It couldn't be a better time to invest in one of the best dash cams for some peace of mind. These in-car cameras, designed to be mounted to your windscreen or dashboard, are supposed to capture a clear view of the road ahead (and behind if you go for the front-and-rear model) and record footage of any incident.
Much like an action camera, dash cams can record your drives and even when your vehicle is parked, using integrated sensors to detect if an incident occurs. And, any footage it takes can then be used as invaluable evidence if you're involved in or see an incident or accident while on the road. Another reason for installing a dash cam in your vehicle could be the offer of lower insurance premiums, potentially helping to bring down the rising cost of driving.
We've spent hundreds of hours testing these security cameras for your car, ranking them in this regularly updated guide. So, whether you're looking for a cheap car camera or a modern front-and-rear setup, we can help you find the best dash cam for your need.
Right now, we think the top choice for most drivers is the Nextbase 622GW, which records stable 4K footage whenever you’re on the road. But not everyone will need something so advanced. For a simpler dash cam, the Nextbase 522GW represents great value. Or you might prefer an in-car camera that’s small enough to hide behind your rear-view mirror, in which case, the Garmin’s Dash Cam Mini 2 is ideal.
Whatever kind of camera you’d like to install in your car, you’ll find the best options listed below. Our buying guide covers a wide range of spec levels, including models spanning every budget. We've also included our price comparison tool to help you find a cheap dash cam deal.
The best dash cams 2022 – chosen by our experts
Rather than being a replacement for the more affordable 522GW (see below), the 622GW is simply a new flagship dash cam. And, it has proven itself as the best dash cam to buy right now.
In our tests, it delivered much-improved video quality and better stabilization, along with the inclusion of what3words geolocation services for pinpointing stricken vehicles within a three-meter radius. When we chose to shoot in 4K/30p, the resulting footage looked almost cinematic in its presentation, with extremely crisp definition and great detail, even in poor lighting. This makes it much easier to pinpoint registration numbers or pick out hard-to-see elements of an accident.
A built-in polarizing filter on the front of the camera can be rotated to reduce glare from windscreens, while digital image stabilization is another first for the dash cam market and helps smooth out those bumps and shakes caused by potholes and poor road surfaces.
Like its 522GW sibling, this model can be controlled via your voice with Alexa Skills, but it requires the accompanying smartphone app to work, which we didn't rate as the best we've tried. Despite new dual 2.4GHz + 5GHz Wi-Fi, we found that it still had trouble connecting with phones to transfer images and video clips.
Thankfully, the 3-inch rear touchscreen is crisp, clear and very easy to use, while the inclusion of what3words combines well with Nextbase's EmergencySOS feature, which you get a year's free subscription for with this dash cam.
Read our in-depth Nextbase 622GW review
The Garmin Mini 2 is a tiny dash cam that all but disappears behind your car’s rear view mirror, yet boasts Full HD video with HDR, voice control that actually works reliably, a decent smartphone app and a dead-simple magnetic mounting system.
Installing the Mini 2 is the same as other members of the Garmin Dash Cam family. We found the setup process took just a few minutes with the use of Garmin’s Drive smartphone app (iOS and Android). The simple but effective mounting system comprises a ball-and-socket joint for positioning the camera at the perfect angle, while a coin-sized magnet that sticks to your windscreen and holds the dash cam securely in place.
We found video quality to be good for the size of the camera. It records in Full HD, 30fps with HDR and produces footage that is sharp enough to pick out key details like registration plates, whatever the ambient light and weather conditions. At 140 degrees, the lens' field-of-view isn’t the widest on the market, but still provides a good view of the road ahead.
There’s a button for quickly saving a portion of video (or you can rely on the g-sensor to automatically detect a collision) and voice controls for functions like taking a photo or turning audio recording on and off work surprisingly well.
Due to the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2’s compact size, it does not have a display. Instead, you need to use the smartphone app to check the camera’s view and access recordings. It also misses out on GPS, which is a shame, but this is arguably the only major feature missing here. Unless you need the best dash cam with driver assistance functions like speed camera alerts, the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 will leave you wanting for very little. Simple, subtle and reliable, it’s the definition of set-and-forget- technology.
