Best GPS for Car - Reviews (2020)

Posted: 11 February 2020

Introduction

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Whether you are traveling a short or a long-distance, a proper car GPS system is a MUST. There are many reasons why you would end up using a separate GPS unit and not your smartphone. Any type of GPS application such as Waze, Google Maps, or Apple Maps, will end up eating up so much space, battery, and will bog down your phone’s performance during the whole process. While convenient, in some cases, this proves to be a frustrating thing, making you wish there were a dedicated GPS navigation system.

Luckily for you, we have put together a list of the nine best GPS for cars and trucks that are very simple to use, and will not ever require you to resort to your phone. Just simply plug your GPS device into a cigarette lighter, adjust your settings, enter your desired destination, and you are ready to go. Just remember to stay focused and listen to the direction you get from the device, while you still pay attention to the road, in order to keep you, your passengers and other people safe.

Best GPS for Car (Full List Below)

RankingProductCurrent Price
1
Garmin DriveSmart 70 NA LMT GPS Navigator System with Lifetime Maps and Traffic, Smart Notifications, Voice Activation, and Driver Alerts
Garmin DriveSmart 70 NA LMT GPS Navigator
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2
Garmin nvi 55LM GPS Navigators System with Spoken Turn-By-Turn Directions, Preloaded Maps and Speed Limit Displays (Lower 49 U.S. States)
Garmin NUVI 52LM Portable Vehicle GPS
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3Magellan RoadMate 9400-LM 7-Inch GPS Navigator
Magellan RoadMate 9400-LM GPS
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4Garmin nuvi 2597LMT 5' Bluetooth GPS Navigation w/Lifetime Map Traffic Mount Bundle - Includes 5' Bluetooth GPS Navigation System, Portable Friction Mount and 1 Piece Micro Fiber Cloth
Garmin NUVI 2597LMT Portable Vehicle GPS
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5TomTom VIA 1535TM 5-Inch Bluetooth GPS Navigator with Lifetime Traffic & Maps and Voice Recognition
TomTom VIA 1535TM GPS
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9.TomTom VIA 1535TM GPS Navigation System For Automobiles

TomTom VIA 1535TM 5-Inch Bluetooth GPS Navigator with Lifetime Traffic & Maps and Voice Recognition TomTom VIA 1535TM 5-Inch Bluetooth GPS Navigator with Lifetime Traffic & Maps and Voice RecognitionAs our first navigation in our list, we have TomTom’s VIA 1535TM GPS. This unit, in particular, features a 5″ inch widescreen in full-color LCD. Since this GPS unit has voice commands, you can just speak out and direct it exactly what to do. Combine your smartphone via a Bluetooth adapter for hands-free calling and voice recognition.

Additionally, you will be able to know ahead of time which lane to use before you actually approach it. Important points of interest are featured on the map, some of which range from hotels to gas stations. Map coverage ranges from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Once purchased, the GPS comes installed with the latest navigation maps. Some extra goodies range from day/night time color change, speed limit alerts, blocked road alerts, and fastest route options. Overall, you will love this GPS because it is easy to mount and easy to use.

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8. MINGAO GPS NAVIGATOR SYSTEM

One of the advantages of MingAo GPS Navigator System is the fact that it has both South and North America maps preinstalled. For this reason, it can be useful in a variety of different countries. Also, the maps are prepared in an easy to understand way. Moreover, thanks to a large screen, you can read all the information without any problems. It is even enhanced with a sunshade so that you could see the screen in either dim and bright environments. It also provides you with driver alerts whenever you enter a school area, approach a sharp turn, get close to red lights, or change the speed limit zone.
When it comes to the additional features of MingAo device, the essential information is undoubtedly the fact that you can update your map for free with no limits. Additionally, you will have the possibility to store and share images there, as well as listen to music. However, some users may find the interface difficult to learn, but it is worth taking a while to familiarize yourself with it, as generally, the device is worth investing in.

