Best Radar Detector 2020: Top 5 Reviewed Radar Detectors

Learn about the best radar detectors and negate the chance of that next speeding ticket with our list of top picks.

In order to make our list of best radar detectors of 2020, each unit had to match or exceed the following criteria: dual radar antennas, superior range capabilities, false positive filtering, GPS, auto sensitivity adjustment, and radar detection protection.

As an added plus, we also sought out a model that could block laser traps, which can’t be detected but rather thwarted.

What is the top radar detector for your particular driving needs? Whether you are on the highway or in the city, the latest radar detectors come equipped with app compatibility, new customization options, and a longer range than older models. Here are some of the best options around.

Top 5 Best Radar Detectors Compared

 #1  Escort Max360 – Top Pick/Best AutoLearn Technology

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Max360 provides 360 degrees of protection (hence its name), auto learns where the false positives are for your daily commutes via GPS, and has a fairly intuitive iPhone app.

Pros
  • Remarkable range and responses time
  • The GPS AutoLearn remembers spots with false alerts
  • Great design
Cons
  • Pricey compared to its competitors

One of the best radar detector 2020 is the Max360, offering all around protection, easy setup and an intuitive smartphone app. After using the Max360 for a few weeks, I can honestly say it’s one of the best radar detector on the market. It’s bordering on perfect, and the price, while a bit high, is easily justifiable, since Escort will pay for your first ticket, if you do get one while using it.

 #2  Escort iX Long Range – Best Escort Radar Detector

WHY WE LIKE IT: If the 9500ci Enhanced is a bit beyond your budget (don’t feel bad), then consider the Escort iX as it performs on a comparable level but without laser jammers and is not remotely mounted.

Pros
  • Alerts are clear and easy to understand
  • Quick release magnetic mount
  • Able to filter X-band and Ka-band while remaining in Auto modes
Cons
  • Price is a little high
  • Radar range isn’t quite as long as Max 360
  • Control buttons are too small

The Escort iX does it all, except jam lasers. It has superior radar and laser range made possible by front and rear facing antennas for 360 degree protection, a digital signal processor that helps filter out false alarms, and features speed based sensitivity so that when you’re driving around a parking lot at low speeds the radar detector will ignore things like automatic doors. And just like the 9500ci Enhanced, the iX comes loaded with the Defender red light and speed camera database to help sound alerts of their locations. Last but not least the iX pairs with the Escort Live smartphone app to help recognize speed traps submitted by other drivers using Escort and BEL radar detectors.

 #3  Uniden R3DSP R3 Dsp Extremely Long-Range Radar Detector/Laser Detector with GPS – Best Radar Detector For the Money

WHY WE LIKE IT: Uniden offers some of the best radar detection products on the market, and it’s clear to see why in the R3. With extreme range radar detection and added sensitivity, this radar detector runs laps around speed detection systems.

Pros
  • Extreme range performance
  • Red light camera alerts
  • Undetectable by Spectre Elite
Cons
  • Smaller display

The Uniden R3 offers robust protection at a very reasonable price. It features a sleek and professional design with a colorful OLED displays which is miles ahead of competing products. With this display, you’ll be able to more easily adjust settings on the device and read alerts as they come in.

This radar detector offers 360 degree protection, so you’ll be protected from speed detection devices no matter where they are. And with digital signal processing, you minimize blind spots so the sneakier cruisers can’t catch you by surprise. Finally, the R3 offers red light camera detection, as well as K False and KA False filters to limit interference.

With extended radar detection ranges and a higher level of sensitivity, the Uniden R3 offers comprehensive and reliable protection no matter where you’re driving.

 #4  Escort Passport S55 High Performance Pro Radar and Laser Detector – Best Radar Detector For the Money

WHY WE LIKE IT: Super affordable with plenty of features to keep your speed unreadable.

Pros
  • Durable build
  • Dark mode for better concealment
  • Excellent long-range detection
Cons
  • The mount can be flimsy

At first glance, the Escort Passport S55 doesn’t seem like it would be made by the same company as detectors such as the Escort Max360 and Escort iX Long Range. It features a different design and seems stripped of many of its features, but carries with it a super-affordable price tag.

However, none of this is to say that the S55 isn’t a good radar detector. In fact, it’s super easy to use and comes with digital signal processing (DSP) to increase its range. At a long range, it can detect on radar bands ranging from Superwide Ka to X to K. The S55 can also pick up on laser speed detection.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for something simple, efficient and affordable, consider checking out the Escort Passport S55.

 #5  Escort Passport 9500ci Enhanced – Best Police Radar Detector

WHY WE LIKE IT: If you are looking for the Lamborghini of radar detectors, then you’ve come to the right place. This best rated radar detector comes with all the bells and whistles, including laser jammers, remote mounted radar for discreet installation, false alarm Autolearn to filter out annoying automatic door alerts, and so much more.

