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Updated January 2023
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Best of the Best
Garmin DriveSmart 65
DriveSmart 65
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Bottom Line

Has a sleek frame with an easy-to-operate system that delivers consistently accurate directions, traffic updates, and interesting sites nearby.


显示屏6.95”措施。操作通过触动creen or voice activation. Has a white backlight and will reduce brightness after the sun sets. When used with the Garmin App, real time updates regarding traffic and weather are available. Has built-in WiFi, restaurant ratings, and pre-loaded directories.


Set-up can be difficult. The Bluetooth connectivity sometimes has issues.

Best Bang for the Buck
TomTom GO Comfort GPS Navigation Device
GO Comfort GPS Navigation Device
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Best for Road Trips
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With smart routing, destination prediction, and road trip assistance, this GPS is the perfect companion for long drives.


This GPS boasts real-time traffic data, free maps of North America, and easy updates over WiFi. Comes with 3 months of speed camera alerts. Device is able to read smartphone messages out loud to keep your focus on the road.


Some users noted the screen was slightly dimmer than they would have preferred.

Garmin DriveSmart 55 Traffic GPS Navigation Device
DriveSmart 55 Traffic GPS Navigation Device
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Customer Favorite
Bottom Line

An excellent entry-level device from a reputable company in GPS navigation.


Clear, responsive touchscreen. Easy mount via suction cup. Highly reputable maps. Screen displays helpful information without being cluttered. Warranty comes in handy in case of defects.


Only covers 49 states. Maps for other regions must be purchased separately.

TomTom GO 620 GPS Navigation Device
GO 620 GPS Navigation Device
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Siri & Google Now
Bottom Line

Fast signal acquisition and excellent accuracy, but some owners feel the learning curve is steeper than it should be.


The 3D images provide a more recognizable “real world” view. Touch and voice controls work well. Hands-free calling feature. Compatible with Siri and Google Now.


Must link to a smartphone for traffic data, but not all phones are compatible.

Garmin Garmin RV 890
Garmin RV 890
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Bottom Line

Designed specifically for use with RV’s, this Garmin provides plenty of helpful tips beyond just directions.


Comes pre-loaded with information on campgrounds, national parks, RV-specific road warnings, and routes that are easier for larger vehicles. Touchscreen display measures 8 inches, and can be voice-controlled. Has built-in WiFi. Can be used along with the Garmin Drive app and other Bluetooth enabled devices.


A few customers found the directions to be unreliable and occasionally inaccurate.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, andtestingproducts to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own.Read more
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, andtestingproducts to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more

我们建议这些产品基于一个intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide forbest navigation systems

Yes, it is possible to use your smartphone for navigation, but you're also using it for a half dozen other tasks. And, picking your smartphone up to study a tiny map is just as dangerous as texting and driving. In many cases, a wiser option is using a dedicated navigation system.

The best navigation systems are up-to-date and feature detailed information such as which lanes to use and the points of interest that are nearby. You'll want a model that is large enough to clearly see, but not one that interferes with your view of the road. A navigation system that uses voice commands is safer than taking your eyes and hands off of the wheel while driving.

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Before you take a trip with your new car GPS navigation system, take your time to familiarise yourself with the features you are most likely to use.

Key navigation system considerations

A navigation system is a complex device, and there are many details to consider when making a purchase. To make our results as clear as possible, we organized our research results into these categories:

  • Display and controls

  • Maps and journey planning

  • Traffic, speed cameras, and other information

  • Communications and ease of use

  • Price
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Testing navigation systems
We spent 16 hours researching 14 navigation systems before picking our top 5. We then purchased our favorite model and tested it in our lab.

Display and controls

Display size

The most popular sizes for a navigation system’s display are 5", 6", and 7". However, models as small as 3.5” are widely available. Is screen size really a significant factor?

大多数人平均视力找到5”屏幕问uite comfortable, but that opinion changes if the unit is mounted in a larger vehicle, such as a van or RV. Dashboard layout and driving position in those vehicles cause the navigation system to be mounted farther from the driver’s eyes than in a smaller sedan. A 6" or 7" model would be a better choice. The latter are particularly popular with professional truckers.

On the other hand, a big-screen GPS may not be the best choice in a compact or subcompact car. A 7” display in a smaller vehicle might seem to block too much of the view through the windshield! If possible, test drive a navigation system with your car to determine which size display is best for your situation.

Picture clarity

Screen clarity depends greatly on display size, but clarity is also affected by resolution. Older models deliver 480 x 272 pixels, while many newer ones offer 800 x 480 pixels. That pixel density can make a big difference.

一些业主抱怨说,明媚的阳光减少s visibility on a particular model, or that the screen is too reflective. Reviews can also indicate that a model isn’t bright enough. Changing the mounting angle of the screen often resolves these issues. Models that offer a night mode automatically adjust display contrast for better viewing in the dark. Before selecting a navigation system, check whether any display issues are indicated frequently across a significant number of customer reviews.

"A car GPS navigation system can show you heavy traffic areas, shortcuts, and the like, but it cannot predict traffic lights. So always keep an eye out for changing lights."

Touch or talk

Touch screen control has always been a feature of satellite navigation systems, and some models now offer a pinch-to-zoom function. However, on-screen controls require you to look away from the road and take a hand off the wheel.

