I remember the first (and only) time I got pulled over for speeding. You know that sinking feeling when you realize that the siren and flashing lights in the rearview mirror are for you?
I was young, the fine was devastatingly expensive to my budget, and I vowed I’d never get one again.
One way to avoid speeding tickets without breaking the bank is to get a good radar detector that won’t ruin your budget. That’s why we researched some of the best and most affordable options out there. There are plenty of great choices, even if you’re on a tight budget.
The Cobra ESD7570 is one of the best. It’s easy to use, straight forward design is just what you need to avoid a costly speeding ticket and points on your license.
Our Best Picks for Budget Radar Detectors
Cobra ESD75709 Band Coverage, City/Highway Mode, 360-detectionCheck Latest Price
Whistler XTR-130Highway/City Mode, Quiet Mode, Safety Warning SystemCheck Latest Price
Cobra Electronics SPX 5300Intellimute, Highway/City Mode, Automatic Shut-offCheck Latest Price
Whistler CR80360-detection, Stay Alert, Traffic Flow Signal RejectionCheck Latest Price
Whistler XTR-265POP Alert Mode, Auto Quiet Mode, VG-2 CloakingCheck Latest Price
Top 5 Radar Detector Reviews Under $100
1. Cobra ESD7570
If you want a no-frills, straight-forward design, you can’t do much better than the Cobra ESD7570. Not only is it extremely affordable, it’s also packed with features that will keep you speeding-ticket-free. Best of all, it really works.
You’re probably wondering, packed with features? What features?
First of all, this Cobra radar detector has nine-band coverage. It picks up the most common frequencies used by police. It also alerts you to any emergency vehicles in the area. This is an easy way to avoid accidents and other road hazards that can really set back your travel.
City or Highway mode makes driving in the city more enjoyable. Since there are more drivers in the city, there’s a greater chance you’ll get close to a device that interferes with yours. With City or Highway mode, easily switch from sensitive highway mode to a less responsive City mode. This way, you only get those alarms triggered by police radar.
The 360-detection is another important feature of this model. It picks up signals from the front, back, and sides of your vehicle so you’re covered no matter which direction the police might be hiding in. You can get this effective and affordable unit for around $75.
2. Whistler XTR-130
Next up is the Whistler XTR-130, a solid performer that can fit into just about any budget but isn’t short on the kind of features you need in a radar detector. Plus, you can get it for around $35.
The XTR-130 also has Highway or City mode. I can’t emphasize how much this feature helps while you’re driving in the city. It eliminates frequent alerts from other radar detectors, burglar alarms, or garage door openers and only alarms when the signal strength becomes so strong that a speed radar detector has to be responsible.
If you don’t want to hear any alerts at all, the XTR-130 also has a quiet mode., By turning off the audible alerts, you’ll rely solely on the visual alerts on the bright, easy-to-read icon display.
Vehicle Battery Saver Mode prevents your car battery from being depleted if you leave the unit on when you exit the car. After 3 hours with no alerts, it turns itself off.
The Safety Warning System technology is relatively new but shows promise. This system alerts you when there are safety issues on the road, like a speeding ambulance close by or road construction vehicles.
3. Cobra Electronics SPX 5300
Another great option from Cobra is the SPX 5300. One of the best things about this product is its sensitivity. By using military grade components and modern design, it reduces unhelpful background noise, making it easier to pick up the important signals.
The SPX 5300 is both compact and inconspicuous with a size that’s smaller than similar models. Personally, I like that it’s such a comparatively small size but still able to perform as well as it does.
The audio alerts are effective but the visual display with bright, easy-to-read icons is quite impressive, too. It also features a meter that displays signal strength so you can estimate how close the speed trap is.
Another key thing about this model is it doesn’t give a lot of false alarms. The City or Highway filtering mode is a feature we’ve seen before, it minimizes unnecessary alarms in the city.
Intellimute takes the revs of your engine into consideration before alarming. If it’s picking up radar and you’re travelling at a slow speed or have stopped, it doesn't sound an alarm because it knows you’re not speeding.
The SPX 5300 also has automatic shut off to save your battery in case you’re forgetful. You can get this item with the mount and power cord included for about $90.
4. Whistler CR80
The Whistler CR80 police radar detector has total band protection, picking up X-band, K-band, Superwide K-band, and laser so it alerts you to all the types of radar guns most commonly used today, even the newest laser technology. You can pick it up for about $90.
Because it uses 360-degree protection, you’re covered from any direction. While that may seem like it can lead to an increase in false alarms, this product has various features that prevent that from happening.
First of all, It uses Traffic Flow Signal Rejection to eliminate any false alarms caused by traffic flow sensors or even other radar detectors. Plus, it’s equipped with three different City and Highway modes, too.
I really like that this radar detector alerts you in multiple ways. There are audio alerts as well as a digital icon display and top-mounted flashing LED lights for great visual warnings, too. It even prioritizes alerts, letting the most important through when multiple radars are detected.
If you take a lot of road trips (like I do), you’ll love the Stay Alert feature. It’s surprising how tiring driving a car on the highway can be. With Stay Alert, a tone goes off every minute or so and you have to physically interact with the machine to turn it off or a loud alarm sounds. If you start getting drowsy a few hours into a long drive, it’s a great way to perk yourself up again.
5. Whistler XTR-265
Here’s another great Whistler radar detector: the XTR-265. Because it has both total band protection and 360-degree detection, it picks up all the radar signals used in the US and Canada from the front, back, and sides of your car. So, you’re covered whether you’re driving in Toronto, Dallas, or Portland.
The XTR-265 has some of the newest technology. Law enforcement now uses radar detector detectors. Basically, police can figure out if a radar detector is in use. With VG-2 cloaking, your device prevents law enforcement officials from locking onto your signal so they won’t know it’s there.
This one also has POP alert mode, which detects a new type of speed radar that uses short bursts instead of a constant signal. POP alert picks up these quick sweeps and alerts you to the signal.
XTR-265 has Auto Quiet mode, which makes your drive a little more peaceful. When it picks up a signal, it gives one audio alert before switching to low-volume and visual alerts when detecting the same signal. That means a quieter drive without missing any important warnings.
Best Radar Detector under $100 for the Money
The Cobra ESD7570 is your best bet for an effective car radar detector that doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars. The design is simple, easy to use, and has a ton of awesome features to save you from a costly speeding fine.
Best of all? It actually works.
Because it has nine-band coverage, it picks up all of the most common frequencies used by police. Plus, it alerts you to emergency vehicles and other road hazards in the area so you can avoid getting unnecessarily stuck in traffic.
City or Highway mode eliminates all those annoying false alarms from devices that can interfere with the signal. Plus, the 360-degree detection makes sure you’re covered from all angles, no matter where law enforcement might be hiding.
If you thought that you’d have to shell out hundreds of dollars for an Escort radar detector to be safe, think again. The Cobra ESD7570 is an effective, budget-friendly option, making it our top recommendation. To see other models from Cobra, see our review!