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Best Budget Radar Detectors

Table of Contents

Ok, so you are looking for a radar detector but don’t want to spend too much money. Here’s a list of the best budget radar detectors for you to choose from.

We all know the feeling, you see a nice straight piece of road and we want to floor the gas pedal.

It’s fun and exciting, but you always run the risk of a cop car lurking with a radar gun.

We all know they love these stretches of road as it’s easy picking for them.

Radar Detectors are the solutions to this problem; but as you know, there are lots of options to choose from and they can be quiet expensive as well.

But, that doesn’t mean you can pick up a budget radar detector that can do the job just as well and not cost you a fortune either.

It’s hard to tell what price everyone would consider as ‘Budget’ price, but I have limited the options here from $60-$200.

If you are looking for something more high end, the Escort Max 360 might be one to check out.

You are sure to find one of these to fit your budget and performance requirements.

Let’s get to it; here’s is Auto Buyer Guru’s recommendations for the Best Budget Radar Detectors.

Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission.


1. Cobra RAD 480i Radar Detector – Best Overall

Cobra RAD 480i Laser Radar Detector – Long Range Detection, Bluetooth, Drive Smarter® App, LaserEye Front and Rear Detection, Digital Signal Processing, Black
  • Front and Rear Detection – Cobra’s new LaserEye technology detects signals from both the front and rear of your vehicle, giving you all around protection wherever your adventures take you. Special Features: ‎LaserEye, iRadar App
  • Drive Smarter App - Share and receive radar and laser alerts from a community of over three million connected drivers. With access to the Defender Database, receive real-time alerts to red light, speed camera, and law enforcement activity.
  • Long Range Detection – Next generation updateable IVT Filter and advanced anti-falsing circuitry intelligently reduces false alerts from blind spot monitoring systems and other vehicle avoidance systems.
  • Early Warnings – Digital Signal Processing provides faster processing for all incoming laser gun signals and rapidly provides accurate alerts, making you aware of a threat before it is right in front of you.
  • What's Included - The Cobra RAD 480i radar detector comes with a 12V vehicle power cord, suction cup car windshield mount, and a hook and loop fastener for dash mounting, for wherever the road takes you.

Last update on 2024-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Cobra RAD 480i is an Amazon number 1 seller; and it’s easy to see why.

It’s high-quality build, performance, attractive price tag and a long list of positive customer reviews.

The Cobra 480i really is an amazing radar detector.

It packs in premium features for an extremely low budget price.

These premium features include x2 detection range, advanced warnings, IVT filtering, speed and red light cam alerts, enhanced DSP, and Bluetooth connectivity.

One of the standout features for me is the IVT filtering (IN-Vehicle Technology).

If you don’t know what that is, basically it’s referred to systems in other cars like cruise control, park assist and auto braking, etc.

These systems often use radar frequencies.

These can cause what are called false alerts as some radar detectors pick up these signals from cars nearby and set off false alerts.

IVT filters these out and only alerts you when it picks what it feels is a real alert.

The DSP (Digital Signal Processing) works well also.

The DSP allows for quick processing of all incoming signals.

You get complete protection using the Cobra 480i.

It covers both and rear detection making sure you are aware of any speed traps or red lights no matter where you go.

The iRadar app is a great add on for the Cobra 480i.

When you download the app you can receive real-time alerts for red lights, speed cams, and law enforcement detection.

If you know your destination, you can plan your journey and be aware of any red lights cam, speed cams, and speed limits.

You can plan your route to avoid these also.

You can adjust this radar detector’s sensitivity settings to only hear the alerts you want.

This way you can control the number of notifications you receive.

The SEN Button (sensitivity) is very useful for when you are in cities or busy towns where a lot of activity is around you and can continuously set off the radar detector.

I like the design of the 480i.

It’s sleek back and grey color will fit any vehicle interior and stick out like a sore thumb.

The radar detector is easy to use and pretty straight forward to navigate using the buttons on the top.

One downside is auto voice alerts.

It doesn’t announce the frequency of the when announcing the alert.

To be fair this is minor, considering we are reviewing the best cheap radar detectors and not premium ones.

Especially when The Cobra RAD 480i radar detector will only set you back less than $150.

