As seen in:
Escort
Passport 9500ix
Cobra
High-Performance
Beltronics
RX65-Red Professional Series
Whistler
Cr90
Valentine One
Valentine One
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Good

Incredibly impressive set of filtering options, including TSR and speed-based automatic adjustment. Both front and rear antenna mounts.

Affordable, 360-degree laser protection. Two operating modes. Hides itself from some RDDs.

An easy-to-use device with a large LED, effective radar detection, and a low number of false alerts.

Includes user-friendly GPS, traffic signal rejection, a strong highway mode, and two city modes with tiered sensitivity.

Three modes of radar detection. Stellar performance.

Bad

Does not hide itself from RDDs.

Some owner complaints of false alerts.

Occasional owner complaints about durability and customer support.

Owners report more false alarms than they would like.

Some call it "old school" due to its lack of RDD protection and GPS.

Bottom Line

A premium device with many satisfied customers. The best radar detector package on the market.

An easy-to-learn system that delivers reliable, basic service. The best budget deal available.

A budget-priced radar detector with adequate range and performance.

A mid-range product in terms of features, performance, and cost.

An expensive, capable radar/laser detector with a successful product history and a loyal fan base.

How we decide
BestReviews is committed to providing comprehensive and trusted reviews for products that matter to consumers. We do the research to help you save time and money.
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Products received from manufacturers
63
Models Considered
38
Hours Spent
1
Experts Interviewed
192
Consumers Consulted

Best Radar Detectors

Radar detectors provide valuable information about road conditions and help owners avoid expensive fines. The more advanced warning you get on the road, the safer your driving should be. With that in mind, we focus on radar detectors that offer the highest levels of responsiveness and feedback for motorists. Our top five are:

Products we Considered

Escort
Passport 9500ix
Cobra
High-Performance
Beltronics
RX65-Red Professional Series
Whistler
Cr90
Valentine One
Valentine One

Considerations

Alert Functions

The best radar detectors alert you to various types of radar in your vicinity, including laser-based speed detecting systems and other kinds of traps.

Features

In this part of the ratings, we look at the wide array of features you can get with a good radar detector, from signal filtering to auto-learning to GPS.

Real-World Performance

Gadgets and gizmos are great, but what is each radar detector actually like on the road? In this section of our ratings, we examine what users have to say about each product's performance.

Price

Many cheap radar detectors didn't make our top five. However, our shortlist does include models for just about every budget. In this section, we assess the value that each model provides.

Considerations

Alert Functions

Cobra XRS9370 High-Performance Radar/Laser Detector

Considering its low price, the Cobra XRS9370 Radar/Laser Detector offers a surprisingly wide range of alerts. The manufacturer says the Cobra will pick up a total of 14 different bands, including the ultra-fast POP mode used by some radar guns and the KU band that's currently used in parts of Europe. The Cobra can hide itself from radar detector detectors (RDDs) such as the Spectre I, Spectre IV, and VG-2. However, it cannot hide itself from the Spectre IN+. Driver alerts appear in the form of a letter code and a signal strength number ranging from five (strongest) to one (weakest). In addition, different audible alarms increase in frequency as you approach the radar source. Volume is adjustable, and you can choose which alerts you have in operation.

Beltronics RX65-Red Professional Series Radar Detector

Although the Beltronics RX65 Radar Detector doesn't boast the 14-band coverage of the Cobra, it's a perfectly good unit with no obvious shortfalls. The Beltronics can detect the majority of radar and laser guns, including K, Ka, KU, X, and POP. It also protects owners from RDDs of the VG-2 type. The unit includes a large LED (available in red or blue) with several brightness settings. (You could also turn the LED off if you just wanted audible alerts.) When it detects activity, the Beltronics displays both the type of radar band and its signal strength as a bar.

