2021’s Best Car Radar Detectors

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Car radar detectors can make for an excellent co-pilot, especially if you have a heavy foot and like to flirt with the upper end of the speed limit. But with the plethora of options for radar detectors, it can be difficult to decide which one to buy.

We’ve reviewed Amazon’s top radar detectors and compiled a detailed breakdown of the ten best radar detectors of 2019 to help you decide which is best for your car and driving habits. But first things first—and this is very important to understand before purchasing a radar detector –there are some Legal issues surrounding radar detectors.

Table Of Contents

Are Radar Detectors Illegal?

It is a common myth that radar detectors for cars are illegal, but there is some fine print regarding their legality:

  1. Radar detectors are only illegal in two states (Washington DC and Virginia).
  2. You can still be fined in California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida if the radar detector is hanging from or are attached to your windshield
    1. Please note: anything hanging from or attached to the windshield or rear view mirror of your vehicle in these states can lead to a ticket, whether it is a radar detector, GPS, or an air freshener
    1. The safest place to install a radar detector in these states is in or on your dash
  3. Here is a detailed review of the laws regarding radar detectors state by state

What is a Radar Detector?

A speed radar detector is an in-car device used to warn you of police presence and their use of speed detection devices. 

Radar detectors can detect a wide array of radio bands and frequencies. Here is a quick breakdown of the terminology used to describe their functionalities:


X-band falls between 8.0 GHz and 12GHz and are the oldest type of law enforcement police radar and are not used much anymore. When in use, police typically operate X band radar guns on 10.5 GHz. X bands are the “catch all” radar band that is used by traffic sensors and automatic doors and are the easiest to detect.


K-band spans the 18 GHz – 27 GHz frequency range and is operated by police at 24.125 and 24.15GHz. In the realm of radar detectors, K bands are notorious for triggering false alerts since K bands are also used by automatic garage door openers and blind spot monitoring systems on vehicles. But not to worry, the best radar detectors have superior false alert filtering.


Ka-band is comprised of radar waves between 33.4 and 36.0 GHz and is the most commonly used radio band by police and highway patrol, which is both a blessing and a curse:

  • Curse: they are the most difficult radio band to detect at long range due to their narrow beam pattern and lower power output (which is why the range is an important factor when considering which radar detector to purchase)
  • Blessing: most modern radar detectors will have no problem picking up Ka-bands, and if a Ka-band flashes on your radar detector, there is a legitimate threat of police or highway patrol near you – Ka-band warnings are not false alarms

Amazon’s Top-Rated Radar Detectors

1. Escort MAX360c

Overall score: 4.9 out of 5


  • Escort is considered to make some of the best radar detectors on the market
  • Real-time ticket protection with connected car technology to access to Escort Live
    • Escort Live provides free community-based protection from radar and laser traps by preloading Defender Database with tens of thousands of nearby threats (red light cameras, local speed limit, and speed traps based on what’s reported by other Escort Detector users
    • Built in Bluetooth and WIFI allow the radar detector to receive police warnings and scanners around you in real time, reported by other radar devices near you
  • Designed for the connected car
    • Even without a connected car, this radar detector can still access Escort Live through mobile hotspot or via Bluetooth
  • Fastest response and early warning time with a rapid scan and digital signal processing (DSP)
  • Includes all of the features in the ESCORT MAX360 (see below)


  • For the best usability of this radar detector’s high-end features, some form of connectivity is required
  • However, a lack of connectivity will not inhibit its best in class ability to detect radar bands 

2. Escort MAX360

Overall score: 4.9 out of 5


  • Extremely high sensitivity to police radar bands (X, K, and Ka) and detects laser
  • Excellent range, precision, and lightning fast response time
  • Clear voice alerts
  • Class leading filtering system to avoid false alarms from bands detected from blind spot warnings, garage doors, etc.
  • Dual antennas and 360-degree protection, alerting you of the exact frequency and direction
  • Multi-colored OLED display with directional alert arrows that point out threats and help  differentiate detected bands
  • Powerful digital signal processor (DSP) that prioritizes radar bands used by law enforcement rather than constantly triggering false alerts
  • GPS powered AutoLearn logs false alerts, cutting down interference on your daily routes
  • Bluetooth and WIFI compatibility linking to Escort Live
  • Durable and easily mountable
  • Three different driving modes based on sensitivity
  • Escort will pay for your radar or laser speeding ticket if certain conditions are met


