Best Radar Detectors (2024 Ultimate Guide)

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Table of Contents

Best Radar Detectors of 2024: Crash Course

  • The Escort MAX 360 MKII, Uniden R8, and Cobra RAD 700i are among the best radar detectors in 2024.
  • Some of the best radar detectors are more affordable than you might think.
  • Where you live and how you drive will determine which radar detector is right for you.

Automoblog Review & Evaluation Process

Automoblog is a member of the Radar Detector and Countermeasures Forum to ensure truth and accountability when covering radar detectors. Whether we receive a radar detector from a manufacturer to review or purchase it with our own money, there are four main points we consider, listed below. Our primary driving areas with any radar detector include the Detroit metro and the Ohio Turnpike.

  • False Alert Filtering: While no radar detector is entirely immune to false alerts, units that prioritize a quiet drive, alerting only when absolutely necessary, receive an extra feather in their cap during our review process. In and around Detroit, we deliberately drive past shopping plazas, industrial areas, places with digital signage, and other locations with sources of non-police radar while evaluating a given radar detector. These locations can and will produce a false K band alert. Some radar detectors on this list do better than others, as they have embedded technology to address and mitigate alerts caused by non-police radar.   
  • Range Detection: During our radar detector evaluations, we drive roadways in the Detroit area with regular high-volume traffic. Our go-to roads include Woodward Avenue, Telegraph Road, I-696, and M10 during afternoon rush hour. In these areas, we are looking for the most advanced notice possible of police radar. We pick high-volume traffic times as law enforcement vehicles in Michigan are often nondescript Ford Explorers and Chevy Tahoes, which blend in easily in traffic and can be hard to spot visually. Our friend Vortex Radar from the Radar Detector Forum has the most comprehensive range testing, documenting everything in charts and graphs. We often follow his guidelines when it comes to range detection.
  • Price & Value-Added Features: We look at the cost of each radar detector versus the amount of features it offers for the money. Examples of value-added features include Bluetooth connectivity, segmentation filters, and directional arrows.
  • Ease of Use: The best radar detectors should provide a seamless user experience, whether you are a first-time user or have owned one for years. Ease of use becomes more critical in our evaluation process as the price and feature set of the radar detector in question increases.

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Top Radar Detectors of 2024: Overview

The best radar detectors offer long-range detection, solid false alert filtering, and a seamless user experience while helping you avoid a speeding ticket. Radar detectors can sometimes be a “you get what you pay for” type of purchase. However, try not to confuse that with a “go big or go home” approach, as there are still good options that won’t break the bank.

Below, you will find helpful information on the best radar detectors today, including the advantages and drawbacks of each unit, along with a quick overview of its features.

All the radar detectors here will alert you to X, K, and Ka radar bands, laser guns (or lidar), and MultaRadar CD and CT, written as MRCD and MRCT for short. MultaRadar is often associated with traffic light cameras and other photo enforcement devices.

We own every radar detector listed below and will share our experiences with each. Near the end, we include a brief section on picking the best radar detector for your needs and budget.

In the table below, you’ll find our list of the best radar detectors of 2024.

Brand and Model 2024 Award
Escort MAX 360 MKII Best Overall
Uniden R8 Best for Highway & Open Road Driving
Cobra RAD 700i Most Affordable w/ Better Than Expected Performance
Uniden R4 Best for Smaller Towns & Communities
Radneso DS1 Easiest to Use w/ Simplified Display
Escort MAXcam 360c Best Combo Unit (Radar Detector & Dash Cam)

Best Overall: Escort MAX 360 MKII

The Escort MAX 360 MKII debuted in March 2023 as the successor to the original MAX 360 radar detector, an already solid unit in its own right. An upgraded dual-antenna platform provides increased detection range, while a Blackfin DSP (digital signal processing) chip allows for better false alert filtering.

No matter where we drive or what time of day, we continue to be impressed with the performance of the updated MAX 360 MKII.

