You probably did not consider yourself to be a speeder, and so you did not see the benefit purchasing the best radar detector. Then you got pulled over a couple of times by the police and realized that you drive a lot faster than you thought.
Our goal with this article is to provide you with the best radar detector reviews. We want to give you the ability to make a conscientious decision and to purchase the radar detector that is right for you and in a price range that you can afford.
Speeding tickets are expensive. Don’t leave your fate in the hands of a mediocre radar detector. Settle for nothing less than the best.
- How To Choose The Best Radar Detector for The Money
- Top 10 Best Radar Detectors
- 1. Beltronics RX65-Red Professional Series Radar Detector
- 2. Valentine One Radar Detector
- 3. Escort Max ll HD Radar Detector
- 4. Escort Passport 9500IX Radar Detector
- 5. Beltronics PRO200 Radar/Laser Detector
- 6. Escort iX Long Range Radar Laser Detector
- 7. Cobra ESD9295 12 Band Digital Radar/Laser Detector
- 8. Escort RedLine Radar Detector
- 9. Escort Passport 8500X50 Black Radar Detector
- 10. Cobra Electronics RAD450 Radar
- Finding The Best Place to Mount the Radar Detector
- How Much Should I Spend On a Radar Detector?
- Who Makes the Best Radar Detector?
- Sounds Great, But Is This Legal?
- Making The Decision
Our Top Radar Detectors Comparison Chart
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How To Choose The Best Radar Detector for The Money
The only way that you can identify the top radar detector or how to choose a radar detector is to understand how traffic radar and radar detectors work.
How Does Traffic Radar Work?
Traffic radar can be compared to a beam of light. It is invisible because it is made up of microwaves instead of light particles. That being said, it travels in a straight line.
As the traffic radar travels through the moisture and dust in the air, it is scattered. The only way that it can determine your car’s speed is if it actually hits your car.
It is essential to understand that radar cannot see around corners, and the larger the vehicle, the easier it is for traffic radar equipment to work.
The scientific principles on which traffic radar operates are reliable. However, some of the radar equipment used by law enforcement are very simplified, made from cheaper materials, and cannot distinguish from one vehicle or another.
This is why people get unwarranted speeding tickets.
How Does a Radar Detector Work?
You can compare your radar detector to a radio that is tuned to a station (microwave frequencies) used by law enforcement to monitor the speed of traffic. These are:
- X Band
- K Band
- Ka Band
A radar detector has two antennas. One points forward, and one points backward. They work by finding the signals from the traffic radar that is scattering off the dust, moisture, and other particles in the air. The antennas are able to identify the traffic radar beam long before it’s able to hit your car.
Understanding Radar Frequencies
One complaint that some have about radar detectors is that they give off false alarms. But, remember, your radar detector is like a radio tuned to particular microwave frequency. The thing is that other devices emit the same frequencies that a traffic radar gun will emit. These frequencies include:
- X Band: This is a catch all band that is used by traffic radar. It sits between 10.5 and 10.55 GHz. This is also the band that is used by supermarket automatic doors and other signals. Of all the signals, it is easiest to detect because it has a low frequency and high power output. A good unit can detect X band radar from between two and four miles.
- K Band: This band is more commonly used by law enforcement. It first showed up in the late 1970’s. It sits between 24.05 and 24.25 GHz. Police radar guns emit K band waves that most radar detectors can identify from between one quarter of a mile to two miles away.
- Ka Photo Cop/Ka Wideband: 34.2 – 35.2 GHz: This frequency was first used by law enforcement in the late 1980’s. This system combines a radar gun with an automated camera. If an approaching vehicle is traveling at a set speed, a photograph is taken of the driver’s face and other information is recorded, including the date of the infraction, the location, and the time.
A good radar detector can sniff out this system from between one quarter of a mile and one half of a mile away.
- Laser Detectors: Lasers detect speed differently than a radar gun. With a laser, light pulses are transmitted and the time between the pulses and their reflection is used to determine the speed of the vehicle. Contrary to popular belief, lasers can be detected.
The top radar detector is the one that radar detector reviews say is able to combat various traffic radar frequencies.
