The 7 Best Radar Detectors for Under $100 in 2020

We've got just what you need to dodge a speeding ticket

Best Overall: Whistler CR75

If you want 360 degrees of coverage and protection against four known frequencies (and their respective bands), including X, K, KA and Laser, the simple choice is the Whistler CR75 high-performance radar detector. The detector has been designed to provide the most relevant alert first with Alert Priority displays notifying you of the most important signal that’s been detected. Boosting the security factor is the inclusion of VG-2 detection, which eliminates detection by a radar detector-detector in locales where the use of such electronics is not allowed. City and highway modes help reduce the number of false-positive alerts and there's a quiet mode to silence alerts altogether. Fortunately, even in silent mode, the CR75 is equipped with an LED blinking light that allows for visual notification for threats. Front, side and rear protection blankets your car and a digital compass shows your heading in five-degree increments.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Cobra ESD 7570

A no-frills radar detector, the Cobra ESD 7570 is a budget option with an ultra-bright display and a compact design. It's capable of detecting all known laser and radar frequencies. With on-board safety warnings for emergency vehicles, railroad crossings and road hazards, the Cobra even goes beyond the standard radar detection to help keep drivers alert and safe.

The Cobra’s on-board signal strength display helps determine proximity to the target and the opportunity to choose between city and highway functions helps reduce the number of false alerts. At 2.7 x 1.3 x 4.1 inches, it doesn’t take up a huge space on the windshield thereby causing a distraction to the driver. With two cloaking features (Spectre I, VG-2) built-in, the Cobra can help eliminate discovery by any law enforcement utilizing radar detector-detectors.

Best Detection Range: Cobra SPX 955

Detection range is just one of many factors to consider for an effective radar detector, but it’s an important one. You’ll get plenty of advance warning with the Cobra SPX 955, which offers great range without costing hundreds of dollars. It uses Cobra’s “Xtreme Range Superheterodyne Technology” to increase its signal detection capabilities and warn against the fastest radar guns—the company claims the SPX series doubles the detection range and warning time of their previous models.

The SPX 955 detects and provides alerts for radar signals (X, K, and Ka bands), laser signals (with 360 degrees of coverage), and VG-2 and Spectre signals from law enforcement. It uses an in-vehicle technology (IVT) filter to avoid false alerts from various systems within the car, and a number of other functions help deal with false alerts as well. Adjustable tone or voice alerts are available, with options for manual or auto muting. The unit weighs well under a pound and can be mounted with ease to a windshield or dashboard. 

Best Detection Speed: Cobra RAD 350

When it comes to detection speed, the Cobra RAD 350 radar detector is your best chance at identifying threats. Assisted by its “instant on” protection, the Rad 350 can detect a radar faster than any other budget model available. Its IVT (In-Vehicle Technology) filter helps reduce the number of false alarms from electronics that might otherwise provide false flags such as a vehicle collision avoidance system or a traffic flow monitoring device.

The detector hits all known radar bands (X, K, Ka), laser and VG-2 signals for complete protection. Alongside its more premium features, the RAD 350 adds a secondary set of extras such as auto dimming, quiet alerts and a digital strength meter to help determine your range from the radar or laser gun that's attempting to spot you speeding. The seven-segment color display offers identifiable icons for determining which signal is pinging locally and it can be easily read in daytime and nighttime conditions.

Best Smart Connection: Cobra Electronics iRad 950

Compatible with both Android and iOS devices, the Cobra Electronics iRad 950 offers features not found on “dummy” radar detectors. With the iRadar app, you’ll find enhancements such as live traffic data and a “get directions” mode that will assist you in routing to your destination. A coverage map is included that's boosted by more than one million users providing more than 40,000 reports a day. On top of user reporting, the iRad compiles red light camera notifications, user reports of live police locations, caution areas, speed cameras and other real-time traffic data, including accidents and traffic jams. The detector offers 360 degrees of protection across all known radar and laser bands and can spot signals up to a quarter of a mile away.   

Best Protection: Cobra XRS 9370

Highlighted by Cobra’s super-fast sweet circuitry, the XRS 9370 helps provide immediate notification of a detected threat even against the fastest radar guns in the law enforcement arsenal. With both VG-2 and Spectre technology onboard, the XRS 9370 can help avoid detection by radar detector-detectors. The availability of KU band detection allows the XRS 9370 to remain futureproofed. In addition, the Cobra detects all 14-known radar and laser frequencies at ranges that are far enough to allow plenty of time to slow down and avoid a ticket. The radar detector offers 360 degrees of detection, as auto dimmer for nighttime use, city and highway modes, as well as a signal strength meter to help determine the range to a target.

Best Audio: Cobra ESR800

The Cobra ESR800 is a great radar detector for users who want to stay aware of upcoming threats without taking their eyes off the road. With 360-degree LaserEye signal detection, the ESR800 alerts you to emergency vehicles, road hazards and radar scanners. But what differentiates this model the most is its VoiceAlert technology, which notifies you via digital voice announcements when it picks up on a radar signal. These notifications are easy to understand and allow you can stay focused on the road ahead.

This detector also has an ultrabright data display with band identification icons that give you the information you need at a glance. You can also switch the ESR800 between city and highway mode to reduce false alerts while driving in densely-populated areas.

What to Look for in a Radar Detector Under $100

Detection range - The better the range of your radar detector, the more time you will have to slow down and avoid a speeding ticket. The best ones can detect a signal up to three-quarters of a mile away, giving you ample time to hit the brakes.

Smart features - While all radar detectors will detect lurking law enforcement—albeit at different distances and speeds—some have additional features that provide added value. For example, some have VG-2 detection, which eliminates detection by a radar detector-detector, and even live traffic data and audio VoiceAlert technology.

Design - Most radar detectors have a similar design: a black or silver body with sharp angles reminiscent of a race car. However, some are more motorist friendly and feature easily readable display screens and intuitive button layouts.