What are Radar Detectors?
Radar detectors are passive scanning devices designed to detect speed-sensing radar or infrared beams. These devices can reliably alert drivers to the presence of a law enforcement speed trap or other speed measurement device.
Most drivers use radar detectors to avoid speeding tickets. Radar detectors are illegal or frowned upon in many areas because of this. The best radar detectors can detect low-power radar used by modern radar guns and speed cameras.
How to Choose the Best Radar Detector
So, how do you choose the best radar detector? The best radar detectors can pick up all modern speed detection radar signals (K and KA band) along with legacy bands (X band).
Many older and inexpensive units can’t detect all frequencies, which is why it’s essential to choose an up-to-date model. Additionally, the best radar detectors are made using high-quality components, so a positive brand reputation is a must. Many of the best radar and infrared detectors are now also available at an affordable price.
Ten Best Radar Detectors Reviewed
We combed the market and found ten of the best radar and lidar detectors available today. These items were chosen based on a combination of value, features, and build quality.
10. Radenso XP Radar Detector with False Alert Filtering
Radenso is a well-known producer of high-quality radar detectors, and their entry-level XP model is no exception. The Radenso XP radar detector can detect X, K, and KA band radars. It also detects lidar, (laser/infrared), which makes it a full-service radar detector.
One of the most notable features of the Radenso radar detector is its false alert filtering. Anyone who drives with a radar detector complains about constant false alerts, but the Radenso unit helps reduce the frequency of these anxiety-inducing alarms. The Radenso XP is highly sensitive, as it detects standard radar up to several miles away. This gives the driver an advanced warning and plenty of time to slow down.
This unit also features low-speed muting, which eliminates beeping when you’re traveling too slow for it to matter. One of our favorite features is the red light camera detection system offered by Radenso. Red light cameras are controversial, and this radar detector can give you a heads-up to drive extra carefully when you’re close to one.
Radenso XP Key Features
- Radar and laser detection
- False alert filtering
- Low-speed muting
- Red light camera detection
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9. Uniden DFR1 Long-Range Radar and Laser Detector
The Uniden DFR1 is the best budget radar detector on the market today. It’s hard to belt this multi-band and lidar detector at its $50 price point, especially when you consider that some similarly-priced units don’t even offer laser detection.
This radar detector is an excellent starter unit for people looking for a no-frills and functional device. It connects to a standard 12-volt automotive plug, and it detects all forms of commonly-used speed detection radar.
The Uniden DFR1 has three driving modes: Highway, City, and City-1. These modes fine-tune the device to offer the most accurate detection and reduce false alarms. You can also fine-tune these settings and save them using the device’s memory feature.
Unlike some other models, the Uniden DFR1 is completely invisible to countermeasures such as VG-2 and Spectre I/IV/IV+ radar detectors. The Uniden DFR1 detects X, K, and KA band radar along with infrared lasers.
At the low end of the price spectrum, this model is surprisingly functional and well-built. One possible drawback is that some owners report receiving a higher amount of false alarms than with premium units. This may be true, but it’s still an excellent value, and it’s highly reliable.
Uniden DFR1 Key Features
- Radar and laser detection
- Three driving mode selections
- Invisible to VG-2 and Spectre countermeasures
- Excellent value
8. Cobra RAD 480i Laser and Radar Detector
Like Uniden, Cobra is a well-known producer of car and truck radios. Now, they offer a mid-level radar and laser detector that’s ideal for use in cars and trucks. This unit detects X, K, and KA band radar along with infrared lasers.
The Cobra RAD 480i features a prominent black and white digital screen which is easy to read and interpret. The design of the unit itself features a lot more flare than most other brands, which is a nice feature. All controls are located on top of the unit, and the buttons are tactile and logically-oriented.
Functionally, this model is in line with other devices in its price point. It detects radar and lasers from the front and back of the device, which gives it a wide detection angle. It also features integrated false-alarm detection, which reduces annoying false interference.
Overall, the Cobra RAD 480i is an excellent choice for those in the market for a mid-level radar detector with refrained features. It’s affordable and easy to install, as it plugs directly into a standard 12-volt car outlet with no additional wiring required.
Cobra RAD 480i Key Features
- Detects lidar along with X, K, and KA radar
- Black and white digital screen for clarity
- Front and back detection
- False alert filtering
7. Radenso Pro M Radar Detector
Here’s a professional-level radar detector based on Radenso’s popular XP model. As you’d expect, the Radenso Pro M features full-range radar and infrared laser detection technology. Unlike other models, it also features Multaradar (MRCT) and Gatso radar detection. One of the biggest selling points of Radenso’s premium model is its extended range.
The company advertises this model as the “EXTREME RANGE” model, as it is much more sensitive than entry-level radar detectors. It also features some of the best false-alarm filtering technology on the market today, which sets it apart from lower-tier models.