Read our in-depth Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 review
The Nextbase 622GW flagship (see no.1) might be one of the most advanced dash cams you can buy, but the 522GW remains the best dash cam all-rounder. Thanks to a crisp 1440p resolution and wide-angle lens, it does the basics very well, but also throws in plenty of additional features.
We found the three-inch touchscreen on the back to be responsive, and there's also the option of using the built-in Alexa functionality. Currently, you can ask Alexa to play music, place calls and listen to audiobooks through connected devices, though the Dash Cam Skill (which lets you command it to ‘start recording’, ‘stop recording’, ‘protect a recording’ and ‘send to my phone’) needs a bit more polish.
This is all a bit of a gimmick and, to be honest, we didn't use it all that much, so it is lucky that the remainder of the UX is extremely simple. Videos can be quickly and easily shared to a smart device via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, while a clever Emergency SOS system will alert the emergency services of your location and other details if you prove unresponsive following an accident.
The 67W supersedes Garmin’s already very good 66W with a few additional connected features that only add to a very enticing package. At about the size of a matchbox, the 67W is one of the smallest dash cams we’ve had the honor of testing – in fact, it's only usurped by Garmin’s own Mini, which is so small it looks like it came out of a Christmas Cracker.
Crammed inside this tiny package is a top-quality sensor that's capable of capturing crisp 1440p footage and enhancing it in those tricky weather conditions thanks to a HDR (High Dynamic Range) function. In our tests, it looked great and the additional pixels made it possible to punch into footage on the computer to read number plates or spot minor things that could act as important evidence.
Easy to set up, simple to use and accompanied by a very clean smartphone app, the 67W goes one better than its predecessor by adding connected features, such as the ability to automatically upload any saved clips to Garmin’s cloud when the camera detects a trusted Wi-Fi network.
Bear in mind that Garmin will charge you for a storage plan – and if you want to make the most of its connected features, such as the ability to remotely check in on a parked car from anywhere in the world, you’ll have to hardwire the camera into your vehicle’s main power source.
You’ll also need to make sure the camera is connected to a Wi-Fi network, so this means parking next to a friendly router or investing in a mobile hotspot, which will also require constant power. You can see how it rapidly becomes a deep and expensive rabbit hole.
Regardless, if you just want great quality footage that’s automatically recorded by something that will fit into a shirt pocket, look no further.
Read our in-depth Garmin Dash Cam 67W review
Aimed at those who spend extended periods behind the wheel, the Nexar Pro is a dual-cam solution that can record video both inside and outside a vehicle. Comprised of two separate camera units connected by a cable, we found the setup to be pretty neat, even if it took up a fair bit of screen real estate.
The Nexar app is central to the twin camera experience: it’s where you can fine-tune settings, generate incident reports and back recorded clips up to the cloud (Nexar bundles cloud storage in for free). Other useful tools include break-in alerts if someone tries to tamper with your car, as well as GPS data logging.
This dash cam doesn’t record in 4K, but we found its 1080p video to be perfectly serviceable. The external camera fares well even in tricky shooting situations, from heavy rain to bright sunshine. There are cheaper dash cams out there with fewer features to play with, but if the security of your car is crucial to your daily life, the Pro is hard to beat in terms of protection and overall value.
Read our in-depth Nexar Pro review
We won’t hold it against you if you’ve never heard of Viofo, because it certainly isn't the biggest name in the dash cam business, but its 4K resolution Pro Duo model represents great value for money.
The front camera is quite a bit bulkier than many rivals on this list, but it features a built-in GPS module, something that many other brands offer as an optional extra. Its plastic casing looks and feels basic, but it houses some rather impressive tech that belies its overall build quality.
Rather than a traditional rechargeable battery set up, it runs super capacitors, meaning its power source is built to last and can withstand an extreme temperature range without blunting performance. On top of this, you get the option of what we found to be impressive 4K (3840 x 2160p) video recording, with the resulting footage offering a great amount of detail. There's also a Wide Dynamic Range mode for rich colors in all weather conditions.
Unfortunately, 4K recording is only possible at 30fps, which isn’t the greatest if you want to slow footage down. However, dual recording (front and rear cameras) is only available at full HD (1080p) anyway and this is pumped out at 60fps for much smoother results.