Pros
  • Highly accurate
  • Possesses a wide range of features
  • Custom installation makes it easy to hide
Cons
  • Expensive

The 9500ci radar detector is the most robust offering and the priciest. But the top radar detector on the market comes with a hefty price tag as the Passport 9500ci Enhanced will run you close to $2,000 (~$1500 on Amazon). The price is high due to the included laser jammers – which give you the peace of mind knowing that you’ll essentially never get a speeding ticket. Traditional radar detectors without laser jammers have the ability to detect laser only if the vehicle in front of you is being targeted via laser, but if a 5-0 is specifically targeting your vehicle and you don’t have laser jammers – then it’s too late to slow down to avoid a ticket.

One of the neatest features of this system is its AutoLearn capability. The 9500ci uses GPS to remember where false alarms are detected. If a false alarm is detected three times in the same location the detector will not sound off an alarm the fourth time that location is passed. If all that wasn’t enough, the 9500ci takes it a step further by tapping into a national database of red light and speed cameras to alert you of where they’re located to give an extra level of defense against the system.

If you speed (for good reason), this the top radar detector (and laser jammer) system you can buy. That all said, it’s also discrete, so cops won’t spot it from afar even when you’re not using it, which can often further implicate you into a speeding ticket.

Why You Should Buy A New Radar Detector?

The most obvious reason to buy a new radar detector is to have the latest technology available to help lessen the chance of getting a ticket. Older model radar detectors are annoying due to their high occurrence of false alarms, thus conditioning drivers to ignore legitimate threats when they occur. Newer radar detectors use GPS and databases of red light/speed cameras to help alert you of areas and intersections where you should slow down and take caution.

Newer radar detectors also commonly use AutoLearn to weed out automatic doors and similar nuisance alarms when driving around the city, making your driving experience much more enjoyable and anxiety free. Another feature of modern radar detectors is that they integrate with smartphone apps to leverage community based input on speed traps, thereby enhancing the base functionality of the detector to a scale never seen before.

By far the best reason to get a new radar detector is to ensure that your insurance rates don’t sky rocket after getting a speeding ticket. According to Forbes, a single speeding ticket can increase your insurance premiums by up to 22%. Think of a radar detector as insurance against high insurance premiums.

How We Choose the Best Radar Detector

It’s obvious from the list above that there is a bias towards Escort/BEL radar detectors. Originally I included the infamous V1 (Valentine 1), but couldn’t recommend it in good faith as modern radar detectors have left V1 in the dust. From my experience, the V1 encounters an excessive number of false alarms and the current hardware does nothing to mitigate them the way Escort does with AutoLearn.

The following are the criteria for selecting a modern radar detector:.

  1. Dual radar antennas – (front/rear)
    Not all radar detectors use two antennas but it’s a plus.
  2. Range
    All of the detectors mentioned above demonstrate a superior radar/laser range (Radartest.com has a lot of data on ranges).
  3. False Alert Filtering
    Using digital signal processors & AutoLearn.
  4. GPS
    Since photo enforcement is prevalent, you need a GPS based radar detector that cross references a database of speed/red light cameras with your GPS location to help warn you of their locations.
  5. Automatic Sensitivity Adjustment
    At lower speeds sensitivity is dialed back to prevent the radar from detecting nuisance signals like automatic doors.
    Radar Detector Detector Protection
    Police in Virginia may use RDD (Radar Detector Detector) devices like the Spectre to detect the use of illegal radar detectors. Most radar detectors made today are immune to Spectre detection but it’s a good idea to check your radar detector if you’re doing any driving in Virginia or Canada.
  6. A Plus
    Laser Jammers (Also referred to as ‘Shifters’). Traditional radar detectors that have laser detection depend on the cars ahead being targeted by laser to alert you. But if there are no vehicles ahead of you and a police officer targets your vehicle via laser, then it’s probably too late and you’ll get a ticket. However, if you are willing to invest the money and are interested in full and almost guaranteed ticket prevention, then laser shifters are the way to go. What is the best radar detector for the money?

Why You Should Trust Me

I’m an automotive engineer and the founder of CarSumo, and have used just about every radar detector brand on the market today, including but not limited to Cobra, Valentine and Escort radar detectors.

If you’re wondering why the Valentine V1 didn’t make sure list, it’s because it lacks the essential features that a modern detector has, such as GPS, false alert filtering, AutoLearn, and Smartphone integrations. Moreover, you have to purchase a separate dongle to make it compatible with your Android or iOS device.

What Else to Think About

It’s important to know that radar detectors are illegal in Virginia, Washington D.C and U.S Military bases. So if you plan on using one in any of the aforementioned states, I suggest purchasing our #1 pick, which is concealed upon installation. Sure, it’s expensive, but the opportunity cost to use another model, which can be seen, will likely net out at a greater cost (i.e. fines).

That all being said, speeding is illegal, so in effect you’re still breaking the law, just avoiding the punishment. To that end, while speeding may seem justifiable in order to get from one point to the next faster, there is no piece of technology that can reverse an accident or worse, death. So we have to suggest practicing caution while exceeding the posted speed limit and using sage judgement when leveraging the power of a radar detector.

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Chris Stobing

Chris Stobing is a writer and blogger from the heart of Silicon Valley. Raised around tech from birth, he's had an interest in PC hardware and networking technology for years, and has come to Gadget Review to contribute his knowledge on both.

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