GPS devices have been helping drivers get around for over 20 years. They have been gotten cheaper and more accurate. Modern systems with added information such as traffic information, police roadblock and speed trap locations are also reasons why you should buy this device. This car GPS review looks at some of the best systems that you can find on the market.
Top Rated Car GPS List
1. Garmin Nuvi 3597 LMTHD
The Garmin Nuvi 3597LMTHD comes with a 5-inch TFT screen that adds to its brilliant aesthetics. The screen has a high resolution (800 x 480) and impressive clarity and brightness.
Mounting the device is easy, and is done via a magnetic mount that automatically clicks into place. It has a battery life of two hours, but you can charge the device using either the mini USB slot at the back or the power cable that connects directly to your car’s 12 volt power source.
Bluetooth helps you to connect to your Android smartphone or iPhone, allowing you to make calls by using the device’s microphone and speakers, synchronize your phone numbers, and transfer Points of Interest (POIs) to the device.
The vocal command system helps to provide a truly hands free experience. The Nuvi 3597LMTHD has a voice driven destination selection system that accepts everything from business names to street addresses. The vocal directions given are short and precise, allowing you to concentrate on the road.
2. TomTom GO 600
$183.00 From Amazon
The TomTom GO 600 comes with a high resolution (800 x 480) 6-inch capacitive touch screen, allowing you to scroll through and zoom in and out of maps.
The GO 600 comes with TomTom Traffic, which detects traffic in real time and sends you various alerts, such as if you are approaching traffic too quickly. The service will also alert you of the length of the traffic jam and give you an estimate of how long you will be delayed.
Navigation with the GO 600 is aided by the voice prompts which are clear and to the point. However, they can be slightly confusing, and have been known to be inaccurate. The display shows your route, estimated time of arrival, distance to your destination, POIs along the way, and other useful information.
Giving the GO 600 Voice commands is a slow process. You have to push a button every time you want to begin giving instructions, inputting your destination is a multi-step process, and you literally have to shout to be heard sometimes.
3. Magellan SmartGPS 5390
$146.99 From Amazon
The Magellan SmartGPS 5390 is tailor-made to be used in North America, and has numerous maps of the USA and Canada. It comes with a 5-inch color screen that is capacitive, allowing for swiping, pinching and tapping gestures.
The Smart GPS is unique, in that it is designed to link to your smartphone so that it can access live content, and store all your information in the cloud.
Connecting the GPS to your smartphone and WiFi may take some time, but once you are done, you will have access to information such as nearby POIs and their ratings on Yelp and FourSquare, recent gas prices, traffic data and any road hazards that you may encounter.
Following the installation of the dedicated app on your smartphone, you will be able to change favorites, search for destinations and check traffic and current location data. You will also be able to send destinations to and from the device. This enables you to plan a trip before you get into the car, or to complete the last part of a journey using your smartphone.
4. Garmin Nuvi 2797LMT
This fantastic product from Garmin features a 7-inch touch screen that is easy to read, even in glaring sunlight. However, it is not capacitive and therefore cannot support swipes or pinches, meaning that you cannot zoom into maps.
The Nuvi 2797LMT comes with Garmin’s state-of-the-art Voice command system that gives you clear, concise vocal prompts to help get you where you need to go. However, the Traffic receiver in this unit is in the 12V adaptor, therefore to get traffic updates you need to have this plugged in to your car.
You can also link your Android smartphone to the device via Bluetooth. This will allow you to gain real-time information such as weather conditions, and to make and receive calls.
5. Garmin Nuvi 2597 LMT
$100.00 From Amazon
The Garmin Nuvi 2597LMT is like the Nuvi 3597LMTHD’s younger sibling. They share some similarities, but when examined closely they are quite different.
They both have 5-inch touch screens that can be used in either portrait or landscape mode. However, the Nuvi 2597LMT screen has a lower resolution (480 x 272) and is made of plastic.
The Nuvi 2597LMT uses traditional plastic mountings, though it is still easy to mount and use. The Bluetooth connectivity is also very good, and you can use the device to answer calls and read messages as well as aid with navigation and transfer POIs. However, the smartphone app for this unit is only for android smartphones.
The Vocal commands on the Nuvi 2597LMT are excellent. The directions they provide are easy to understand and can even include landmarks such as traffic lights and churches if the GPS has that information.
Garmin provides free lifetime map updates and free traffic updates on the Nuvi 2697LMT, ensuring that you are always in the know.
6. TomTom GO 60 S
$129.04 From Amazon
The TomTom GO 60 S is physically similar to the GO 600. It sports a 6-inch touch screen that has a high 800 x 480 resolution. However, many of the similarities with the GO 600 stop there.
The GO 60 S screen is not capacitive, meaning that you will not be able to zoom into maps. It comes with a mount that is built into the device, making it easier to carry from one vehicle to another.
The interface is much the same as in the GO 600, and displays information such as speed, distance, and alternative routes. The search function has been made simpler. However, as it overlaps with country maps as well, it is slower than other devices.
Navigation with the GO 60 S is simple thanks to GO’s Speak and Go voice control, which allows you to enter an address verbally. When doing this, you will need to say the full address, including the city, to stop the device from searching internationally as well. You also get lifetime traffic and map updates at no extra charge.
7. TomTom Via 1535TM
$119.99 From Amazon
The TomTom Via 1535TM is a thin-bodied GPS that comes with a 5-inch color touch screen that is both easy to mount and use.
The Navigation system on the Via 1535TM comes with TomTom’s IQ Routes, which helps to determine the fastest route you can take depending on the time and date. It will alert you to the condition of the road, for instance if it is paved or unpaved and what the speed limit is.
The voice commands are simple, but can be slightly unreliable. For instance, it may have some difficulty recognizing names and places such as 7-Eleven. However, the voice is pleasant to listen to, and is different from the robotic voices that you get from many GPS devices.
The VIA 1535TM comes with lifetime traffic and map updates, keeping you up to date with all the changes that are happening on the road. Map updates include information from TomTom’s Map Share feature, which allows users to correctly map errors and share them with others.
8. Magellan Roadmate 5230T LM
$117.14 From Amazon
The Magellan Roadmate 5230T LM is an easy to use GPS that comes with a 5-inch color touch screen. It is tricky to mount, and requires you to assemble three pieces to do so.
Like the other systems on this list, the Roadmate 5239T LM comes with lifetime traffic and map updates. The Traffic updates come in real time, and the maps are updated every 3 months.
The Traffic updates include traffic delays and an estimation of the delay time. The GPS also suggests different routes to help you save time, and gives you traffic camera alerts so that you can avoid speed traps. The first year of alerts is free but after that, you need to pay a small fee.
The Roadmate 5239T LM gives voice prompts with are clear and easy to understand, however, they can be loud and inaccurate at times.
The guidance system also tends to get lost, and can take up to 5 minutes to recalculate a route if you decide to take a detour. However, its routing algorithms are fine when they work, and it will take the fastest routes to get you to your destination.