7. MAGELLAN ROADMATE 1220 GPS NAVIGATOR

Magellan RoadMate 1220 GPS Navigator is certainly a fantastic suggestion for everyone who is looking for a simple and stress-free solution that does not require a lot of learning. You can find there a complete map of the United States, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. If you plan to visit a place more often, you can easily use OneTouch search icons to receive fast results. What is more, this device has a decent system of simple audible instructions, which will allow you to drive without glancing at the screen too often. It may be especially useful for the elderly or first-time users.
The primary issue you may have with this device is the fact that it does not inform you that the connection with the satellite has been lost. You will just see the screen freezing, and you may get confused about what is going on. Moreover, it should be mentioned that the screen of Magellan RoadMate 1220 GPS Navigator is very small and narrow, which can make it hard to use it without the assistance of a passenger.

6. OOTSUTU 7” PORTABLE TOUCHSCREEN GPS

One of the main advantages of OOTSUTU 7” Portable Touchscreen GPS is its versatility. In essence, it works excellently with various types of vehicles, such as a bicycle, a taxi, a truck, or a bus, adapting perfectly for a particular purpose. When it comes to preloaded maps, they cover the territories of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Free of charge lifetime map updates are provided, so you can always be sure that the presented information is appropriate.

The touchscreen is responsive and large enough for you to see everything, but at the same time, it is convenient to store the device.OOTSUTU 7” Portable Touchscreen GPS allows you to enable many different driver alerts. As a result, you can receive real voice notifications informing you about upcoming sharp turns, school areas, or other hazards on the road. In order to hear all the instructions more clearly, you can connect the device with the speakers in your vehicle.

Moreover, you will get this product with a set of useful accessories, including a mini USB cable, a car charger, a back bracket, and a car bracket. Apart from that, this device can provide you with some entertainment. Namely, you can listen to music on it, as well as, on pit stops, play some in-built games or watch videos. On routes where you do not need GPS all the time, you can also let your children use it for entertainment so that the journey would be less boring and tiring for them. However, it should be mentioned that OOTSUTU 7” Portable Touchscreen GPS is quite expensive, but at the same time, it is a good value for money.

5. JRCX 8GB LIFETIME MAP GPS NAVIGATOR

JRCX 8GB Lifetime Map GPS Navigator is a product that can be highly appreciated by both experienced users and novices. It comes with a set of numerous maps of North America that can be updated without any charge and with no limitations. The screen is surprisingly large and responsive, making the device amazingly comfortable to use. Apart from that, it supports many languages, so it can be a fantastic suggestion for a Spanish speaker, for instance.
The route can be customized in various ways, including the length, height, or weight restrictions of the road. For a regular car user, it may not be necessary, but in case of a truck driver, such information is crucial for their everyday work.
The screen in JRCX 8GB Lifetime Map GPS Navigator is large enough for you to operate conveniently. Moreover, the device provides you with various driver alerts, informing you about nearby red lights, speed limitation changes, school zones, upcoming sharp curves, school zones, or other significant circumstances.
JRCX 8GB Lifetime Map GPS Navigator comes with certain accessories, including a sunshade, which will make it easy for you to use the system even in mid-day time when the sun is very bright and makes it hard to see the screen clearly. Apart from that, you will also receive a car charger, and back bracket mount, allowing you to install the device wherever you want inside your vehicle.The manufacturer is sure you will like their product a lot, so they have provided a 90 days money-back guarantee period, apart from its lifetime warranty.

4. Garmin NUVI 2597LMT Portable Vehicle GPS System

Garmin nuvi 2597LMT 5' Bluetooth GPS Navigation w/Lifetime Map Traffic Mount Bundle - Includes 5' Bluetooth GPS Navigation System, Portable Friction Mount and 1 Piece Micro Fiber Cloth Garmin Nuvi 2597LMT 5’ Bluetooth GPS Navigation w/Lifetime Map Traffic Mount Bundle – Includes 5’ Bluetooth GPS Navigation System, Portable Friction Mount and 1 Piece Micro Fiber ClothToday, Garmin pretty much has taken over the market for in-car GPS systems by a big margin. While looking into some of their models, you may notice their similarity is quite significant.