Whistler Cr90 Laser Radar Detector

The Whistler CR90 Laser Radar Detector offers the full range of detection for all current radars and lasers used in the US. (We could not find information regarding its sensitivity to the European KU band.) Unlike some of its competitors, the Whistler does not hide itself from RDDs like Spectres and VG-2s. As is common, the Whistler displays the type of band detected and its signal strength. Conveniently, it beeps with increasing speed as you approach the source. If it finds a POP source, it beeps three times rapidly to identify that particular radar, then returns to its normal alert sound if the contact continues. The biggest advantage the Whistler offers over the Cobra and Beltronics is its GPS. This feature allows the Whistler to be programmed with the location of red light and speed cameras which are otherwise undetectable. A USB port allows you to update this information periodically.

Escort Passport 9500ix Radar/Laser Detector

Not too long ago, one professional reviewer called the Escort Passport 9500ix Radar/Laser Detector "the most intelligent detector in the world." Competitors may now be at a similar level, but the Escort's device recognition remains as good as any in these ratings. Indeed, it is as good as anything on the market! It will pick up all the usual bands, plus POP and KU, and it has GPS for camera locations that aren't normally detectable. With the Escort, you have the ability to "mark" locations you discover by entering them in the 9500ix's memory. You also have the option to subscribe to the manufacturer's DEFENDER database, which regularly updates you on all kinds of speed traps across the US. As for the alerts themselves, owners enjoy a huge variety of visual and audible options. One drawback: the Escort does not hide itself from RDDs.

Valentine One Radar Detector

In terms of what it will detect, the Valentine One Radar Detector is the equal of any top device. It has the ability to pick up all current bands, including KU, POP, and all lasers. However, the area in which the Valentine One really stands out is sensitivity. Thanks to a second antenna, the radar looks both forward and backward. This feature offers several important benefits. First, it can detect up to nine different radars at the same time (depending on the sensitivity you select). If there was a static radar and then a mobile unit just down the highway, for example, you might normally be lulled into thinking an alert was for just one device. The Valentine One helps owners avoid this type of confusion. The second bonus offered by this product: it has arrows that indicate the actual direction from which the radar is coming. As you would expect from a high-end detector, there are all kinds of user-definable settings for alert type and volume. Unfortunately, the Valentine One does not currently offer GPS or any sort of protection from RDDs.

The Cobra will pick up a total of 14 different bands, including the European KU band and the ultra-fast POP mode used by some radar guns.
Considerations

Features

It's fair to look at the Cobra XRS9370 as something of an entry-level model, but owners don't seem to mind the device's lack of complexity. It does offer an interesting "Safety Alert" system that warns of nearby road hazards, railway crossings, and emergency vehicles -- but only those that are fitted with the Cobra's own transmitter. There are two operating modes: "highway" and "city." The latter boasts a less-sensitive setting that attempts to reduce false alarms caused by things like electronic garage door openers. The Cobra also has a single-button mute and a "Stay Set" memory that allows it to remember your choices, even when you're disconnected.

The phrase you often come across with the Beltronics RX65 Radar Detector is "easy to use." It's a straightforward device; four buttons (including a "mute" button) control everything it does. These four buttons provide options similar to the "highway" and "city" settings of the Cobra. Owners also enjoy auto-detect (aimed at reducing false alerts) and a Safety Warning System (SWS) that detects highway construction hazards, emergency vehicles, and so on. A "SmartPlug" is built into the power cord, giving owners an alternative way of accessing some of the controls.

Whereas the Cobra and Beltronics offer single options for city or highway driving, the Whistler CR90 offers a highway mode and two different city modes. "City 1" reduces sensitivity to X band transmission (the type of transmission most often used by things like intruder alarms); it gives a warning beep but then stays quiet unless signal strength increases. If that's still too sensitive for you -- for example, if you're driving in a heavily industrialized area -- "City 2" mode shuts off X band completely. You can also filter other bands to suit your location and conditions. At any time, switching to highway mode turns everything to maximum range and sensitivity. The Whistler's GPS is user-friendly, too. Between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., the display can be placed on "auto-dim." The GPS will tell you your true speed (but it won't tell you if you're over the limit). It also gives you the option of blocking known false alarms. For example, if there's an industrial door opener nearby that always sets off your detector, you could mark it on the Whistler's GPS, and it would be ignored from then on.

