Best Car GPS

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Garmin DriveLuxe 51 LMT-S

  • Lifetime map updates over Wi-Fi
  • Capacitive touch screen
  • Bluetooth calling

Rand McNally OverDryve

  • Lifetime updates for North American maps
  • Intuitive to use
  • 6.95-inch capacitive touch screen

Magellan RoadMate 5630T-LM

  • Lifetime map updates.
  • Lifetime traffic alerts.
  • Seven million preloaded points of interest.

TomTom GO 52

  • Destination Prediction
  • Compatible with Siri and Google Now
  • Works without cell or GPS signal

Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S

  • Lifetime updates for North American maps
  • Intuitive user interface
  • 6.95-inch touch screen
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Garmin Drive 50LMT

  • Driver awareness features
  • Lifetime traffic avoidance
  • Landmark guidance

TomTom VIA 1515M

  • Affordable
  • Lifetime maps for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico
  • More points of interest preloaded than similarly priced models

Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S

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Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S Review

Pros

  • Lifetime updates for North American maps
  • Intuitive user interface
  • 6.95-inch touch screen

Cons

  • Relatively short battery life

Introduction

The Garmin SmartDrive 61 LMT-S is a moderate-to-expensive GPS unit which delivers great value via its features and lifetime map updates. It features a highly intuitive interface and offers features across a range of topics, from navigation to safety.

Display and Basic Features

The SmartDrive 61 LMT-S is larger than some models featured in Garmin GPS reviews, measuring 6.95 inches diagonally, with dimensions of 6.0 by 3.5 inches. It has a good resolution and 1024 x 600 pixels. The battery can last a full hour without being plugged in – perfect for those times you need to charge another device and have limited power ports in your car.

Maps

This GPS system comes preloaded with detailed maps of North America, and you are then eligible for free lifetime updates. These updates are downloaded via Wi-Fi, without any wired connections necessary. Thanks to Garmin Real Directions, you can set up the spoken and displayed commands to include landmarks as well as distances. Input your destination before you hit the road or use the voice-activated navigation when you have already begun to drive. The maps include points of interest with ratings from TripAdvisor, helping you make informed decisions about where to stop. You can even use the Trip Planner tool to discover new attractions.

Additional Features

While driving with this Garmin automotive GPS navigation system, make the most of Live Services via the Smartphone Link application. Available information includes live parking and traffic updates for your convenience. The services also allow for LiveTrack so you can share your location – perfect for any situation where you want others to know where you are, whether this is for safety or planning purposes. Furthermore, this unit ensures you never find yourself wondering what the speed limit is again, thanks to the indicator which both tells you what you need to know and shows you where you’re currently at.

What really makes the SmartDrive 61 LMT-S stand out from similar devices on the market is the extensive list of driver alerts. The system will let you know about upcoming obstacles such as animal and railroad crossings, speed changes, sharp curves and school zones. It can also give you fatigue warnings if you drive for several hours without a break and let you know about approaching cameras that check red lights and speed.

Smartphone Connectivity

You can connect your smartphone to this GPS navigation system via Bluetooth or the previously mentioned Smartphone Link application. Connecting via Bluetooth will let you make and receive hands-free calls. It also lets you view notifications such as calendar reminders, texts and incoming calls on the GPS device display. Supplement this set of functions with the Smartphone Link app for live parking information, including pricing as well as availability.

Other Standout Features

Those looking for connectivity when they compare GPS systems will enjoy the fact that the Garmin SmartDrive 61 LMT-S can pair with your Garmin smartwatch or backup camera. Connecting the smartwatch lets you easily find your parked vehicle and access alerts with this device. Furthermore, connecting the backup camera gives you an extra set of eyes, enhancing your safety.

Rand McNally OverDryve

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Rand McNally OverDryve Review

Pros

  • Lifetime updates for North American maps
  • Intuitive to use
  • 6.95-inch capacitive touch screen
  • Includes entertainment.

Cons

  • Device is bulky
  • Mount, etc. are also bulky

Introduction

The Rand McNally OverDryve offers convenience and power, solidifying its spot among the best GPS navigation system for a car choices. While it does cost a bit more up front than some of the other options available, the price is well worth it.

Display and Basic Features

The OverDryve has a 7-inch touch screen, making it one of the larger screens for a GPS unit. This screen is also capacitive and high quality, reacting very quickly to your input. Using the device is incredibly convenient thanks to the intuitive icons and a well-organized menu. Or control it via voice commands.

Maps

As with any other GPS for cars, a key factor of the Rand McNally OverDryve is its collection of maps. This device comes with updates for the map as well as traffic alerts for the full lifetime of the device. This means there is no need to pay for subscriptions or expensive upgrades in just a few years. As long as the device is still functional, you can get the latest maps from Rand McNally for free.

