10 Best Radar Detectors for Drivers Reviewed in 2018

Everyone knows that feeling, when you’re cruising along the highway, windows down, music blasting, and then you hear sirens in the distance. You assume they must be after someone else because you haven’t done anything wrong, but you look up and see those dreadful red and blue lights flashing in your rear view mirror. You quickly check your speed and realize in your distracted bliss that you accidentally went over the speed limit. Bummer. No one likes getting a ticket for speeding, it feels like a waste of money and you’re worried your insurance will take a hit. We’re all guilty of going over the limit every once in a while when we’re in a hurry or distracted, but imagine if you knew there was a cop nearby tracking speeds. You could check to ensure you’re within the speed limit and avoid the hassle of getting pulled over and ticketed. That’s where radar detectors come in.

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Uniden R3
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Escort Passport 9500IX
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Cobra Electronics RAD450
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Radar detectors are small electronic devices that alert you when there are police nearby using radar guns to track speed. This gives you time to slow down and avoid being ticketed. Radar detectors can be quite pricey, but think of them as an investment as it will save you money in the long run by avoiding speeding tickets. When picking out your radar detector, you’ll want to consider several factors including range, accuracy, and ease of use. Here are the top ten radar detectors reviewed.

 

10 Best Radar Detectors

 

1. Uniden R3

If you’re looking for the best all around radar detector, the Uniden R3 is considered one of the top performing radar detectors on the market. This radar detector is guaranteed to detect any cop from a long range distance and even has some special features that will make your life easier. It’s hyper-sensitive in detecting laser radars, it offers a stealth mode, and has the least amount of false alerts compared to any other radar detector.
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Range
The Uniden R3 is known for its extreme long range detection capabilities. This means that it can detect police from over a mile away from your location, giving you plenty of time to slow down or take another route. It can even tell which direction the signal is coming from.

False Alert Filtering
Radar detectors can pick up other laser signals besides just police radar guns and this can be annoying if it goes off too often when there isn’t actually a threat nearby. The Uniden R3 has the least amount of false alerts compared to any other radar detector, meaning you won’t be notified when someone is using a remote start on their car nearby.

Cost and Value
The Uniden R3 is definitely expensive, but it’s actually mid-range in terms of price when compared to other models. If you’re looking for a reliable radar detector guaranteed to save you hundreds in speeding tickets, the Uniden R3 is the best bang for your buck.
Pros

Extreme long range distance

Excellent false alert filter

360 degree directional detection

Quiet ride - mute when at low speeds

Stealth mode - not easily detectable by cops

Cons

Suction cup not reliable

2. Escort Passport 9500IX

If you’re looking for a “smart” radar detector, the Escort Passport 9500IX is the best option. It comes pre-loaded with the location of thousands of fixed red light and speed detectors across the country. It also has a smartphone app that integrates seamlessly with your radar detector to keep you informed of speed limits and other user’s reported alerts.
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Auto-Learn Capabilities
The Escort Passport 9500IX uses artificial intelligence to autolearn different radar signals. This technology works to understand which signals are false alarms and which are real threats.

Database of Safety Cameras
Most cities in the U.S. have cameras and detectors to track when people speed or run red lights. The Escort Passport 9500IX has stored the location of thousands of these detectors and quickly alerts you when you are approaching one.

Cost and Value
Slightly cheaper than the Uniden R3, the Escort Passport 9500IX is still not easy on the wallet. But the extra features this detector includes more than make up for the price. Not only does this radar detector rank high for range and false alert filtering, it offers exclusive features through its database and mobile app that would be considered priceless.
Pros

Long range distance

Mobile app with nearby reported alerts and speed limit data

Stored database of safety cameras and detectors

Autolearn to eliminate false alerts

Cons

Poor customer service

Need to pay for additional updates

3. Cobra Electronics RAD450

The Cobra Electronics RAD450 is a dependable radar detector and the best option for those looking for a bargain. This radar detector offers the usual features of most other detectors on this list and is good at what it does. You’ll find no issue with the precision of its signal detection, the clear voice alerts that notify you of a threat, and the filter that works to decrease the amount of false alerts.
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Instant-On Ready
This feature is unique to the Cobra Electronics RAD450 and provides an extra level of security. Basically it can detect when police use an “instant-on” radar gun which is extremely quick and harder to detect than radar guns that are “always-on”.

Dual Language
If you speak Spanish then this radar detector is for you! It offers voice alerts as well as text message alerts in both English and Spanish.