In our tests, the setup was very easy and Viofo offers a smartphone app for quickly reviewing and saving clips. Unfortunately, installation of dual cameras requires the removal of interior trim and the clever stashing of long wires. It can be a messy and infuriating process to get it right, but worth it to avoid a dangling tangle of power cables.
The fact that you get night vision, a parking mode, motion detection, automatic emergency recording, GPS tracking and dual-channel 1080p at this price makes this a package well worth considering if you cover a lot of miles and want total camera coverage that doesn’t cost a small fortune.
Garmin’s first dual-lens dash cam lets you view what’s going on both inside and outside the car while you are driving, which is handy for taxi drivers and others wanting to keep an eye on their passengers. Extremely compact in design, the Dash Cam Tandem features a clip-in magnetic mount and can be easily installed below the rear-view mirror and removed when not in use.
Two lengths of USB cable are provided (the longer one enables you to run the cable around the car cabin neatly), as is a cigarette lighter USB socket with two ports for charging your phone at the same time. However, if you want to use the dash cam for incident recording – such as if your car gets bumped in the car park while you are shopping – you will need to get it professionally installed so it’s constantly recording.
Key for control of the camera is the Garmin Drive app (Android and iOS) where you can review video and audio footage from your drives without having to take the microSD card out of the camera. We found picture quality to be generally excellent, especially from the front camera. And while the rear camera struggled a bit in very low light, you can still make out passengers reasonably clearly in black and white. There’s also a picture-in-picture option so you can view both rear- and front-facing camera footage simultaneously.
Rather usefully, footage is displayed with a time stamp, the speed of the vehicle and its location. Voice control is also provided, which enables hands-free control with instructions such as ‘OK Garmin, take a picture’ or ‘OK Garmin, save video’. Safety cam alert updates will also be added to the app soon.
The only slight problem we experienced was that the app wasn’t as intuitive as we would’ve liked and didn’t automatically connect to the Wi-Fi connection when reviewing footage from our drives. Aside from that, this is a pricey but excellent option for those who want to keep an eye on their car, inside and out.
Read our in-depth Garmin Dash Cam Tandem review
The Kenwood DRV-A601W does everything you ask of it, and does it well, without including many of the annoying additional features – such as lane-keeping assist warnings and speed limit alerts – that many modern units attempt to woo potential buyers with.
We found the 4K footage to be smooth, while the addition of a removable polarizing filter and built-in HDR technology means it’s possible to get incredibly crisp and clear images, even in adverse weather conditions or low-light situations.
That said, the DRV-A601W is expensive; similarly priced rivals offer equally good video quality with the addition of innovative features, such as the Emergency SOS geo-location service found on the Nextbase 622GW.
Kenwood also pushes its rear-view camera, which offers fantastic HD quality footage to capture rear-end collisions and the like, as well as its hard-wiring kit that allows the camera to draw a certain amount of power when the ignition is off, without draining the vehicle’s battery. This opens up parking surveillance opportunities and gets around modern engine stop/start technology that can often see the power cut off to cameras and recording terminated.
However, adding these extras can get expensive, and there are models such as the Viofo A139 that offer a perfectly good three-camera setup for the same price as the Kenwood’s front-facing unit. Of course, it can’t compete on video quality, but if you want all-round coverage on a budget, there are options.
Read our in-depth Kenwood DRV-A601W review
Vava joins a growing list of relative newcomers to the dash cam game that includes brands like Vantrue and Viofo. However, we found that its level of build quality and finish could easily rival some of the bigger names in the market, making it among the best dash cams right now.
Arriving in neatly divided and high quality packaging, the Vava 2K Dual Dash Cam immediately feels like a premium offering. This is reflected in the fairly lofty price, but unfortunately its footage isn’t as crisp, detailed or clear on test as some of the 4K rivals higher up in this guide. On top of this, the rear camera, which is neatly integrated into the single, lozenge-shaped unit, predominantly captures what is going on inside the cabin, rather than the important stuff happening out of the rear window.