Escort MAX 360 MKII Review Scores

Overall Score 92%
Ease of Use 87%
Range Detection 90%
False Alert Filtering 96%
Value-Added Features (Directional Alert Arrows & Drive Smarter app) 95%

Escort MAX 360 MKII Pros & Cons

Pro Con
Stellar false alert filtering. More expensive than others on this list.
Range detection in heavy traffic. Steep learning curve for first-time users.
Pairs with a compatible smartphone app. App capability may not benefit all drivers.

Drive Smarter App

Every Escort radar detector in the MAX family is compatible with the Drive Smarter app, the replacement for the older Escort Live.

When connected to Drive Smarter via Bluetooth, your phone will receive real-time threat notifications in your area, be it a radar source, red light camera, or police patrol, as reported by other Escort owners using the app (i.e., shared alerts). Likewise, you can issue an alert for others via the app if you notice something like a speed trap or stationary patrol car.

In addition to sending and receiving alerts, Drive Smarter lets you adjust a host of settings for the MAX 360 MKII from your phone, including display colors and brightness, sensitivity modes, and more.

Drive Smarter is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On your vehicle’s touchscreen, you will see all of the regular Apple CarPlay or Android Auto features alongside any real-time threat notifications. With Mapbox functionality, Drive Smarter also doubles as a navigation app.

Drive Smarter App Pros & Cons

Pro Con
More situational awareness. Might take a bit to connect.
Can be fun to “play around with.” Runs down your phone battery.
Flags the speed limit in most areas. App capability may not benefit everyone.

Escort MAX 360 MKII: Our Experience

The MAX 360 MKII earns our top spot as the best radar detector of 2024 because it falls somewhere in the middle of Escort’s product lineup. It offers an optimum balance between features and price without sacrificing an ounce of performance. With the MAX 360 MKII, you get an enthusiast’s dose of technology at a more reasonable price.

Detection Range

For example, the Escort Redline 360c has arguably the best detection range of any radar detector from any brand, based on its triple antenna design versus the dual-antenna design of the MAX 360 MKII. Not counting the occasional sale or promotion, the Redline 360c is an $800 unit on average, a full $250 more than the MAX 360 MKII.

Even though the MAX 360 MKII won’t have the same detection range as the Redline 360c, it’s more than enough for us around Detroit. While that additional detection range has benefits, we would prefer to save that $250.

Escort MAX 360 MKII - Best Radar Detectors of 2023
While units like the Redline 360c are at the top of Escort’s product lineup, the MAX 360 MKII, pictured here, offers the best mix of performance for the dollar. You will have long-range detection, tremendous false alert filtering, and a compatible smartphone app for less than other Escort radar detectors. Photo: Alex Hartman.

False Alert Filtering

At one time, the Redline 360c was the only Escort radar detector to boast the Blackfin DSP chip, which gave it the best false alert filtering in Escort’s product lineup. That’s no longer the case, as the updated MAX 360 MKII also employs the Blackfin DSP, giving you the same level of false alert filtering as the higher-priced Escort Redline 360c.

The Blackfin DSP chip analyzes all possible radar sources in the immediate area, determining which are real threats versus false alarms and separating between the two. When the MAX 360 MKII detects a legitimate police radar source, the Blackfin DSP chip presents it on the display screen, showing vital information like signal strength, band types, and frequency.

The Escort MAX 360 MKII takes the top spot on our best radar detectors list because features like the Blackfin DSP make it a trustworthy driving companion.

Full Review

See our full review to learn more about the Escort MAX 360 MKII. In that review, we provide more depth and context on the different features, settings, and technical specs while sharing more about our experience with the radar detector. Likewise, our YouTube video review shows more about how we use the MAX 360 MKII here in Detroit.

Best Detection Range: Uniden R8

When the Uniden R8 debuted at CES in 2022, it had big shoes to fill as the upgrade to the already incredible Uniden R7, still a perennial favorite among radar detector enthusiasts.

