If you’re looking for the best car GPS, check out the Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S – a system with a wide range of features. It stands out with lifetime support for updated maps in North America. This GPS for cars also offers a range of real-time services, including live parking and live traffic. It integrates seamlessly with smartphones, letting you use Bluetooth calling. You can also use the DriveSmart 61 LMT-S as a USB mass storage device, easily loading files from Mac or Windows devices. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the microSD card slot.
The screen is 6.95 inches, and if that is too large, there is an alternative model with a 5-inch screen – the 51 LMT-S. The DriveSmart 61 LMT-S, however, will be the way to go for most drivers since the large screen makes it easy to view information.
Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S reviews tend to hold this device in high regard; this is mostly due to its ability to offer both the basics and several innovative additional features.
Design and setup
The design is sleek and modern with a 6.95-inch display. The display’s resolution is 1024 x 600 and it’s intuitive to use, with pinching and zooming capabilities.
When you buy the DriveSmart 61 LMT-S, it will already have North American maps preloaded. You can easily add maps of other countries using the microSD card slot. Compared with other GPS systems on the market, the DriveSmart comes with lifetime updates for free, as well as free traffic alerts. The system automatically lets you know when updates are available when you are connected to Wi-Fi. This means that you will not need to spend anything more on the GPS unit unless you want to. In addition to the maps, the unit already has millions of points of interest preloaded, with the ability to easily add your own. The system also seamlessly handles routes with multiple destinations.
Navigation and connectivity
As you use the DriveSmart, it provides turn-by-turn directions. One unique feature of these directions is that you can have it describe your turns based on landmarks, such as traffic lights or buildings. This is a nice alternative for those who struggle with visualizing the distance until a turn.
If you want to know more about your current location, you can use the Where Am I? page to discover further information. While it can be nice to learn more during a rest stop if you’re on a long drive, this feature is also useful for telling emergency services your location if you need help or have broken down. Furthermore, you can use this function to discover where the nearest police stations, gas stations and hospitals are located.
Driving with the DriveSmart 61 LMT-S features numerous live services, including live traffic alerts. Using this feature is best done via the Smartphone Link app. Making use of this app will enable functions such as a weather forecast, rerouting directions, parking prices and more. With Smartphone Link, you can use LiveTrack to share your location for safety or convenience. When you connect the GPS unit to your smartphone, you also have the option to customize the notifications coming from your device, such as calendar reminders, text messages and incoming calls.
Accessories and add-ons
The Garmin DriveSmart navigators are capable of providing points of interest for those who are new to a location. With TripAdvisor integrated, you can view the ratings for upcoming or nearby spots such as hotels and restaurants, whether these are located along the route or near your final destination. You can also use the Trip Planner tool to plan fun stop-offs along the way and make the journey just as exciting as the rest of the trip.
If you don’t want to use TripAdvisor to locate points of interest, you can make use of location-based social network Foursquare. Your device will include pre-loaded points in partnership with this service, and you will be able to see them whenever you spot a FourSquare logo in your location search results. You can enhance the features with FourSquare by connecting to your account using the SmartPhone Link on your compatible device. Once connected, you will be able to view location details, check into places and search for interesting attractions using the online database.
For finding out more about upcoming traffic, you can connect a traffic receiver to the Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S. For those not in the know, a traffic receiver picks up data about current and potential upcoming traffic issues near you, using over the air broadcast signals wherever they are available. All Garmin product models are capable of using over the air traffic receivers as an accessory.
The main benefit of using a traffic receiver – which consumers should bear in mind will not be able to pick up the latest information in all areas – is that your device will relay traffic information to you and help you to dodge traffic, speeding up your journey and preventing you from being late to important events. With most traffic receivers, you will be able to make the most of a pre-included regional traffic data subscription. If you want a traffic data subscription for another region or country, these can be purchased by navigating to the relevant device settings. Alternatively, if you don’t want or need information about traffic, you can disable traffic data from being picked up on your GPS system.
Those who make safety a priority may find the DriveSmart 61 LMT-S to be the best GPS navigation system for a car thanks to its safety-conscious features. The most obvious of these is voice-activated navigation. Using this function, you can easily choose a destination from the address book. Alternatively, you can use voice commands to text, take phone calls or view notifications on your applications. There is also advanced notice for future lane changes and turns so you have time to plan. Other driver alerts include speed changes, animal crossings, railroad crossings and whether you are going the wrong way on one-way roads. You can even get notifications for speed and red-light cameras.
This GPS system has a speed limit indicator built in, displaying both the speed limit on your current road and your current speed. For enhanced safety, this GPS also has alerts built in for elements such as traffic delays, school zones and upcoming sharp turns.
One unique feature you will not find with most GPS systems is the DriveSmart’s fatigue warning, which lets you know if you have been driving for too long without a break.
This GPS for cars does not need to remain plugged in to function, but the internal battery will only last for around an hour, which is below average. To enhance the usefulness of the device, you can easily pair it with other cameras, including those from Garmin.
Pricing and warranty
The Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S typically costs between $215 and $250, although you may also spot it for $190 on sale. This is good value considering the functionality this device provides, especially given the lifetime updates for maps. The warranty is a year, which is not especially good or bad; it is the industry average. There are also multiple support options, including email and phone, plus an extensive help section on the Garmin website.
The Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S costs a bit more than other options you will find when you compare GPS systems, but it delivers great value for money. Garmin GPS reviews point out the savings associated with lifetime updates to the maps as well as the peace of mind you get with the warranty. For even more value, Garmin has highly rated customer support with several contact options.
This automotive GPS navigation system stands out from the crowd with its connectivity options, such as the ability to pair it with your smartphone, compatible Garmin smartwatch or Garmin Backup Camera. The ability to use Bluetooth to place smartphone notifications on the GPS’s screen takes integration to the next level, removing the need to look at your phone while driving. There are also some unique safety features, including the fatigue warning, which you are unlikely to find on other GPS systems. The alerts for upcoming challenges such as sharp turns and school zones are also a very nice touch that enhances driver and passenger safety.
The ability to use the DriveSmart 61 LMT-S right out of the box is very useful. After all, it comes with North American maps and millions of points of interest already installed, so it makes sense you’d want to get started right away!