  • Expensive
  • Multi-colored OLED display can be difficult
  • Trailing alerts will continue to sound until the threat is completely undetectable
  • No front-facing mute button

3. Valentine One

Overall score: 4.7 out of 5


  • Despite not having all the bells and whistles as its competitors, the Valentine One’s performance is unmatched
  • Superior long range detection and extreme sensitivity to police radar bands (X, K, Ka, and Super Wideband Ka detection)
  • Directional notifications inform the driver of the direction of the radar signal
  • Dual antennas and 360-degree protection against all types of laser
  • Reliable and straightforward alerts on a minimalistic display system


  • Very expensive
  • Doesn’t utilize modern technology like GPS
  • Does not mute any alerts with Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
  • Without GPS, red light and traffic cameras are undetectable
  • Looks and feels like it is from the ‘90s (because the design still is)

4. Uniden R7

Overall score: 4.6 out of 5


  • Extremely high radar detection (all bands) and pretty good laser detection
  • More advanced digital signal processing (DSP) than its predecessors (R1 and R3 detectors)
  • Clear voice alerts
  • Easy to customize program settings that tailor performance to your driving habits
  • Free GPS database updates
  • Dual antenna and directional arrows indicating where the signal is coming from
  • Many mountable options, single and dual suction cup brackets
  • Extremely long range with multiple threat display
  • Large multi-color OLED display with auto dimming
  • One of the stealthiest radar detectors on the market
  • Special K anti-false filter
  • Ka anti-false filter
  • Notch filter to reject blind spot monitoring systems


  • Expensive and the case feels cheap
  • Laser sensitivity could be improved
  • Over usage can burn-in the screen and prematurely fail
  • Some buttons are awkwardly placed (Mute/DIM)
  • Arrows tend to jump around during detection

5. Radenso Pro M

Overall score: 4.6 out of 5


  • Even though the Pro M is the smallest radar and laser detector on the market, it packs a punch
  • Extreme range detecting X, K, and Ka bands, as well as MultaRadar detection (CS, CT, and Gatso)
  • GPS lockouts for false alerts
  • Red light/speed camera database with free lifetime updates
  • Updatable firmware with free lifetime updates
  • Amber OLED display
  • Voice alerts with 360 different messages
  • Low-speed GPS auto-muting
  • Stealth – VG2 undetectable/Spectre
  • Three driving modes (Highway, City, and AutoCity)
  • Displays MPH and cardinal directions
  • Free lifetime warranty and ticket reimbursement program


  • Low X band sensitivity
  • Low laser sensitivity

6. Cobra Road Scout

Overall score: 4.6 out of 5


  • 2-in-1long range radar detector and high definition 1080p dash-cam
  • Sensitive radar detection while the dash cam is continually recording video
    • Can view and edit visual evidence playback directly from your smartphone
  • Built in Bluetooth provides community alerts from the Cobra iRadar app
    • iRadar shares driver alerts’ data from the Cobra and Escort driving community
  • Digital Signal Processing (DSP) detects real-time radar, laser, live patrol, and speed traps
  • Fast, precise, and reliable alerts for all bands
  • LCD screen displays current speed, GPS status, and radar and laser alerts
    • Can also personalize the brightness
  • Interference is kept to a minimum as the sensitivity can be adjusted


  • Initial price is high
  • Subscription is required to keep red-light and speed trap database up to date
  • The actual product pretty big

7. Uniden R3

Overall score: 4.5 out of 5


  • Strong Digital Signal Processor (DSP) with extreme radar sensitivity (X, K and Ka)
  • Maximum range at an affordable price
  • One of the most sensitive single antenna detectors on the market
  • 360-degree protection
  • GPS with red-light camera alerts
  • Free GPS database updates
  • Quiet ride with user-set Auto mute
  • K False and Ka False filters to eliminate false positive radar detection
  • Limited voice control
  • Color OLED display
  • Three driving modes (City, City2, and Highway)


  • Mount isn’t suitable for all vehicles
  • Has had quality control issues with power cords in the past

8. Escort IX

Overall score: 4.4 out of 5


  • Consistent and accurate long-range protection with early warning/fast response on all bands
  • Multiple laser sensors provide maximum laser detection
  • Intelligent AutoLearn Technology uses the power of GPS and exact frequencies to learn and automatically reject false alarms
  • Bluetooth compatible to connect to Escort Live
  • Easy to use and elegant OLED design
  • Through GPS, the Escort IX can measure your speed warning you of breaking the speed limit (can be turned on or off)
  • Excellent performance and perks for the price


