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Top-Rated Car Dash Cams for Recording Your Every Move

best dash cams

Car and Driver

For surveillance types who haven’t invested in a Corvette with a built-in external video recorder or a BMW 6-series Gran Turismo that can upload 360-degree photos to an app, a more affordable option is a dedicated dash cam. Here are some of the best we could find, as well as their features and pros and cons.

There’s a lot of contention as to why insurance companies have failed to offer discounts for using a dash cam, and how and if the footage can be used to legally incriminate an at-fault driver. What we do know is that dash cams are more popular than ever, and we’ve heard dozens of stories how saved footage has helped car owners recover damages, beat tickets, and record some pretty remarkable events playing out in front of them.

A couple of caveats: Video file sizes vary due to resolution, frame rate, embedded audio, and compression. Image quality, particularly during rapid exposure to bright sunlight (such as when exiting a tunnel or under an overpass), can vary. Battery life is iffy for most models, so if you’re planning to keep a watchful eye on your car while it’s parked overnight, you must have a 12-volt power outlet that stays live when the car is off. Finally, while most dash cams require a memory card to preserve footage most new dash cams don’t come with a memory card included—and not all cameras are compatible with all micro SD cards. Buyer beware.

We’ve gathered seven of our favorite dash cams of varying prices and features. Have a look, should you wish to record someone—preferably, someone else—tailgating and running stop signs. Who knows? Maybe you’ll capture a close call on the road, or even a meteor. One thing’s for sure: If you don’t have a dash cam, you won’t capture anything.

Dash Cams as Accident Reconstruction Tools

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Rove R2-4K Dash Cam

You could spend hundreds of dollars on a dash cam, or you can spend tens. This one falls near the middle, which means it’s full of features but won’t cost the equivalent of a car payment. Its ultra HD camera can capture images up to 2160p resolution, and the built-in Wi-Fi and GPS can track your route on the free Rove app or on Google Maps. It has a 150-degree wide-angle lens with a f1.8 aperture, plus parking mode, motion detection, G-sensor, loop cycle recording, emergency lock, time-lapse, and slow-motion capabilities. The Sony STARVIS sensor ensures night-vision video in clear detail.

Buy at WALMART

  • American company with U.S.-based customer service
  • Supports 512GB micro SD card

Nextbase 222 Dash Cam

We’ve used Nextbase dash cams (not this model; keep scrolling), and have had great experiences with them. A compact design, low-pro mount, and a 2.5-inch LED screen make this affordable model one of the brand’s most popular. It records in 1080p HD with a 140-degree viewing angle. It has a G-force sensor, parking mode, and auto-start functions, but does not feature GPS or Wi-Fi. The video playback and review is compatible with either Mac or PC, and you can hook up an optional rearview cam for 360-degree coverage.

BUY at NEXTBASE

  • Magnetic mount system makes it easily removable
  • Supports micro SD cards up to 128GB

Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2

One of the smallest, most discreet dash cams you can buy, from one of automotive tech’s most trusted names. Despite the tiny size, it records a 140-degree field of view in 1080p high-def resolution. It has a host of high-tech features like hands-free voice command, Wi-Fi, Live View monitoring, and two power options via USB-B or USB-A. Best of all, it’s about the size of a key fob.

BUY at GARMIN

  • Mounts sight unseen behind your rearview mirror
  • Features Garmin Vault storage; never lose your footage
  • Micro SD card not included

Car and Driver Road Patrol Dash Cam

Now here’s a name we can trust. Our proprietary Road Patrol dash cam features both front and rear cameras, so it’s ideal for rideshare drivers. The 1080p Sony image sensor is top-notch, with a 150-degree field of view—even the interior camera captures 110 degrees—and the three-inch OLED touchscreen makes it a breeze to use. The Drivesmart alert system lets you know if you car veers from its lane or gets too close to another vehicle, and other features like a parking mode, collision detection, and built-in GPS help make it one of our favorite dash cams.

BUY at HOME DEPOT

  • Parking mode auto-records if your car is struck while parked
  • Interior camera can be mounted anywhere in the cabin
  • 16GB memory card included; size up for more memory

Rexing V1 Dash Cam

With a 170-degree viewing angle recording 2160p HD video and a supercapacitor designed to handle temperatures from minus-20 to 166 degrees Fahrenheit, the wedge-shaped Rexing V1 is one of the best values in dash cams. It includes GPS functionality via Google Maps, plus a parking monitor, loop recording, G-sensor, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

BUY on eBAY

  • Can support up to 256GB micro SD card
  • Wedge shape makes for discreet mounting

Vantrue N4 Dash Cam

While an inexpensive dash cam will suffice for some, spending a bit more will get you a high-tech, dependable device. The N4 offers simultaneous 360-degree vehicle coverage inside and out, and has all the high-end features like GPS, parking mode, time lapse, etc. It’s not perfect, though. It doesn’t support Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, so corded playback/review is your only option. Plus, in an annoying bit of salesmanship, typical 256GB micro SD cards aren’t compatible. You must use Vantrue’s proprietary one, and you have to purchase that separately or spend more for a “bundle.”

BUY at WALMART

  • Loop recording automatically records over old files when memory card is full
  • 24-hour parking monitor
  • Vantrue micro SD card required; not included

Nextbase 622GW Dash Cam

We’ve used the Nextbase 622, and can attest to its awesomeness. Easy to hook up, easy to use, and the coverage and clarity are among the best we’ve seen in any dash cam. It has features many others don’t, including image stabilization to make out license plates and street signs, 5 GHz Wi-Fi for clearer signals and fast download speeds, super-slow-mo playback, and revolutionary What3words global positioning technology to pinpoint your exact location within meters in the event of an accident.

BUY at WALMART

  • This trusted brand was a pioneer in dash-cam tech
  • Click & Go magnetic mount

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