7 Best Radar Detectors: Is it legal? Find out…

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Radenso XP Radar Detector
“Finally a detector I can trust with no false alarms.”
Best Budget: Uniden DFR1 Long Range Laser and Radar Detection
“Highly recommend it if your trying to stay on a low budget.”
Best Feature List: Escort MAX360C Laser Radar Detector
“Directional radar arrows is a great asset.”
Best Feature to Price Compromise: Cobra DualPro 360° Radar Detector
“Value and quality, seems well made.”
Best Long-Range Detector: UNIDEN R3 EXTREME LONG RANGE Laser/Radar Detector
“The Ka warnings I got were almost 100% at a distance of at LEAST a 1/4 mile on the highway.”

Radar detectors are must-haves for people trying to avoid speeding tickets. The best radar detectors for cars will pay for themselves many times over by sparing you from tickets.

The range of features and prices is wide, so you’ll definitely be able to get one perfect for your needs.

And without further ado, let’s start off our list of the 7 best radar detectors for cars with:

Item 1: Radenso XP Radar Detector

Radenso

Radenso may not be a famous company, but its XP Radar Detector has made it to the top of this list for a great reason:

It goes out of its way to reduce annoyance. That means features and performance are designed around reducing false positives and making alerts less annoying.

Despite that, it still works great at detecting accurately, and is very reasonably priced. It’s no wonder that this has been so well-received, or that it’s one of the best radar detectors for cars.

Pros:

  • Not very pricey proportionate to what’s offered
  • Long-range detection
  • blind spot/traffic monitor prevents false alerts
  • GPS lockout feature lets you add certain spots that give false alerts to a blacklist, so you don’t have to hear the same false alerts on your routine routes
  • Automatic muting below a user-selected speed, and further volume controls
  • Built-in red light and speed camera database
  • 1 year warranty and 1 year ticket-free guarantee
  • Very highly rated, at 4.7/5 stars, with hundreds of reviews to back it up and consistent praise for accuracy

Cons:

  • The company’s ticket guarantee does not cover laser tickets
  • Does not include some of the more advanced connectivity features that other detectors on this list have

Item 2: UNIDEN R3 EXTREME LONG RANGE Laser/Radar Detector

UNIDE

Here we have a more unique option: Uniden is a Japanese brand that’s been around for over 50 years, with a steady reputation for solid projects.

The R3 model has very reliable and widely praised performance, and all the features you need.

Frankly, it’s second-place position is very close, and you may even want to consider it tied for first place. Without a doubt, Uniden’s R3 model is one of the best radar detectors for cars.

Pros:

  • Price is good considering what’s offered, plus Prime members get a large discount
  • Built-in GPS that can remember and mute false alerts
  • Advanced false alert filtering
  • Pre-loaded red light and speed camera alerts
  • Quiet ride option lets you use a speed-based auto mute
  • Very highly rated: 4.6/5 stars with well over 2,400 reviews, plus an Amazon’s Choice product

Cons:

  • Without Amazon Prime, may be a bit pricey for some—though again, it’s warranted considering what’s offered.
  • Lacks the more advanced WiFi based connectivity features

Item 3: Escort MAX360C Laser Radar Detector

Escort

If you’re looking for the best radar detectors for cars, Escort is definitely a company to check out. Escort is a big name in this field, and makes high-quality detectors.

The Escort MAX 360C in particular was the first driver alert system for modern, connected cars. It’s one of the best radar detectors for cars all-around.

It is on the pricey side, but in relative terms, it’s an excellent deal: it’s got tons of features and its good performance is well-documented.

Pros:

  • Laser and radar detection
  • 360 degree protection gives you directional alerts: it alerts you with arrows on where the threat is coming from from your position
  • Escort live app enabled, which means access to a community of fellow customers that’s over 3 million strong, and thus the most reliable updates
  • GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi enabled, and compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Auto-learn technology learns your driving patterns
  • Escort is so confident that it can limit your tickets that it will pay your radar or laser speeding ticket IF you get one
  • Great reviews: 4.5/5 stars with hundreds of ratings to back it up, plus an Amazon’s Choice product

Cons:

  • On the pricier side, though it’s good for what you get
  • Consistent complaints about customer support

Item 4: Uniden DFR1 Long Range Laser and Radar Detection

Uniden

You’ve already seen the other Uniden. This one is basically on the opposite end of the spectrum of Uniden’s radar detectors:

While the other one, the R3, is loaded with features and acclaimed performance, but costs a bit extra, this option is much simpler…though still good.

Uniden’s DFR1 detector has earned its place as one of the best radar detectors for cars because it’s got the key features, is generally received as accurate, and is very affordable.