Escort Passport 9500ix Radar/Laser Detector

The Escort Passport 9500ix takes false alert filtering and GPS to a whole new level. Owners enjoy manual selection of the alarms they want to block as well as “Auto-Learn.” What's more, the Escort is intelligent enough to recognize the difference between signals. For example, if you had blocked a door lock at a particular location and a police officer was using a radar gun at that same location, the Escort would recognize the presence of the officer and notify you. When the Escort picks up a radar signal, the first thing it does is flash your true speed on its screen. (You don't even have to glance at your speedometer.) Like the Beltronics, the Escort includes a SmartPlug and access to SWS. It will remember your chosen settings, even when the power is off. You also have the ability to update camera data and install any system upgrades that become available via a PC or Mac connection.

Valentine One Radar Detector

Several owners have suggested that the Valentine One is a bit "old school." While that's true to some extent, it's still an extremely capable radar and laser detector. Before GPS came along, in fact, its settings were unrivaled. Even now, they're as good as -- or better than -- most non-GPS competitors. The Valentine One offers three modes: "All Bogeys," in which it picks up anything and everything; "Logic," in which X band devices that generally give false alerts are identified with a low beep that intensifies only if the signal becomes stronger; and "Advance Logic," in which the device makes a judgement call. The makers of the Valentine One are keen to point out that the externals of this device have changed little over the years. Should hardware or software need upgrading, the task can be done within the unit you already have. (Professional assistance is required for upgrades, however, and the manufacturer states that "charges may apply.")

Considering its budget price, the Cobra XRS9370 offers an extraordinary feature set.
Dale
Expert Consultant
Dale
Automotive Super-User

Dale brings over 40 years of automotive industry experience to the BestReviews table. An avid DIY guy, he has worked with, rebuilt, and led maintenance on a variety of vehicles. He’s also well-versed in fleet management and operation. Dale’s past experiences include distinguished service as an officer in the US Army.

Considerations

Real World Performance

Cobra XRS9370 High-Performance Radar/Laser Detector

The Cobra XRS9370 claims 360-degree protection, but this only applies to laser detection, not radar. That's not to say radar detection is poor -- far from it! However, it's important to separate real capabilities from clever advertising. As with most devices of this kind, radar detection is of the "up front" variety. Most owners are happy with the performance they get for the price. Critics are sometimes concerned with the Cobra's actual range; a few have suggested that they could identify law enforcement by eye faster than the Cobra identifies police presence electronically. Conversely, some have reported that the Cobra is too sensitive. This illustrates the compromise that often must be made with budget radar detectors; they simply don't have the sensitivity of advanced models. It can take a bit of practice, but the majority of owners say they are satisfied with the level of response they get from the Cobra.

Beltronics RX65-Red Professional Series Radar Detector

With the Beltronics RX65 Radar Detector set in highway mode, you should get alerts for everything within a radius of two to four miles. In busy urban environments, the Beltronics' auto-scan and city modes reduce false alerts to a bearable level. As with the Cobra, the challenge lies in how well the machine manages the differences between signals. According to owners, the Beltronics does this job pretty well. It may not offer the range of settings of some models, but most users say they're satisfied with the range and the low number of false alerts they've encountered.

Whistler Cr90 Laser Radar Detector

In addition to its other features, the Whistler CR90 includes a filter that's becoming more and more useful in day-to-day highway driving. An increasing number of routes today monitor traffic flow using radars on poles. These poles tend to give false alerts. The solution to this problem is built right into the Whistler: it's called Traffic Signal Rejection, or TSR. TSR allows owners to avoid interference from radar poles. Owners are a bit critical of how often the Whistler gives false alerts, saying that in some areas, information from red light cameras and traffic cameras is poor. (It's important to note that the latter is a function of the GPS. Radar detectors don't really "detect" red light cameras; they "know" where these devices are thanks to information from the manufacturer's database.) The Whistler also boasts a driver safety feature called "Stay Alert." Turn it on, and every minute it will give a couple of subtle beeps to ensure you're still awake and "with it." If you don't respond in a few seconds, it will sound a loud alarm.