Cost and Value
The Cobra Electronics 9500IX is the cheapest radar detector on this list, but don’t be fooled by the low price. This detector is a high contender for one of the best options on the market. It’s reliable, dependable, and offers a few unique features that make this radar detector a viable option for those looking to avoid speeding tickets.
Pros
  • In-Vehicle Technology to reduce false alerts
  • Available in English and Spanish
  • Clear, easy to understand alerts
  • Cheap
Cons
  • Can’t shut off X or K bands signals
  • Only detects from front and rear, not 360 degrees

4. Escort Max II HD

4. Escort Max II HD
Quick response time is essential in a dependable radar detector. The Escort Max II HD is one of the fastest and most accurate on the market when it comes to detecting threatening signals. Its Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology makes sure you’re getting alerts instantaneously in order to give you enough time to slow down and avoid being pulled over. This is a newer version of the Escort Passport 9500IX.
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App & Database
Most of the Escort models come with access to the mobile app and Defender Database. The app offers speed limit data for your current location and updates you on other user’s reported alerts nearby. The Defender Database stores locations of thousands of safety cameras and detectors around the country and alerts you upon approach.

Quick Response Time
The DSP method allows the Escort Max II HD to quickly alert you when a signal is detected. It may take several seconds to slow down within the speed limit and that quick alert gives you a little extra time before the police radar can detect your speed.

Cost and Value
Similar in price to the Uniden R3, the Escort Max II HD falls in the mid-price range compared to the others on this list. You’ll be getting good value for your money and the extra features included make it hard to pass up. If you’re looking for a top-notch detector with additional features other than basic radar detection, this is the way to go.
Pros

Very quick response time

Easy to use

Mobile app with additional data and reports

Defender Database with alerts for fixed safety detectors

Cons

Not stealthy, detectable by cops

Feels cheap

5. Beltronics RX65

5. Beltronics RX65
If this is your first radar detector, the Beltronics RX65 is a solid option to start with. It’s very easy to use and won’t break the bank. It offers three different settings depending on which type of driving you are doing and adjusts its signal detection based on what setting you choose. The Beltronics RX65 is the second cheapest option on this list but is still a great contender if you’re just looking for something basic.
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Ease of Use
Some radar detectors can be complicated with too many buttons and options making it too hard to use. If you’re a beginner and looking for your first radar detector, you won’t find an easier to use option than the Beltronics RX65. It offers a simple display and only three basic settings.

Laser Detector
The Beltronics RX65 detects signals from LIDAR guns that some police use to track speed. Although it won’t prevent the cop from seeing your top speed, it gives you the chance to slow down which hopefully will set the cop at ease and he’ll move on.

Cost and Value
This radar detector is cheap, but basic. You’re pretty much getting what you pay for when it comes to the Beltronics RX65. If you’re an advanced radar detector user, this isn’t the one for you as it doesn’t offer any additional features. But for a first-time buyer this is a great option at a great price.
Pros

Easy to use

Laser Detection

Cheap

Cons

No GPS - can’t detect or mark speed traps and cameras

No special features

6. Uniden R1

6. Uniden R1
The Uniden R1 is very similar to the Uniden R3, really the only feature it’s lacking is GPS. The GPS feature allows you to mark locations of suspected speed traps and safety cameras, but if you just want basic radar detection then the R1 is a great option. This is probably one of the best non-GPS radar detectors on the market and it can be purchased at a very affordable price.
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360 Degree Detection
The Uniden R1 uses DSP technology to detect radar signals from all directions. This makes it much more accurate and precise when searching for signals. More advanced than a basic front and rear detector, you should feel at ease knowing it will pick up any nearby signals.

Stealth Mode
If you don’t want cops to see your radar detector, you can black out the display of the Uniden R1. This is useful at night when it is easier for cops to see the display lit up in your vehicle.

Cost and Value
The Uniden R1 has a very affordable price tag and offers extreme accuracy as well as other great features. If you don’t need GPS on your radar detector, the R1 is a prime contender.
Pros

Stealth mode - not easily detectable by cops

360 degree protection

Affordable

Cons

Not 100% reliable in signal detection

7. Escort Passport S55

7. Escort Passport S55
Another affordable option is the Escort Passport S55.With this radar detector you’ll get the basic features needed to avoid a speeding ticket. It has a decent radar range and offers different settings depending on the type of driving you’re doing. This is a good option for beginners due to its basic functionality, but doesn’t offer any special features.
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Ease of Use
The Escort Passport S55 is a beginner’s radar detector. There are a few simple settings and and easy-to-read display, nothing too fancy. The lack of special features make it easier to use and understand.

