The Best Radar Detectors Under $200 (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Radar detectors can offer significant savings when it comes to potential speeding tickets
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON November 18, 2020
Just about every driver has been caught by a cop with a radar gun at some point. Whether you were speeding through your neighborhood or pulled over by an out-of-sight police car on the open highway, a police radar can result in you winding up with a hefty ticket — and perhaps other consequences. It’s not always easy to see police officers hiding around a blind corner or along a stretch of a busy road. But with a radar detector in your car, you can get an advanced warning and slow down.
A radar detector can help you slow down if you’re accidentally speeding so you don’t wind up with a speeding ticket. And you can get a quality radar detector device for less than $200. Check out some of our top picks for the best radar detectors under $200.
This device offers reliable radar warnings from all angles, with fewer false alerts and an easy-to-read display.
- IVT Filter system ensures accurate radar detection, with fewer interruptions
- Detects all types of radar, and multilingual voice alerts allow for customization
- Can pick up other electronic signals and may even pick up other drivers’ scanners
Long-range sensitivity picks up all types of radar, including laser, and three different modes make it perfectly suited for city or highway driving.
- Offers wide band protection and detection from both laser and radar
- Features two city driving modes and one highway mode
- Invisible to VG-2 and Spectre I/IV/IV+ radar detectors
- Can give off false alarms and alerts
- May pick up your car’s safety features if you have lane assist or adaptive cruise control
This radar detector features enhanced radar and laser detection on the road, with an extremely long range warning to offer advance notice for any driver.
- Ultra-fast alerts let you know when a radar is being used near or far
- Maximum detection range and AutoSensitivity mode work intelligently
- Exclusive Traffic Sensor Rejection reduces false alarms
- Can give off false alarms near automatic door openers
- Suction cup installation can lose grip
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Benefits of Radar Detectors
- Advance warnings when police are nearby. A radar detector will warn you when a radar is being used ahead of you on the road. This can give you ample time to slow down to an appropriate speed before the radar gun is pointed your way.
- Know if police are out of sight. Can’t tell if there are cops nearby? A radar detector can. Even if you can’t see a police car on the road, one of these devices will be able to notify you if a radar is being used from any angle in your direction.
- Pick up both radar and laser bandwidths. A single radar detector can pick up all existing radar types to ensure you never miss a warning. These devices can also pick up laser waves used by some police departments instead of radar alone.
- Avoid costly speeding tickets. Getting caught on radar speeding can be extremely expensive. You can wind up with a ticket, points on your license, and other costs, like required driver’s education classes. A radar detector can help you know when to slow down, so you don’t get ticketed.
Types of Radar Detectors
Corded Radar Detectors
A corded radar detector is one that’s almost a permanent fixture in your vehicle. These devices are attached with cords — and wired to your vehicle’s electrical system — so they’re always working when you’re driving. They mount right onto your windshield or your dashboard with installation hardware like suction cups or strips of Velcro. Corded radar detectors tend to offer the best and longest range, enabling them to pick up radar signals from greater distances.
Cordless Radar Detector
Cordless radar detectors are the simplified siblings of corded radar detectors. These compact devices have no wires or electrical cords. Instead, they run on batteries that can be swapped out or recharged. They work just as well as corded models, offering excellent range over long distances and the ability to pick up a variety of radar bands. You can even move a cordless radar detector from vehicle to vehicle, which gives you great flexibility and convenience with no tricky cords.
Remote-Mount Radar Detector
As the most compact and discreet option, a remote-mount radar detector is something of an in-between option. It’s a cross between a corded and cordless device, as a remote-mount radar detector is permanently mounted and installed in your vehicle. They’re installed in your dashboard or center console, so they aren’t easily visible. And there are no cords to wrangle—once it’s in place, it’s sleek and discreet. However, there is one drawback: a remote-mount radar detector can have a diminished range, making it a little harder to pick up radar bands from long distances.
A leader in driver technology and innovation, Cobra offers radar detectors created with more than 50 years of industry experience. Every Cobra radar detector is designed to be “best in class” in both its technology and dependability. It also makes products like dash cams, power inverters, and jump starters.
With over 40 years of experience in radar detectors alone, Escort is a high-tech, high-quality brand. Escort radar detectors are designed to be easy to use, making them a great option for every driver. Models like the Escort Max360 Laser Radar Detector combine radar detection with a number of premium extras to suit any need.