The primary difference between the R7 and the R8 is how Uniden built the R8 on an all-new platform. Central to this new platform were two upgraded Low Noise Amplifiers (LNAs for short) to detect police radar sources from farther away compared to the Uniden R7. If you do a lot of highway driving, the R8 is the best radar detector for the job.

Uniden R8 Review Scores

Overall Score 92%
Ease of Use 93%
Range Detection 97%
False Alert Filtering 85%
Value-Added Features (Directional Alert Arrows & All Threat) 93%

Uniden R8 Pros & Cons

Pro Con
Auto sensitivity mode. More false alerts than we would like.
Long-range detection w/arrows. More expensive than others on this list.
Advanced mode offers further customization. Double suction cup mount may wobble.

Uniden R8: Our Experience

The Uniden R8 makes our best radar detectors list because of its long detection range and features that increase situational awareness, like directional alert arrows and the All Threat display. Meanwhile, the Auto sensitivity mode is practical for everyday driving.

Detection Range

This is where all Uniden radar detectors shine, and the R8 is the best in Uniden’s family. If you frequently drive on interstates like I-70, I-80, I-5, or any other road with miles and miles of concrete ahead of you, the R8 is your best friend. On long stretches of road, our R8 has given us at least a mile’s notice, if not more, when a patrol vehicle is ahead.

Twice a year, we drive to Minneapolis from Detroit for a business trip, which gives us time to evaluate products like radar detectors. Our route takes us west across Michigan on I-94, through Chicago, and then up through Wisconsin on I-90 on the way to Minnesota. It’s on these open expanses of road that we appreciate the Uniden R8’s long detection range.

On these longer trips, we run our Uniden R8 in Highway mode, in which the detection of all major radar bands (X, K, Ka, and Laser) goes to full sensitivly. In essence, the R8 can “hear a pin drop” when it comes to detecting police radar on the open road.

Uniden R8 displaying multiple Ka bands via the All Threat feature on I-696 through Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Our Uniden R8 displays multiple Ka bands via the All Threat feature on I-696 through Farmington Hills, Michigan. The upward arrows indicate the radar sources are coming from ahead of us. Photo: Alex Hartman.

All Threat & Auto Sensitivity Mode

With the All Threat feature turned on via the settings menu, the R8 will simultaneously detect up to four radar bands, showing each of them visually on the OLED display. The strongest signal is designated as the priority and will appear front and center, like in the photo above.

Up to three other signals can appear on the left side of the screen in what resembles a little digital chart. This digital chart shows the individual radar band, its signal strength, and direction. The advantage here is how the Uniden R8 alerts you to multiple police radar sources in the same area at the same time.

Although we use the Highway sensitivity mode for longer trips, in and around the Detroit metro, we opt for Auto sensitivity. It’s a speed-dependent mode, automatically switching back and forth between City and Highway modes at a pre-set speed (you can set that speed in five mph increments between 10 and 60 mph in the settings menu).

Full Review

See our full review to learn more about the Uniden R8. We also have a quick and helpful YouTube video that summarizes the R8’s main features.

Best Budget Option: Cobra RAD 700i

The Cobra RAD 700i hits that sweet spot between performance and price, making it an excellent choice if you want to purchase your first radar detector or upgrade from an older unit. As the latest in Cobra’s RAD family of radar detectors, the 700i easily outpaces the older 480i and 380.

Perhaps more importantly, the RAD 700i gives other higher-priced radar detectors on this list, like the Uniden R4 and Radenso DS1, a run for the money.

Cobra RAD 700i Review Scores

Overall Score 90%
Ease of Use 94%
Range Detection 84%
False Alert Filtering 95%
Value-Added Features (Drive Smarter app) 88%

Cobra RAD 700i Pros & Cons

Pro Con
Overall ease of use. Limited feature set.
Good false alert filtering. Less robust material construction.
Strong performance for the dollar. App capability may not benefit everyone.

