Best Radar Detectors: Stay a Step Ahead

Enjoy every drive, safe in the knowledge that you (probably) won’t get a ticket.

byRobert Bacon| UPDATED Aug 11, 2022 3:55 PM
Best Radar Detectors: Stay a Step Ahead
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If I told you that you could have the superpower of knowing where every speed trap on the road is, would you want it? Of course you would. Thankfully, you don’t need superpowers or witchcraft to know where speed traps are, as a radar detector will do the job well enough. Depending on the model you choose, you can be alerted to practically every type of signal that’s targeting your vehicle. If you’re prone to getting speeding tickets, a radar detector could save you money in the long run. Even if you don’t have a particularly heavy right foot, these devices take the edge off when you’re on the road.

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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Our Methodology

To choose the best radar detectors on the market, I employed The Drive’s comprehensive research methodology and evaluated dozens of units before choosing the top contenders. Although I haven’t personally tested these products, my selection is informed by my institutional knowledge of the automotive industry. I also interviewed the editor-in-chief at Rated Radar Detector to hear what he had to say about the products on the market.

Best Radar Detectors Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall
Uniden R8

Specs

  • Make: Uniden
  • Model: R8
  • Built-in GPS: Yes

Pros

  • Best long-range detection
  • Fantastic quick signal detection
  • Built-in GPS
  • Good photo detection
  • OLED display with directional arrows

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi receiver
  • False alert filtering could be better

If you want a plug-and-play radar detector that you can confidently hook up and know you’ll be covered on all fronts, buy the Uniden R8. This model offers 360-degree protection and has almost every feature you could ask for from a top-tier radar detector but has a lower price than its direct competitors. It has one of the best ranges in the industry, but it’s equally as good at detecting quick signals. Even with its false alert filtering enabled, it will almost instantly detect K-band and KA-band quick signals. The false alert system works with this detector’s built-in GPS to constantly improve the false signals it filters.

The four directional arrows on the OLED display do a good job of indicating where a radar signal is coming from. The voice alert system informs you when it detects a signal and where it’s coming from, and you can see the signal type and strength on the screen. What’s so confidence inspiring about this model is that it’s great at detecting many different types of signals, such as constant on, instant on, and photo detection. This unit can detect MRCD/T and GATSO RT3/4 photo detectors and gives a unique alert tone to help you differentiate between photo and radar detectors.

The false alert lockout system could be better, and as this is a known issue with many of the Uniden models, I hope firmware updates will fix the issue in the future. Thankfully, you can manually lockout a signal when you encounter a false alert by double tapping the mute button. Another thing to note is that this model isn't immune to radar detector detectors (RDD), so if you want a stealth model, you’ll need to keep reading. There’s also no built-in Wi-Fi receiver, so when you want to update this detector's firmware, you’ll need to plug it into your computer.

Best Value
Uniden R3

Specs

  • Make: Uniden
  • Model: R3
  • Built-in GPS: Yes

Pros

  • Good long-range detection
  • Built-in GPS
  • False alert filtering
  • 360-degree protection
  • Red light camera detection

Cons

  • No directional arrows
  • Slower to alert than higher-priced models

The Uniden R3 has most of the features found on high-end models, but for a fraction of the cost. You could get a cheaper detector, but its protection won't be as well-rounded, and it won't have the bang for buck factor of the R3. This model has got good long range detection and built-in GPS. It also has a false alert filtering system, and you can manually add up to 500 lockouts using the GPS. There are programmable voice alerts, meaning you can keep your eyes on the road. The multi-color OLED display is easy-to-read, and displays the signal type and strength the device detects.

Although this model provides 360-degree protection, it doesn’t have any directional arrows to indicate where the signal is coming from. The GPS system can alert you to upcoming red light and speed cameras. This model also features MRCD/MRCT photo detection, which is fantastic to see on a unit at this price. It's packed with the features you want and works well when detecting K-band and KA-band signals at long range. But, it’s slower to alert you to signals when compared to the other models on this list. It’s also detectable by radar detector detectors. I believe these slight compromises are fair when you consider this model's low price.

