GPS display

Some people can't find their way out of a brown paper bag, and for those people, a GPS is a must. Lots of people think Garmin when they think of GPS, but they aren't the only game in town. Either way, you want the best. And the best Garmin GPS will depend on where and how you are traveling.

Garmin makes unique GPS models for all methods of ground transportation. The company has developed different units explicitly designed for personal and family driving, professional over-the-road truck driving, motorcycles, and even hikers.

GPS systems help thousands of people every day in many different situations. They can determine your location, find the shortest or quickest route from A to B, and, in some units, track your connected friends. There are several GPS brands available. However, Garmin did and still does lead the pack in sales, model types, and built-in features.

Best Garmin GPS Comparison Table


Why You Need a GPS

Using GPS technology has made life easier for many, if not most Americans. It was not that long ago that you needed a paper map to plan your trip. Today, mapping a route is not only easier, but you can also program your device to avoid specific driving situations such as toll roads, traffic, and dangerous roads.

Many smartphone apps, designed for navigation and location, come with voice assistants and some voice commands. For the most part, they can do an adequate job of getting you from place to place. But, they truly can’t compete with a purpose-built GPS. When you compare reliability, accuracy, and additional features, they can’t stack up to a Garmin GPS explicitly designed for navigation.


How We Determined the Best Garmin GPS

The answer to this question is, unfortunately, that we can’t. There are far too many types of Gamin units designed for many different uses and circumstances to determine a “best” one. Instead, we have researched all the available Garmin units and calculated which would be best for different categories of use. We base this decision on actual sales and unit popularity, but most importantly, ratings and reviews by actual GPS users. We have found that they are the best source for reliable in-the-field evaluation of its real functions, durability, and the shortcomings of each model.


The Best Garmin GPS You Can Buy

GPS display on a auto

You're facing an increasingly crowded market when you shop for a GPS. In the nearly 20 years since that GPS satellite technology has been available to the civilian market, many electronics manufacturers have jumped on board to meet the need. Garmin was one of the first of these, and many consumers prefer their advanced devices.

In full disclosure, I must add that I have a Garmin nüvi 67 GPS that has served me faithfully both at work and in my private life for many years. I can’t imagine taking a long trip, or just one to an area I am unfamiliar with, without it. With that in mind, the following are our choices for the best Garmin GPS class.


Best Garmin GPS - Best Seller: Drive 50LM

Garmin Drive 50LM GPS Navigator with Lifetime Maps (US) (010-01532-0C)...
  • Garmin Drive 50LM GPS Navigator with Lifetime Maps (US)
  • Garmin Air Vent Mount
  • Easy-to-use, dedicated GPS navigator with 5.0-inch dual-orientation display

The Garmin Drive 50LM remains the best-selling Garmin GPS on Amazon. It also consistently receives positive customer reviews. There are many good reasons for this. The Drive 50LM is easy to configure and very durable. It offers free lifetime updates on maps and travel information. It gives precise, unambiguous turn-by-turn directions in both the voice and display maps and all this at an affordable price.

Features

The Drive 50LM features many types of driver alerts. Some let you know when you have ventured into a school zone. Others alert you to speed limit changes, hospital zones, and railroad crossings. It even has a lane departure warning for when you veer out of your lane, and a very good dash cam to record driving incidents. The touchscreens on Garmin GPS units have a history of engineering that makes them responsive and easy to read, even on sunny days.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 0.8 by 6.6 by 3.7 inches
  • Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Battery Life: one hour
  • Memory Card Limit: 64 GB
  • Preloaded maps: Yes
  • Display Size: five inches
  • Display Resolution: 800 by 480
  • Dual-orientation display: Yes
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Lifetime map updates: Yes
  • Voice-activated navigation: No

Reviews and pricing

Customers loved the ease of use and the voices that guide you to your destination. They also appreciate the lifetime map updates. Some customers were disappointed that there were no traffic updates, but they did like the landmark routing function. Earning a rating of 4.1 out of 5 on Walmart, and 4.6 out of 5 overall online, prices online range from $ to $$, depending on included maps, accessories, and attachments.