Laser Detection
Like the Beltronics RX65, this radar detector offers laser detection. It won’t guarantee that you won’t get pulled over but it notifies you that you’ve been caught and gives you the chance to slow down in the hopes that the cop will move on to another offender.

Cost and Value
The Escort Passport S55 is similar in price and functionality to the Beltronics RX65. It’s a good option for people looking to buy their first radar detector and is very affordable.You get what you pay for which is simple radar and laser detection. The one feature you get on top of this is access to the Escort Live app - notifications of other user’s reported alerts and speed limit data for your current location.
Pros

Easy to use - good for beginners

Access to the Escort Live app

Cheap

Cons

No special features

Shorter range

8. Valentine One

8. Valentine One
The Valentine One is a radar detector that withstands time. Valentine’s have been around for over 20 years and have the exact same look and feel as the originals. This one is just an upgraded version. These radar detectors are known for high performance when it comes to effectively detecting radar signals and identifying false alarms.
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Upgrades on Old Versions
If you are a loyal Valentine consumer and have a previous version, you can send yours in for an upgrade to the newest hardware and software. There might be a charge but you’ll know you’re in good hands and it’s worth it for the latest features.

Dual Antennas
The Valentine One comes with two antennas - one forward-facing and one rear-facing antenna. This gives you 360 degree protection and even tells you the type and strength of the signal as well as which direction it’s coming from.

Cost and Value
You’re looking at a bit of an investment if you decide to purchase the Valentine One. It’s toward the higher end of prices that you’ll see for radar detectors, but it’s worth every penny. This brand has been around for over two decades, meaning they know what they are doing. If you’re looking for a high end radar detector, the Valentine One is a great choice.
Pros
  • 360 degree protection
  • Easy upgrade to newer versions
  • Dual antennas for accuracy and strength
Cons

Expensive

9. Escort Passport Max

If you’re looking for a top of the line radar detector, look no further than the Escort Passport Max. It includes all of Escort’s typical features such as the mobile app and the Defender Database of fixed security cameras and speed traps. It’s high performing features include lightning speed response time and incredible accuracy. You can’t go wrong with the Escort Passport Max.
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Sleek Design
The Escort Passport Max is a good looking radar detector that will look like a sleek new add-on in your ride. It’s small with a smooth design so as not to look too clunky or noticeable by police.

High Performance
The Escort brand radar detectors have dominated this list for a reason. They provide accurate and quick alerts that are guaranteed to save you from getting pulled over. This company knows what they’re doing when it comes to creating the best radar detectors on the market.

Cost and Value
The Escort Passport Max is the most expensive radar detector on this list, but doesn’t really offer any additional features than the other Escorts on this list. You’ll get the same value from any other Escort model and save a few hundred bucks.
Pros

Quick response time

Accurate results

Access to the Escort Live app and Defender Database

Cons

Extremely expensive

Nothing special to make up for the extra cost

10. Escort iX

10. Escort iX
We’ve looked at several Escort models but another contender to consider is the Escort iX. This is the newer version of the 9500IX and is only slightly more expensive. With this version you’ll get additional features, a new design, and improvements to the power and accuracy of the 9500IX. As usual you’ll have access to the Escort Live app and the Defender Database to keep track of speed limit information and fixed security checks. The Escort iX is a great option for those looking for one that is high-tech, accurate, and not insanely pricey.
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Range
One of the most important features of a radar detector is range and this one’s got it. You’ll be alerted of a threat from a far distance away and have enough time to check your speed and slow down if necessary.

Sleek Design
The Escort iX comes with a new design from its predecessor, the Escort Passport 9500IX. It’s sleeker and will look like a great addition to your vehicle. Its design also helps to prevent police from noticing it..

Cost and Value
Falling in the mid-price range, you’ll find this radar detector somewhat affordable but worth its price tag. You get access to all of Escort’s usual features, ensuring you have a smooth and quiet ride. The Escort iX is a wonderful option and is a high contender on this list.
Pros

More power than previous versions

Sleek design

Access to mobile app and Defender Database

Cons

Lots of false alerts

Misses some radar signals

Choosing the perfect radar detector is a bit of a task. There are a lot of good ones out there, a few great ones, and some that really don’t work at all. You’ll definitely need to do some research to determine which one will work best for you. There are several that are great for the first time buyer because they tend to be cheaper and easier to use. But for the more advanced radar detector user, you’ll be shelling out a few hundred dollars in order to get the top-of-the-line and most accurate detector. This list of the top ten best radar detectors truly are the best on the market and you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

 

Criteria Used in Evaluation 

Of The Best Radar Detectors

 

Range

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a radar detector is range. Range is the distance away that your detector is able pick up on a signal. The reason this is important is because police radar guns can catch you from a good distance away and once you’re caught, there’s no getting out of it. You need to be able to detect them before they detect you so you have enough time to check that you’re within the speed limit and slow down if necessary. The same goes for picking up signals from fixed safety cameras. You need to know far in enough in advance that you’re approaching a speed check so that you have plenty of time to adjust your speed.