Cobra RAD 700i: Our Experience & Escort Comparison

Under Cedar Electronics are two popular manufacturers of radar detectors: Cobra Electronics and Escort Radar. And under each of those is a “family” of radar detectors: RAD (Cobra) and MAX (Escort). Cobra is the more budget-focused brand, while Escort is the premium nameplate.

Cobra’s RAD family doesn’t have the same performance muscle, robust material construction, or detailed feature set as Escort’s MAX family, but the price point is much more affordable.

As Cobra and Escort are under Cedar Electronics, they share some similar features, like compatibility with the Drive Smarter app outlined above, but otherwise, there is a clear divide between the two product lines. The Cobra RAD 700i, however, closes that gap in some key areas, offering a near Escort level of performance for a fraction of the cost.

For example, the RAD 700i borrows certain technical aspects from Escort’s MAX family, like digital signal processing for better false alert filtering (DSP for short).

Approaching a digital speed limit sign in Northville, Michigan, with our Cobra RAD 700i.
Approaching a digital speed limit sign (blue dot) in Northville, Michigan, with our Cobra RAD 700i. Usually, radar detectors, regardless of the brand, will alert on a K band false here. We have been pleasantly surprised at the level of false alert filtering the RAD 700i provides, given its more affordable price point. Photo: Danielle Anthony.

False Alert Filtering

While the RAD 700i does not have the same level of DSP integration as the MAX 360 MKII, our top pick, it still punches above what its $250 retail price would suggest. In our experience, the RAD 700i has better false alert filtering than the Uniden R4 and Radenso DS1, both of which are on this best radar detectors list, and both of which are more expensive than the RAD 700i.

Through metro Detroit and across the Ohio Turnpike en route to Sandusky on two occasions in the summer of 2023, the RAD 700i didn’t flinch when passing common false alert sources like digital road signage. Much to our continued surprise, the RAD 700i stays quiet when driving past most shopping plazas (automatic doors can trigger a false alert for most radar detectors).

Additional false alert filtering comes from Cobra’s proprietary IVT Filter, or “in-vehicle technology” filter. The IVT Filter decreases the number of false alerts caused by collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control systems of other vehicles, which are radar-based.

Full Review

See our full review to learn more about the Cobra RAD 700i. In that review, we talk further about DSP and false alert filtering and share more about our experience with the Drive Smarter app. 

Best For Smaller Towns: Uniden R4

Just as the R8 on this list was the successor to the R7, the Uniden R4 is the follow-up to the trusty Uniden R3. As such, the newer R4 has advantages over the R3 when it comes to detection range, false alert filtering, and available features. In so many words, the Uniden R4 takes everything good about the Uniden R3 and turns it up a notch.

For quick trips around the suburbs of Detroit or any smaller towns in Michigan, we usually reach for our R4.

Uniden R4 Review Scores

Overall Score 90%
Ease of Use 94%
Range Detection 93%
False Alert Filtering 86%
Value-Added Features (All Threat) 88%

Uniden R4 Pros & Cons

Pro Con
Updated platform. False alerts here and there.
Auto sensitivity mode. Some bland display colors.
Good range detection. No directional alert arrows.

Uniden R4: Why We Like It For Smaller Towns

While the Uniden R4’s older brother, the R8, is our preferred choice for highway driving, the R4 is our top pick for driving around the suburbs of Detroit or any smaller community. In these areas, we can live without some of the features offered by more expensive radar detectors.

Directional Arrows & Smartphone Apps

The Drive Smarter app for Escort and Cobra radar detectors is great in metro Detroit, where there are apt to be more users in the area generating real-time alerts. By contrast, when we drive in less populated places, there are, by nature, fewer users on the app. It’s not that the app is worthless in smaller towns, but its value isn’t the same as being in a big city.

