The Cobra RAD 450 is the most basic radar detector that I've reviewed, which is what you'd expect for an affordable radar detector that's around $100. You shouldn’t expect elite range. You don't get any of the advantages of GPS. But you do get an affordable device that detects the three radar bands used by police – K-, Ka- and X-band. Even with the short range, you should still have enough time to adjust your speed when you receive an alert.
In a highway tests, the Cobra RAD 450 earned a C+ grade. It posted the same range in each test as the Cobra iRAD, which is almost identical in both performance and appearance. The only detector that had a shorter range was the Whistler CR93. In straight ahead scenarios where the radar gun was aimed down the road and not at any angles and with no obstructions, the range was two-miles, which is common with most radar detectors. It' was the other scenarios where the range fell off the edge, such as the perpendicular test where the range was just 0.35 miles. Still, if you're not speeding too badly, you should have plenty of time to adjust your speed and avoid a ticket.
In the city tests, the RAD 450 earned a B grade. The performance was nearly identical to the Cobra iRAD. These tests took me around Ogden and used the Goldilocks method to find detectors that weren't too loud and weren't too quiet. The best city performances keep your awareness up, forcing you to keep your speed in check, but without becoming a nuisance. With the RAD 450, it seemed to err on the quiet side. It provided just enough alerts to remind me that I was using a radar detector.
Much like the iRAD, the RAD 450 is very easy to use, receiving an A- grade in that regard. Both detectors are nearly identical in design, except that the iRAD has a report button that integrates with the community sharing app to record threat locations. The display has high-contrast colors that make it very easy to read, and the controls are labeled clearly. But the controls are also multifunctional, which saves space but requires a steeper learning curve to master.
The biggest difference between the RAD 450 and the iRAD is the Bluetooth, which connects the iRAD to your smartphone and allows you to make use of the community sharing app, Cobra iRadar. The community sharing aspect of the app is a great idea, but there aren't enough users to make it very effective. That said, it provides alerts to red-light and speed camera locations. It also provides spatial awareness to the alerts you receive, telling you approximately how far away an alert is and where it's coming from. If you want most of the benefits of a GPS radar detector but you don't want to pay for it, the iRAD is the better option.
The Cobra RAD 450 performs less well than other radar detectors in our lineup. The range doesn't compare to the $500 and $700 detectors. It doesn't have GPS and it doesn't have a way of connecting to the Cobra iRadar app. It is, however, the most affordable option and it provides good enough range on the highway to provide effective protection.