Best Garmin GPS Overall: Garmin DriveAssist™ 51 LMT-S

Garmin DriveAssist 51 NA LMT-S w/Lifetime Maps/Traffic+AmazonBasics...
  • GPS auto navigator with built-in dash cam, advanced driver alerts such as forward collision warning and 5.0-Inch...
  • Detailed maps of North America with free lifetime updates
  • Hard Carrying Case for 5" GPS Devices

Besides having a zoomable display screen, the Garmin DriveSmart 51 LMT-S boasts Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to send destinations from your phone, display text messages, or use your LTE to collect trip and local traffic data. The DriveSmart series provides traffic alerts and TripAdvisor information, too. Foursquare listings provide locations of points of interest and can display Garmin’s optional wireless backup camera. You get free lifetime map updates for life, including updates received via Wi-Fi before you start your trip. That means you no longer need to attach your GPS to your computer to update maps and information.

Features

The Drive 50LM features many types of driver alerts. Some let you know when you have ventured into a school zone. Others alert you to speed limit changes, hospital zones, and railroad crossings. It even has a lane departure warning for when you veer out of your lane, and a very good dash cam to record driving incidents. The touchscreens on Garmin GPS units have a history of engineering that makes them responsive and easy to read, even on sunny days.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 0.8 by 5.5 by 3.3 inches
  • Weight: eight ounces
  • Battery Life: one hour
  • Memory Card Limit: 64 GB
  • Preloaded maps: Yes
  • Display Size: five inches
  • Display Resolution: 480 by 272
  • Dual-orientation display: Yes
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Lifetime map updates: Yes
  • Voice-activated navigation: Yes

Reviews and pricing

Customer reviews praised the voice input as well as the 3D presentations of landmarks and terrain. They appreciated the driver safety alerts and iPhone link capability, too. One downside that put them off was the lane alert feature, saying it activated even when making a legitimate signaled lane change. You'll see it rated a very high 4.4 out of 5 stars on Best Buy, and 4.5 on Crutchfield. Prices online range from $$ to $$$, but most also included shipping.

Best Garmin GPS with Voice Command: nüvi 2689LMT

Sale
Garmin Nuvi 2689LMT North America
  • 6" glass, pinch to zoom display with dual-orientation
  • FOURSQUARE - Search million of additional new and popular restaurants, shops and more with Foursquare
  • Direct Access - Simplifies navigating to select complex destinations, like malls and airports

If you need a worry-free, trouble-free, and hands-free GPS navigator system, the Garmin nüvi 2689LMT is precisely what you need. The nüvi 2689LMT is chock full of functions and features that will make your trip a pleasure and your route evident and easy to follow. I have to admit that I waited a long time for a Garmin with hands-free, voice-activated GPS technology. The nüvi 2689LMT offers that and much more.

You can pay attention to the road without having to push buttons on the GPS to change functions like volume and brightness. The nüvi 2689LMT earned our Best Garmin GPS rating, but we have to admit, it only won by a whisker.

Features

The nüvi 2689LMT comes with Alexa capability. It allows you to access the GPS through voice commands. If you need directions to anywhere in town, just tell Alexa. You can just say, “Alexa. Tell Garmin to get directions to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard.” The Garmin will give you turn-by-turn directions on the display screen. You can also program it to provide you with voice directions at the same time. Because it has Alexa access, it will do anything that any Amazon Alexa or Dot device can do. You can get news, weather, music, even order from Amazon and access the internet while on the move.

In addition to the hands-free capability, the nüvi 2689LMT also boasts of numerous safety features, such as driver alerts for oncoming traffic and fatigue warnings. It alerts you when you approach a school or hospital zone. It also warns you of sharp curves ahead, speed limit changes, and even railroad and animal crossings. The “Up Ahead” feature can alert you to milestones, landmarks, and points of interest all along your trip.

