The 8 Best Dash Cams to Buy in 2018

These must-have cameras will be your second set of eyes

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Dash cams have a variety of features, but a quality one can guard against illegal activity, recording speed, direction, driver behavior, and more. To help you find one with all the features you need, we’ve compiled a list that includes the best options for a budget, models with the best video quality, and the easiest dash cam to operate. We even sent a few of them home with our diligent product testers to find out which ones aced our driving exam.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Rexing V1

4.1

There are many budget dash cams out there, but not all are worth the money. The Rexing Wide Angle Dash Camera offers great HD video and lots of features for less than $100.

First off, the Rexing Wide Angle Dash Camera has clear 1080p HD video recording at 30 frames per second on a wide-angle 170-degree lens, so you’ll be able get every detail. It will automatically detect collisions and save those video files for later so you don’t lose them. You also have the option to record videos in loops of 3-, 5-, or 10-minute video files, which may vary depending on what you want to record. It can support for microSD cards up to 128 GB in size, which means you can record roughly 22 hours of 1080p video or 40 hours of 720p video if you use the maximum card size.

Best Budget: Old Shark 1080p Dash Cam

Old Shark 1080p Dash Cam
Courtesy of Amazon.com
3.3

Dash cams come in many different formats and some can be downright expensive. If you’re in need of a cheap dash cam that has plenty of good features, then the Old Shark 1080p Dash Cam might be for you.

The Old Shark dash cam is much more modern than the name implies with 1080p HD video recording at 30 frames per second, wide-angle recording to get the full view of the road and “night vision,” thanks to its built-in infrared light reader. This model is super easy to use, too, as it turns on and records automatically when the engine starts. It also offers video recording on a loop, so the oldest video is recorded over when it runs out of space. As for memory, it supports microSD memory cards up to 32GB, so you’ll want to buy one of those, too.

Amazon reviewers have awarded the Old Shark dash cam an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars. They have said this model has excellent video quality and have praised its ability to take video during both day and night.

Best Front and Rear Camera: Pruveeo MX2

4

Dash cams can save a lot of headache when you need that objective view of an accident or driving incident. While most things that can go wrong often occur in front of the car, it’s nice to have your rear covered as well. Instead of two separate dash cams, a front/rear camera like the Pruveeo MX2 will give you both perspectives in a single device.

The dash cam features two independently swiveling cameras. One camera records 720P while the other records at 420p, making the resolution of each camera crisp enough to clearly see the video without needing a large amount of storage. Both also record at a standard 30 frames per second for a smooth video. Each camera can rotate 320 degrees with a wide 120-degree perspective. With this wide angle, you will be sure to catch all of the action that is happening in front or behind your car as you drive.

Using the dash cam is easy. You can plug the camera directly into the cigarette lighter for continuous operation. Recording automatically starts when the engine turns on and stops when cut off. Video records to a microSD card so you can select the storage capacity (up to 32 GB) you want in order to potentially extend how long videos are saved before they are recorded over. A two-inch LCD screen on the back will display both camera feeds (picture-in-picture) or one feed at a time. 

Best Features: Garmin Dash Cam 35

Garmin Dash Cam 35
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Garmin Dash Cam 35 is Garmin’s flagship model, and it’s about as good as it gets. It includes a built-in GPS system, full high-definition camera and a 3” wide screen.

The camera records in 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second, giving it an excellent, clear picture for recording your journey. Its 180-degree viewing angle is class-leading; you’ll get the most accurate representation of the road ahead in your recordings. A potential downside of the U.S. version of the Dash Cam 35 is that it doesn’t have the facility to record audio.

This dash cam will record roughly an hour of footage at a time, and this can can be increased, thanks to an available 64-gigabyte MicroSD card (sold separately), which is an entirely worthwhile investment for those who regularly make longer trips.

The Garmin Dash Cam 35 goes above and beyond the usual features of a dash cam. For extra safety behind the wheel, the Garmin 35 includes a forward collision warning that sounds if one’s car is too close to the car ahead. The Dash Cam 35 has incident detection technology that will automatically record in the case of a collision. Red light and speed camera warnings can warn you ahead of time of potential pitfalls on the road. Note that the speed camera warning function requires a subscription and may be illegal to use in some jurisdictions. For those in applicable jurisdictions, it may be a truly handy feature that will help you to avoid legal trouble.

Finally, as an extra added bonus, this dash cam can be used to take still pictures from inside or outside of the car in order to assess accident damage. Overall, it is one of the best dash cams on the market, and the clear high-end choice for 2017. 

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best dash cams under $100.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: KDLINKS DX2 Full-HD 1080P Front + 720P Rear Dash Cam

The DX2 has a three-inch screen and the camera is excellent, powerful enough to allow the clear reading of a license plate at a reasonable distance. It has a super wide 165-degree (front) 125-degree (rear) viewing angle. The camera records at 1080p high-def resolution at 30 frames per second. It has a night-vision feature using f.16 six-glass lenses and comes with a useful 16 GB micro SD card for lengthy recording. Should you need more, this camera supports up to 32 gigabytes of extra recording space with the purchase of a larger Micro SD card.

An emergency lock button can be engaged in the case of an accident, and your recorded video will be protected from being overwritten. The accident auto-detection feature can kick in when a collision is detected.

It comes with a one-year warranty.

Best High Quality Video: Z-Edge Z3

Z-Edge Z3
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Z-Edge Z3 excels at a dash cam’s most important job – accurately capturing the scene with a high quality video. No other dash cam offers a better picture. With its Super HD 2560 x 1080 resolution camera, your recorded videos are so detailed you’ll need a high resolution monitor or TV to view them in all their glory! The camera’s 170-degree angle is also excellent, picking up everything that happens at the front and sides of your car.