Top 10 Best Radar Detectors
1. Beltronics RX65-Red Professional Series Radar Detector
- Easy-To-Use Interface
- Easy to Master
- Does Not Have GPS
- Is Limited in the Threats It Can Alert You to
This is a basic, clear-cut radar detector. It has been designed to be easy for beginners to use. There’s not a lot of fancy displays, and it only has a couple of buttons to control the entire unit.
Its simplicity is seen in the fact that it only has three sensitivity settings. You have the option of either a red or blue display. You should expect to pay a few more dollars for the blue display simply because blue light is less noticeable at night, and this is essential, especially if you do not want your unit to attract unnecessary attention.
Many consider this to be the best car radar detector at this price because in addition to its simplicity, it has the ability of operating in a dark mode. This means that all the lights turn off and all you notice are audible alerts from your unit.
The three sensitivity settings for this unit are:
- Auto Scan
When driving on the highway, all of your filters are turned off and any radar within two to four miles sends you an alert.
Auto scan is a digital signal processing feature that looks at the different signals to determine if it’s a false alarm or if it’s coming from a real threat. This is a feature you should expect from the top radar detectors on the market.
When using the city setting, the X band detection is turned off because of the city. X band is what gives the most false alarms. This is a versatile unit since it is also among the best laser detector in its price range.
- Easy to Program and Customize
- Immune to VG – Two Radar Detection
- One Year Warranty
- Scans for X, K, Superwide Ka Frequencies
At under $130, this is a good unit for someone who wants a radar detector that is easy to use right out of the box. Since it does not have GPS capability, it is not able to protect you from things like speed traps, speed cameras, or red light cameras.
2. Valentine One Radar Detector
- Extremely Long-Range
- Powerful Signal
- Has a Surprisingly Limited Number of Features
Something you’re going to notice right out-of-the-box is that this unit lacks some of the bells and whistles you would expect from something in this price range.
Its magnesium metal design means that it is sturdy but at the same time light weight. The casing protects the unit from interference from other electronic devices you may have in your automobile. It has a slightly antiquated appearance, but you should not allow the external appearance to fool you as Valentine One is relentless in making sure that their products use the most recent technology and are excellent performers.
One of the reasons why this is constantly the best rated radar detector is because it has two antennas, one that points to the front and one to the back. This means that you are protected all the way around.
Another reason why many consider this to be the best cop radar detector is because it has large red arrows on the front that show you from which direction the traffic radar signal is coming from.
This is an extremely accurate unit that has the ability to detect lasers, X, K, and Ka bands. It also can detect the KU band, which is seen primarily in Europe.
It has the ability to detect traffic radar from up to five miles away.
- GPS Enabled Device
- Rear Radar Antennas
- Arrow Direction Indicators
Valentine One has built a reputation for being accurate and reliable. This unit lives up to the bill. However, at over $400, we feel that this unit lacks a lot of the features that are commonplace in units that are a lot less expensive. You will get a good quality product, but you are going to pay a little bit extra for the brand name.
3. Escort Max ll HD Radar Detector
- Unit Lets You Know When You’re Going Too Fast
- Bluetooth and Wireless Technology
- Uses Advanced Military Technology
- Lacks Directional Alerts
Radar detector reviews agree that this is the best laser detector and radar detector on the market today. One of the features that make this unit stand out is that the GPS has a pre-installed, pre-configured database of where the red light cameras and speed cameras are located.
This means that far from just being the best laser radar detector, it is actually a complete threat detector. It functions seamlessly with the Escort Live application. This app allows you and other drivers to warn each other about threats, such as police stops that are on the route.
Another feature that makes this among the best radar detectors for the money is the fact that it can distinguish between traffic radar and a garage door opener. This means that you are not going to be slamming on your brakes every five seconds because of false alarms.
The Escort Passport Max2 is one of the best radar detectors because it not only keeps you clear of unwanted law-enforcement tension, but it just makes you a better driver.
Real-time updates keep you alert and safe. It is clearly one of the top 10 best radar detectors on the market right now.
- GPS Enabled
- Overspeed Alert
- Wireless and Bluetooth Connections
- One-Year Warranty
- Multi-Graphic Display
- Crystal-Clear Voice Alerts
- A Free Year Subscription to Escort Live Application
- Automatic Learning Feature
Coming in at over $270, it is an investment. However, it can pay for itself if it prevents you from getting just one speeding ticket. What we really like about this device and what we think gives it its value is the fact that it monitors your driving and helps you become a better and safer driver.
