What Is The Best Radar Detector For Your Car? – 2020 Edition

Best Radar Detector - Featured Image

If you’re looking to pick up a cool upgrade for your car that will help you save money on speeding ticket issues, a radar detector might be the right choice for you.

In this article, we’ll walk through five of the best radar detectors on the market so that you will understand what to purchase when it comes time to avoid getting tickets.

What Should I Look For In A Radar Detector?

Now that you know a bit about the top radar detectors on the market, what should you be looking for before making your purchasing decision?

Laser Detection

This feature will guarantee that you won’t be falsely confident in your ability to avoid radar guns because it will inform you when there are alternative speed detection systems in use.

If you don’t have built-in laser detection, you’ll still get pulled over for speeding. Furthermore, if you can’t detect lasers, you’ll be vulnerable to passive speed detection systems which use lasers.

So, active radar speed detectors won’t be able to detect your speed, but you still might get a speeding ticket in the mail if you get lazed, and they get a photo of your license plate number.

Importantly, don’t trust any detector which claims to have the ability to detect lasers beyond line of sight — these are physically impossible with consumer grade hardware.

Strong mounting system

Weak mounting systems make for a hassle when it comes time to calibrate the detector, and there are many examples of great mounts on the market.

Finally, if you expect to face a high level of police radar activity on a regular basis, you should get a radar detector which has a built-in radar detector detector.

While this is a rare feature, knowing that the local police are trying to detect people who are using radar detectors provides you with valuable information: the police are aggressive against speeders.

You won’t necessarily have to pay anything extra for the feature, and you’ll get a bigger benefit to your peace of mind in detecting police radar as a result.

Radar Detector Reviews 2020

Without wasting any time, let’s jump right into the reviews!

Our #1 Choice
Whistler Easy to Read Display Radar Detector
Runner-up
Beltronics RX65 Red Professional Series Radar/Laser Detector with RadarMount Car Mirror Mount...
Honorable Mention
Escort Passport S55 High Performance Radar/Laser Detector with RadarMount Car Mirror Mount Bracket...
Whistler Easy to Read Display Radar Detector
Beltronics RX65 Red Professional Series Radar/Laser Detector with RadarMount Car Mirror Mount...
Escort Passport S55 High Performance Radar/Laser Detector with RadarMount Car Mirror Mount Bracket...
Price not available
Price not available
$395.00
Our #1 Choice
Whistler Easy to Read Display Radar Detector
Whistler Easy to Read Display Radar Detector
Price not available
Runner-up
Beltronics RX65 Red Professional Series Radar/Laser Detector with RadarMount Car Mirror Mount...
Beltronics RX65 Red Professional Series Radar/Laser Detector with RadarMount Car Mirror Mount...
Price not available
Honorable Mention
Escort Passport S55 High Performance Radar/Laser Detector with RadarMount Car Mirror Mount Bracket...
Escort Passport S55 High Performance Radar/Laser Detector with RadarMount Car Mirror Mount Bracket...
$395.00

1. Whistler XTR-130 Laser Radar Detector

The Whistler XTR-130 Laser Radar Detector is a multifunctional detector which will help you detect police radar no matter the environment. Thanks to its four detection modes you’ll never need to worry about confusing background noise for a radar signal.

Pros

  • Multiple sensitivities
  • Easy to understand cues
  • Unobtrusive aesthetic

Cons

  • Built-in mounting kit isn’t very effective
  • May drain car battery

This radar detector’s four modes are its strongest points. There are three separate city modes, and one highway mode. The modes vary in the strength of the signal that triggers an alert.

The city modes offer you an initial quiet alert of a radar signal in the area — perhaps an automatic garage door opener — then give you a follow-up alert when the signal gets stronger instead of weaker.

This means that you won’t need to worry about false alerts including false positives, or, worse, false negatives. You’ll be kept abreast of all of the radar activity in the area, and notified more urgently if there is a radar source which doesn’t seem to be going away.

The detector also has various quiet modes which don’t make any noise at all. There’s also a voice alerts mode where you’ll have a narration of the radar in the environment.

2. Beltronics RX65 Red Professional Series Radar Detector

The Beltronics RX65 is a solid radar detector that is a little bit difficult to use despite its powerful feature set, including digital signal processing. With this radar detector, you’ll get a 1-year warranty and a great mounting system too.

Pros

  • Great mounting system
  • Very sensitive detector
  • Good warranty
  • Digital signal processing

Cons

  • Complicated interface
  • No laser detection

The radar detector calibrates itself and has a great digital signal processing suite which allows it to nearly eliminate false alerts. If you decide to switch this setting off, you’ll find that the detector is immensely sensitive, even at long range.