Pros
  • GPS
  • Firmware Updates
  • Excellent Price
  • iRadar App To Plan Journeys
  • ITV Filtering
  • Easy To Use
  • Adjust Sensitivity
Cons
  • Auto Voice Does Not Announce The Frequency

2. Uniden R1 Extreme – Runner Up

Uniden Uniden R1 Extreme Long Range Radar Laser Detector 360 Degree Dsp Voice Alert, 1.1 Lb
  • Quiet Ride User Set Speed Auto Mute
  • GPS With Red Light Camera Alerts
  • 360 Degree Digital Signal Processor

Last update on 2024-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

We have given the Uniden R1 Extreme our number 1 recommendation for the best budget radar detectors.

The main reason being, even though this is a budget radar detector price-wise, it’s actually a high performing model that works extremely well.

The Uniden R1 is well known as being a very affordable but a very high-quality radar detector with some premium features.

With this radar detector, you get a full 360-degree digital signal processor with a super long-range radar.

The R1 will pick up K and KA advanced band filters.

The K band detection can give you a couple of miles warning on KA speed traps and patrol cars.

The device is really easy to set up mount with the 12V power cord and RJ11 connector.

It can be easily mounted to the windshield using the suction cups and holds really well.

You can pick your own tones/alert sounds using the R1.

There is a nice auto-mute option which is great.

You can also hit the mute button option using the power cord; rather than reaching up to the windshield each time to mute the alert.

The Uniden R1 has a really nice OLED display.

It’s bright and easy to read.

You should check the user manual to understand what the shortcodes mean.

You can also choose from 8 background color options.

This is a nice option as some people find some colors easier or more difficult to read.

Find one that works for you.

The main drawback with the R1 is that there’s no GPS feature for speed and red light alerts.

If you want the GPS feature you will need to go for the Uniden R3 which will set you back an extra $100.

Whether the GPS feature is something you need is up to you.

However, this is a post about the best budget radar detectors; and having a GPS option is more of a premium feature.

Pros
  • Very Long Range
  • 12 X, K, Ka, MRCD, and Laser band selectable alert tones
  • K & KA False Filter
  • Voice Notifications
  • Auto Mute Volume
  • 8 Background Colors
  • Displays Signal Strength and Vehicle Battery Voltage
  • Very Good Price For The Performance You Get
Cons
  • NO GPS

3. Cobra RAD 380 Radar Detector – Best Under $100

Cobra RAD 380 Laser Radar Detector – Long Range Detection, LaserEye Front and Rear Detection, IVT Filtering, Updateable Software, Adjustable Sensitivity, Digital Signal Processing, Black
  • Front and Rear Detection – Cobra’s new LaserEye technology detects signals from both the front and rear of your vehicle, giving you all around protection wherever your adventures take you.
  • Long Range Detection – Next generation updateable IVT Filter and advanced anti-falsing circuitry intelligently reduces false alerts from blind spot systems and other vehicle avoidance systems.
  • Early Warnings – Digital Signal Processing provides faster processing for all incoming laser gun signals and rapidly provides accurate alerts, making you aware of a threat before it is right in front of you.
  • Adjustable Sensitivity Modes – Tailor your radar detector to your liking with Adjustable Sensitivity and Filtering Modes to control how many notifications you receive while on the go.
  • Everything You Need - The Cobra RAD 380 radar detector comes with a 12V vehicle power cord, suction cup car windshield mount, and a hook and loop fastener for dash mounting, for wherever the road takes you.

Last update on 2024-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another Cobra has made our best budget radar detectors list.

Like I said at the beginning of these posts, I want to give people options.

The Cobra RAD 380 is my best radar detector under $100 recommendation.

Cobra is a very well respected radar detector brand and it’s easy to see why this particular model is extremely popular.

Like many more premium radar detectors, you get both front and rear detection to protect you from all angles.

The DSP provides excellent fast processing for early warnings of any laser signals to stop you driving head-on into a threat without any warning.

On top of the digital signal processing, you also have long-range NextGen IVT filtering that can be updated.

The updates ensure you get the most up to date version possible to make your device is performing at its best.

The IVT filter is very advanced and blocks out any false alerts from nearby cars and blind spots.

You can also adjust the sensitivity and filtering modes to control how many notifications you receive.

The Cobra RAD 380 should be mounted in the very center bottom of your windshield for best use.

This reason being is most speed trap lasers are lower to the ground for best accuracy meaning the laser is pointed at the front bumper of your car.