Radenso included GPS-lockout technology, which allows users to manually filter out regularly-occurring false alarms. This is convenient on commutes, as many people experience the same false alarms every time they drive to work, the grocery store, and elsewhere.
The backlit orange display is easy to read and displays important information such as speed and the band of the radar detected. This model comes with free software updates which are easy to install.
Overall, serious drivers should consider upgrading to the pro model. It features everything you’ve come to expect on a modern radar detector, along with extra features such as long-distance sensitivity and Multaradar detection. It’s worth the extra price, and you won’t be disappointed in tilts performance.
Radenso Pro M Key Features
- Full radar and infrared detection
- Extreme detection range
- GPS lockout technology
- Multaradar and Gatso detection
6. Uniden DFR5 Long-Range Radar and Laser Detector
Here’s an affordable long-range radar and laser detector from Uniden. The Uniden DFR5 Long-Range radar and laser detector is Uniden’s mid-range model, which is a logical step above the popular DFR1. For the price, it’s worth considering this reliable, no-frills long-range radar detector.
Uniden is known for producing CB radios, so this company is no stranger to automotive-accessories. We were impressed by the build quality of this radar detector, as it’s on par with many expensive units. The black plastic housing is unassuming and durable, and the unit is lightweight. It attaches securely to the windshield with suction cups.
This unit features an easy-to-read backlit display with red text. Red is ideal, as it doesn’t affect your vision when you’re driving at night; The buttons located on top of the unit are tactile and easy to use.
Overall, this unit is the perfect upgrade to the Uniden DFR1. It’s one of the most affordable long-range radar and laser detectors on the market, and it scores highly amongst reviewers. We think the Uniden DFR5 is an excellent unit to start with if you’re looking for a higher-end model.
Uniden DFR5 Key Features
- Backlit OLED display
- Durable housing
- Long-range radar and laser detection
- Suction-cup windshield mount
5. Escort MAX 3 Radar and Laser Detector
The Escort MAX 3 is a BlueTooth-capable radar and laser detector with long-range detection and advanced filtering. This model comes with a range of features, including voice alerts, dashcam connectivity, and driving style adaptivity.
This unit corrects seamlessly with smartphones through the Escort Live app. The app, which works as an advanced navigation system, shows the location of red light cameras, police radar traps, and traffic jams. This radar and laser detector also features auto-learn technology, which adapts to your driving style and habits.
As you’d expect, this device features full-range radar detection along with infrared (IR) laser detection. This includes X band, K band, and KA band, along with active false-alarm filtering. These features are more refined than on lower-end radar detectors. The device is more accurate, and it delivers more reliable readings.
The Escort MAX 3 filters out false alarms from vehicle collision systems and blindspot monitoring, and it detects all major forms of police and static speed radar at longer distances. Overall, this premium unit is ideal for anyone who needs a reliable and high-quality radar and laser detector that excels beyond the competition.
Escort MAX 3 Key Features
- Integrates with the Escort Live app
- Full laser and radar detection
- Detects red light and speed cameras
- BlueTooth capable
4. Escort Solo S4 Radar Detector
Here’s a cordless radar detector that’s ideal for travel. The Escort Solo S4 is battery-operated and installs easily on any vehicle. It features all the standard radar detector technology in a compact package, and it comes equipped with the latest false alert fileting technology.
The specs of this unit are pretty typical for its price range. It features full radar detection (X band, K band, and SuperWide KA band}, along with laser warning and off-axis protection.
It responds quickly to speed radar, and it provides protection from multiple angles. It only weighs a few ounces, so it’s not likely to fall off the windshield when you’re driving. This model runs on two AA batteries for convenience.
This is reminiscent of older radar detectors, which many people preferred due to the flexibility of replaceable batteries. If you don’t want to spend money on disposable batteries, you can use rechargeable AA batteries instead.
Like all products from Escort, this unit is high-quality and well-engineered. It comes with a warranty, and you can expect it to last a long time. And since it’s cordless, you can move it between vehicles with ease.
Escort Solo S4 Key Features
- Cordless and battery-operated
- Ideal for travel
- Full radar and laser detection
- AA-batteries required
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3. Escort MAX 360C Laser and Radar Detector
The Escort MAX 360C Laser and Radar Detector is perhaps the best radar detector on the market today. It offers extremely long-range 360-degree protection from all forms of speed detection radar and lasers, and it features top-of-the-line build quality.
The Escort MAX 360C comes equipped with built-in WiFi connectivity to keep you up-to-date with the latest shared alerts. It also works with the Escort app, which features live traffic monitoring and red light camera locating. The unit also displays the speed limit for the road you’re driving on.
This Escort radar detector features a customizable backlit OLED display. Display options include radar type and strength, along with your current speed, detection mode, and 360-degree direction-finding. In short, this unit allows you to determine which direction the radar or laser came from.
This unit features some of the most advanced anti-interference tech on the market. It reduces false alarms from car radar systems, blindspot monitoring, automatic doors, and other common sources of interference. This unit is designed specifically for connected cars. It integrates with your car’s existing technology to provide accurate speed and driving information.