The #4 car GPS we picked is the Garmin NUVI 2597LMT portable navigation unit. What we loved about this unit right away was the cleaner and sharper look from the outside aesthetics, unlike the TomTom and Magellan counterparts. This unit features a 5″ inch wide touchscreen, which along with the built-in Bluetooth compatibility allows you to pair this unit with your phone to share your phone’s data plan and find locations to park POI’s, and your primary destination.

Up ahead display displays nearby services such as restaurants, stores, hospitals, and fuel stations. A great bonus with Garmin is the live traffic updates and monitoring that you have access to with no subscription required. Garmin Traffic will give you details on the actual situation, how many minutes to expect, and if there are any detours to take, which will save you time.

It is excellent for short and long-distance road trips, it mounts easily, and it is reasonably priced. Check it out below for more specs.

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3. Magellan RoadMate 9400-LM GPS Navigation System

Magellan RoadMate 9400-LM 7-Inch GPS Navigator
Magellan RoadMate 9400-LM 7-Inch GPS NavigatorNot as popularly known as a brand, but just as good as TomTom is the Magellan RoadMate 9400-LM. This particular car GPS is 7″ inches wide and features maps for both the US, Canada and Mexico. You will receive free lifetime updates of maps, never having to worry about driving down a road knowing the route may be outdated. Something this GPS unit has that no others do are live traffic camera alerts using the GPS database.  Though probably not the best database, it surely will help you avoid some hidden traps that could cost you money and points on your license
Receive audible alerts when approaching school zones, railroad crossings, and dangerous curves. Additional guidance is available for landmarks such as gas stations and grocery stores. Speed limits are featured on the left side to help you keep the right speed when driving.
Overall, you will enjoy using this GPS because of the big 7″ inch display and overall comfort of use. Though costing a bit more than most Garmin’s, it is worth a glance nonetheless.

2. Garmin NUVI 52LM Portable Vehicle GPS System

Garmin nvi 55LM GPS Navigators System with Spoken Turn-By-Turn Directions, Preloaded Maps and Speed Limit Displays (Lower 49 U.S. States)

Garmin Nuvi 55LM GPS Navigators System with Spoken Turn-By-Turn Directions, Preloaded Maps, and Speed Limit Displays (Lower 49 U.S. States)Since Garmin took over this market by a significant margin, it is no wonder it comes in as our #2 spot. The Garmin NUVI 52LM portable vehicle GPS system is one of those types of units where you will most likely never need to replace. Here is why:

First off this unit features lifetime free map updates for both the United States and Canada. The detailed maps show streets very clearly and even include states and provinces like Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Bartholemy, and Jamaica. There are points of interest planted all over the map, things ranging from hotels, restaurants, parking, entertainment, fuel, shopping, and more. As you drive, you will also be able to see the approximate arrival time, the current GPS measured speed, recently posted speed limit, far left corner direction arrows, and a full HD map.

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1. Garmin DriveSmart 70 NA LMT GPS Navigator

Garmin DriveSmart 70 NA LMT GPS Navigator System with Lifetime Maps and Traffic, Smart Notifications, Voice Activation, and Driver Alerts

Garmin DriveSmart 70 NA LMT GPS Navigator System with Lifetime Maps and Traffic, Smart Notifications, Voice Activation, and Driver AlertsNow to our #1 top pick for the best car GPS to buy, we have the Garmin DriveSmart 70 NA LMT Portable navigation unit. From our previously mentioned GPS reviews, Garmin has clearly taken over the list with being previously mentioned as #2 and #4. For top of the line product from Garmin, this 7″ inch global positioning unit is amazing!

Like in any other Garmin device, there is a touchscreen, which is a drastic improvement over their older models. This model gets a lifetime of map updates as well as lifetime traffic updates, including the source of the traffic, estimated wait in traffic jams, and any available detours.

With the Bluetooth enabled tech, you can pair this GPS with your smartphone to perform hands-free calling. Pair it up with your Android smartphone to get additional information (using your phone’s shared data) such as parking spots, POI’s, and your destination. Along with the current speed limit, your current GPS speed, and arrival time, you will have the complete package.