Additional Features While Driving

As you drive, the Rand McNally OverDryve offers much more than just simple maps. You will also get the ability to choose an alternate route, including one that avoids a certain road. Whenever you are behind the wheel and this best GPS is plugged in, it will also display the current speed limit, helping you obey the traffic laws. To keep you safe, it also lets you know early when you need to change lanes for an upcoming turn.

The points of interest are also worth mentioning as the OverDryve has the most you will see in an auto GPS review. This device comes with 10 million points of interest already loaded. You can, of course, supplement these with your home, work, and other points of interest personal to you. When it comes time to plan a commute with multiple errands along the way, the OverDryve can even use those points of interest or directions to plan the most efficient route, including the most efficient order for the stops.

Camera and Dashcam

A surprising feature when you compare GPS systems, the Rand McNally OverDryve has a camera integrated into the unit, functioning as a dashcam. You can choose to leave this camera on at all times or have it turn on automatically when you move. This functionality prevents the need to buy a separate dashcam and can protect you from fraudulent lawsuits and insurance claims. For added convenience, the camera functions even when the OverDryve is not in the dock, letting you take photos of accident damage with this best GPS.

Other Standout Features

As a best car GPS, the Rand McNally OverDryve also offers smartphone integration via Bluetooth. This will give you access to the smart assistant that lets you make and answer phone calls, send and hear text messages, view smartphone notifications, and more, all via the OverDryve’s display. The OverDryve even has support and space for music and audiobooks so there is never a dull moment during your drives.

Garmin DriveLuxe 51 LMT-S

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Garmin DriveLuxe 51 LMT-S Review

Pros

  • Lifetime map updates over Wi-Fi
  • Capacitive touch screen
  • Bluetooth calling

Cons

  • Not fully HD
  • Just one hour of battery life

Introduction

The Garmin DriveLuxe 51 LMT-S stands out even in Garmin GPS reviews thanks to its expansive list of features and ease of use. You will spend more than you would with some competitors when you buy the DriveLuxe 51 LMT-S, but if it is within your budget, you will find it to be worth it.

Display and Basic Features

The Garmin DriveLuxe 51 LMT-S comes with a 5.1-inch diagonal screen with 800 x 480 pixels and dual-orientation functionality. The display is encased in a high-quality luxury forged metal design and this best GPS can work for a full hour when not plugged in.

Maps

No matter where in North America you plan on driving, this automotive GPS navigation system will have the detailed maps you need. You also get free lifetime updates on those maps, preventing the need to replace the GPS or buy expensive subscriptions or add-ons. Those map updates, as well as software updates, take place over Wi-Fi for simplicity.

Additional Features While Driving

Using the Garmin DriveLuxe 51 LMT-S always includes live information for things like parking and traffic when you connect your smartphone via the Smartphone Link app. As you drive, you can also input directions via voice-activated navigation. The system will respond seamlessly to your voice commands, without interference. As you drive, take advantage of points of interest from TripAdvisor, including ratings, and Garmin Real Directions that give directions based on landmarks.

There are also useful driver alerts while you drive with this Garmin unit. When you compare GPS systems, some others have notifications for things like red-light or speed cameras, but few have as many alerts as the DriveLuxe 51 LMT-S. You can also get alerts for driving incorrectly on one-way streets, being by a school or in a school zone, and upcoming speed changes, railroad crossings, animal crossings, and sharp curves.

Smartphone Connectivity

The Smartphone Link application pairs your smartphone and this best GPS navigation system for a car in ways that a basic Bluetooth connection cannot. It lets you see parking information like availability and pricing. It also allows for LiveTrack, which is live location sharing.

There is also Bluetooth connectivity so you can answer and make phone calls without having to use your hands. Even without the smartphone app, using Bluetooth on the DriveLuxe LMT-S lets you see texts, incoming calls, and notifications like calendar reminders on the screen of the GPS, no need to grab your phone.

Other Standout Features

In addition to all of the above features, the Garmin DriveLuxe LMT-S stands out from other GPS reviews 2019 with its Garmin smartwatch connectivity. Connecting your compatible smartwatch lets you get driver alerts on the watch, including compass guidance to find where you parked your car. The GPS also seamlessly integrates with the Garmin BC 30 Wireless Backup Camera.

Garmin also includes incident notifications on the DriveLuxe LMT-S. You set up this feature to send a text message to a chosen contact if you are in a collision. The notification features a map so they know where the collision occurred, and you can cancel the message prompt in real time.

 What does GPS stand for?

GPS stands for Global Positioning Service, and as the name suggests, this technology allows people to make use of an electronic device to determine exactly where they are located using satellites. This system is not new, and was originally developed by the government, but as its use with global consumer technology is still being understood, there is a lot remaining for people to learn. 

