Note: Discontinued. See reviews of the latest models.
Red light cameras in the U.S. have begun using radar to detect red-light runners and clock speeders. Dubbed non-intrusive vehicle radar detection, it replaces the traditional pavement sensors once used exclusively to trigger the cameras. This means that for the first time, a sensitive radar detector can be a viable red light camera countermeasure.
To find the best radar detector to meet this new threat, we squared off against an ATS AutoPatrol RLSC-3D red light camera with detectors from Beltronics, Cobra, Escort and Whistler. Street-priced from $149 (Cobra) to $1,999 (the built-in Escort Passport 9500ci), as expected, the pricier models performed the best.
The Cobra SPX-7700, for example, spotted the radar at 240 feet, in theory far enough away for a driver to react. But we tested in early afternoon with very light traffic. Our past tests show that as traffic density increases, detection range shrinks dramatically. Other vehicles block the feeble radar beam, chopping range by up to 90 percent.