Best Radar Detectors 2023 – Forbes Vetted

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A radar detector can help you evade police who are actively looking for speeders. And thanks to a slew of modern features, the best radar detectors can also improve your situational awareness so you can be smarter, sharper and more alert on the road. The best radar detectors give you the upper edge against those dreaded speeding tickets, making it a win-win for you and your wallet.

Many radar detectors monitor both the active police radar bands—such as our top radar detector pick, the Uniden R8—and the lasers police departments use to measure speeders. Some detectors even know about red light cameras and permanently mounted speed cameras, and can warn you accordingly with tonal, displayed or even spoken alerts. Based on our research and testing, we’ve rounded up the best radar detector options for your vehicle.

Power: 12-volt vehicle power cord | Display: OLED | Size: 5 x 4 x 1.4 inches | Mount: Single and dual suction bracket

Best for: Protecting against speed traps using a detector with a stealthy design.

Uniden’s new R8 ranks among the very best radar detectors money can buy. It delivers an excellent balance of features at an affordable price (that’s less than one average speeding ticket). It supports all the radar bands currently in use in the U.S., including the MSCD/MRCT MultaRadar frequency modulated radars and lasers. The R8 goes beyond indicating the signal strength of the detected radar signal. It also displays an arrow to show the signal’s origin—be it in front, behind or off to either side and can be accompanied by voice alerts.

The R8 also includes GPS. Because the detector knows where it is, it can alert you to otherwise impossible-to-detect red light and speed cameras. The device includes free database updates and you can mark up to 2,000 locations of common false alarms. This makes your drive quieter with less stressful pings along your route. Use the bright OLED screen to read alerts, but you can also opt for tone- or voice-based alerts. Unless you’re willing to spend around $800 for the Escort Redline 360c, the R8 offers an excellent collection of features and good value for the investment. This model also offers Bluetooth with mobile app compatibility.

Pros:

  • Supports all radar bands and laser
  • Built-in GPS
  • Easy-to-understand and bright OLED display

Cons:

  • Slightly taller than the R7


MOST POPULAR

Power: 12-volt vehicle power cord | Display: OLED | Size: 4.3 x 2.8 x 1.3 inches | Mount: Suction windshield or dashboard mount

Best for: Avoiding speed traps without spending a fortune.

If you look, you can find no-name brand units on Amazon for under $100—but we don’t recommend them. The Cobra RAD 408i doesn’t offer the most powerful or feature-rich radar features you can buy, but for the price, it does its job by detecting the traditional X, K, Ka and laser bands. You don’t get MultaRadar, and there’s no GPS on board, so you don’t get some special features like sensitivity-based on-vehicle speed. However, you’ll get IVT filtering for eliminating false alarms.

This model also provides red light and speed camera warnings thanks to new updates via an integrated Bluetooth connection. It also has both front and rear radar detection (but it doesn’t show arrows to indicate the direction of the threat). Is it the most powerful model out there? Not by a long shot. But we found it offers the best collection of features you can buy for the price.

Pros:

  • Front and rear detection
  • Works with a mobile app
  • IVT filtering for eliminating false alarms

Cons:

  • Lacks built-in GPS

Best Features

Power: 12-volt vehicle power cord | Display: Multi-color OLED | Size: 1.3 x 3.4 x 5.1 inches | Mount: Suction cup mount

Best for: A driver who wants the absolute latest and most powerful technologies built into their radar detector.

For anyone who spends a considerable amount of time driving, the Escort Redline 360c could become the most valuable driving tool at your disposal. It uses a dual antenna system with three low-noise amplifiers to detect across an array of bands including X-band, K-band, Ka-band, KaN1-KaN10/KA-Pop, TSR and Laser. This provides 360-degree directional awareness around your car. What you see on the OLED display can be customized, allowing for a scanning bar, full word and arrows to be seen while you’re driving. You can also get alerts with audible tones or voice—not just when a speed trap is detected, but when you’re driving over the posted speed limit.

If you want to keep the Redline 360c’s database up to date, you’ll need to pay an ongoing subscription fee ($25 per year or $49 for three years). Some of the other perks of the Redline 360c are its superior detection range and sensitivity, as well as its fast alert filtering system. You also get dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity, so when the radar detector is connected to the internet or paired with your phone, it can connect to the Driver Smarter community for live, shared alerts from other detectors and drivers across the country. The AutoLearn feature uses GPS-based technology to learn common routes you travel and will automatically silence false alert locations.

Pros:

  • Advanced detection features
  • Extremely long range
  • Customizable

Cons:


Good Value

Power: 12-volt vehicle power cord | Display: Multi-color OLED | Size: 3.9 x 4.8 x 1.4 inches | Mount: Windshield suction mount

Best for: Discovering speed traps far ahead of your route.