It’s similar with directional alert arrows. Indeed, they have their benefits, but it’s a feature reserved for more expensive radar detectors. In a larger metropolitan area, they are helpful in heavy traffic when you can only see so far ahead or behind you. However, if you live in a smaller community, chances are you know where the local police sit most of the time (bank parking lot, near the grain elevator, high school baseball field, and so on).

If that’s the case where you live, you really only need a notification that the officer is sitting there and not necessarily if they are ahead of you or behind you. That said, even though the Uniden R4 doesn’t have directional arrows, it may not matter in a small town.

Uniden R4 2 scaled
The Auto sensitivity mode will adjust between City and Highway modes automatically based on your speed. While we like the Uniden R4 for driving in smaller towns, we also trust it on the open road. Good range detection is a hallmark of Uniden radar detectors, and R4 is no exception. Photo: Carl Anthony.

The Right Balance

If your primary driving takes place in a smaller town, consider the Uniden R4. While you won’t have directional alert arrows like the R8 or a smartphone app like Escort and Cobra offer, you will have the right balance of performance for the price. In other words, with the R4, you won’t be “overbuying” when it comes to having the best radar detector for where you live.

And for those longer trips on the highways outside of town, the R4 can easily handle the job. The Auto sensitivity mode will make it convenient, adjusting between City and Highway modes automatically based on your speed.

Full Review

See our full review to learn more about the Uniden R4. In that review, we cover some additional aspects, including the Auto Mute Memory function, All Threat feature, and Memory Quota bank. We also have a quick two-minute YouTube video on the R4 that summarizes the main features.

Easiest To Use: Radenso DS1

The Radenso DS1 is a straightforward radar detector with a multi-color OLED display, auto lockout capability, red light and speed camera alerts, and long-range Ka band detection.

We like how the DS1 prioritizes a simple and streamlined user experience without totally sacrificing performance and reliability. In terms of performance, our biggest critique of the Radenso DS1 is an unexpectedly high number of K band false alarms.

Radenso DS1 Review Scores

Overall Score 89%
Ease of Use 97%
Range Detection 90%
False Alert Filtering 80%
Value-Added Features (Segmentation Filters) 88%

Radenso DS1 Pros & Cons

Pro Con
Good Ka band detection range. Price may seem high.
Simple display & settings menu. No directional alert arrows.
Segmentation filters for added customization. Frequent false K band alerts.

Radenso DS1: Our Experience

Like the Uniden R4 above, the DS1 is an excellent “grab and go” radar detector because of its simplicity. It’s another solid choice if you live in a smaller community, but its feature set can handle larger areas, like where we live in Detroit.

In either environment, the DS1 needs minimal setup in order to be effective. While you can experiment later with different segmentation filters, display colors, and alert tones, we like how the DS1 is ready to go right out of the box.

Auto Sensitivity & Threat Display

In Detroit, on roads like M10, I-696, I-94, and Telegraph Road, traffic tends to fluctuate. One moment you are poking along, and the next, you are back up to highway speeds. For these occasions, we like the DS1’s Auto Sensitivity feature. When our speed exceeds 50 mph, Highway mode kicks in automatically, and for anything under 50 mph, the DS1 defaults to City.

The DS1 can simultaneously show up to three radar bands, prioritizing laser and MRCD, followed by Ka, K, and X. Prioritized threats appear front and center, with the other alerts showing in a smaller font (with an accompanying bogey tone) on the left portion of the OLED display.

Radenso DS1 - Best Radar Detectors.
K band false alerts are more frequent than we expected with the DS1. Photo: Alex Hartman.

False Alert Filtering

Ease of use is one of the strongest selling points of the Radenso DS1, but the false alert filtering could stand to improve. On this list of best radar detectors, the DS1 struggles the most with false alert filtering.

To be fair, any radar detector, even top-of-the-line ones, will have the occasional false alert; no radar detector is immune. However, when false alerts interrupt your driving and interject themselves into a conversation with your passenger, that’s a different story.