Because the detector is so sensitive, it can detect threats very far out. It can also provide you with false alerts very far out. You should probably stick with the detector’s highway and city settings, although the auto scan setting is also functional.

The detector’s LED screen is very legible, and you’ll know exactly what mode the detector is in and what threats it has detected. This means that it is easier to understand than most radar detectors.

Unfortunately, the radar detector’s buttons are a bit more involved than others. You will need to read the manual to get the most out of this detector.

3. Escort Passport S55 High Performance Radar Detector

The Escort Passport S55 is an all-in-one radar detector and laser detection system which intelligently discriminates between different kinds of speed detecting hardware in a way that makes it easy for you.

Pros

  • Discriminates against false alerts very effectively
  • Multiple types of signal processing and representation
  • Great mounting system

Cons

  • Difficult to configure properly
  • Laser detection system may get the occasional false alerts

The Escort Passport radar detector alerts you only if there is a strong speed-detecting source in your area. This means that you’ll never need to worry about getting false alerts from traffic sensors which aren’t oriented at detecting speed.

You’ll also get a readout explaining the rough strength of the radar source. For laser sources, there isn’t any correlate, but you’ll get a sharp warning. It’s possible for the laser detection to be triggered falsely by other ambient lasers, but there aren’t so many that it is something worth worrying about usually.

This unit also comes with a good mounting mechanism. The only real downsides are that the visual indicators on the unit’s screen are somewhat easy to miss. You can enable audio alerts to make up for this shortcoming.

4. Cobra XRS9370 Performance Radar Detector

If affordability and functionality is something you like to see in the best radar detector, you’ll want to check this one out.

Looks Like This Product Is Currently Sold Out.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Fully functional
  • 360-degree protection

Cons

  • Annoying laser detection sound

The primary appeal to this radar detector is its price. It’s priced for less than $100, so your immediate thought is that there is something wrong with it. It functions well and works as good as we could expect for a radar detector in this price range.

Something we love about this one too is the 360-degree protection. This feature is crucial because it helps detect lasers in all directions. There are some concerns over the detector’s ability to pick up on lasers until the last minute.

When it does pick up the laser, it makes a loud screeching sound, which is enough to send you off the road, wondering what the heck you just heard.

Overall, a solid radar detector at a price point that can fit into almost any budget.

5. Whistler CR90 High-Performance Radar Detector

If you’re seriously determined not to get caught speeding, this radar detector will get the job done. It detects all radar bands of radar used by US police, and it offers 360-degree radar detection so you’ll never have to drive under the speed limit again! (please don’t do that)

Pros

  • Performs great
  • Detects lasers and all radar bands
  • Decent price point
  • 360-degree protection

Cons

  • Too many false alerts

Whistler is well-known for pumping out the best radar detectors, so right off the bat, we’re on board with this one. It’s priced at a decent tag, and it comes packed with a lot of features as well.

First, you get protection against all radars and lasers used by US police. This factor means that no one will ever sneak up on you when you least expect it. The detector also has a decent range, so you’ll have enough warning to slow down when you’re approaching the police.

That said, all of those alerts are not always the most accurate. We noticed that a lot of customers of this radar detector express their discontent with the number of false alerts you get. It’s not much fun speeding when you have to keep slowing down!

6. Uniden R3DSP Long Range Radar Detector

Do you intend on shelling out some serious cash to ensure you never have to pay for a speeding ticket again?

Pros

  • Long range radar
  • Sensitive
  • Uses GPS
  • Highly accurate

Cons

  • Expensive price tag

Sometimes it’s better to put the money in upfront and know that you’re getting the best product money can buy. Uniden is well-known for producing high-quality technology, and this radar detector is one of the best we’ve ever seen.

It uses GPS function, and it has a great range, so you’ll know precisely where the police are and when you need to slow down. There is also a false alerts filter that helps prevent you from slowing down when you don’t need to.

Overall, as you can see, we have a highly functioning and well-performing radar detector here.

7. Valentine One Radar Detector

While this one might look a little funny, it works great. You get external antennae and near-perfect performance across test runs.

Pros

  • Highly functional
  • Powerful antennae
  • 360-degree protection
  • Sensitive

Cons

  • Hefty price tag

If you’re willing to put a little more money up, you can take home one of the best radar detectors on the market. While this option might look a little funny, it gets the job done. It has an externally mounted antenna, which helps increase its range and accuracy.

