When you're cruising down a lonely stretch of highway, it's easy to get swept away and forget about the pressure of your foot on the gas. Next thing you know, you might be getting a pricey speeding ticket or even a date in traffic court. If only you had a radar detector.
A radar detector notifies you when your vehicle's speed may be monitored by law enforcement. This gives you the ability to find police before they find you, giving you a chance to slow your speed and correct your driving. In short, radar detectors can help you drive safer while saving you money with fewer tickets. And they are currently legal in all but two areas (Washington, DC and Virginia).
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ZDNET researched the best radar detectors available based on features, display, and price. Our pick for the best radar detector overall is the Uniden R7, thanks to its integrated GPS, strong signal strength, and ease of use. Read on to learn about the best radar detectors you can buy right now.
The best radar detectors of 2023
- Integrated GPS
- Strong signal strength
- Ease of use
- On the larger side
- Lacks Bluetooth
Uniden R7 features: GPS: Yes | Voice alerts: Yes | Power source: DC | Voltage: 12V | Display type: OLED
The Uniden R7 gets our pick for the best radar detector overall, thanks to its customizable voice alerts and false alarm detection. It keeps you safer with advanced false alert filtering, 360-degree monitoring, and arrow detection. There is even GPS technology employed to help the device remember and mute typical false alarms. You'll also find red light and speed camera locations will automatically update to remain current at all times. The OLED display is a bonus for easy visibility.
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Voice alerts
- Adjustable sensitivity
- Suffers from false alerts
Cobra RAD 480i features: GPS: No | Voice alerts: No | Power source: DC | Voltage: 12V | Display type: OLED
If you find yourself on a budget, the Cobra RAD 480i could be a great fit for you. At just $150, it's very affordable when compared to others in its class. LaserEye technology helps detect signals from all around your vehicle for better front and rear detection, while built-in security protocols help provide early warnings while reducing the threat of false alarms. Use the corresponding iRadar app to view further up the road or receive real-time alerts from the over 3 million drivers in the community.
- Excellent connectivity
- Rear radar antenna
- Auto lockout
- Mediocre rear-range
Escort MAX 360c features: GPS: Yes, via app | Voice alerts: Yes | Power source: DC | Voltage: 12V | Display type: OLED
The Escort MAX 360c gives you the ability to customize your screen, viewing in high resolution details like signal type and strength when you connect to Escort Live. Incorporated is a full-color graphic display that uses both antennas and arrows to identify risks around your vehicle and near your location. This radar detector is compatible with both iPhone and Android devices for easy connectivity. Plus, there is the benefit of built-in Wi-Fi, so you can see in real-time if there is a ticket threat in your future.
- Simple installation
- Long-range use
- Rarely false alarms
- Suction cup fixture
- Average display
Uniden R3 features: GPS: Yes | Voice alerts: Yes | Power source: DC | Voltage: 12V | Display type: OLED
The Uniden R3 uses a combination of technologies -- Advanced False Alert Filtering provides greater protection against invalid threats, while GPS technology finds and tracks your location against known radars in and around your location. When you drive along your usual route, you will skip all of the common false alerts with built-in memory for your detector. Your device will also come preloaded with red lights and speed cameras, staying current with firmware updates to ensure you have a head start wherever you need one.
- Real-time user updates
- Integrated GPS
- Event alerts for traffic jams and special events
Waze app features: GPS: Yes | Voice alerts: Yes | Power source: N/A | Voltage: N/A | Display type: N/A
While the Waze app isn't billed as a radar detector, the user base does help to provide real-time information on the locations of red light cameras and speed traps along your route. And along with helping you avoid getting a ticket, Waze users can provide real-time updates on traffic jams, restaurant and gas station locations, and even special events like parades and street carnivals. The app also features an integrated GPS system that operates similarly to Google Maps, and you can integrate your Spotify playlists for safer multitasking while driving.
The Uniden R7 wins ZDNET's pick as the best radar detector, thanks to its incredible performance, reliability, and value. To see how it stacks up against our other best radar detectors, here is an overview of each model.
Best radar detector
Cobra RAD 480i
Escort MAX 360c
When choosing a radar detector, the most important thing to keep in mind is whether or not it's legal to own and use in your state. Some areas have outlawed the use of radar detectors for civilians, so check all local laws and ordinances to make sure you aren't illegally owning and operating one.
Buy this radar detector...
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A well-rounded radar detector. The Uniden R7 features integrated GPS and voice alerts for additional road safety.
Cobra RAD 480i
A budget-friendly radar detector. The Cobra RAD 480i retails for about $150, making it one of the cheaper options on the market.
Escort MAX 360c
A radar detector with a great display. The Escort MAX 360c uses an OLED display for cleaner, easier to read text.
A radar detector that provides great value for the price. It features built-in GPS and voice alerts as well as an OLED display and dual radar and laser detection systems
A user-friendly radar detector app. Waze users help provide real-time updates to red light camera and speed trap locations.
While searching for the best radar detectors, we consider several factors:
- Features: There are several bonus features you may find from model to model, such as GPS connectivity or false alert detection. These features can greatly simplify use and improve your chances of picking up on radar.
- Display: Visibility is a critical factor when selecting a radar detector. The best radar detectors come with an OLED display that provides greater clarity and color for your images.
- Cost: Budget is a primary concern for many users, so we look for the best affordable radar detectors that come at a reasonable cost for their features.
While the federal government has not placed any specific bans on radar detectors on a nationwide level, make sure to check all of your state and local laws to determine whether or not they have been banned. At the time of writing, only the state of Virginia and the District of Columbia ban radar detectors in passenger vehicles. Additionally, radar detectors are illegal to use in commercial vehicles as well as on or near military bases. The use of radar/laser jammers, which temporarily disable police radar detectors, is also illegal nationwide.
If you want to find out more, you can read this helpful blog post from Best Buy to help you.
The cost of a radar detector significantly varies from a few hundred dollars to more than a thousand dollars. The best radar detectors range in price from $150 to less than $650, depending on the model you choose.
In our search to find the best radar detectors, we also found these models that may be worth considering.