Driving past a CVS or Kroger tends to whip our DS1 into a frenzy of K band false alerts. On the interstate, nearly every road construction zone or digital sign will cause the DS1 to false.

This experience with the DS1 is discouraging, given its retail price and how well it delivers in other key areas like Ka detection range, ease of use, and even additional customization options via the settings menu.

Full Review

To learn more about the Radenso DS1, see our full review. In that review, we dive further into the DS1’s segmentation options and auto lockout capability. We also have a quick and informative YouTube video on the DS1 as well.  

Best Combo Unit: Escort MAXcam 360c

The MAXcam 360c is an enhanced version of the Escort MAX 360c radar detector with a 1440p dash camera. As a two-in-one, tech-packed unit, it’s the most expensive on this list, but some may find the dual functionality has its advantages.

The little “c” in the name stands for connected, meaning the MAXcam 360c can connect to Wi-Fi to receive the latest firmware updates (versus a hardwired connection via your laptop). If you run the Drive Smarter app with the MAXcam 360c, you can pair the two via Bluetooth or a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Escort MAXcam 360c Review Scores

Overall Score 90%
Ease of Use (Takes some getting used to with the app) 83%
Range Detection 90%
False Alert Filtering 90%
Value-Added Features (Dash Cam & Directional Alert Arrows) 98%

Escort MAXcam 360c Pros & Cons

Pro Con
Range detection. Most expensive option on this list.
Dual functionality. Might be more than some drivers need.
Emergency recordings. Footage takes work to access “on the fly” vs. a laptop.

Escort MAXcam 360c: Our Experience

If you want to consolidate your radar detectors and dash cams into one portable unit, the Escort MAXcam 360c is the best choice on the market.

The Cobra Road Scout is similar, offering a radar detector and a dash camera, but our feelings are still mixed at best with the Road Scout. Based on our experience, the MAXcam is a better option.

Escort MAXcam 360c Radar Detector

The radar detector portion includes Escort hallmarks like front and rear antennas, directional arrows, and AutoLearn Intelligence, which automatically locks out false fixed-location alerts.

Like the MAX 360 MKII, our top pick on this list, the MAXcam also includes the Blackfin DSP for exceptional false alert filtering, plus two additional and convenient sensitivity modes in Auto No X and Auto Lo K.

We drive in Auto Lo K most of the time, which minimizes the instances of K band falses. The Escort Redline 360c is still the best for range detection, thanks to its triple antenna (two front, one rear) design, but the MAXcam 360c can hold its own. We have no complaints about the MAXcam’s range detection or false alert filtering capabilities.

Escort MAXcam 360c
Our Escort MAXcam 360c receives a user-generated Ka band alert through the Driver Smarter app in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Danielle Anthony.

Escort MAXcam 360c Dash Camera

The 1440p camera is powered by a Sony Starvis sensor that captures about 80 percent more pixels than a 1080p camera. Meanwhile, the Mico SD card houses the dash camera footage in separate, one-minute files on a continuous loop.

During a significant event, like sudden hard braking or a collision, the G-Sensor activates an Emergency Recording mode. Emergency recordings are saved separately, so the continuous loop recording does not overwrite them (with a 30-second buffer to prevent footage before the incident from being lost).

Escort’s Drive Smarter app lets you view and download footage and set additional safety and security measures, including a Mayday Alert where you input an emergency contact (in the event of an impact, a text message is sent to them). The app also stores incident reports to assist with the claims process after an accident. 

You can access, save, and share any recorded footage through the Drive Smarter app, but it’s much easier to do this later on your laptop if you don’t need the footage immediately.

Full Review

Our comprehensive written review of the MAXcam 360c goes through the features and settings menu more in-depth. Likewise, our YouTube video review details a bit more about how we use the MAXcam 360c here in Detroit.

Best Radar Detectors: What to Look For

There are a few key features you will find, regardless of the manufacturer, as you are shopping for a radar detector.

