In order to make our list of best radar detectors of 2021, each unit had to match or exceed the following criteria: dual radar antennas, superior range capabilities, false-positive filtering, GPS, auto sensitivity adjustment, and radar detection protection. As an added plus, we also sought out a model that could block laser traps, which can’t be detected but rather thwarted – making this an essential car accessory.
What is the top radar detector for your particular car needs? Whether you are on the highway or in the city, the latest radar detectors come equipped with app compatibility, new customization options, and a longer range than older models. Here are some of the best options around.
Top 5 Best Radar Detectors Compared
#1 Escort Max360 Radar Detector
Award: Top Pick/Best AutoLearn Technology
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Max360 provides 360 degrees of protection (hence its name), auto learns where the false positives are for your daily commutes via GPS, and has a fairly intuitive iPhone app.
- Remarkable range and responses time
- The GPS AutoLearn remembers spots with false alerts
- Great design
- Pricey compared to its competitors
One of the best radar detector 2020 is the Max360, offering all around protection, easy setup and an intuitive smartphone app. After using the Max360 for a few weeks, I can honestly say it’s one of the best radar detector on the market. It’s bordering on perfect, and the price, while a bit high, is easily justifiable, since Escort will pay for your first ticket, if you do get one while using it. Another option from Radar is the MAX360C. You may also want to read about the best radar gun.
#2 Escort iX Long Range Radar Detector
Award: Best Escort Radar Detector
WHY WE LIKE IT: If the 9500xi Enhanced is a bit beyond your budget (don’t feel bad), then consider the Escort iX as it performs on a comparable level but without laser jammers and is not remotely mounted.
Read Full Review: Escort Radar Detector
- Speed Camera Alerts are clear and easy to understand
- Quick release magnetic mount
- Able to filter X-band and Ka-band while remaining in Auto modes
- Price is a little high
- Radar range isn’t quite as long as Max 360
- Control buttons are too small
- Power cord includes usb port
Although the price point on the Escort iX is a little high, it still does it all, except jam lasers. It has superior radar and laser range made possible by front and rear facing antennas for 360 degree protection, a digital signal processor that helps filter out false alarms, and features speed based sensitivity so that when you’re driving around a parking lot at low speeds the radar detector will ignore things like automatic doors. And just like the 9500xi Enhanced, the iX comes loaded with the Defender red light and speed camera database to help sound alerts of their locations. Last but not least the iX pairs with the Escort Live smartphone app to receive real time alerts and help recognize speed traps submitted by other drivers using Escort and BEL radar detectors. The best police radar detector can also help.
#3 Uniden R3DSP R3 Dsp Extremely Long-Range Radar Detector/Laser Detector with GPS
Award: Best Radar Detector For the Money
WHY WE LIKE IT: Uniden offers some of the best radar detection products on the market, and it’s clear to see why in the R3. With extreme range radar detection and added sensitivity, this radar detector runs laps around speed detection systems.
Read Full Review: Uniden R3 Review
- Extreme range performance
- Red light camera alerts
- Undetectable by Spectre Elite
- Smaller display
The Uniden R3 offers robust protection at a very reasonable price range. It features a sleek and professional design with a colorful OLED displays which is miles ahead of competing products. With this display, you’ll be able to more easily adjust settings on the device and read alerts as they come in.
This radar detector offers 360 degree protection, so you’ll be protected from speed detection devices no matter where they are. And with digital signal processing, you minimize blind spots so the sneakier cruisers can’t catch you by surprise. Finally, the R3 offers red light camera detection, as well as K False and KA False filters to limit interference.
With extended radar detection ranges and a higher level of sensitivity, the Uniden R3 offers comprehensive and reliable protection no matter where you’re driving. Also check out the best Cobra radar detector.
#4 Escort Passport S55 High Performance Pro Radar and Laser Detector
Award: Best Radar Detector For the Money
WHY WE LIKE IT: Super affordable with plenty of features to keep your speed unreadable.
Read Full Review: Escort Passport S55 Review
- Durable build
- Dark mode for better concealment
- Excellent long-range detection
- The mount can be flimsy
At first glance, the Escort Passport S55 doesn’t seem like it would be made by the same company as detectors such as the Escort Max360 and Escort iX Long Range. It features a different design and seems stripped of many of its features, but carries with it a super-affordable price tag. Speaking of affordable, check out the best satellite radio for your car.
However, none of this is to say that the S55 isn’t a good radar detector. In fact, it’s super easy to use and comes with digital signal processing (DSP) to increase its range. At a long range, it can detect on radar frequency bands ranging from Superwide Ka to X to K. The S55 can also pick up on laser speed detection.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for something simple, efficient and affordable, consider checking out the Escort Passport S55.