One of the most annoying things about this radar detector is the sucking cups; they aren’t great.

You can be driving down the high way and the thing just drops onto the dash and it’s a little annoying.

These can be replaced if needs be.

Pros
  • Adjustable Sensitivity (SEN)
  • Digital Signal Processing(DSP)
  • Next-Gen IVT Filter
  • Volume Control For Alerts
  • Great Price
Cons
  • No Bluetooth to sync with the iRadar App
  • Suction cups are not great

4. Uniden DFR7 – Best Alternative 1

Uniden DFR7 Super Long Range Wide Band Laser/Radar Detector, Built-in GPS w/Mute Memory, Voice Alerts, Red Light & Speed Camera Alerts, OLED Display, Black
  • SUPER LONG RANGE SENSITIVITY - Wide Band Protection from All Radar and Laser Guns with Advanced False Alert Filtering.
  • GPS TECHNOLOGY - Using GPS the DFR7 can remember and mute common false alerts (such as retail store automatic doors) along your regularly driven routes so you never have to listen to the same false alert twice.
  • RED LIGHT AND SPEED CAMERA ALERTS - Preloaded Red Light and Speed Camera locations with Free Database and Firmware updates ensures your detector will never be out of date.
  • VOICE ALERTS - Voice warnings allow for hands-free operation and provide clear communication. Voice Alerts are programable to fit your driving style so you can keep your eyes on the road with no distractions.
  • OLED DISPLAY - Easy-to-Read, displays Radar Band Frequency, Numeric Signal Strength, Max. Speed Warning, and Vehicle Battery Voltage for a more informed drive.

Last update on 2024-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

As you might have noticed, we are seeing a few repeating brands here, with Uniden and Cobra both taking up 4 of my 5 recommendations.

But there’s a reason for that; they work and work very well.

I have chosen the Uniden DFR7 as my best alternative option to my number 1 and 2 recommendations.

It falls right in the middle when it comes to performance and price points and could be the right fit for you.

Even though the Uniden DFR7 is listed as a ‘Super Long Range’ radar detector’; I’m not quite sure what classes it as ‘Super’.

I think it’s clever marketing, more than anything else, but that’s another story.

First of as this is a bet budget radar detectors post, it’s probably best to mention the price.

The Uniden DFR7 is priced very nicely.

Right now you can pick this up for less than $160; which is a great price.

It’s not as cheap as Cobra RAD 380 but comes with a lot more premium features that make it a really nice all-round product.

The DFR7 has a built-in GPS Technology and mutes those annoying false alerts that you don’t want to hear every day on your common commute.

It’s a pity it doesn’t have an auto-learn for these.

You have to manually mark each location by using the ‘Mark’ button the detector.

You can block up to 100 faults alert locations, along with red light cameras and speed trap locations.

The built-in GPS will alert you of any red lights or speed traps based on your location, which is really useful if you are traveling or driving roads you wouldn’t be familiar with.

The OLED display is easy to read and will display key info including the band frequency and speed warnings.

The Uniden DFR7 also has advanced K/KA Band filtering which is nice.

This way you can avoid false alerts from blind-spot monitoring & collision avoidance systems in other vehicles, which can be pretty annoying.

I like the voice alerts options that allow for hands-free driving.

These can be turned off if you want or can be programmed to only alert you with the alerts you care about.

You can set a max speed alert that is tied in with the GPS.

It keeps you in check if you do have a heavy boot and your driving on unfamiliar roads.

Overall, I do quite like the Uniden DFR7.

Even though it might not perform as well as my number 1 and 2 recommendations; but it’s still a very good option for you to consider.

The decent range and the built-in GPS provides are premium-like features which makes this one of the best budget radar detectors.

Pros
  • GPS TECHNOLOGY
  • Wide Band Protection
  • Voice Alerts
  • Really Nice Design
  • Firmware Updates To Keep Up To Date
  • Great Price
Cons
  • Have To Manually Mark Locations For Common Alerts