That said, the extra niceties, including a wireless physical button for recording footage on the fly and capturing still images when driving, are neat things to have. Plus, features like a driver fatigue alarm and infrared lighting for inside the cabin feel like welcome extras. It’s a good little dash cam, but it just doesn’t capture footage as well as those products that feature separate front and rear cameras.
Read our in-depth Vava 2K Dual Dash Cam review
The Thinkware T700 focuses on clever additional features, rather than blowing the budget on the latest image sensors and huge video resolutions. The result is perfectly adequate, if not completely faultless, HD-quality footage, with a healthy dollop of online features that make it great for particularly paranoid car owners.
That’s because this camera accepts Vodafone’s V-Sim card, meaning that for a few quid a month, you can have a constantly connected 4G LTE camera that you can tap into via a smart device from pretty much anywhere in the world.
Due to this fact, the T700 requires hard-wiring into a vehicle’s power supply to make the most of these remote features, which we found to be both fiddly and a bit tricky. That said, once initial set-up is complete, it’s very easy to rapidly download clips to a smart device, receive warnings when the car has been involved in a parking shunt, and spy on the kids if and when they grab the keys to your prized wheels.
Type the words ‘dash cam’ into Amazon and the number of search results that appear can be intimidating. But nestled in amongst the pile of offerings is this Chinese brand that flaunts professional spec dash cams that cost up to half as much as some of the market leaders.
The front lens, which is arguably the most important here, is comprised of six individual glass elements and packs a whopping f/1.8 aperture, which we found to be brilliant for capturing crisp imagery in low-light situations. On top of this, a second f/2 lens faces the cabin and is supported by four IR LED lights to boost what is often tricky, gloomy footage via an excellent Sony IMX323 sensor. Although not for everyone, this sort of functionality is perfect for professional drivers who may or may not want to relive any incidents that occur late on a Friday night. There’s also a built-in microphone to record sound.
Continuous loop recording is a given here, as is G-sensor technology that detects an incident and will automatically save the footage to the microSD card. However, buyers will have to plump for an optional GPS mount that saves data on speed and location alongside the video file.
Thanks to the brilliant Sony sensor, we found image quality to be generally very good, while linking the device to a laptop or PC is as simple as it gets. Front and rear footage is handily divided into two separate files too, reducing the time spent browsing the various folders for the desired clip.
Parking Mode is also good value at this price point, as it can be switched on to auto record whenever it senses motion. Alas, it requires a power source, so needs to either be hard-wired into the vehicle via a separate accessory or attached to an external power source.
There aren’t many folk outside of the professional driving world that legitimately need a three-camera setup such as this, where individual units capture footage out of the windscreen, out of the rear and inside the cabin. But if you’re one of those people, Viofo’s package is enticing, since it offers a lot of technology for the money.
The entire setup is compact and simple enough to install without impeding too much on windscreen real estate. Just be prepared to deal with lots of trailing wires and get used to hiding them in the car’s headliner or under the carpet.
In our tests, footage captured out of the front camera was perfectly good enough in most scenarios. That said, it falls some way behind some of the market leaders, which now offer impressive 4K capabilities, excellent low-light capture and Wide Dynamic Range technology for all driving conditions.
Viofo does use Sony Starvis image sensors, which work well when capturing footage in low light, although the drop in resolution means that some of the quality is lost in sub-par driving conditions. You’ll be able to punch in to the footage using some video software, but distant details become fuzzy.
The interior and rear cameras capture 170-degrees of action, thanks to a wide field of view, while that interior camera also uses six LEDs to assist with its infrared capabilities. Even in the darkest driving conditions, we found it easy to make out what was going on inside the car.
At this price, the A139 competes with a lot of fantastic cameras on this list, with many offering lots of additional technology, a more user-friendly app and touchscreens for easier interaction. Plus, Viofo’s own A129 4K dual dash cam setup (see no.6) is a very similar price. Unless you absolutely need the interior footage, the higher-resolution A129 (with rear screen) is the better buy.
Read our in-depth Viofo A139 review
How to pick the best dash cam for you
The best dash cams broadly have similar technology to one another, and, for the most part, mount somewhere along a car's front windscreen or windshield. Of course, wherever you place your dash cam must not block your view of the road.