#5 Escort Passport 9500xi Enhanced
Award: Best Police Radar Detector
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you are looking for the Lamborghini of radar detectors, then you’ve come to the right place. This best rated radar detector comes with all the bells and whistles, including laser jammers, remote mounted radar for discreet installation, false alarm Autolearn to filter out annoying automatic door alerts, and so much more.
Read Full Review: Escort Passport 9500ix
- Highly accurate
- Possesses a wide range of features
- Custom installation makes it easy to hide
The 9500xi radar detector is the most robust offering and the priciest. But the top radar detector on the market comes with a hefty price tag as the Passport 9500xi Enhanced will run you close to $2,000 (~$1500 on Amazon). The price is high due to the included laser jammers – which give you the peace of mind knowing that you’ll essentially never get a speeding ticket. Traditional radar detectors without laser jammers have the ability to detect laser only if the vehicle in front of you is being targeted via laser, but if a 5-0 is specifically targeting your vehicle and you don’t have laser jammers – then it’s too late to slow down to avoid a ticket. Programmable features on the Escort Passport include power-on indication, SpeedAlert, AutoLearn, Signal Strength Meter, AutoMute, AutoPower, Units, Voice, Dark Mode and more.
One of the neatest features of this system is its AutoLearn capability. The 9500xi uses GPS to remember where false alarms are detected. If a false alarm is detected three times in the same location the detector will not sound off an alarm the fourth time that location is passed. If all that wasn’t enough, the 9500xi takes it a step further by tapping into a national database of red light and speed cameras to alert you of where they’re located to give an extra level of defense against the system and ensuring you don’t get caught breaking the speed limit.
If you speed (for good reason), this the top radar detector (and laser jammer) system you can buy. That all said, it’s also discrete, so cops won’t spot it from afar even when you’re not using it, which can often further implicate you into a speeding ticket. The best CB radio is another great car accessory.
Why You Should Buy A New Radar Detector?
Speed cameras and red-light cameras take photos of your car and its license plate if you’re driving above the posted speed limit. Therefore, the most obvious reason to buy a new radar detector is to have the latest technology available to help lessen the chance of getting a ticket and to warn you about the possibility of upcoming police cars or other law enforcement. Older model radar detectors are annoying due to their high occurrence of false alarms, thus conditioning drivers to ignore legitimate threats when they occur. Newer radar detectors use GPS and databases of red light/speed cameras to help alert you of areas and intersections where you should slow down and take caution.
Newer radar detectors also commonly use AutoLearn to weed out automatic doors and similar nuisance alarms when driving around the city, making your driving experience much more enjoyable and anxiety free. Another feature of modern radar detectors is that they integrate with smartphone apps to leverage community based input on speed traps, thereby enhancing the base functionality of the detector to a scale never seen before.
By far the best reason to get a new radar detector is to ensure that your insurance rates don’t sky rocket after getting a speeding ticket. According to Forbes, a single speeding ticket can increase your insurance premiums by up to 22%. Think of a radar detector as insurance against high insurance premiums. We also recommend purchasing a model over $200 as there aren’t a ton of good options under this price point.
How We Choose the Best Radar Detector
It’s obvious from the list above that there is a bias towards Escort/BEL radar detectors. Originally I included the infamous V1 (Valentine 1), but couldn’t recommend it in good faith as modern radar detectors have left V1 in the dust. From my experience, the V1 encounters an excessive number of false alarms and the current hardware does nothing to mitigate them the way Escort does with AutoLearn.
The following are the criteria for selecting a modern radar detector:.
- Dual radar antennas – (front/rear)
Not all radar detectors use two antennas but it’s a plus.
All of the detectors mentioned above demonstrate a superior radar/laser range (Radartest.com has a lot of data on ranges).
- False Alert Filtering
Using digital signal processors & AutoLearn.
Since photo enforcement is prevalent, you need a GPS based radar detector that cross references a database of speed/red light cameras with your GPS location to help warn you of their locations.
- Automatic Sensitivity Adjustment
At lower speeds sensitivity is dialed back to prevent the radar from detecting nuisance signals like automatic doors.
Radar Detector Detector Protection
Police in Virginia may use RDD (Radar Detector Detector) devices like the Spectre to detect the use of illegal radar detectors. Most radar detectors made today are immune to Spectre detection but it’s a good idea to check your radar detector if you’re doing any driving in Virginia or Canada.
- A Plus
Laser Jammers (Also referred to as ‘Shifters’). Traditional radar detectors that have laser detection depend on the cars ahead being targeted by laser to alert you. But if there are no vehicles ahead of you and a police officer targets your vehicle via laser, then it’s probably too late and you’ll get a ticket. However, if you are willing to invest the money and are interested in full and almost guaranteed ticket prevention, then laser shifters are the way to go. What is the best radar detector for the money?