Most drivers get tickets because they don’t realize they’re going too fast. The Escort Max2 radar detector eliminates this problem for you.
4. Escort Passport 9500IX Radar Detector
- Variable Speed Radar Performance
- Auto Learned Feature
- Safety Camera Database
- Many Complained That the Unit Stops Working after the First Eight Months to One Year
- The Complete Database of Traffic Cameras Is Free for the First Three Months, Then It Requires a Subscription
Many have heralded this device as the best Escort radar detector, and it does have a lot of nice features. The first thing you will notice is that it has a long radar detection range. In fact, it has the ability to detect the traffic control done by a law enforcement officer with four times as much range as the traffic gun itself has.
This unit can detect all of the X, K, and Ka radar signals from miles away. Because of the DPS technology included in the device, it is a little bit older than the most recent version of the Passport. It does not have some of the filters needed to block out false alerts that are produced by the anti-crash sensors some new automobiles have.
The photo enforcement protection feature is a lifesaver as many cameras and speed traps are already stored in the GPS driven database. This database can be updated by connecting it to your computer’s USB port and downloading the latest updates.
Another feature you will enjoy with this product is how easy it is to program. You can use the intuitive buttons on the detector, or you can connect the unit to your smartphone.
- Auto Learned Function
- GPS Technology
- Simple Controls
- Safety Camera Database
- Variable Speed Radar Performance
This is an older model detector that came out in 2013. It still has a lot of great features that make it easy to use. Properly setting the unit up is crucial for it to work.
However, since you can purchase this product for a little bit more than $300, it’s outstanding. I really like the SmartCord feature because it lets you run the unit in a stealthy dark mode at night, while still getting the alerts you need.
This is a good product that is of good value for the money.
5. Beltronics PRO200 Radar/Laser Detector
- Excellent Detection Range
- Fewer False Alerts
- Compact Design
- Smart Cord
- Easy to Read Display
- Does Not Have the Same Range or Sensitivity of Other Products in This Price Range
The Beltronics Pro 200 is the best speed radar detector produced by this company at an entry-level price range.
As soon as you open the package, you’re going to be surprised by the unit’s quality construction. It is a lightweight device that has a solid construction that belies its second level entry model status.
This is a windshield mounted unit that is very easy to install. You may be surprised to note that this unit has a smart cord feature. This is something that is usually reserved for top-tier expensive models.
Another reason why we consider this among the best affordable radar detectors is that when compared side-by-side with more expensive models, it has less false starts and will detect traffic radar at the same time, if not a second after, other higher end products.
This is the best budget radar detector for individuals who are on a budget but still want something solid and that will give them decent protection.
- Pop Mode Threat Optimized for US Radar and Laser Guns
- Fully Customizable
- Auto Scan and Traffic Sensor Rejection Technology
- Clear Voice Alerts
- Auto Mute Circuitry
This is definitely the best radar detector under $300. It offers so many features that keep you and your family safe while driving at a legal speed limit. If you do find yourself going faster than you should, the alerts will give you ample time to slow your vehicle down and prevent unwanted fines.
This unit is in the same category as others that are a lot more expensive.
6. Escort iX Long Range Radar Laser Detector
- Long Alert Range
- Receives Alerts Quickly
- Escort Live App Provides a Crowd Sourced Alert Service
- Auto Learn Feature
- Specialized Blocker to Prevent False Alarms
- The Voice Used to Give Audible Alerts Can Be Muffled, So It Can Be Difficult to Hear or Understand
A lot of their competition takes pride in creating basic units. Escort tries to set itself apart from the pack by offering new features in the Escort 9500iX.
The first thing you’ll notice is the stunning silver and black options for the casing of the unit. Couple this with the stunning LED display that includes blue, green, red, or amber lights and it’s clear to see why this unit is among the best rated radar detectors.
Instead of relying on the metal tab method of locking the unit in place, the Escort 9500iX has an ingenious magnetic mount. This change is nice because sometimes with the older metal tab style, the metal tabs would come loose and the unit would wobble. This does not happen with the magnetic mount.
Many radar detector brands decided to use a male voice when giving audible alerts. The Escort 9500iX took a different route and used a softer female voice. While softer voices are easier on the ears, it can be difficult to hear and understand, especially when you are driving in a noisy area.