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Best GPS for your car – buying guide and FAQ

You may have many questions while browsing all the GPS units that are available on the market. It is understandable that you want to have the best navigation device available for your vehicle, but it may be hard to choose one with such a wide selection of products in North America. Some necessary features should be taken into consideration, such as free lifetime map updates or driver alerts. In order to help you as much as possible, we have prepared a GPS device FAQ list for you to familiarize yourself with.

➡️ Are the screen size and resolution important?

  • One may think that the screen size and resolution are of little importance, but in fact, they are truly significant. While receiving your free lifetime map updates, you should always be able to read them clearly without any difficulty. With a bigger screen, the data will be much easier to read and decipher. On a larger screen, the details are not so squeezed, and your GPS navigator becomes more convenient to use. It is crucial for a driver to read all the information correctly, especially that they sometimes just peek at it quickly while waiting for the green light to appear.
  • What is more, almost all the modern GPS devices are implemented with a touchscreen, so if the resolution is too low, it may cause the driver to press the wrong buttons accidentally, even without noticing it. Such a mistake can mislead them and even make them go another road than planned. With a clear, vivid, and big screen, you will not get frustrated while using your GPS navigator.

➡️ Should I pay attention to the receiver sensitivity?

  • GPS devices can identify your location or any other place on the map only thanks to its ability to get the satellite signal. For this reason, receiver sensitivity is of the highest significance. If this feature is not as excellent as it should be, you will see a lost connection notification way too often. Of course, even with the best GPS for your car, you will experience that once in a while, but if it happens too often, it can be really frustrating. It is necessary for you to stay calm while driving and losing your connection that makes you unaware where you are supposed to go next may make you angry. Therefore, always pay attention to the standard of receiver sensitivity before buying a GPS device, so that it would be good at receiving satellite transmissions.

➡️ What about route planning and popular locations?

  • It would definitely be best to provide yourself with a GPS device that can plan the shortest route to a chosen place. Its system should be able to compare all the roads that lead to a participation destination, and thanks to its instant calculations, suggest you the one that will require the least amount of time. It does not only require to check the distance length but also to take the traffic alerts into consideration, to count the actual time necessary to drive.
  • Moreover, modern GPS devices even have the ability to learn, and they save the best routes for popular places you choose, such as your workplace, your child’s school, or your favorite bar.

➡️ Should I have the audible directions?

  • In fact, most drivers concentrate more on the audible directions provided by their GPS device than the map itself. It is because you need to focus on the road, and if you lack a fellow navigator, a GPS map is hard to glance at all the time. Keeping that in mind, it is crucial to have the audible instructions turned on while driving your car. However, you need to make sure that the sound is as fast as the visual information. In this way, you can receive the issued directions well in advance before you actually have to turn.
  • Apart from that, the audible notifications should provide you with enough details, with the distance before the next turn being the most significant. As while driving a car, you will mostly listen to the oral instructions than look at the screen of your GPS system, it is crucial that you could understand everything that the computerized voice is saying. For this reason, it should always be of the highest standard. In some cheaper GPS units, the sound quality may be so weak that the street names or other data in the instructions are mispronounced, making you confused while driving your car.

➡️ Is it essential to have preloaded maps? What about free lifetime map updates?

  • Many GPS devices have preloaded maps, associated with the place you live in. It is very convenient because the system will not have to load long in the area where you drive most often. However, you should make sure that free lifetime map updates are provided, as car GPS is only useful when it shows relevant information. In case there were some changes on the road, you need to be informed about this straight away because otherwise, the route that the device wants you to go may no longer be available, and you will end up being confused and stressed out. You should not be expected to remember about it – the lifetime map updates ought to be automatic and frequent enough.

➡️ What’s an automatic routing?

  • Let’s be honest – even having a dedicated GPS device in your car, you will probably make some false turns anyway. When that happens, automatic routing is essential, because it is the feature that allows the device to make quick calculations all over again, adapting to your new location. It requires instant reconnection with the satellite in order to provide different directions. Thanks to this function, you will never be lost in a foreign place, because even when you do not listen to the driver alerts correctly and make a wrong move, GPS will be able to correct the route quickly, so that you could reach the destination without any difficulties anyway.