The detailed maps of the United States, supplied with free updates for life, display current streets and even speed limits. You need never get caught in another "speed trap" in an unknown area. Garmin also automatically updates the locations of restaurants and stores with FourSquare integration. It gives you the option of continually displaying your current street, the next road encountered, your current speed, the speed limit, current time, and even estimated arrival times.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.6 x 3.7 inches
  • Weight: 9.50 ounces
  • Battery Life: one hour
  • Memory Card Limit:  64 GB
  • Preloaded maps: US or US + Canada
  • Display Size: six inch
  • Display Resolution: 800 by 480
  • Dual-orientation display: Yes
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Lifetime map updates: Yes
  • Voice-activated navigation: Yes

Reviews and pricing

Customers, as could be expected, were pleased with the voice-activated navigation system as well as the large, easy-to-read screen. They also mention the five-minute traffic updates and the hands-free phone call capability. A few other customers noted the excellent, helpful, and friendly customer service. Earning a Google overall internet customer rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars, Amazon buyers rated it 4.0 out of 5, and Walmart shoppers gave it 5.0 out of 5. The prices online ranged from $$ to $$, depending on the retailer.

Best Garmin GPS for Truckers: Garmin dēzl 770LMTHD

Garmin dezl 770LMTHD 7" GPS with Lifetime Map and Traffic Updates...
  • Dezl 570 LMT, Dezl 770 LMTHD
  • Universal GPS Navigation Dash-Mount

The Garmin dēzl (diesel, get it?) 770LMTHD, designed for the professional driver, RVs, and commercial use, provides directions for the things they need most. Routes to local truck stops, open weigh stations, nearest rest areas, and big rig repair shops are all provided by FourSquare. It routes your vehicle around such big truck specific obstacles like low bridges and vehicle weight limits.

The Bluetooth compatible dēzl 770LMTHD comes with lifetime map updates and real-time traffic. It also shows and helps you avoid dangerous curves, sharp turns, and even narrow lanes. You can configure your GPS by inputting your vehicle length and weight, allowing it to create the safest route possible.


Specifications

  • Dimensions: 1.1 by 7.8 by 4.8 inches
  • Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Battery Life: two hour
  • Memory Card Limit:  64 GB
  • Preloaded maps: Yes
  • Display Size: seven inches
  • Display Resolution: 800 by 480
  • Dual-orientation display: Yes
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Lifetime map updates: Yes
  • Voice-activated navigation: Yes

Reviews and pricing

Customers from all professional disciplines praised the routing specific to their vehicle dimensions and the ease of use. Also appreciated were traffic update features to avoid losing time, and many customers said they would "highly recommend" it to their friends and fellow truckers. One issue noted involved occasionally losing the GPS signal in heavily wooded areas with lots of overhead foliage cover.

The dēzl 770LMTHD earned a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Best Buy, and you can purchase it at many retail locations and truck stops across America. Pricing online ranges from $$$ to $$$$ depending on the seller, with some packages including bundled accessories.

Best Garmin GPS for Motorcycles: zūmo 396 LMT-S

Sale
Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S, Motorcycle GPS with 4.3-inch Display, Rugged...
  • Motorcycle navigation for the twisty road to adventure
  • Rugged, glove-friendly, Sunlight-readable 4.3" display; resistant to fuel vapors, UV Rays and harsh weather
  • Pair with a compatible smartphone for hands-free calling, smart notifications through the free Smartphone Link app,...

The zūmo 396 LMT-S is the best Garmin GPS for a motorcycle. With an extensive selection of maps, the zūmo permits users to connect different devices, such as smartphones, to keep many bikers in touch with each other on an expedition. With traffic monitoring, weather reporting, and the rider alert system, this GPS allows you to see steep hills and sharp curves in your path. It also displays and alerts for animal crossing zones, train crossings, school zones, speed traps, and more.


Specifications

  • Dimensions: 4.94 by 0.98 by 3.38 inches
  • Weight: 1.76 pounds
  • Battery Life: one hour
  • Memory Card Limit:  64 GB
  • Preloaded maps: Yes
  • Display Size: 4.3 inch
  • Display Resolution: 800 by 480
  • Dual-orientation display: No
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Lifetime map updates: Yes
  • Voice-activated navigation: Yes

Reviews and pricing

Customer reviews mentioned the increased situational awareness they had by using this GPS. Also mentioned was the ruggedness and “glove friendliness” of the touchscreen. Happy customers also lauded the LiveTrack system that allows fellow bikers to monitor each other as another big plus. Finally, users also praised the fuel monitoring system that alerts you when your gas is running low. There were a few negative comments related to the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth having connectivity issues on the trail at times. Also, some customers thought the 4.3-inch screen could have been larger.