Overall, the quality and features of this unit earned it the top spot on our list. For the price, you get a radar detector that is functionally superior to most others on the market. In other words, this is a serious unit for drivers who won’t compromise on quality or accuracy.
Escort MAX 360C Key Features
- Built-in WiFi
- 360-degree radar and laser detection
- Direction display
- Advanced false alert filtration
2. Uniden R3 Extreme Long-Range Radar Detector
Here’s a high-end model from Uniden that is on-par with professional-level radar detectors at a fraction of the price.
The Uniden R3 Extreme Long-Range Radar detector offers some of the best protection at this price point without unnecessary frills or complex features. It’s plug-and-play speed trap protection at a price that most people would consider reasonable.
This unit features full X, K, and KA band detection, along with infrared (IR) laser alerts. It also features GPS-based muting, so you can disable alerts on routes with known false readings. This feature is especially useful for commuters, as numerous kinds of electrical devices can cause repeated false alerts.
Many radar detectors can receive multiple bands at once but only display the strongest signal. That’s not the case with the Uniden R3, as this unit displays multiple bands at the same time. The full-color OLED display is bright and easy to read, and it features multiple display options. It also features GPS marking, which allows you to pre-set a location at the touch of a button.
Overall, the Uniden is an excellent choice in the high-end radar detector market. It’s a simple unit that works well, and it’s ideal for anyone who wants a higher-end radar detector without too many bells and whistles.
Uniden R3 Key Features
- Extremely long-range reception
- Affordable for its class
- Full-color and readable OLED display
- GPS marking with location preset button
1. Uniden R7 Extreme Long-Range Radar and Laser Detector
The R7 is one of Uniden’s top-of-the-line radar detectors. It features a simple ad user-friendly design without any unnecessary complications. This unit is one of the best multi-directional units on the market today, and it makes an excellent driving companion for long and short trips.
This radar detector has an angled display that points towards the driver. This makes it easy to read even when it’s mounted in the center of the windshield.
This model attaches to the windshield using a single large suction cup when purchased with the Smart Hardware Kit. The single suction cup mount provides superior grip and keeps the device stable on rough terrain. The display is backlit and features multicolor strength bars and indicators. The letters and numbers are bold and easy to read.
This unit also has multiple radar detection features, which allows you to detect multiple types at once. It features a direction arrow and GHz reading as well. Buttons and voice alert controls are located at the top of the unit.
Overall, the Uniden R7 Extreme Long-Range Radar and Laser detector is the best no-nonsense plug-and-play device. It’s extremely easy to use, which makes it the perfect starter device for anyone willing to spend a lithe more for superior quality.
Uniden R7 Key Features
- Angled display for driver readability
- Multi-directional detection
- Strength and GHz display
- Multiple simultaneous radar detection
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Radar Detector False Alarms
False alarms are a common issue with radar detectors, as there are a surprising number of machines that emit radar on familiar brands. Often, false alarms are caused by other vehicles with advanced features such as adaptive cruise control or blind-spot monitoring. Most radar interference comes from K band frequencies, though it also happens on KA and X bands (albeit less frequently).
Types of Radar
Radar detectors can pick up several types of radar, which are known as ‘bands.’ You can think of radar bands a lot like radio stations, and like radios, you need a special receiver to pick them up. The three main types of speed-detection radars are X band, K band, and KA-band.
What is X-Band Radar?
X-band radar is the oldest and least common kind of speed detection radar. This band is considered obsolete in the United States, though it’s still used occasionally by some departments. The vast majority of old and new radar detectors can detect X band radar. X band radar has a frequency of between 8.0GHz and 12 GHz, and police X band radar usually operates at 10.51Hz.
What is K Band Radar?
K band radar is a newer and more common type of law enforcement radar. K band operates between 181Hz and 27GHz, which is considered frequency’ radar. Some less expensive radar detectors and older units cant detect K band radar, which leaves drivers vulnerable in most parts of the United States. Law enforcement K band radar usually operates between 24.125GHz and 24.15GHz.
What is KA Band Radar?
KA band radar is the highest-frequency radar used by law enforcement and speed cameras. This radar operates between 33.4Gliz and 36.0GHz. Like K band radar, most old or inexpensive radar detectors cannot pick up KA band signals, which is why it’s important to invest in up-to-date coaching. KA band signals produce fewer false alarms, as very few non-police devices emit this frequency.
Lidar (Infrared Laser) Detectors
Lidar, also known as laser radar, is infrared (IR) technology used in place of standard radar for speed detection. Lidar has become more common over the last decade, and it’s harder to detect than radar. Thankfully, many modern radar detectors also feature infrared lidar detection.
About THE AUTHOR
I rebuild & restore classic cars and trucks when I'm not researching and writing about all things automotive. My current project is a 1978 Ford.Read more about Joshua Weinstein