Several of our top choices mirror smartphone and tablet technology by offering voice controls. Voice command can be safer than touch screen, but responsiveness and quality of the voice control system are very important.

Maps and journey planning

Staying up to date

GPS data is updated constantly. Big cities have more detail than rural towns, but mapping of even the most remote areas is getting better all the time. Also, areas that are thoroughly mapped change frequently, hence the value of lifetime map updates. You might save a few bucks by not having this feature, but for us it's a no-brainer. All our finalists offer it.

However, downloading updates can be frustrating. Many owners find the process painfully slow, and on some models, we agree. Occasionally updating is impossible because the navigation system lacks sufficient memory. Manufacturers are working to correct and prevent these issues with each new model, but it’s still worth checking before selecting a navigation system.

Just like the real world?

Map display style varies between models. One useful feature that has become standard is additional lane guidance on a split screen when approaching an off-ramp or interchange. 3D technology is also being more widely used, providing a more realistic view of landmarks and surrounding buildings.

Actual route planning is also now available with many models, a major benefit according to the feedback we've received. Also, the sophistication of route planning preferences is increasing. Older navigation systems obliged you to choose to use freeways or avoid them; now you can mix and match to suit your preference.

Plug-and-play GPS navigation systems are the easiest to install. You can simply use a suction mount to attach the device to your windshield or any such area.

At your fingertips

Another popular feature is the ability to simply tap the map to select a destination, rather than typing in an address. It's particularly useful when you want to visit an area but don't have a precise location in mind.

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Did you know?
For added safety on the road, it is advised to use voice navigation on your GPS system than having to take your eyes off to look at the map, and figure out your location and directions.

Traffic, speed cameras, and other information

Points of interest

POIs (Points of Interest) are nothing new in navigation systems. POI importance varies from one owner to the next, but this feature can be extremely useful when you suddenly notice you're low on gas.

Each manufacturer claims their POI functionality is better than the competition, but in truth there's little difference between them. The same is true for live traffic information. It's a great feature to have, helping you avoid serious roadblocks or major delays, but the key differentiator is the availability of the feature, not the quality of the information provided.

This wealth of live information seems tremendously useful, but most of these features are only available by connecting your navigation system to your smartphone. It's not hard to do via Bluetooth, but many owners feel the use of two devices is a bit of overkill.

"While most GPS map data comes from satellites, companies like TomTom and Garmin also use feedback provided by drivers for many live details."

Better warnings, safer driving

Manufacturers are constantly adding new types of live information to their navigation systems. You can be alerted to a sharp bend approaching, a school zone, speed camera, even speed bumps.

Some models provide weather information, or a warning that you've been driving for too long and ought to take a break.

Roadside assistance is available through some models, and you can even get help finding a parking space.

Communications and ease of use

We've already mentioned the option of voice control on some navigation systems. Whether finding your destination or locating the nearest coffee house, voice control allows you to keep both hands on the wheel and can increase safety. Voice recognition isn’t perfect, but the technology is improving rapidly.

Driving directions from the navigation system are also becoming more user-friendly. Manufacturers attempt regularly to make the navigation instructions sound more conversational. For example, the system might point out that the next turn will be at a light, or it might suggest stopping at a recognizable building. Older models tend to employ a “next left, next right” style of directions.

Complete solutions

Some modern GPS models take theBluetoothand smartphone link further. They act as a hands-free display when receiving a call. You can see who's calling and decide whether or not to answer. They can also display text messages.

Navigation system maps commonly include the lower 49 states, but you may have to pay extra for Alaska, Canada, or Mexico.

Navigation system prices

We don’t recommend navigation systems under $50. The quality of information in these models will be lacking, and feature sets will be small. Maps may be poor with few, if any, updates.

A top-of-the-range model costs more – around $350 at the upper end – but for that price you get the most important features, including lifetime upgrades. These models are well worth the investment, particularly if you travel frequently to unfamiliar places.

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Did you know?
Nickel cadmium batteries suffer from “memory effect.” Their ability to hold a charge decreases over time. Higher-quality GPS units use lithium ion batteries.

Is newer always better?

When it comes to electronic gadgets, we're always tempted by the latest model. Each new release promises so much more than the last. But is that really the case? Our research, combined with customer feedback, resulted in a simple answer: it depends.

Some consumers love to get fully involved with their devices. They explore all the ins and outs, familiarizing themselves with every feature and capability. Others just want to turn the GPS on, enter an address, and follow directions.

The two leading manufacturers, Garmin and Tom Tom, cater to both groups. And the features they offer, plus the strength of their map data make these ideal choices.

"Most modern navigation systems can charge via USB in addition to their 12V in-car charger. Your GPS will charge faster when the device is off."

Garmin Nüvi and TomTom Via are both well-established, popular, and trusted by tens of thousands of users. These models are excellent choices for those who simply want to get where they’re going.

Garmin DriveSmart and TomTom Go are the next generation, already advanced and getting better all the time. With more features to explore, these models appeal to electronics mavens and people who like to get the most out of their gadgets.

For the moment, we feel the Nüvi and Via ranges have the edge in terms of price and performance, but it's a close call. Each product in our product list is an excellent navigation system.

Our Top Picks