operation to cut down on stationary false alarms from building security systems, super-fast sweep circuitry for the quickest detection possible and an ultra-bright display that you can see in a convertible with the top down on a sunny day. In addition to telling you where the threat is located, this system will even tell you how far you are from the speed enforcement tool.
Something that separates the Cobra XRS9370 from many of the other items on the list is the fact that it is also programmed to watch for radar detector detectors. Systems like the VG-2 and Spectre1 radar detector detection systems allow the authorities to find out who has a radar detector, but this unit is not detectable by those systems and it lets you know that those systems are in use nearby.
- 360 degrees of protection, undetectable by radar detector detectors, detects all radar and laser systems, fast sweeping detection operation
- Upper end of the price range, wired power source, no internet connectivity
10. Uniden DFR9-BLK
Uniden appeared early in our list as our favorite long range radar detector, but this company has many other options which could be considered for the best radar detectors on the market. The key issue with the R7 is the cost, but you can get similar protection technology with the Uniden DFR9-BLK. It offers many of the same features as the R7 in a different physical package with slightly less range and a lower price tag.
The Uniden DFR9-BLK showcases the brand’s Eagle Eye Laser Detection Technology with front and rear antennas to provide 360 degrees of protection against all sorts of modern radar and laser speed enforcement tools. Using GPS technology and advanced false alarm filtering, the DFR9 recognizes and remembers false alarm sources, such as building security systems, but it also uses a free database with preloaded speed camera and red light camera locations. This Uniden radar detector uses a multi-color LED screen and voice alerts to let you know when a radar or laser speed enforcement tool is near and if the system does indicate something that proves not to be a threat, there is a button to manually mark that landmark.
- Great price, 360 degrees of protection, false alarm filtering technology with GPS marking
- Slightly lower range than the R7, no internet connectivity or app
How Does a Radar or Laser Detector Work?
Before understanding how a radar or laser detector works, we have to understand how the radar and laser gun used by a police officer is used to meter speed.
When a radar gun is pointed at a vehicle, a radio wave is sent out. When that radio wave hits the vehicle, it reflects off, bouncing back to the device. The radar system does this at a rapid succession, somewhat like a strobe light, allowing the device to calculate how quickly the vehicle is moving. Since not all of these radio waves hit their designated target, some travel randomly through space. A laser speed system works the same basic way, except it uses infrared beams rather than radio waves. Just like the radar systems, laser systems lead to stray signals projecting through traffic.
Radar and laser detectors have sensor systems programmed to detect the specific radio frequency or infrared wavelengths used by the speed measuring devices. The best radar detectors have multiple sensors, allowing the unit to search for a wider range of speed enforcement systems. When the radar detector meets one of those stray speed enforcement system signals, it lets you know that there is a police officer nearby who is on the hunt for speeders. If you are speeding, you can slow down before the officer has a chance to focus the radar gun on your vehicle, thus preventing you the headache of a costly traffic ticket.
Are Radar Detectors Legal?
Radar and laser detectors are not federally prohibited in the United States, but they are illegal in the state of Virginia and in Washington D.C. There are also unique laws on these devices in a handful of other states, mostly applying to commercial drivers.
In Alabama, commercial vehicles are not allowed to use radar or laser detectors at all and in Maryland, commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds are not permitted to use them. In New York, any vehicle over 18,000 pounds – commercial or not – is prohibited from using a radar or laser detector. In California and Minnesota, everyone is allowed to use a radar detector, but they cannot be mounted on the windshield, so they need to mount the unit on the dashboard or somewhere else in the vehicle.
Where Do You Mount a Radar Detector?
The best radar detectors don’t need to be mounted on the windshield to work. Radar signals pass through glass, plastic, cardboard and cloth without much impedance while metals do cause some interference.
The higher you mount your radar or laser detector on the vehicle, the better. If mounting on the windshield, you want to mount it as high as possible, but if your unit is wired, that wire will hang in your field of vision. A suction mount on the dashboard is a good option for those who can’t stick it to the windshield, but affixing it to the sun visors is often the best option. It is high on the vehicle with few obstructions and the location is legal in those states with placement laws.
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