You also get two antennas, and each one faces a different direction. This factor is entirely unique to this design, and it helps you detect both radar guns and laser guns.

If that wasn’t enough, it also comes with a lifetime warranty so you can send it back at any point, and they will fix whatever is wrong and install the newest software updates, so you never miss out on an upgrade.

Radar Detector FAQs

Are Radar Detectors Legal?

In most of the United States, radar detectors are legal. In some niche circumstances — like at military bases or on federal property — they may be illegal or regulated more tightly than elsewhere.

You should look up the legality information specific to your state, but, in most cases, you won’t have to worry about equipping a radar detector. No matter the state, you can legally possess a radar detector if it is not equipped on your car.

Is A Mounting Bracket Necessary?

A mounting bracket might not be necessary depending on the kind of car you have. Some cars can comfortably fit a loose radar detector on top of the dash and still experience 360-degree coverage of detection without any issues.

Most cars will probably need a mounting bracket, however. A bracket prevents the detector from sliding around the car, and guarantees that the detector is held in the best spot for wide coverage.

Will The Police Know That I Am Using A Detector?

The police may know that you are using a radar detector. Some police departments utilize radar detector detectors which can see when people are using a radar detector. Most departments won’t have this specialized equipment, however.

Typically, the police will not know you are using a radar detector unless they see the detector itself mounted in your car.

Should I Get Expert Installation?

Some best radar detectors offer expert installation packages. These packages typically mount the detector in your car, then test its coverage with pings from an active radar gun. Sometimes, these packages can be very expensive.

For the most part, the installation packages are only suitable for cars with odd bodies that may have heavy parts obstructing critical coverage areas. These cars require a greater standard of testing before you can be confident in the detector’s coverage.

Most cars don’t need expert installation, though it may improve the results that they experience with the detector.

Do Radar Detectors Detect All Types Of Speed Measurements?

No, radar detectors are not universally capable of detecting all speed measurements. Especially more recently, police have started to use laser-based speed detection methods which cannot be detected by a radar detector.

These new methods are not yet widespread, however. Furthermore, there are certain advanced radar detectors which incorporate laser detection.

Are Radar Detectors Easy To Use?

Most radar detectors are easy to use once you understand the information which they convey. At a minimum, radar detectors provide you with a visual cue when your car has been hit by a radar gun.

You shouldn’t need to perform any setup for your radar detector beyond plugging it in and mounting it on your dashboard. Once you turn on the detector, you can pick which mode it uses by pushing the buttons on the detector.

Some detectors are more minimalistic with their interfaces than others. The more buttons your radar detector has, the easier it will be to use. Detectors with only one or two buttons may seem easy until you have to push them a bunch of times to get the result you want.

Some radar detectors require calibration while on the road. Calibration should be as simple as pushing a button and waiting for the detector to tell you that calibration is complete. You may need to calibrate your detector frequently, so auto-calibrating models are preferable.

Factors to Consider in The Best Radar Detector

You might understand what the best radar detector does, but it can be challenging to choose one from the other. In this section, let’s break down some of the most important factors to keep in mind when choosing the right radar detector for you.

Price

As with most purchases, you should always keep your budget in mind. The cost of a radar detector can quickly add up, and if you don’t have it, you don’t have it, right? There are plenty of options in varying price ranges outlined above. They generally fluctuate in price from as low as $50 to as much as $500.

Installation

Keep in mind how challenging it will be to install it and the method of doing so. Some radar detectors attach to your windshield while others sit on the dash. If you’re the kind of person who likes to keep newspapers from 1998 on your dash, you might want to get one that suctions to your windshield with suction cups.

It’s essential to keep the size of the device in mind. If you’re driving a compact car, make sure it’s not so large that it obstructs your vision and puts you in danger.

Lasers/Radar

We call them radar detectors because they’re meant to identify speed radar guns that police departments use to track down speeders. That said, many of the best radar detectors can also detect lasers, but they’re generally more expensive. It might be useful to find out if your local police department uses laser detectors. Still, many small police forces don’t have the money or resources for it.

360 Degree Protection

We believe in getting 360-degree protection if you plan on purchasing a radar detector. The reason is that this feature will protect you from radar detectors at all angles. While it might not seem necessary to know if there is a cop beside or behind you, you’ll quickly find out how important the feature is when it’s too late.

Brett Gordon
 

The engine behind editing at Dig My Ride and the brains behind its build. During the day, Brett is a thirty-something dude from SoCal climbing the corporate ladder, but by night, he spends his time contributing to the online world of automotive tech & trends.