This unit has the ability to detect X band, K Band, Ka band, and laser signals and benefits from four modes designed to help you determine which alerts you will receive.
- Easy Mag Mount
- Multicolor OLED Display
- Multiple Language Feature
- Smart Cord USB
- Compatible with Your Smartphone
This is a mid-priced unit coming in at around $400. It has a lot of really nice features and has been built to be a sturdy and reliable product. As a GPS powered product, it can provide you with a level of protection that more basic models cannot.
It has been designed to reduce false alerts and give you an early warning when traffic radars are present. This unit is of good value for the money.
7. Cobra ESD9295 12 Band Digital Radar/Laser Detector
- Wide Range of Functions
- Easy to Use
- Large Detection Range
- Difficult to Read the Display When It Is Sunny Outside
This product is designed for individuals who are tired of getting speeding tickets. Some of the outstanding features of this product mentioned in radar detector reviews include the voice alert, laser eye, and VG – 2 system.
This unit is versatile. It has one mode to be used while you are in the city and another one that is for use when on the highway.
The performance of the Cobra Radar/Laser ESD 9290 has been clearly tested. And it has been shown to effectively detect commonly used traffic radar signals in the United States and in Canada. This includes X band, K band, Ka superwide, and Ku band signals.
This is an entry-level radar detector that has a lot of nice features at an affordable price. Thanks to its 360° detection ability, you will know if there is a traffic radar signal anywhere around you.
The unit is easy to power as it connects to a cigarette lighter adapter. A powerful and clear speaker located on the top center of the unit will give you an audio alert whenever any signal is detected.
This unit is very easy to install. It will give you alerts as you come up a hill or as you approach a bridge. This is a nice feature because there might be a law enforcement official on the other side of the hill or the other side of the bridge waiting to take your speed and using the hill or the bridge as cover.
- Detects Seven Radar, Six Laser, and One Safety Signals
- VG – Two Protection
- Alerts You When You Are Coming up on a Hill, Bridge, or Other Obstacles That Might Hide Radar
- Laser Eye 360° Detection
- Ultra Bright Data Display
Is this the top-rated radar detector on the market? No. It lacks a lot of the features that some of the upscale models provide. However, it is relatively inexpensive and can be considered a best buy for police radar. It has a shorter range than some of the other models we have reviewed, but it will consistently alert you when traffic radar is present.
It lacks both GPS and Bluetooth technology, which drastically diminishes its quality and usefulness.
8. Escort RedLine Radar Detector
- Dual Antennas Give You Great Protection on the Freeway
- Detection and Separate Alerts for Full X, K, and SuperWide Ka
- Safety Warning System Radar Capability
- Many Complained of the Unit Failing after A Few Months of Use
If you went back in time a few years ago, you could honestly say that the Escort RedLine was the best Escort radar detector. That was a few years ago. Although it is not the best speed radar detector that Escort produces, it is still a good product.
It just seems like the product did not keep up with the times. For example, it does not have built in GPS technology. Nor does it have the ability to alert you about red light cameras or speed traps. This is disappointing as the product will cost you more than $350.
On the positive side of things, it has better than average detection performance. It has nice range, especially when you are driving on the highway. Something that you will like about the unit is that it is stable. It is not going to give you a bunch of false alerts.
It does have a front and rear sensor, but the unit does not tell you what direction the radar signal is coming from.
One of the downsides of this unit not having GPS is that it cannot adjust sensitivity of its signals based on your speed. On a unit with GPS, the faster you drive, the greater the sensitivity of the unit will be.
- Dual Antennas
- Radar/Laser Detection
- Right 280 LED Alphanumeric Display
- Auto Mode to Reduce False Alarms
There was a time when we would dub this as the best radar detector in the world. However, in recent years the Escort RedLine Radar Detector has failed to keep up with technology. It has a higher than average price and yet does not to have a lot of the features that you would expect from a unit in this price range. It seems that you are paying more for the company name and company reputation than for the actual radar detector.
For us, this unit is too expensive and offers too few features to be considered of good value.