As a leader in car radar detectors, Uniden has a long history of creating quality electronics, such as CB radios, walkie-talkies, and dash cameras. First established in 1966, Uniden provides cutting-edge technology to drivers. The brand offers a wealth of different radar detectors at various price points.
Radar Detector Pricing
- Under $100: Radar detectors priced under $100 will offer consistent radar detection from police scanning from all angles. These devices are more simplified, which is great for drivers who want straightforward radar detection without frills.
- $100 to $200: Stepping up this price range will give you a wealth of radar detectors with extra perks. These devices are a good option for drivers who want more information from smartphone apps to real-time traffic alerts.
360-Degree Radar Detection
You don’t want to buy a radar detector that can only detect radar in specific limited scenarios — you want a device that’s always going to work. For that, you’ll want to look for models that can offer 360 degrees of radar detection. Your radar detector should be able to pick up different types of radar from the front, rear, and sides as you drive.
Many radar detectors offer both radar detection and laser detection. It’s a key feature, especially if you want to make sure you’re covered on every road, in any instance where your speed might be tracked. Laser detection gives you extra coverage and extra functionality in a single device, which is a great way to ensure you’re getting a good value.
The ability to switch between different driving modes is an important feature in any radar detector. While one mode is perfectly fine, having multiple modes (like city or highway) gives you better accuracy. You’ll ensure your radar detector can pick up radar at different speeds and in other driving conditions, and that can limit the number of false alerts you get.
Voice and Visual Alerts
A simple radar detector will show you visual alerts on the device’s display — like flashing lights or messages — but why not opt for an even safer alert system? Look for radar detectors that also offer voice alerts, and you’ll never have to take your eyes off the road to know when your speed is being tracked. The option to use both voice and visual alerts is a bonus, and some devices may even allow you to switch between the two.
- Smartphone Compatibility or Connectivity. Nowadays, radar detectors can sync up with your smartphone — and some even have their own apps. Some radar detectors will work in tandem with your phone, giving you real-time alerts, warnings from other drivers, and push notifications. This can be ideal if you want more than simple radar detection.
- Radar Detector Detection Shielding. In some areas, using a radar detector is illegal — and police will use “radar detector detectors” to see if vehicles are carrying these devices. Some radar detectors, however, can offer to shield against this. Look for models that prodive VG-2 or Spectre (or both) types of shielding against radar detector detection.
- GPS Technology. You might already rely on GPS for navigation, but having a radar detector equipped with GPS is also very handy. With a GPS radar detector, you’ll get extra perks. You can be alerted when radar is in use around you, adjust sensitivity based on speed, and even program the device to “remember” different areas you frequently travel.
- Radar Detection Range. Don’t forget to consider how far away a given radar detector can actually detect radar. The range is important, as it determines how much advance warning you’ll get when a radar is in use. Some radar detectors will offer extremely long range, but others may be more limited in how far they can pick up radar bands.
Best Radar Detectors Under $200 Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Research the extra features that can come with a radar detector and see if you could benefit from any. More features can be more complicated, but you can also get more information as you drive.
- If you have a newer vehicle, look for a radar detector that won’t pick up signals from your car’s smart safety technology like lane keep alerts, adaptive cruise control, and more.
- False alerts can come from other vehicles and even automatic doors when you’re in parking lots. Look for a radar detector that can avoid these pitfalls.
Q: What is the best cheap radar detector?
Some of the best radar detectors can be found for under $200. However, if you want to get a great, quality device for the lowest price, you can’t go wrong with the Uniden DFR1 Long Range Laser and Radar Detection. Made by a top brand and packed with helpful features, including radar detection for all radar and laser types, this device offers everything you need.
Q: Why does my radar detector not go off?
Your radar detector may not be picking up any active radar — even if you drive by a police officer. Sometimes, police officers are merely taking a break on the side of the road. If radar or laser isn’t being pointed at other cars on the road or your own car, the device will stay quiet.
Q: How do I know if my radar detector is working?
You can check to see if your radar detector is working correctly by setting it to a higher sensitivity, such as “highway” mode. At a higher sensitivity, your device will likely get more false alerts from interference by automatic doors, smart safety features on your car, or even other cars on the road. If you hear alerts, you can trust that it’s working — even if they’re false.
You won't have to worry about false alerts or limited range with the Cobra RAD 250 Laser Radar Detector's high quality. However, if you want a radar detector that offers reliable quality at an even better price, you can check out the Uniden DFR1 Long Range Laser and Radar Detection.