Directional Arrows (aka Directional Alert Arrows)

Radar detectors with a dual-antenna platform (i.e., a front and rear antenna) can produce directional arrows to let you know where the radar source is coming from. Radar detectors with a single, front-facing antenna can still detect police radar but cannot decipher which direction it’s coming from.

Radar detectors with directional arrows provide additional situational awareness as you can confirm whether the radar source is ahead of you or behind you. Given the convenience factor and the addition of an extra antenna, directional alert arrows are a feature reserved for higher-priced radar detectors.

For some, directional alert arrows are a non-negotiable and must-have feature. However, depending on where you drive and how much you want to spend, you might be okay without them. On this best radar detectors list, the Cobra RAD 700i, Uniden R4, and Radenso DS1 are single antenna designs but are still great options even without directional alert arrows.

Segmentation Filters

Some radar detectors allow you to get surgical with different radar bands, particularly Ka, the most common type used by law enforcement today. Segmentation filters, often called “custom sweeps,” can make for a more responsive radar detector by limiting how much of a given radar band it has to scan.  

Two of the most common pre-set segmentation filters from the factory are K and Ka Wide and Narrow. 

Using the Radenso DS1 as an example, its Ka Wide setting scans between 33.399 and 35.700 GHz. Ka Narrow segmentation, by contrast, doesn’t run the entire wave range of Ka, opting for a more focused (or narrow) scan of the frequencies where police radar is most likely to exist, based on the most common types of radar guns used by law enforcement. 

In other words, a radar detector in Ka Narrow segmentation reacts quicker to potential Ka threats because it’s not “looking” at the whole frequency range. Beyond the Wide and Narrow pre-sets, the DS1 has nine other filtered settings or custom sweeps. 

Similarly, Escort’s default Ka Narrow setting for the MAX 360 MKII will scan from 33.700 to 35.600 GHz. However, the MAX 360 MKII offers 10 other Ka Narrow segmentation options or custom sweeps to help dial in the radar detector’s response time based on where you live. 

If you want to experiment with segmentation filters and custom sweeps, Vortex Radar has an excellent guide on the topic. The concern with segmentation is being in sync with where you live. For example, putting your radar detector in Narrow segmentation might cut off frequencies used by police radar guns in your area. If that’s the case, the officer could be pointing right at you, but your radar detector won’t alert.   

Auto Lockouts & Mark Locations

Some radar detector manufacturers may have proprietary terms for this, but the functionality around Auto Lockouts and Mark Locations is the same regardless. Radar detectors rely on a built-in GPS for these features.

There is a mute button on every radar detector you can press to silence and then “lock out” a known false alert. The next time you drive by that location, your radar detector will not audibly alert (although most radar detectors will still show the alert on the display in a grayed-out hue).

As the name of the feature indicates, some radar detectors will automatically lock out a fixed location false alert (like the doors of a CVS) after you drive past it a certain number of times.

By contrast, the Mark Locations feature (sometimes called “User Marks”) is for when you know a particular area is prone to traffic enforcement patrols or other sources of legitimate radar. This can include things like speed traps, red light cameras, or anywhere you know patrol cars are likely to sit.

For example, near DTW on I-275, there is an area where patrol cars frequently hide to catch speeders. We have that location “marked” so that our radar detector notifies us of a potential speed trap each time we drive through that area.

Uniden R8 Memory Quote - Best Radar Detectors.
The Memory Quota feature for the Uniden R8 lets you set the individual number of Mute Memory (or manual lockouts) and User Marks (aka Mark Locations). In total, the R8 can save up to 2,000 points between the two, but you can allocate that one way or another in 50-point increments. Photo: Alex Hartman.

How To Pick The Best Radar Detector For You

How you drive can help determine which radar detector is best for you. If you have a feather foot and only need the occasional gentle reminder of police radar, you can accomplish that with entries like the Cobra RAD 700i and Uniden R4 on this list. Those radar detectors will give you fair warning without a hefty price tag.