  • Mute button is difficult to reach
  • Even though it has good detection range, it’s still shy of Escort’s top rated radar detectors
  • Does not have directional arrows
  • Does not have USB port and cable for firmware updates

9. Cobra ESD7570

Overall score: 4.3 out of 5


  • Nine band radar and laser detector with good range
  • LaserEye provides 360-degree protection
  • Immune to Spectre I and VG2 radar detector detectors
    • Also alerts the user when they are under VG2 radar surveillance
  • Ultrabright and compact data display
  • Signal strength meter displays relative proximity to the target
  • City/Highway modes reduce the frequency of false alerts


  • Alarm noise from the unit is quiet
  • No option to completely filter out X band

10. Escort Passport S55

Overall score: 4.1 out of 5


  • “V -Tuned” radar receiver for enhanced range
  • Radar and laser protection with AutoSensitivity to filter out false alerts
  • Three driving modes (Highway, Auto, and Auto No X)
  • Audio and visual alerts
  • Bluetooth compatible to connect to Escort Live
  • Specdisplay provides actual numeric frequency for any radar signal
  • Mute and automute functions


  • No USB port to update firmware
  • Lacks GPS to remember false alerts (only way to do so is to connect to Escort Live via Bluetooth)

How Do Radar Detectors Work?

Before understanding how radar detectors work, we must first understand how police radar guns work to detect your speed.

The radio waves emitted from a radar gun move at light-speed and bounce off a vehicle back to the radar gun. Based on the time it takes the wave to reach an object and return to the gun, the distance is calculated using the Doppler Effect. Police radar guns produce radio waves at a specific and expected frequency, and when the waves bounce off a moving object like a car, the frequency will be much higher on the return trip back to the radar gun than when it was first calibrated. The radar gun will continually bounce waves off a car and be able to translate the change in frequency to figure out how fast a vehicle is moving.

Radars for cars work by identifying the radio waves emitted from a police radar gun, and some radar detectors can also detect the presence of laser speed guns, like those from a speed trap. But what’s the difference between a radar gun and a laser gun?


RADAR stands for Radio Detection and Ranging while LIDAR stands for Light Imaging Detection and Ranging. Though LIDAR guns operate using the same principles as radar guns (Doppler Effect), the LIDAR gun uses bursts of infrared light rather than radio or sound waves. The main difference between the two for speed detection is that LIDAR does not detect the change in wave frequency; instead, it uses infrared laser bursts to compare multiple distances and measures the velocity directly from the change in distances.

LIDAR is most often used for speed traps, like those you see above a traffic light on an intersection. And as we’ve seen, many radar detectors come equipped to detect LIDAR too. The main differences between the two are as follows:

  • LIDAR uses a very short wavelength (light waves) and radar uses a longer wavelength (radio)
  • At a shorter distance, LIDAR is more accurate than radar
  • LIDAR is more easily interrupted, like in fog, rainy, and cloudy weather

LIDAR is a nice addition to add an extra level of protection in your radar detector. But keep in mind that LIDAR travels at the speed of light and is used short-range, so by the time your vehicle is picked up from a LIDAR gun or trap, by its very nature, it is usually too late for you to slow down as your speed has already been detected.

Are Radar Detectors Worth it?

Yes, we think so.

Receiving an advanced warning of a potential speeding ticket pays for itself. But remember, speeding is breaking the law and puts lives in danger. It is one thing to want an advanced warning, and it’s another to be inconsiderate of the law and human life.

Now, when it comes to expensive high-end radar detectors versus standard ones, it depends on your driving habits, goals, and budget. A rule of thumb when buying radar detectors is that you get what you pay for. Buying the super cheap stuff is not only less durable and reliable but will leave you more upset when it fails (late detection) and you have to pay for both a speeding ticket and a bunk radar detector.

If you have a heavy foot and a sports car, your window of opportunity to slow down is heavily influenced by your speed. In these cases, a long-range radar detector will be your best bet, providing as much early alerting as possible. Long-range radar detectors are especially useful on highways.

If most of your commute is through the city, a radar detector that is equipped with laser detection will be your best bet, providing warnings of speed traps, red-light cameras, etc., but most importantly, the officer hiding with their radar gun. Furthermore, the best radar detectors for the money are usually equipped with a city-driving filter option to silence false alarms from most X and K bands (otherwise your radar detector will be constantly going off and providing more anxiety than relief).

Which Radar Detector Will You Buy?

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