Pros:

  • Very affordable—the cheapest item on this list by a wide margin ($44.95 with Prime)
  • Laser and radar detection
  • Long range sensitivity plus 360 degree protection
  • False alert filters, plus three modes for urban and rural environments
  • In addition to volume setting, you can change the brightness of the LED display
  • Previous settings remembered upon restart of device
  • Highly rated (4.2/5) with over a thousand reviews to back it up, many of which argue its performance is impressive for the price

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with more advanced connectivity features, like WiFi or integration with an app
  • Doesn’t have built-in GPS
  • No voice alerts—display only
  • Consistent complaints that it has failed to alert when needed

Item 5: Whistler CR93 High Performance Laser Radar Detector

Whistle

Whistler’s CR93 radar detector has earned a high spot on this list of the best radar detectors for cars because it’s got excellent value for money:

Despite its low cost, it’s of reputable quality and packs a lot of good features. The combination is hard to beat.

The overall consensus is that the CR93 is good for the price, and even though there are some complaints about alert accuracy, such reviewers note it’s overall fine.

Pros:

  • Low cost ($161.91)
  • Laser and radar detection, with 360 degree protection
  • 6 filter modes (including 3 city/highway modes) for avoiding unnecessary notifications
  • Internal GPS
  • Good ratings, especially for the price: 4/5 stars backed up by THOUSANDS of reviews.

Cons:

  • Consistent complaints of false alerts
  • Some complaints that it fails to provide alerts/warnings when needed

Item 6: Cobra DualPro 360° Radar Detector

Cobra

Like Escort, Cobra is one of the big names in this field, and a generally reputable manufacturer of car electronics.

The reason Cobra’s DualPro 360° radar detector made it onto this list of the best radar detectors for cars is because it isn’t too expensive and packs a decent amount of features.

Pros:

  • Decent discount for Amazon Prime members
  • 360 degree directional alert arrows
  • 5 levels of filters so you can filter out unnecessary warnings or get the amount of information you want
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, smartphone connections enabled.
  • iRadar app lets you get crowd-sourced alerts.
  • Pretty solid reviews: 4.1/5 stars with dozens of reviews to back it up

Cons:

  • Consistent complaints about issues with Bluetooth connection and phone connection
  • Consistent complaints of false positives

Item 7: K40 Electronics Platinum100 Portable Radar Laser Detector

K40 Electronics

K40 Electronics’ portable radar laser detector comes with a unique pitch, that sets it apart from the other best radar detectors for cars:

This detector comes with a handy wireless remote control. Options that you would normally have to reach across the dashboard to toggle with can quickly be pressed on your nearby remote.

The main thing holding it back is the lack of reviews. It doesn’t mean it’s not good, just that it’s a bit riskier.

Pros:

  • Comes bundled with a remote control
  • Laser and radar detection
  • Long-range detection
  • Customizable GPS built-in
  • City/highway mode/filters
  • Ticket-free guarantee
  • Stealth against RDD (radio detector detectors, devices used by police to find people with radio detectors)

Cons:

  • A bit on the pricier side
  • No reviews on Amazon, though the seller is reputable
  • Lacks some of the more advanced connectivity features other detectors have

Our Winner

Ultimately, our top two picks are very close, but our winner is Radenso’s XP Radar Detector. Unisen’s R3 model is very good as well, with a similar price, but Radenso’s price is low even without Prime discounts and has slightly higher reviews, with the same features.

But remember that this is just a general list of the best radar detectors for cars. A list of the best radar detectors for cars FOR YOU may look a bit different, depending on your needs.

For some people, the best radar detectors for cars are the ones that come loaded with features. For others, the best radar detectors for cars are the ones that are simple, cheap, and effective.

And if you’re not sure what exactly is best for you, or what to look for, check out our buyer’s guide for people interesting in buying the best radar detectors for cars:

Buyer’s Guide

Understanding accuracy

If you look at the reviews of ANY of the detectors on this list, or any other of the best-rated detectors you find, you’ll find there are always some complaints about false positives and failures to accurately detect.

You don’t need to doubt all of these, but it’s important to take them with a grain of salt for two reasons:

First, none of these will be perfect all the time. After all, detecting radar means detecting other things that emit similar signals as radar guns.

That means even the best radar detectors for cars will still give some false positives from time to time.

However, the better the detector, the more accurate this is, so if a product has too many complaints about false positives, that may indeed be a bad sign.

Second: alleged failures to detect radar. Why do I say “alleged”?

Because if you read these negative reviews carefully, you’ll find that often the people reviewing are simply misunderstood what a radar detector does. Put simply:

Radar detectors are not police detectors.

Many reviews say things like this:radar review

The thing is, this guy’s review has nothing to do with the specific radar detector he’s reviewing. It has to do with the concept of radar detectors in general and what he considers a worthwhile price to be for the overall technology.

The simple fact of the matter is not all police on the road have radar guns or laser systems with them, and even those that do won’t necessarily have them on at a given time.

This person may have passed about 50 cops and detected 5 or 6—it might just be that only 5 or 6 were using radar guns at the time he drove by.

So if you see a bad review that says the radar detector didn’t give an alert when police were nearby, don’t worry right away. The best radar detectors for cars aren’t going to tell you when any police are around, just ones using radar.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore all complaints about accuracy. Enough complaints and it might be worth taking seriously. But the ones to really pay attention to are the ones that are SPECIFIC.