You should aim to select a radar detector that can pick up a signal from a few miles away. Many radar detectors have the term “Long Range Radar” listed after their title so any of these would be a good bet. If you end up with a radar detector that has a short range, it will certainly pick up the threat signal but it may be too late for you to slow down and avoid a speeding ticket.

Accuracy

If you’re dropping a few hundred dollars on a radar detector, you should expect it to be accurate. This is extremely important in avoiding detection by police and fixed safety checks. It also will give you piece of mind knowing that you can trust the device is picking up on the right signals and filtering out the wrong ones. Most radar detectors will boast accuracy, so how will you know which ones truly are accurate? By reading user reviews. These are the most honest and will tell you whether or not the device is actually accurate and worth buying. You can find user reviews on Amazon which tend to be pretty accurate.

There are two factors to consider when determining the accuracy of a radar detector:

Antennas

Depending on the type of radar detector you choose it may have antennas that detect signals only from the front and rear or from all directions. A radar detector with 360 degree protection will let you know which direction the signal is coming from so you can make an informed decision about adjusting your speed.

False Alert Filtering

Radar detectors pick up several different kinds of signals, meaning it could detect garage door openers, remote starters, and other devices that emit a radar or laser. You don’t want your radar detector to alert you when it picks up one of these “false signals” because it could get really irritating with constant, loud alerts. A good radar detector will be able to determine whether or not the signal it’s detecting is a true threat or a false alert.  

Ease of Use

Electronic devices can sometimes be hard to understand how to use, especially if it’s something you’ve never used before. When it comes to something as important as following the speed limit laws, you want to make sure you understand how to use the device that’s helping to keep you in line. If you’re a first time buyer, you’ll want to purchase a simpler radar detector that you can easily learn how to use. Choose one that has few buttons and only a couple of settings. This will ensure you are setting it up correctly and can eliminate the chance of getting pulled over because you just didn’t know how to work the device.

For those that have used radar detectors before and understand how they work, ease of use isn’t as important. You’ll still want to choose one that has an easier design just to avoid frustration, but you should be good to choose a more complicated radar detector.

Special Features

Radar detectors vary in what they offer, ranging from the most basic features to including special features that really make them worth their hefty price tag. If you’re looking to step up your game, look for a radar detector that includes additional features besides 360 degree protection, long distance range, and false alert filtering.

Some radar detectors have GPS or Bluetooth capabilities that work to make your drive easier. Those with GPS will let you mark locations where traffic cameras and suspected speed traps are. You’ll then receive alerts when you approach these locations. Certain brands have created their own mobile apps and databases that store speed limit data for your location, alert you when other users nearby have reported alerts, and automatically notify you of nearby safety checks.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

About Radar Detectors

 

Q: What are radar detectors?

Radar detectors are electronic devices that are kept in a vehicle in order to detect when police nearby are using radar guns. They are used to avoid speeding tickets.

Q: Are radar detectors illegal?

Radar detectors are only illegal in Virginia and Washington D.C. if used in a non-commercial vehicle. They are illegal on military bases and in commercial vehicles over ten thousand pounds.

Q: Are radar detectors undetectable by police?

 Some radar detectors include a stealth mode that dim the display light, making it harder for police to detect them visually. Police are able to detect radar detector signals, but you can buy one that has a built-in defense for this.

Q: How are radar detectors powered?

There are several different ways to power a radar detector. Most have the option to plug into a cigarette lighter or power source, hard wire to the vehicle, or run on batteries.

Q: Where do I put my radar detector?

Most have suction cups that allow you to mount them to your windshield or dashboard. You’ll want to choose a spot that allows easy access to push buttons, but also doesn’t distract from your view of the road. Under the rearview mirror is a popular spot.

Q: What is the difference between Radar Detectors and Laser Jammers?

 Radar detectors simply pick up signals from police radar guns and alert you of their presence. Laser jammers send a signal back that scrambles the police radar gun so they cannot track your speed. Laser jammers are illegal in some states.

Sources

  1. Wikihow – How to Install a Radar Detector In Your Car
  2. wikipedia – wiki-Radar-detector
  3. valentine1 – whatyoushouldknowradar
  4. howstuffworks-radar-detector
  5. thomasnet-how-radar-detectors-work