By contrast, if you have a lead foot, a higher caliber unit on this list, like the Escort MAX 360 MKII or Uniden R8, might serve you better. Units like that will offer a more extended detection range versus less expensive options, giving you the most advanced warning of police radar and minimizing your chances of a speeding ticket.

Where you live is another consideration. On this best radar detectors list, the Uniden R4 offers the right blend of features and performance for the dollar if you drive in less populated areas. By contrast, if you live in a heavily populated urban area, the expanded capability of something like the Escort MAX 360 MKII or MAXcam 360c might be more beneficial.

This isn’t to say that you can’t drive with a more basic radar detector in the city or a high-end unit in a smaller town. It’s more to say that if you purchase a higher-end radar detector, make sure you can take full advantage of and use the additional features that come with the higher price.

Best Radar Detectors: Conclusion

This best radar detectors list will help you decide if you are shopping for a new unit. Every radar detector listed here is a good pick, although one might be better suited for you depending on where you live, how you drive, and how much you want to spend. 

Although radar detectors are a “get what you pay for” type of purchase, that doesn’t mean you need to buy the most expensive one. On this list of best radar detectors, the Cobra RAD 700i and Uniden R4 deliver substantial value for the money despite being priced lower than some of the other entries.

At the end of the day, radar detectors can be a lot of fun to drive with. Let this list be your guide, and if you get something new and want to share your experiences with us, we would love to hear from you on the Radar Detector Forum.  

Carl Anthony is the Managing Editor of Automoblog and the host of AutoVision News Radio and AutoSens Insights. As a respected automotive industry thought leader, Carl has appeared on numerous podcasts and radio shows, including Wrench Nation, Cars Yeah, The Car Doctor, and Brains Byte Back, in addition to appearing as a regular contributor on MotorMouth Radio on WHPC 90.3 FM. His work can also be seen and heard 24/7 on the Automoblog YouTube channel.

Best Radar Detectors FAQ

Are Radar Detectors Legal?

Using a radar detector in a privately owned passenger vehicle is legal in the U.S., with the exception of Virginia and Washington D.C. Radar detectors are illegal in commercial vehicles. See this guide to radar detector laws for all 50 U.S. states if you have additional questions.

How Do Radar Detectors Work?

While proprietary technology can differ between each radar detector manufacturer, think of a standard radar detector in terms of receiving and deciphering.

Every radar detector has a “horn” or antenna (sometimes more than one) and an internal microprocessor. The antenna picks up or receives the police radar gun, and the microprocessor deciphers it, ultimately showing on the display screen important info like signal strength and band type.

Radar detector manufacturers build on that basic principle with their own hardware and software to achieve increased detection range with fewer false alerts.

Will My Radar Detector Alert to Laser Guns?

Yes, all radar detectors will alert to police laser guns, meaning your radar detector is also a laser detector by default.

Some radar detectors are compatible with an accessory called laser shifters, but those are different from laser jammers, which are illegal in some states. Police laser guns use a technology called lidar, which stands for light detection and ranging.

What Is The Best Radar Detector For Me?

The best radar detector for you will depend on where and how you drive and how much you want to spend.

If you love having the latest and greatest gadgets, you might enjoy the features a high-end unit will provide. By contrast, if you only need a gentle reminder of police radar in the area, you can find something more basic but still of good quality.

I Saw a Police Car, Why Didn’t My Radar Detector Alert?

Sometimes, a patrol car will have its radar gun off, meaning there is nothing for the radar detector to alert to. Traffic officers also use an enforcement strategy called “Instant-On” radar, where they only use their radar gun at certain times (think like the storied image of the officer on the motorcycle hiding behind the billboard).

If this happens, traffic officers will only target one vehicle at a time. Most high-quality radar detectors will alert to Instant-On radar with plenty of advanced notice, although it’s still possible to get a ticket via Instant-On if you are not careful.