Why You Should Trust Me
I’m an automotive engineer and the founder of CarSumo, and have used just about every radar detector brand on the market today, including but not limited to Cobra, Valentine and Escort radar detectors.
If you’re wondering why the Valentine V1 didn’t make sure list, it’s because it lacks the essential features that a modern detector has, such as GPS, false alert filtering, AutoLearn, and Smartphone integrations. Moreover, you have to purchase a separate dongle to make it compatible with your Android or iOS device.
What Else to Think About
Although in the US radar detectors are legal to use in a non-commercial vehicle, it’s important to know that radar detectors are illegal in Virginia, Washington D.C and U.S Military bases. Plus, there is a Federal ban on their use in commercial vehicles So if you plan on using one in any of the aforementioned states, I suggest purchasing our #1 pick, which is concealed upon installation. Sure, it’s expensive, but the opportunity cost to use another model, which can be seen, will likely net out at a greater cost (i.e. fines).
That all being said, speeding is illegal, so in effect you’re still breaking the law, just avoiding the punishment. To that end, while speeding may seem justifiable in order to get from one point to the next faster, there is no piece of technology that can reverse an accident or worse, death. So we have to suggest practicing caution while exceeding the posted speed limit and using sage judgement when leveraging the power of a radar detector.
Other models to consider include the Whistler CR65, the Radenso Pro M, the Beltronics PRO300 and the Uniden R7. The CR65 is equipped with 360-degree Maxx Coverage technology alongside Traffic Flow Signal Rejection. The kit also comes with a windshield bracket kit, a 12V DC power cord, and an instruction manual. The Pro M is a windshield mounted radar detector featuring GPS lockouts for false alerts, red light/speed camera database with free lifetime updates, amber OLED display, firmware updates, and more. The PRO300 can detect many different frequency bands and the latest laser technology. Plus it’s equipped with traffic signal rejection. Alternatively, the R7 offers false alert filtering, GPS technology, red light/speed camera alerts, and more.
Best Radar Detector FAQs
What are Radar Speed Guns?
Radar speed guns, also known as radar guns and speed guns, are used by police officers and law enforcement to measure the speed of vehicles such as vans, cars, bikes, and so on. A radar gun is a doppler radar unit that was designed to be either hand-held, vehicle-mounted or static. Radar guns measure the speed of moving objects by detecting the change in frequency of the returned radar signal (aka the doppler shift). Radar guns use a very narrow beam of light to target vehicles. The beam is fired at the speed of light. Once the light hits the target, the light reflects back to the gun. In the US, police officers use radar guns that operate on three specific frequency bands (aka radio waves): X, K, and Ka. The doppler shift is different for each frequency band and proportional to the speed of the target.
What causes false alerts?
Cheaper models tend to be less accurate and more prone to false readings and alerts. False signals come from other sensory systems that use similar radio wave-based detection, such as automatic doors at a supermarket, or even blind spot detection systems on new vehicles.
Learn More About Best Radar Detectors
Gadget Review provides in-depth radar detector reviews so that you stay on the right side of the law when driving your vehicle on the road. There are a number of brands selling the best radar detectors in 2018 ; these include Valentine, Beltronics, Cobra (best cobra radar detector), Whistler, and Uniden.
Find out more about corded, cordless, and remote mounted devices in the radar detector reviews published on Gadget Review; find out which radar detector type has the best range, detectors that can be installed and uninstalled easily, and the best buys within your budget.
So Which Are The Best Radar Detectors Among All Brands?
If you are sick and tired of taking breathalyzers, perhaps it is time to get yourself a radar detector so you can get one step ahead by detecting police yourself. Radar detectors are perfect for anyone who wants to be in control of their fate. If you hate how society is tilted in favour of the one percent, you can take a bold step and take some of that power back by living on your own terms. By getting a radar detector, no one will be in control of your life anymore. You can take the power back from the law. Our radar detector reviews will let you know which are the best radar detectors to get and which are the best detectors for detecting radar bands, including the infamous ka band and other detectors on the market.
You can never go wrong with our list of high performance long range radar detection detectors. Some of them have real time digital signal processing to reduce instances of false alerts, so you can never fall for the speed traps. Coupled with GPS functionality and suction cups, you will be almost untouchable on the roads. Radar detectors are the one sure way to enjoy your drives without any lingering fear of being rudely interrupted or arrested.
Some of the best radar detectors with a wide defender database which we review include the escort max 360, the escort ix, escort live, escort redline, radenso xp, and Uniden r3. Take back the control over your life with radar detectors!