Honorable Mention
Escort MaxCam 360c

Specs

  • Make: Escort
  • Model: MaxCam 360c
  • Built-in GPS: Yes

Pros

  • 1440P dash camera
  • Excellent long-range detection
  • Built-in GPS
  • Class-leading false alert filtering
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy and bulky

Anyone in the market for a premium radar detector and a dash cam should save some windshield space and get the Escort MaxCam 360c. This model’s long-range sensitivity is practically as good as the R8’s, thanks to its Blackfin 706 DSP and SDR AD 9363 chipset, but its detection of quick signals isn’t as good. The powerful processors combined with this detector’s built-in GPS make it one of the best for false alert filtering. It uses an Autolearn intelligence system, which combines GPS, in-vehicle filtering, and AutoSensitivity to constantly learn about and silence false alerts.

The on-screen arrows do a good job of indicating where radar signals are coming from. What’s handy about this model are its driver-facing controls, which are easier to use while on the move than controls mounted on the top of detectors. The dash cam records in 1440P and has good low-light performance thanks to its Sony Starvis sensor and Ambarella SoC chip. The built-in dual-band Wi-Fi means you can instantly store and share your footage from anywhere, and receive automatic software updates.

This is one of the bulkiest and most expensive radars on the market, but that’s to be expected since it packs so much technology. It's not immune to RDD, so if you need a stealth model, this isn’t the detector for you. Included in the sale is a 16 GB micro SD card.

Specs

  • Make: Valentine
  • Model: One V1 Gen 2
  • Built-in GPS: No

Pros

  • Great long-range detection
  • Pairs with the JBV1 app
  • 360-degree protection
  • Directional arrows
  • Compact design and magnesium construction

Cons

  • JBV1 app is only available on Android devices
  • Needs to be tethered to a phone for full functionality
  • No photo detection

In terms of radar detectors that don’t have built-in GPS, there’s no question that the Valentine One V1 Gen 2 is the best on the market. This model is highly sensitive and fantastic at detecting long-range and quick signals. If you opt for this model, you’ll save some money since there’s no built-in GPS, but you’ll still get a top-tier detector. The trick up this model's sleeve is that it works with your phone via Bluetooth, which enables it to use your phone’s GPS. If you use the JBV1 app on your phone, you'll have as many control and configuration options as any other high-end radar detector. Some enthusiasts get this model just to use it with the JBV1 app, which is unfortunately only available on Android devices.

This detector is somewhat sluggish at detecting K-band signals when its false alert filter is on. But it’s one of the fastest models on the market when it comes to detecting KA-band signals. If you don’t pair this detector with your phone and the JBV1 app, it can give you a lot of false alerts, since there’s no intuitive lockout feature. It provides 360 degrees of protection and has directional arrows that work quite well. This is the only model on the list that is undetectable to radar detector detectors, and it’s slim and compact, so it draws less visual attention. The magnesium case makes this model feel like it has a higher-quality finish than detectors that cost significantly more.

Unfortunately, this unit won’t alert you to photo radars, and if you aren’t willing to tether it to your phone and use an app, you won’t have access to some of its main features.

Our Verdict

The Uniden R8 is easy to set up and will have you covered on all fronts. It has a fantastic long-range detection system and one of the best quick signal detection response times on the market. If your budget doesn’t stretch to my top pick, check out my value option, the Uniden R3. It’s a well-rounded radar detector that has premium features usually reserved for more expensive models.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: How much does a radar detector cost?

A: Radar detectors that have the features that most people want will cost between $300 and $600. But if you could forego some features, like built-in GPS, you could get a model for around $160. If you want a detector with the best all-around sensitivity and extra features, it’ll set you back $600 to $800.

Q: Are radar detectors legal?

A: Yes, radar detectors are legal in most states, but there are some exceptions. You can find out more about the laws regarding radar detectors in your state here.

Q: Do radar detectors work for laser speed guns?

A: A radar detector can alert you if your vehicle is being targeted by a laser speed gun. But, by the time you hear the notification, it’s already too late to slow down.

Q: How far can a radar detector pick up a signal?

A: Several factors apart from the device’s hardware determine its sensitivity to radar signals, such as trees, terrain, and weather. But the best radar detectors can alert you to signals that are up to two miles away.