While not as sophisticated as the Uniden R8 or Escort Redline 360c, the slightly older R7 is definitely more affordable. It also offers really good range with built in false alert filtering. You also benefit from dual antennas with directional arrows, so the R7 can detect threats from all four directions—giving your vehicle 360-degree protection with a visual indication of where the threat is coming from. Using GPS technology, the R7 also remembers where stationary false alerts are generated and then mutes them in the future.

You can preload red light and speed camera locations by accessing a free database and taking advantage of the R7’s free firmware updates. Compared to older models, Uniden has incorporated the ability to display four signals at once to improve your overall situational awareness while driving. And if you don’t want to take your eyes off the road to look at the R7’s display, simply turn on the Voice Alerts feature.

Pros:

  • 360-degree vehicle protection
  • Visual directional indicators and customizable alerts
  • Voice mode available

Cons:

  • Features are not as robust as the newer Uniden R8

Power: USB-C 12 volt cord | Display: Multi-color OLED | Size: 4.3 x 3 x 1.2 inches | Mount: Windshield suction mount

Best for: Motorcycles and vehicles without a ton of space.

The Radenso DS1 is made for those smaller windshields, offering a strong magnetic mount with a quick-release trigger for perfect positioning. The 1/4-20 threaded hole allows for third-party mounting so you can get placement just right for your motorcycle. It’s Bluetooth 5.0-compatible with convenient USB connectivity and a 3.5mm headphone jack for easy listening. The corresponding app makes controlling the unit a breeze.

This radar detector boasts a colorful OLED display, an advantage that allows for a user-friendly, color-coded system. You can assign each radar and laser band a different color for easy identification at a glance. This is a unit that is popular for its long-range abilities with automatic GPS lockouts, and auto dimming ensures the brightness is just right, whether it is day or night.  

Pros:

  • Reliable long-range performance
  • High-quality construction
  • Strong suction

Cons:

  • Users report some trouble with muting/alerts

How We Chose The Best Radar Detectors

We combined research with hands-on testing and experience, and we spoke with product experts and industry leaders to help us determine the products that made the cut. We carefully evaluated each radar detector’s design, features, price and more. We also paid attention to what sets each radar detector apart from its competition.


Do Radar Detectors Still Work In 2023?

Yes, radar detectors are still very effective. The best radar detectors can detect even the latest radar and laser devices used by law enforcement. Keep in mind, however, that radar detectors have limitations. For example, they can’t detect speed check techniques that don’t involve some kind of radiation. For example, if an aircraft is used to time your travel between two fixed points, no technology in your car can detect or warn you about that.


Can Police Detect Radar Detectors?

Often, yes—police can detect radar detectors. They can do this in three ways. First, many radar guns can sense radar detectors passing through their firing zone. Second, your own behavior as a driver can often give away the fact that you have a radar detector (for example, if you brake suddenly when illuminated by radar).


Does A Radar Detector Help Against Laser?

No. Most traditional radar detectors do not incorporate laser abilities, so they are useless against laser detection. However, you may be able to find a hybrid model that incorporates both a razer detector and a laser detector in one.


Is A Radar Detector Legal?

Before you buy a radar detector, it is essential to ensure that it is legal in your state. Mississippi, Virginia and the District of Columbia, it’s illegal to use a radar detector. In others, it may be illegal to mount it to your windshield. This includes California, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Before using a radar detector in your vehicle, be sure to check the latest laws of your state.


Are Radar Jammers Legal?

Absolutely not—devices that jam police radar are illegal on all federal roads and within most states. It’s difficult to find and buy one of these devices, but if you do, be aware that you should never attempt to use it on any kind of public road. That said, laser jammers are not yet illegal under federal law, although many states have banned them altogether. We advise not to purchase or use one.


How Much Does A Good Radar Detector Cost?

While it’s easy to find a decent quality radar detector for less than $300, if you want one with the latest technologies that includes laser and Lidar detection (plus a slew of other features), plan on spending upwards of $500. And depending on your driving habits, it may be better to have your selected radar detector directly wired into your vehicle, as opposed to relying on the 12-volt power cord that plugs into your car.


Why Trust Forbes Vetted

The Forbes Vetted tech team brings decades of experience in the technology sector, using our expertise and testing to provide comprehensive, well-rounded reviews that you can trust. A couple of staffers, including Dave Johnson, our deputy editor, have even authored a number of books on the subject. The tech vertical is overseen by Rebecca Isaacs, the consumer tech and electronics editor at Forbes Vetted.

This story in particular was written by Jason R. Rich and Lena Borrelli, who specialize in all things tech-related as a Forbes contributors. Jason has accumulated hours of in-depth product research and has conducted firsthand testing, including for the writing of this story.

Lena has spent several years within the tech space, first working for a web marketing company and now as a freelance writer for her company, LilyMarie Creative. Her work has most recently been published on sites like ZDNET, TIME, ADT and Home Advisor.


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