Escort Passport Max
Escort Passport Max

Best radar detector overall

The Escort Passport Max has it all, experts say. It sniffs out radar guns better than other dashboard detectors in tests, even sneaky instant-on radar spurts. Special technology weeds out false alarms, and its GPS knows where the speed and red-light cameras are. In short, reviews say this is the best dashboard radar detector money can buy.
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Escort Passport 8500 X50
Escort Passport 8500 X50

Best midrange radar detector

Without GPS, the Escort Passport 8500 X50 can't warn you of speed or red-light cameras, and it can't lock out false alarms. But if you simply want good radar detection, the 8500 X50 Black (the latest version) does a remarkable job sniffing out radar guns from far away -- even better than some pricey detectors in one major test.
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Beltronics Vector 955
Beltronics Vector 955

Best cheap radar detector

Although it can't match the best detectors, testers say the Beltronics Vector 955 is a good budget radar detector that will give drivers enough notice to react to upcoming radar traps. It includes a few features you'll find on pricey detectors, including spoken alerts and a city mode that somewhat reduces false alarms from automatic grocery-store doors and the like.
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Escort RedLine
Escort RedLine

Best "invisible" radar detector

Although radar detectors are usually legal in passenger cars, Virginia and Washington, D.C., ban them, and federal law prohibits their use in commercial trucks. But the Escort RedLine is invisible to police radar-detector detectors (RDDs) in tests. It's also a great radar/laser detector -- one of the top performers in tests. Without GPS, though, it can't warn you of speed or red-light cameras.
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See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Radar Detectors Runners Up:

Escort Passport 9500ix Est. $470

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Beltronics STi Magnum Est. $480

1 pick including: Amazon.com, RadarTest.com…

Radar detectors -- and their reviewers -- brew controversy

Although manufacturers and users may say otherwise, most people buy radar detectors for one reason: to avoid speeding tickets. It's not surprising, then, that there's a bit of an outlaw mentality among the people who review radar detectors -- including two who have become trusted sources in the industry.

Several years ago, Craig Peterson of RadarTest.com was accused of sabotaging a radar-detector field test by the editors of the now-inactive GuysOfLidar.com, who post a video on their website to back up the claim. (Peterson doesn't respond to the accusation on his website.)

Roy Reyer, a former police officer and proprietor of RadarBusters.com, is a prominent expert and tester of radar detectors. He has had legal problems in the past, although not related to the use or review of radar detectors. Reyer pleaded guilty in 2001 to felony solicitation to commit computer tampering in connection with a satellite-TV fraud case, according to records from Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona. Reyer's sentence was suspended, and he was placed on probation for three years and ordered to pay restitution to DirecTV.

Cases such as these can make it difficult for shoppers to figure out which radar-detector reviewers are trustworthy. Ultimately, we did choose to consult testing data and ratings put forth by Peterson and Reyer, but only in conjunction with reviews and test results we found elsewhere.

To find the very best radar detectors, we looked for common threads within multiple tests, recommending radar detectors that perform well across the review spectrum. We checked the meticulous tests by the East Coast Countermeasure Testing Group and Speed Measurement Laboratories (both made up of devoted radar-detector fanatics with excruciating attention to detail) as well as mainstream reviews at Autoweek and CNET, and plentiful owner reviews at Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. We name the best radar detectors based on performance, of course, but we also consider factors such as added features and ease of use.

This report covers three broad categories:

Radar detectors. You can get a good detector for about $200. Pay more, and you'll get a more sensitive detector that can sniff out radar from farther away -- giving you more time to slow down.

Top-of-the-line, $400-plus radar detectors often have GPS, which lets them remember (and remind you) where speed and red-light cameras are. GPS can also mark false-alarm locations, cutting down on annoying, pointless beeps.

"Invisible" radar detectors. Radar detectors are illegal in a few areas (including Virginia and Washington, D.C.) and for commercial truck drivers. "Invisible" radar detectors can't be seen by police radar-detector detectors (RDDs), and they're great long-range detectors -- perfect for highway driving. They're expensive, though (about $500 or more), and they lack "smart" features like GPS.

Laser jammers. Every radar detector in this report can also detect police laser guns -- but by the time they notice laser's pinpoint beam, you're probably already nailed. But you can legally jam police laser guns in most states (unlike radar jammers, which are illegal).

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