The Z-Edge Z3 is also an economical choice, especially when you consider it comes with a 32 GB SD card and an extra-long USB cable bundled in. There’s no GPS or WiFi connectivity, but a G-sensor allows for automatic crash detection and the Z3 can be set up to record continuously while the ignition is on. The three-inch screen is nice and clear, and the LCD can be set to automatically switch off after a set period to save energy.

A worthy contender for best overall dash cam, the Z-Edge Z3 is the choice for you if you want the best possible picture from your dash cam and don’t need GPS or WiFi connectivity.

Best Ease of Use: YI Compact Dash Cam

A 1080p dash cam, the YI 2.7" Compact Dash Cam provides wide-angle coverage so you can see up to three lanes and lessen your blind spots.

The YI's emergency recording option uses sensors to record and save footage that may occur during a car accident and right after, so you can stay safe. The YI also has the highest aperture possible to offer great quality recording even in the darkest hours of night.

Big buttons and icons make navigating this camera super simple and users agree: this product has been rated an Amazon Choice for its top-of-the-line features.

For a high-quality dash cam that’s super simple to set up and always works flawlessly, choose the YI Dashboard Camera.

Runner-Up, Best Budget: APEMAN Dash Cam 1080P FHD DVR Car Driving Recorder

APEMAN's dash cam includes all of the features you're looking for in a dash cam that will keep you safe and secure but at a fraction of the price of other dash cams. Set up is straightforward so you can get to using this camera as soon as you receive it. Features include a 170-degree view that lets you see cross traffic, WDR and HDR for the ability to see in low-light, and a three-inch LCD screen. APEMAN's camera also auto-captures any car collisions you're involved in so you can view them later.

Reviewers say the camera gets the job done, but you may want to buy a separate SD card for more storage.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 51 hours testing three of the most popular dash cams on the market. They drove hundreds of miles through city streets and rural terrain to see how well these dash cams captured the drive. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these dash cams and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Dash Cam

Picture quality - Clear picture quality can be crucial in catching details of a journey. Go for one that captures video in 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second at the minimum. If you want to spring for something even fancier, you can find options that capture video in Super HD 2560 x 1080 resolution.

Viewing angle - A wide viewing angle is important for capturing the whole scene. Most dash cams have cameras that have at least a 120-degree viewing angle, though the better ones will capture up to 180 degrees.

Night vision - If you often drive after dark, get a dash cam with a night vision feature. These will have a built-in infrared light reader that will record all the action no matter the time of day.

Test Results: Rexing V1 (Best Overall)

4.1

What We Like

  • Great image quality

  • Has 170-degree wide-angle lens

  • Includes collision sensor

What We Don't Like

  • Memory card not included

Rexing V1
Rexing V1
Rexing V1
Rexing V1

The affordable price, great image quality, and customizable features of the Rexing V1 all won our testers over. Lifewire reviewers appreciated having several recording mode options — loop mode, continuous recording, and audio off — to choose from and highlighted the collision sensor as a key factor that would sway their purchase. “In my mind, the main reason to own a dash cam would be for insurance purposes, so you can capture an accurate sequence of events in an accident scenario,” one person said. “The HD video and license plate recognition are crucial for similar reasons.”

The only flaw with this dash camera is that you have to purchase your memory card separately.

Test Results: Old Shark 1080p Dash Cam (Best Budget)

3.3

What We Like

  • Motion detector initiates recording even when car is stopped

  • Has night-vision capabilities

  • Has 170-degree wide viewing angle

What We Don't Like

  • Written instructions are not clear

  • Power cable can get in the way

Old Shark 1080p Dash Cam
Old Shark 1080p Dash Cam
Old Shark 1080p Dash Cam
Old Shark 1080p Dash Cam
Old Shark 1080p Dash Cam

Our testers really appreciated the fact that this camera will start recording when outside objects get too close to the car, which would be helpful in capturing parking lot accidents. You can also choose to have it record continuously or only when the car is in motion, depending on when you think potential accidents may occur. The camera offers video recording on a loop, so the oldest video is recorded over when it runs out of space. Given all the options, you’ll need to set aside some time (only about 20 minutes) to enable or disable the available features. One of our testers said this model wasn’t as simple as just “plug and play” and that you should steer clear if you are “tech-phobic.”

Some of our at-home testers found the setup instructions a little hard to understand because they seemed to be written by a non-native English speaker. However, our reviewers eventually caught on and were able to suction the camera to their windshields.

Best Front and Rear Camera: Pruveeo MX2

4

What We Like

  • Good image quality

  • Cameras rotate 320 degrees

  • Automatically records when car is on

What We Don't Like

  • No night vision option

  • Setup instructions were very basic

  • Poor sound quality

Pruveeo MX2
Pruveeo MX2
Pruveeo MX2

One of our reviewers loved the Pruveeo MX2 so much that she said, “If you’re looking for an affordable dash camera that can get both the front and rear angles, this is a smart choice. The price is right, the size isn't too cumbersome, and it’s easy to adjust the cameras to the angle you need.” She mentioned that the image quality was good, but that the microphone wasn’t great. If audio is necessary for you — for example, if you’re a taxi driver that needs to record unruly passengers — then this model won’t work for you.

Some of our testers found that this dash cam was tricky to set up, because the included instructions are very basic. One person commented, “You need to use common sense to figure it out and it wasn't very user intuitive for a dash cam novice.” Everyone ultimately succeeded with the installation and the camera was easy to use once it was mounted onto the windshield.