For example, this:radar review

This complaint tells you unambiguously that the problem is a failure to detect a radar gun that’s in use. In contrast to the first person I showed you, whose complaint tells you nothing about whether the radar detector worked or not.

Again, the lesson here is not to simply dismiss or trust all reviews that meet certain specifications.

Rather, it’s just important to keep in mind what a radar detector actually does, as it’ll help you figure out which complaints are due to misunderstandings and which are more likely to be valid.

What type of detector?

There are many types of detectors, of course.

First, the way it’s mounted:

There are three general types here: remote-mount, corded, and cordless. If it’s corded, there are usually some suction cups that mount the device on the windshield. They provide a good range of detection.

If it’s cordless, you can easily move it from vehicle to vehicle, though it won’t have the permanence of the other two types. Remote-mounts, in contrast, are permanently mounted to the vehicle, but are easy to install and also harder to detect.

Second, the type of detection:

Basically, radar detection and laser detection. Radar detection is guaranteed in radar detectors…duh.

But many radar detectors also include laser detection. Laser detection is a useful feature, as many police nowadays use laser beams to detect speeding in addition to or in replacement of traditional radar.

However, it’s important to note that simply having a laser sensor does not mean perfect laser detection:

A one-laser sensor basically can detect laser beams in one view, generally the front of your car. A 360-laser detector will use two sensors to detect laser beams on your sides and behind you.

As you can imagine, laser detection can add extra cost to a radar detector, and 360 laser detection definitely adds cost. However, as laser sensors are increasingly common, it’s becoming less of an extra cost.

One last note on detection:

In practice, many police radar guns have gotten better at hiding their radio signals, in part because of the popularity of radar detectors.

For that reason, having radar detectors equipped with GPS and WiFi can make a huge difference in effectiveness:

If police in your area are using more modern radar guns, a radar detector that ONLY uses radar may fail to adequately warn you. If it has GPS, however, it would be able to give you real-time information about where police are.

Useful features

Keep in mind that you won’t necessarily have all these features in all your devices, and not every feature will be equally useful to every person.

However, it’s worth knowing the basic features that may be offered by radar detectors so you can prioritize the best radar detectors for you. The best radar detectors for cars will usually include at least one or more of these.

Okay, first: GPS integration/enabling. This is what it sounds like, and the reason it’s a good feature to look for is that GPS enabling can factor in your car’s speed and distance from radar. Thus, it makes the radar detector more accurate in telling your proximity to radar use.

Second: App integration. That’s when your radar detector manufacturer provides their own app or allows the device to connect to a popular app on mobile devices.

This is not something every radar detector can do, because integration with apps work best when there are many people using those apps. Essentially, these crowd-source information to make useful alerts for your area—like speed limits or red light cameras in a certain area.

It’s not essential, or the end of the world if your radar detector manufacturer doesn’t also have an app to integrate with the detector. Some of the best radar detectors for cars don’t have this feature. But some people may find it useful to have extra information.

Third: red light camera databases. These may still come preinstalled on your detector even if there’s no app connectivity.

Fourth: memory systems. This isn’t one single feature, but a class of features. For example, some built-in GPS systems in radar detectors have memory functions. Or your detector app may have memory features too.

These are very handy in avoiding false positives from your regular routes.

If, for example, the automatic doors of a grocery store on your route to work emit a signal that causes your radio detector to go off, a built-in GPS with memory would be able to remember that as a false positive and let you mute it going forward.

Many would argue that the best radar detectors for cars reduce false positives as much as possible, as they can become extremely annoying and even stressful.

Is it legal?

At risk of being a buzzkill, this is an important issue that all potential buyers need to look into before making their purchase.

Simply put, radar detectors are of mixed legality. In the United States, it pretty much depends on local rules. Some cities and counties—and even states—might prohibit using a radar detector, period.

But usually it’s just something that’s regulated, rather than outright banned. For example, in most of the U.S., you can have a radar detector in a private vehicle, but not a vehicle used for commercial purposes.

Note that, now that radar detectors are fairly popular, police have detectors for radar detectors. These “radar detector detectors” can pick up signals emitted by the receivers in radar detectors.

Nowadays a lot of radar detectors are built to avoid those signal emissions, or to shut down when a radar detector detector is being used nearby. It may be something to look into.

Of course, however, it’d be best to circumvent those problems by simply avoiding a device if it’s not legal where you live. There’s no point in getting the best radar detectors for cars if you’ll be arrested or fined for even having one.

Conclusion

And that’s all there is to it, folks! As mentioned at the beginning, there’s a wide range of features and prices to radar detectors.

But taking into account many factors, like features, price, performance, and even obtrusiveness, these are the best radar detectors for cars around.

As long as you pay attention to your own needs and remember what to actually expect out of a radar detector, you’ll be fine.

Happy driving!

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