5. Escort Passport S55 – (No GPS Option)

Sale
Escort Passport S55 Radar Detector – Extended Long Range, Escort Live App, AutoMute, AutoSensitivity, Audible Alerts, Adjustable LED Display, Signal Strength Meter, Black
  • AutoSensitivity – Based on speed, route, and more this Passport detector continuously analyzes incoming signals and adjusts the sensitivity automatically while in the city or on the highway to eliminate false alerts.
  • Escort Live App - Join our community of drivers sharing over 100 million alerts every year - red light and speed camera locations, speed limits, police radar and more. Compatible with Escort Live (separate SmartCord Live cord required)
  • Clear Audible Alerts - Allows hands free operation and crystal-clear communication. Based on signal strength, alerts will sound and occur faster as the signal strengthens allowing you to keep your eyes on the road without distractions.
  • Ultra Fast Protection - The Passport S55 detector warns you of all radar bands including conventional and instant-on X band, K band, and Superwide Ka band and POP. Get the alerts faster with this escort radar detector and have more time to react.
  • Everything You Need - The S55 Escort radar detector comes with a convenient travel case for wherever the road takes you, a SmartCord USB for power, and an Escort Radar Detector accessory kit for easy installation.

Last update on 2024-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Outside of Cobra and Uniden, the Escort Passport S55 is the only other option that made my best cheap radar detectors list.

The Passport S55 is a great performing radar detector that I think falls into the budget category.

It isn’t the coolest looking radar detector but it performs well which is the main thing.

The S55 provides excellent long-range detection for K/KA and laser bands.

The Passport S55 allows you to customize the bands and turn off specific frequency bands to can give out false alerts.

At first, you might find the first time going through the city that the detector gives off loads of false alerts; but you can use the mute button mounted right on the base or program the auto-mute feature.

The main major downside to the S55 passport is that it has no GPS feature which is a little disappointing when other budget radar detectors in this list have GPS functionality.

You can also connect to ESCORT Live for real-time ticket-protection network, which warns you of upcoming alerts received and reported by other users in the area.

However, you need a separate cord to use this feature.

To get the most out of this device, I think you need the Escort Live feature which is great if you are driving in an area you’re not familiar with.

Pros
  • Compact Design
  • Long-range K and Ka-band radar
  • AutoSensitivity Filters
Cons
  • No GPS Feature
  • Needs An Additional Cord To Use Escort Live

FAQ – Things You Might Want To Know

Best Budget Radar Detectors

What is the Best Cheapest Radar Detector?

I mentioned a few options in this post; but I would recommend the Cobra RAD 480i Laser Radar Detector.

You can pick up the Cobra RAD 480i for around $150. I would recommend you try Amazon.

Cobra RAD 480i Laser Radar Detector – Long Range Detection, Bluetooth, Drive Smarter® App, LaserEye Front and Rear Detection, Digital Signal Processing, Black
  • Front and Rear Detection – Cobra’s new LaserEye technology detects signals from both the front and rear of your vehicle, giving you all around protection wherever your adventures take you. Special Features: ‎LaserEye, iRadar App
  • Drive Smarter App - Share and receive radar and laser alerts from a community of over three million connected drivers. With access to the Defender Database, receive real-time alerts to red light, speed camera, and law enforcement activity.
  • Long Range Detection – Next generation updateable IVT Filter and advanced anti-falsing circuitry intelligently reduces false alerts from blind spot monitoring systems and other vehicle avoidance systems.
  • Early Warnings – Digital Signal Processing provides faster processing for all incoming laser gun signals and rapidly provides accurate alerts, making you aware of a threat before it is right in front of you.
  • What's Included - The Cobra RAD 480i radar detector comes with a 12V vehicle power cord, suction cup car windshield mount, and a hook and loop fastener for dash mounting, for wherever the road takes you.

Last update on 2024-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Are Radar Detectors Worth it Anymore?

Radar detectors are not very expensive and all of the options mentioned in the this post are less than $200 each.

Even if a radar detector stops you from getting a single speeding ticket; you have already broke even.

Aside from tickets, it’s the extra bit of comfort you get when driving; not constantly having to check speedometer to see if you are going 5mph over the speed limit.


Are Radar Detectors illegal?

Best Budget Radar Detectors

Radar detectors are legal in most states across the US for private vehicles.

The ‘Intended Use’ of a radar detector is to help you stay within the speed limit, not exceed it.

However, each state has it’s own laws and they can differ sometimes from one another.

Virginia and Washington DC are the only two that I know of that radar detectors are illegal; but laws do change often so don’t hold me to that.

It’s best to check with your local laws before you install one just in case.

If you would like to find out more, check out this post from Avoid Radar.


Disclaimer

Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission.

Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases.

The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

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