Escort Passport 9500ix Radar/Laser Detector

The Escort Passport 9500ix boasts an impressive set of filtering options, including Traffic Signal Rejection (TSR). In "Auto" mode, its sensitivity can self-adjust based on how fast you're traveling. (Sensitivity increases if your speed increases and reduces if you slow down.) Auto mode has earned a lot of praise from owners, particularly those who frequently travel the same route. Highway mode can be used as an instant override, giving you maximum sensitivity at the touch of a button. While the Escort is not perfect, our research found very few owners who criticized its day-to-day effectiveness.

Valentine One Radar Detector

If you're looking for a top-notch radar detector, the Valentine One -- with its superior range and sensitivity -- is tough to beat. The rear antenna enables true 360-degree protection. The directional arrows allow you to ignore some alerts because they're coming from places a speed gun simply wouldn't be. The only problem is, there's no GPS. An otherwise excellent machine, the Valentine One is ignored by some potential buyers because it can't warn them about red light cameras or other static speed detectors. Nevertheless, a large number of consumers have owned their Valentine One for years, and they swear by its effectiveness.

The Escort Passport's "Auto" mode has earned a lot of praise from owners, particularly those who travel the same route often. It increases sensitivity when you speed up and reduces sensitivity when you slow down.
Considerations

Price

Cobra XRS9370 High-Performance Radar/Laser Detector

At a cost of $110, the Cobra XRS9370 Radar/Laser Detector is an exceptionally good deal. The range of bands it can detect is as good as any -- in fact, it's better than some models that cost a lot more. The Cobra offers a decent set of user-definable features and protection against RDDs. It's not the most complex model on the market, but a lot of owners appreciate the fact that it's easy to operate. Some people consider the range to be a little short, and others think it gives too many false alerts. Many satisfied owners point out, however, that reading the instructions carefully and setting the Cobra accordingly can make a huge difference in your results.

Beltronics RX65-Red Professional Series Radar Detector

Currently priced at $209, the Beltronics RX65 is an entry-level radar detector that offers excellent value while being simple to set up and use. It shares the Cobra's immunity to some CV-2 RDDs, but it isn't covered against Spectres. It does, however, incorporate a Safety Warning System (SWS) that provides useful information about other potential hazards. There is an option to purchase a blue display rather than the standard red one, but that adds to the price. Satisfied owners frequently point to the Beltronics' simplicity and low false alarm rate, but a handful do complain about durability and the quality of the company's customer support.

Whistler Cr90 Laser Radar Detector

At a cost of $199, the Whistler CR90 Laser Radar Detector sits somewhere in the middle of our ratings in terms of cost. The mid-range price accurately reflects where it's at in terms of features and functions, too. Owners are generally very pleased with the Whistler's detection capabilities and range, but to the chagrin of some, it offers no protection against RDDs. It provides more flexibility regarding sensitivity settings than some competitors, but its biggest advantage is its GPS. The Whistler's GPS will warn you about speed cameras that non-GPS radar detectors simply cannot detect. Some owners have complained that the detector can be set off by lasers in nearby cars; others argue this could be prevented with a little fine-tuning. A few consumers have received faulty units. These should be replaced under the Whistler's warranty which, at two years, is longer than most.

Escort Passport 9500ix Radar/Laser Detector

Right now, the Escort Passport 9500ix Radar/Laser Detector will cost you $339. It's not cheap, but it is a premium model from a manufacturer with a solid reputation. Its band coverage and detection ability is equal to, or better than, anything on the market. It can be left to work on auto, where it adjusts itself depending on the speed you're traveling, or it can be fine-tuned to the driving conditions you experience most often. On top of that, it's got the benefits of SWS. Add DEFENDER to the mix, and the Escort is arguably the best GPS set-up available. Due to positive owner feedback, the Escort has become wildly popular. While there are more advanced models available, the Escort's combination of performance and reliability makes it a favorite among the masses.

