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Today’s cars abound with features and accessories that require less driver attention than ever. But one gadget has been around for decades. And if you speed, whether intentionally or inadvertently, it could save you from a costly ticket or a trip to court. A radar detector can alert you whenever it senses police radar or lasers nearby. However, not are equally effective. Here are three that work great but won’t cost you a fortune.

What is a radar detector?

A radar detector is a device that typically mounts to your car’s windshield with suction cups. It monitors the road ahead for laser and radar speed detection devices that police use to catch speeders. In most cases, a radar detector gives you ample time to slow down, but know that speeding is risky. Driving too fast could result in a ticket or, worse, an accident.

Should you get a radar detector?

You should think of these devices as a reminder to check your speed, not as a get-out-of-jail-free card. That reminder could be the difference between paying a hefty fine, making a court appearance, seeing your car insurance premiums rise, or losing your driving privileges.

Radar detectors are constantly searching for police radar and laser transmissions. So they can also warn you of potential problems ahead, such as traffic accidents, police checkpoints, and, yes, dreaded speed traps. Investing a few hundred dollars in a high-quality radar detector could save you thousands of dollars and even your life. 

Top radar detectors under $300

Radar detectors have been around for decades, but the one your granddad stuck on his dash was basically a rock compared to today’s state-of-the-art electronics. Keep that in mind when comparing features and prices, which can run upward of $800, Digital Trends reports. However, if you stick with one of the following in the $100-to-$300 range, you’ll have a dependable and effective model:

Uniden R3 Extreme Long Range

In a recent test, Spy ranked Uniden’s 2021 flagship model, the R7, best overall. But the publication also listed the Uniden R3 Extreme Long Range as the best value in the group. Although the R3 doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the R7, it costs $200 less and still offers impressive features. The R3 comes with GPS and is programmed to learn and filter out common false alerts along your normal routes. It also has long-range detection capabilities that rival top-of-the-line units and voice-based notifications. Find the Uniden R3 on Amazon for $299.99

Cobra RAD 380

In a similar test Forbes conducted, the Cobra RAD 380 is the only radar detector the publication would recommend with a price point below $100. Updatable software, an easy-to-read display, and long-range detection are some of the traits that make this model worth considering. But warned: It doesn’t have GPS or Bluetooth, and the suction mount is unreliable. Amazon sells the Cobra RAD 380 for $99.95.

Radenso XP

Making Forbes’ list for most user-friendly radar detector is the Radenso XP. It warns of red light and speed cameras in 22 states, boasts built-in GPS, and filters out common false alarms along your route with the push of a button. Get it on Amazon for $249.99.


Are Radar Detectors Legal?