Radar detectors are no longer the unreliable dashboard devices they used to be. If you’re concerned about being detected speeding, you can enjoy the benefits of surprisingly advanced systems from brands including Escort, Uniden, and Cobra. In addition to radar detection, some of these devices help to scramble laser detection, a different technology the radar detectors of yesteryear couldn’t handle. We talked to five experts, ranging from custom car installers to a veteran consumer technologist, about the radar and laser detectors that are worth buying at every price level. From the cheaper portable units to the souped-up custom-installation setups, here’s what they recommend.
Best radar detector for most people
Across the board, our experts commended Escort for being top of the line in the radar detector category. It’s not inexpensive, but their flagship portable system is ideal for the “urban drivers looking for long range,” says B&H Photo Video senior technologist Mark Steinberg. While false alerts from stray radar sources (like automatic door openers, emergency vehicles or even emergency vehicles) can trouble other detectors, Escort’s false notification suppression is “excellent,” Steinberg adds. Plus, the Escort Live app allows drivers to share and receive real-time alerts with fellow users. Better yet, Escort will pay for your speeding ticket if you get one within a year from purchase. Jack Bogard, of the car installation company Sanford Sound in Maine, points out that the GPS techmarks “areas that have regular speed traps or false pings.” Junior Awad of Texas Audio Car Stereo and Security agrees, saying “this thing is awesome.” And Mark Miller of Westminster Speed & Sound in Maryland notes that it’s “completely undetectable by a radar detector detector.”
Best premium radar detector (if you have an unlimited budget)
Touted by four of our experts, the Max Ci 360 is Escort’s equivalent of a fully-loaded Cadillac. The system features both front and rear radar mounted receivers, along with four laser shifters — devices that detect and deactivate police laser signals (laser detection is separate from radar) — protecting it from all angles and detection devices. And because it’s not a portable unit, the price includes custom installation. It works “extremely well” and is “easily moved from car to car,” Bogard says, making it “great for people who travel or have multiple vehicles.” (It also comes with all the perks you get with the cheaper Redline, like that we’ll-pay-your-first-speeding-ticket offer.) Steinberg likes this one, too and notes that “their customer support has always been superb.”
Best (less expensive) premium radar detector
Bogard says this K40 Platinum360, which has front and rear radar detection, “works incredibly well.” He gives the device props for its early notification capability, and says when paired with a laser defuser, it’s “almost foolproof.” Like Escort, K40 offers a yearlong guarantee to pay your ticket.
Best radar detector under $200
Along with Escort and Cobra, Steinberg says Uniden is one of the “big three in vehicle radar detectors.” While the brand has higher-end models that he also recommends, including the Uniden R7 ($488) and Uniden R3 ($263), he says the DFR7 portable unit does the best job for the lowest price. It even has GPS that can remember and mute false alarms.
Note: Although the DFR7 is currently sold out at Uniden, it’s available on Amazon (from a third-party seller with 95% approval) for $39 more.
Best radar detector under $100
This is the very low end of the radar detector market, but Steinberg says the portable Cobra RAD 380 is still a good option. While it might not match up to its more expensive competitors in terms of features and accuracy, it has front and rear detection and the ability to adjust how sensitive you want the detection to be.
Best laser-only detector
Laser detection is more advanced than radar and now widely used by police. The AL Priority jammer is “pretty universally known as the best laser jammer on the market,” says Erik Waserstein of Perzan Audio Radio in Pennsylvania. He likes to pair Escort radar detectors with an AL jammer “for clients who want the ultimate.” Note that it requires installation.
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