Rated by Amazon customers at an average of 3.9 out of 5 stars, and 4.0 out of 5 at Crutchfield, the zūmo 396 LMT-S shows online prices consistently ranging from $$$$ and $$$$, depending on the retailer.

Best Garmin GPS for Hiking: GPSMAP 64S

Sale
Garmin GPSMAP 64s Worldwide with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS...
  • Sunlight-Readable 2.6" color display. Expanded Internal Memory 4GB
  • Display type is transflective, 65k color tft. Display resolution is 160 x 240 pixels
  • DUAL BATTERY SYSTEM Use with 2 traditional AA batteries, or the optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack that can be...

Few companies make GPS devices as accurate or as durable as Garmin. Usually, customers count on their Garmin to save them time or inconvenience on the road. The hiking community also relies on Garmin to save them travel time and hassle. However, in some cases unique to hikers and campers, it may be counted on to save their lives.

In the GPSMAP 64s, Garmin engineered a pocket-sized satellite station. It comes complete with virtually every location and communication you could ever want, and some you may never have considered. A pinpoint accurate quad-helix antenna hooks you up to the GPS network in the most remote places in the country. It gives you precise location data in the most remote deserts and the thickest forest.

The more-than-adequate 4GB of data storage permits the hiker to input up to 5,000 waypoints and 200 different routes to get you there and back again. The included world-wide maps keep you located and locatable anywhere on earth.

The robust physical-button construction makes the GPSMAP 64S usable even when wearing heavy gloves. With a 16-hour battery life and smartphone synchronization, you can stay on top of climate conditions and hunker down before the heavy weather rolls in. Finally, the GPSMAP 64S connects to thermometers and heart rate monitors via the ANT+ system to keep you fully informed of your hiking conditions both inside and out.


Features

The nüvi 2689LMT comes with Alexa capability. It allows you to access the GPS through voice commands. If you need directions to anywhere in town, just tell Alexa. You can just say, “Alexa. Tell Garmin to get directions to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard.” The Garmin will give you turn-by-turn directions on the display screen. You can also program it to provide you with voice directions at the same time. Because it has Alexa access, it will do anything that any Amazon Alexa or Dot device can do. You can get news, weather, music, even order from Amazon and access the internet while on the move.

In addition to the hands-free capability, the nüvi 2689LMT also boasts of numerous safety features, such as driver alerts for oncoming traffic and fatigue warnings. It alerts you when you approach a school or hospital zone. It also warns you of sharp curves ahead, speed limit changes, and even railroad and animal crossings. The “Up Ahead” feature can alert you to milestones, landmarks, and points of interest all along your trip.

The detailed maps of the United States, supplied with free updates for life, display current streets and even speed limits. You need never get caught in another "speed trap" in an unknown area. Garmin also automatically updates the locations of restaurants and stores with FourSquare integration. It gives you the option of continually displaying your current street, the next road encountered, your current speed, the speed limit, current time, and even estimated arrival times.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 7.1 by 5.5 by 2.3 inches
  • Weight: .58 pounds
  • Battery Life: 16 hour
  • Memory Card Limit:  64 GB
  • Preloaded maps: Yes Worldwide
  • Display Size: two inches
  • Display Resolution: 160 by 240
  • Dual-orientation display: No
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Lifetime map updates: Yes
  • Voice-activated navigation: No

Reviews and pricing

Customers reviewing this unit stated that they felt positive about the ease of use. Most appreciated was the fact that the screen stays visible in even bright sunlight. Users also noted that the GPD points in the direction you want to go and the detail of the map. However, some didn't like that the “Birdseye” maps require a monthly subscription or that the Basemap feature requires setup on an external device. The GPSMAP 64S rated 4.3 out of 5 stars on Best Buy. You'll find this model online priced from $$ to $$$, with many sellers offering free shipping.

Many Choices, Many Features


As we mentioned, there are many Garmin GPS models available. The model that most perfectly fits your needs may not be on this particular list. But hopefully, we have given you some idea of what models and features to consider when you do make your final decision.

In any case, please let us know which you picked and why, so we can add your data and opinions to our next compilation. Our readers can gain from your experiences when choosing the best Garmin UPS for their own particular situation.

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