The advent of rear-facing cameras (or complete kits that contain both front and rear) require a little extra instillation, as these often involve cables that run from front to back. Expect some fiddly work involving the car's headliner to get these fitted correctly.
Dash cams record smaller snippets of footage, usually in increments of one to two minutes at a time. The cameras continually record over the oldest clip in order to keep the memory card from filling up as well.
While older models typically required the user to manually save or tag the appropriate clip in the event of an accident, new G-Sensor-based incident detection technology has taken over, and now takes care of this automatically.
There are also dash cams that boast additional features that, just like any other technology, translate to a higher asking price.
These extra features can include multiple lenses for front- and rear-facing coverage, together with a more refined sensor for better video quality. Some cameras only record 720p HD footage, for example, while many others now offer Full HD (1080p) and 4K capture. Night vision and built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for easy file transfer may also be included.
A rise in popularity of voice control has also made its way over to the humble dash cam, so expect Alexa integration and other such voice-activated technology at the very pinnacle of the range.
Numerous parking modes are also possibilities. These use a time-lapse feature as a surveillance function to capture details of those irksome car park prangs when you're off running errands.
Is it worth having a dash cam?
Yes, absolutely. Some drivers might not like the idea of a camera constantly monitoring their vehicle, but some models of dash cam (like the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2) are compact and subtle enough to almost disappear behind the central rear view mirror. In other words, once they are up and running you soon forget about them; they just sit there, quietly keeping an eye out, ready to save footage if you’re caught in an accident.
If the worst were to happen, and you need to prove your innocence, the dash cam’s footage could do exactly that. This footage can also be set to include your speed, along with the time and date to help reinforce the validity of your evidence if blame is disputed by the other party. As well as monitoring the road ahead, dash cams can be used to record out of the rear windscreen too, recording footage if you are unfortunate enough to be rear-ended by another motorist.
Even if you're not directly involved in a collision, dash cams can still be useful. Many have a button for quickly saving the last few seconds of video. That way, if you need something ahead that you think needs recording, like an accident between two other vehicles, an example of bad driving, or something else noteworthy, you can provide that evidence to whoever might need it. Another useful feature of some dash cams is how they will call the emergency services if a crash is detected and you don’t respond; they can then share your location and ensure help is on its way.
Furthermore, many dash cams come with additional driver assistance features. These include alerts to let you know about nearby speed cameras and red light cameras, plus a prompt to tell you the vehicle in front has set off – just in case you weren’t paying attention while sat in traffic.
Lastly, some dash cams can be permanently installed in your vehicle and hard-wired, giving them a constant power supply. When paired with a special parking mode, this enables the camera to sense impacts and record footage while the car is parked, potentially gathering useful evidence of your neighbor’s poor parking.
How we test dash cams
Almost all dash cams can be fitted to a car without making any permanent modification. They can be attached to a windscreen using a suction cup or removable adhesive pad, and powered from either a USB port or the 12V socket found in almost all cars. To test dash cams, we install them in our car, attach them to the windscreen and pair them to our smartphone as if we had bought them ourselves.
We then drive, at day and night, to test how the camera handles different lighting conditions, and ideally in varied weather too. The footage is then transferred to a smartphone or computer and viewed to check out the quality, and whether key details like vehicle registration plates are legible. This also gives us an opportunity to see how easy (or difficult) it is to view, transfer and save recorded footage.
Additional features like voice assistants and drive assistance systems get a thorough workout, and we also test how easy it is to turn these off, or adjust them to our personal preferences. Being able to quickly and easily turn audio recording off is key, especially when carrying passengers who don’t want their conversations recorded.
Naturally, we cannot crash a vehicle to see how well the dash cam detects collisions. Instead, firmly tapping the dash cam can simulate a collision, allowing us to see what happens when footage is saved. It is also possible to trigger a recording by powering the camera with a portable battery and tapping it against our desk. It may seem rudimentary, but it works and keeps our insurance company happy.
Sometimes, driving over a particularly aggressive speed bump can trigger a dash cam recording. In these cases we learn that the camera’s g-sensor is too sensitive, and needs to be adjusted, providing the menu system includes such an option.