Once you have purchased a GPS system, such as those used by drivers to help them navigate journeys, the use of this technology can be carried out indefinitely, as there will be no additional costs or subscription fees involved. GPS units make use of GPS satellites, which orbit the earth twice a day at around twelve thousand feet above the planets. Three satellites will provide longitude and latitude readings, while a fourth satellite will provide an altitude reading if it is in view. After a unit’s position has been located, additional data such as bearing, speed and remaining distance to a specific destination can be calculated.

Searching for the best GPS navigation system for a car can seem overwhelming at first, but if you know what features to look for, the process will go much more smoothly. Here’s what you should consider when shopping for a unit: 

Screen Size

One of the most important considerations when searching for your next GPS for cars is the size of the screen. You can easily find a unit with a screen anywhere from four to seven inches, and some models will be even larger. Deciding on which screen size you want will come down to personal preference, but generally, it is easier to view information on larger screens. In addition to the actual size of the screen, pay attention to its resolution and check out GPS car navigation reviews for information about responsiveness, user interface and so on.

Spoken Directions

All automotive GPS navigation system options should offer spoken directions, but some will have more options in this regard than others. Some entry-level units will only offer spoken directions in a handful of languages, while others will offer dozens. If you would prefer to have directions spoken to you in a specific language, it may be worth spending a bit more to have this included on the device. You can also check if there is an option to download support for that language.

You should pay attention to the level of support for voice commands and other voice features. As you compare GPS systems, check reviews for accuracy of the input and additional voice-controlled features. Some of the best GPS options, for example, will let you connect your smartphone and then allow for voice-controlled phone calls or even texting.

Alternate Routing

Ensure that the GPS for cars you select offers more than one route. Most will let you pick from at least two routes, but the best GPS will let you filter out options. For example, they let you eliminate routes with road works currently taking place or those with tolls. 

Receiver Type

A high-quality receiver results in a GPS which works to the best of its ability. If you have a GPS unit with poor sensitivity, you will struggle to gain an accurate reading of where your vehicle is located on a road.

Traffic Information

There are GPS units available which provide drivers with information such as whether there is heavy traffic coming up or an incident such as a collision. The more advanced devices will be able to plan around these obstacles in order to get you to your destination as quickly as possible.

Driving Assistance

If you’re nervous about factors such as making a turn in good time or knowing which lane to be in to make an exit or interchange on a freeway, driving assistance or lane assist functions on car GPS systems can help you by providing guidance in unfamiliar locations.

Points of Interest

When you’re on a road trip with a car GPS, it can be useful to access points of interest in areas you haven’t been to before, especially useful spots such as motels, rest stops, gas stations and local landmarks.

Hands-free Calling

GPS systems which allow for phone functions while driving such as hands-free calling make for a more convenient trip, as you can multitask while on the go by answering or making important calls during travel.

Battery life

Most car GPS devices won’t have an overly long battery life, averaging out at around an hour, but some systems will allow for several hours of battery-based usage, which is highly convenient for those on long road trips.

Map Updates

Many of the best GPS units will come preloaded with maps of the United States, with some offering maps of Canada and Mexico also. To avoid paying out for any updates required, find a device which offers free lifetime map updates.

What is the best GPS to buy?

Deciding on the best car GPS to buy depends on which features you consider to be the most important. For example, the Garmin DriveLuxe 51 LMT-S will provide lifetime map updates and Bluetooth calling, while the Rand McNally OverDryer features a large 6.95 inch touch screen. Meanwhile, the Magellan RoadMate 5630T-LM has seven million points of interest preloaded onto its devices, and the TomTom GO 52 will work without a cell or GPS signal. Ultimately, your choice will depend on how much you are willing to pay and features such as the above.

How to update Garmin GPS

It takes a few steps to know how to update your Garmin GPS system, but fortunately, we have provided a guide to make this process simple and easy:

  1. Hook up the device to your desktop or laptop using a USB cable. The progress bar should begin scrolling, and if you’ve connected it before, prompts will typically begin automatically. For those connecting their device for the first time, signing in to your Garmin account may be necessary.
  2. Load up Garmin Express. If you haven’t installed this program yet, go to its download page and select either the Windows or Mac version, depending on your model of desktop or laptop. 
  3. Install updates. Open up Garmin Express and click on ‘Add a Device’ to find your GPS unit. Then the program will search for any available updates and offer you any which you can set up. Click on ‘Select all’ and leave the updates to install. 
  4. Return the GPS to your vehicle. Once the updates are complete, select ‘Eject’ to safely disconnect the device, then unplug the USB cable and return the unit to your vehicle.