Valentine One Radar Detector

There are many who think that, at $489, the Valentine One Radar Detector delivers an excellent value. After all, it is very good at picking up radar and laser signals. Words like "unrivaled" and "peerless" are often used to describe this product. When compared to the other models in this review, the Valentine One might seem a little expensive, but in terms of quality, many owners argue that it's simply the best there is. However, it is not GPS-enabled, so it is incapable of tracking red light cameras and other devices of that kind. That's something of a deterrent for consumers, because fixed-position speed cameras are likely to increase in number on today's roads. The Valentine One cannot detect these cameras, which could be a significant drawback.

The Escort Passport 9500ix is a premium model from a manufacturer with a solid reputation.

Best of the Best

There are no bad choices here, but it's fair to say that you get what you pay for when it comes to radar detectors. As such, we declare the Escort Passport 9500ix to be the Best of the Best.

If the Escort didn't have GPS, our Best of the Best winner would have been the Valentine One. The Valentine One can detect law enforcement speed guns faster than any other contender on our shortlist. However, the Escort Passport comes in at a close second on that test, and unlike the Valentine One, it has the GPS-specific ability to track red light cameras and other speed recording devices that don't transmit a signal. Clearly, it's the best option overall.

The Escort picks up all the commonly used radars and lasers. It also picks up the European KU band (a technology that may soon be coming to the states) and newer POP devices that hit you with ultra-short bursts. Its filtering is exceptional. The clever "Auto-Learn" function won't be fooled if a cop tries to "hide" behind an industrial device like a door opener. And, thanks to its GPS, owners enjoy the ability to "mark" fixed speed traps as they find them. That's in addition to the Escort's regularly updated DEFENDER network, a system that provides information you can download from any connected computer. Owners also benefit from a Safety Warning System (SWS) that can detect a wide variety of hazards, including emergency vehicles and highway construction.

On the negative side, there's no RDD. Some owners also weren't happy that they had to subscribe to DEFENDER ($10 a year) after their 90-day trial expired. However, $10 a year is a lot cheaper than a speeding ticket! The overall percentage of people who complain about the Escort is very low. The majority are delighted, and many say that their device has more than paid for itself it the tickets it has prevented.
Best of the Best
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The Escort's clever "Auto-Learn" function won't be fooled if a cop tries to "hide" behind an industrial radar device like a door opener.

Best Bang for your Buck

There's no doubt that the Best Bang for Your Buck radar detector is the Cobra XRS9370. You simply cannot beat the feature set you get for the price. In fact, the Cobra stands up very well against models that cost a great deal more.

At the moment, there's no laser or radar used by law enforcement that the Cobra can't detect. This includes POP and KU band. While it's perfectly legal to use radar detection devices in the US, the Cobra has technology to hide itself from most radar detector detectors (RDDs). It also boasts a safety alarm system (from Cobra's own beacons) and a sensitivity that most owners find to be perfectly adequate.

The Cobra doesn't have GPS, which some will consider a drawback. However, GPS is a feature that will cost you at least another hundred dollars. (If GPS is really important to you and you're on a budget, we recommend the Whistler.) If you're looking for a cheap radar detector -- particularly if you have only an occasional need for it -- the Cobra is just about unbeatable.

There are those who criticize the Cobra's range, and some complain that it gives too many false alarms. However, as we've already mentioned, the latter can often be dramatically reduced with a bit of experience. Overall, the Cobra XRS9370 gets consistently high user satisfaction ratings and delivers tremendous performance for the price.
Best Bang for your Buck
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If you're looking for a budget-priced radar detector with a great feature set, the Cobra is just about unbeatable.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Jasmin
    Jasmin
    Operations
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Adrian
    Adrian
    Senior Engineer