9. Escort Passport 8500X50 Black Radar Detector
- Offers All Band Protection
- Exclusive Autosensitivity Mode
- An Excellent Filtering System Minimizes False Alerts
- Lacks GPS System
- No Voice Alerts
Features such as the POP mode detection, V tuned receivers, and TSR software made this unit a must-have when it was first released. Years after its initial release, this product is still sought after by many people. While it was state-of-the-art in its day, today it is far from being one of the best radar detectors.
It has a very simple design. It has three buttons that control the brightness, the display, as well as the unit’s sensitivity. It does not need to be calibrated, and there is very little that you can do to customize the unit. If you are looking for something that you can use right out of the box to detect Ka, K and X band signals, then this unit is what you want.
However, if you are looking for a unit that can help you monitor traffic flow, adjust its power based on your speed, give you speed alerts, and give you red light camera alerts, then this is just not the unit for you.
- Enhanced Radar Protection
- Exclusive Auto and Activity Mode
- High Performance Laser Protection
- Three Levels of Color Brightness
- Ultrabright Display
- Mute and Automute Features
This is an older style radar detector. In its day it was the most recommended radar detector to buy. However, its features pale when compared to what is currently available on the market.
That being said, it does have a sturdy and durable construction that will last.
With a price of around $150, this unit provides excellent value for its price. It will protect you from getting tickets, but it just does not have any of the bells and whistles that the more expensive and newer models have.
10. Cobra Electronics RAD450 Radar
- Radar/Laser Protection
- Rear and Front Laser Protection
- Updatable IVT Filter
- Voice Alert
- Attractive OLED Display
- English and Spanish Voice And Text Alerts
- Not As Sensitive As Previous Models
- Lacks GPS
The Cobra RAD 450 is designed to keep drivers alert and aware to what is going on around them. It is the best longer-range detector in this price range.
There was a time when Cobra was the pinnacle of radar detectors. In recent years, they have been overtaken by other companies that have taken advantage of newer technologies. But they still build a good product as is attested to by the Cobra RAD 450.
This unit does not have GPS, Bluetooth, or some of the other features that you would expect from a high-end unit. What it does have is a unique in-vehicle technology filter. This is an updatable system that allows you to prevent alerts from devices that are designed to monitor the flow of traffic.
It also prevents you from getting false positives from collision avoidance systems that are popular on many automobiles today. As a result, when you use this product, the only alerts you will hear are those that come from traffic radar signals.
The unit comes pre-programmed and offers limited ability to customize it. It has a two mile range and is durable enough to last a long time.
- Laser Eye
- VG-Two Alert
- Quiet Drive Features
- Attractive OLED Display
- Dim Mode
This is the top radar detector you are going to find for under $130. While it lacks a lot of the features you would expect from a more expensive radar detector, the features it does offer are high quality and work well. Although the Cobra name is not as prominent in the world of radar and laser detection as it was some years past, they still make a good product that offers reasonable value for the money.
Finding The Best Place to Mount the Radar Detector
You can have the best wireless radar detector, but if you do not mount it correctly, it will produce less than desirable results. We have a complete guide on the best place to mount a radar detector. In this section we want to look at some of the accessories that make mounting your radar detector easier.
This is a high quality aluminum radar detector mount specifically designed to work with the Valentine One radar detector. Gone is the need to use suction cups or another unreliable method for securing your radar detector.
This mount is specifically designed to work on domestic and Japanese vehicles. It is designed to look like it is a factory installed part.
While not designed to work with European vehicles, on Japanese and American vehicles this mount takes advantage of the dead space around the mirror to provide a secure and safe location for your radar detector.
This mount is designed to allow you to place your radar detector around your rear view mirror. Experts agree that this is the best place for radar detector mounts to be installed.
It is specifically designed to work with multiple styles of Beltronics radar detectors. This unit is secure, attractive, and functional. It is easy for you to install and fits just about every vehicle. Your radar detector will be located where it is easy to view. And you will not have to worry about it falling off your windshield.
If you are looking for an inexpensive replacement mount to use with your Escort & Beltronics Radar Detectors, then this is the unit for you. It uses two strong suction cups to allow you to put your radar detector precisely where you need it to be. Since the suction cups are larger than average, they hold much better than inexpensive stock models.
If you have a BlendMount radar detector, there are specific mounts designed for these units. These mounts can be found by searching online at stores such as Amazon.com.
How Much Should I Spend On a Radar Detector?