➡️ Is it necessary to pay attention to the driver alerts?

  • The best GPS products can provide you with so much beneficial information! It is definitely advised to choose such a model that can produce many kinds of useful driver alerts. For example, you can enable a notification that will make you aware of changing the speed limit zones. It can be really useful, for example, when you are driving around schools.
  • Also, many drivers like to have relevant traffic alerts popping out on the screen as often as possible because it will make it possible for them to choose the route requiring the least amount of time.
  • What is more, you can also receive driver alerts when reaching the traffic lights with speed cameras. These are just a few chosen examples, and in fact, you can even find more features proving useful when driving your car.

➡️ Is the voice activation feature reliable?

  • Some manufacturers brag about voice activation features in their latest products. This function is supposed to let you issue verbal commands back to the device. The idea itself is excellent because it allows the driver to focus their sight on the road and use the GPS unit without the need to look at it and press the right buttons. However, in reality, not all the voice activation systems work so marvelously. Some of them may not be reliable at all, as the device tends to misread what has really been said.
  • Although you may get excited about such a modern, hands-free solution, always carefully read the reviews of a particular model before purchasing it, to make sure that it will work efficiently and accurately. Such a solution is still relatively young, so possibly it will become better-adjusted on brand new products as time goes by, and as the technology develops further.

➡️ What entertainment features can I expect to be added?

  • Apart from the primary function of guiding you all across North America or anywhere else, a GPS device can provide you with some entertainment on the road as well. Namely, some of the products can have an inbuilt radio feature, as well as a music player that can be uploaded with your favorite songs. What is more, when GPS is not necessary at the moment, passengers can use the device, for example, to watch videos online, play games, or share pictures.
  • Obviously, these kinds of features are secondary, and for many consumers, they may not matter much. Nevertheless, they can provide some more entertainment during a trip. It may be especially significant when you are traveling with children, who are likely to get bored quickly on a journey.

Useful features in a car GPS navigation system – a summary

To sum up, in order to buy an excellent car GPS device, you should most significantly focus on the following features:

  • Map and directions clarity: The primary role of any GPS equipment is to provide you with easy-to-read maps and simple directions that allow you to reach your destination without any hassle. For this reason, you should make sure that the screen is big enough to see all the map details quickly and check if automated voice instructions are of high quality so that there were not be any misunderstandings that may affect your driving to a large extent.
  • User-friendly features: Driving requires a lot of focus, as its quality may affect your and other people’s safety. Keeping that in mind, producers should make car GPS as easy and quick to use as possible, so that it would really facilitate the ride instead of making it more difficult and time-consuming. It should not divert your attention more than absolutely necessary and provide you with reliable and useful instructions only.
  • Frequent updates: One of the most aspects of the GPS system’s quality is its ability to get updates. It is normal that there must be some changes on the roads once in a while, as the infrastructure is being repaired, modernized, or so. For this reason, the GPS unit producer should provide you with unlimited free updates frequently enough to follow all the modifications on time, so that you could avoid being mistaken and confused during your journey.
  • Additional alerts: If you want to have the best GPS for your car available, you should choose the one that can provide you with all the information useful on the road. That includes, for instance, traffic alerts, which will inform you which route is expected to take the least amount of time to drive. What is more, the driver alerts can also be associated with school zones, speed warnings, red lights, and not only. Thanks to such a GPS device feature, it will be easier for you to drive around the town more safely and carefully.

EXTRA

Having a car navigation system is great, but there are a few extra things that we feel you will probably want to grab for yourself as well.

View the car battery buyers guide we have put together to ensure your vehicle during ALL weather conditions so that all the heavy electrical loads will keep running.

Also, take a look at our guide for getting the best radar detectors to help you spot the police before they notice you. It is crucial, especially when you drive the highway.

Apart from that, take a look at the guide for getting a high-quality head unit. Entertainment is crucial to make your road trips worthwhile and bearable.