The answer to that question is going to vary depending on your budget and what you want from your radar detector. For example, our number one pick, the Beltronics RX65-Red Professional Series Radar Detector, has a lot of nice features and is priced at under $150. But it does not have GPS or Bluetooth, which can really take your radar detector to the next level.
One the other hand, we have our number six pick, the Escort iX Long Range Radar Laser Detector, which is priced at over $400. It has all of the bells and whistles, including GPS and DSP technology.
During our review, what we tried to do was show you the best radar detector for the price. This will help you to choose something that has the most features and is in a price range that you can afford.
Who Makes the Best Radar Detector?
When you are looking for the best value radar detector, things get kind of tricky. That’s because there is no such thing as one company that makes the best radar detector. When you look at two radar detectors that are in the same price range, you are going to see that for the most part they offer the exact same or comparable features.
We believe that Escort offers the best radar detector to buy. This is not because they produce a superior product than the competition, but instead because they have a product in every single price range. All of their products have a variety of features, and you can clearly see a difference between the features that are offered in an entry-level product and a professional level radar detector.
Sounds Great, But Is This Legal?
- The use and sale of radar detectors is illegal in Washington DC, Virginia, and on military bases
- DC prohibits the possession of a radar detector
- Laws in Minnesota and California do not prohibit radar detector use but do prohibit mounting them illegally on the windshield
So you have looked at the best radar detector reviews and you have identified what you feel to be the best police radars. But now you’re asking yourself, is it legal to use a radar detector?
Are Radar Detectors Illegal?
The short answer is no. However, the complete answer is a little bit more complex.
- Properly mounted radar detectors do not inhibit your ability to drive. In fact, when they sound an alarm, they encourage drivers to slow down. This is the same goal that ticketing drivers has. For this reason, in the vast majority of states, using a radar detector in a noncommercial vehicle is completely legal.
- Some states, like Minnesota and California, do not specifically ban using radar detectors, but they do ban installing them in the windshield. In fact, in these states installing anything in the windshield that can affect the field of vision is illegal.
- Then, there are states like Washington and Virginia that forbid using a radar detector. Does this mean that having a radar detector is illegal in these states? No. However, if you turn it on and use it, you are breaking the law.
- It is illegal to use a radar detector on a military base. The nice thing is that before you enter the base, you are asked at the checkpoint to remove your radar detector.
- It is illegal to use a radar detector on a vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds. There are no exceptions. If a commercial vehicle uses a radar detector, they will get a ticket and in some cases risk losing their license.
- In most states, it is illegal to have a radar detector on your windshield because it blocks your vision. You can put it on your dashboard or on your visor but on the windshield is a no-no.
- Most states do not allow the use of radar detector/radar jammers. Radar jammers are designed to interfere with law enforcement’s ability to monitor the speed of your vehicle.
The best way to know for sure whether or not it is legal to have a radar detector in the state or county where you live is to talk to local police. The not only will the police tell you if using the device is legal, but they’ll also give you additional information as to where you can and cannot install it on your vehicle.
In most states, the fine for using a radar detector is less expensive than the fine for driving over the speed limit.
Making The Decision
So after looking at all of the police radar detector reviews, did you find the best radar detector for your needs? When trying to determine what is a good radar detector for you, factor in things like price, features, whether it connects to your smartphone, whether it has GPS, and its durability.
As you saw in our radar detector reviews, there are models for every price range. Generally, the more money you spend, the more features you will get, and the better detection and coverage you will receive.
Take a few minutes and make sure that the ownership and use of radar detectors is legal in your area. Once you have confirmed that, it is time for you to make a decision.
There are some brick-and-mortar stores that offer radar detectors for sale. However, the prices that they offer are higher than what you can find by purchasing items online.
When you purchase your radar detector from a site like Amazon.com, you get a high quality unit that you are able to thoroughly review from the comfort of your home. Some manufacturers offer special pricing and special warranties to individuals who purchase online as opposed to those who buy from brick-and-mortar stores.
Our goal was to give you a comprehensive guide and help you identify what is the best radar detector on the market for your needs. Now the ball is in your court. The sooner you buy a radar detector, the lower your chances are of getting an expensive ticket that can be a lot more expensive than buying a radar detector.
Enjoy your purchase, and safe driving!