Top 5 Best GPS Navigation Devices for Cars

gps for cars

(Getty)

Some people might think that owning a self-contained GPS unit is kind of silly. After all, most of us have GPS navigation on our phones. But having a dedicated car GPS system actually makes a lot of sense. When you get lost, it can be frustrating to have to exit your GPS app and call your friend to get directions. A GPS unit is also superior to some phone apps when it comes to map quality, particularly if you’re in an area without 4G or Wi-Fi. Plus, a GPS unit can be shared among a family, which makes it perfect for families with teen or senior drivers who don’t have a smartphone with GPS apps. That being said, the rise in smartphone popularity has made it harder to find new, dedicated GPS devices for your car. With so many people relying on their phone as their sole GPS tool, fewer GPS navigation devices are entering the market. If you want to buy a new GPs unit for your car, here are five options to consider in 2015.

Love GPS devices? Read up on the best GPS running watch, or learn about Garmin’s GPS products in our post on the best car GPS units.


1. Garmin nüvi 2797LMT 7-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS

gps for cars

(Garmin)

The whole Garmin nüvi line is well-reviewed, but many people prefer the larger screen of this unit. The touchscreen interface makes this GPS tracker easy to use while driving. And if you have a smartphone, this Garmin works with a companion app called Smartphone Link. This app, available for iPhone and Android, lets you pair your phone with the Garmin. You can then share and track info on destinations, or info about where you parked your car. Garmin Live Services are available for free, and by subscription. If you want a device with smaller screen, consider the Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD, which is about two inches smaller. It scored an “Excellent” rating when it was reviewed by CNET.

Price: $231.29 (comes with lifetime maps, traffic, and Bluetooth)

Buy it here.


Pros:
  • ‘Up Ahead’ feature highlights gas, food, and hospitals along your route
  • Lightweight
  • PhotoReal and Bird’s Eye junction views offer detailed images of junctions along your route
  • Added features that work with iPhone or Android
  • Comes with vehicle suction cup mount with mini-USB input

Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Battery life limited about 2.5 hours
  • Only under warranty for one year
  • Somewhat older device (first debuted in 2013)
  • Fine print for lifetime maps states: “You will receive up to 4 map data updates per year, when and as such updates are made available on Garmin’s website, for 1 compatible Garmin product until your product’s useful life expires or Garmin no longer receives map data from its third party supplier, whichever is shorter”

Find more Garmin nüvi 2797LMT 7-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS reviews and product information here.


2. TomTom GO LIVE 1535M 5-Inch Bluetooth GPS Navigator

gps for cars

(TomTom)

Lifehacker points out that the whole TomTom Go series offers spoken word driving directions, and they don’t need mobile data or an internet connection to work. The TomTom GO LIVE 1535M comes preloaded with maps, and also includes an integrated mount, car charger with integrated traffic receiver. It also plays nice with Yelp while you’re on the road, helping you to find a decent place to eat when you are far from home.

Price: $213.99

Buy it here.


Pros:
  • Supports Bluetooth
  • Advanced lane guidance
  • Offers maps for all of North America
  • Advanced voice recognition
  • Pair with your phone for hands-free calling

Cons:
  • Somewhat small touchscreen
  • Battery life of two hours
  • Warranty for only one year
  • Older device (dates back to 2011)
  • Low screen resolution

Find more TomTom GO LIVE 1535M 5-Inch Bluetooth GPS Navigator reviews and product information here.


3. Magellan RoadMate RV9145-LM 7-Inch GPS Navigator

gps for cars

(Magellan)

Are you an RVer? If you spend every summer driving across the country in your RV, then this GPS is tailor-made for your lifestyle. RV drivers have unique navigational needs, due to the oversized nature of the vehicles they drive. This GPS navigator offers “Multi Destination Routing,” which lets you plan a route with multiple stops along the way, including pit stops, points of interest, and camping locations. All of the American and Canadian campground locations pre-programmed into the device come from the Trailer Life Directory and the Good Sam Club. There’s even an auto night view feature, which makes it easier to use this GPS navigator during evening drives.

Price: $199 (48 percent off)

Buy it here.


Pros:
  • Larger screen than some other GPS navigators
  • Designed with RV drivers in mind
  • Free lifetime map updates for the life of the GPS navigator
  • Comes with Heavy Duty Extension Mount designed for vehicles with deep dashboards
  • Identifies Big Rig-friendly spots, Wi-Fi locations, and pet-friendly sites

Cons:
  • Limited battery life
  • Somewhat older model (debuted in 2012)
  • No pre-loaded maps for Mexico
  • No Bluetooth
  • No lifetime traffic reports

Find more Magellan RoadMate RV9145-LM 7-Inch GPS Navigator reviews and product information here.


4. Bushnell Nav 500 3.5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator

gps for cars

(Bushnell)

For people who want something to use in the car, but maybe also want to take their GPS navigator on hikes, this versatile Bushnell GPS device is a smart choice. While the screen size may be a bit small, this GPS unit can work great in the car if you have a human copilot. It can be mounted in your car, and it will give you turn-by-turn directions. This GPS tracker even has a built-in MP3 player, which is nice for people with older cars that offer no other way to enjoy digital music. This is an older unit, but it will still serve people who have very simple navigational needs quite well.

Now, if you know that you will only ever use the GPS unit in a car, and not want to take it out for other purposes, you might want to get a GPS head unit that can become a permanent part of your car. One option to consider is the Lanzar SDNV66B, which costs about $200. It’s also much more recent than the Bushnell unit.

Price: $218.68 (62 percent off)

Buy it here.


Pros:
  • Good for car trips or hiking
  • Includes MP3 player
  • Includes points of interest
  • Has SD card slot

Cons:
  • Small screen
  • Not waterproof
  • Older model
  • Limited ability to upgrade
  • Expensive given its age

Find more Bushnell Nav 500 3.5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator reviews and product information here.


5. Garmin nüvi 52LM 5-Inch Portable Vehicle GPS with Lifetime United States Maps

gps for cars

(Garmin)

Looking for a great bargain? This Garmin is dirt cheap, especially compared to some of the other options on our list. It has a decent-sized display (though certainly not the biggest on our list.) The device comes with “lifetime” map updates for the continuous US, but you can pay a little extra to get a model with US and Canadian maps. There’s also a nice lane assist feature that will help you stay in the right lane to take the correct exit or junction. In addition, you will also see the current speed limit displayed on the device, as well as your estimated arrival time.

Price: $92.99 (38 percent off)

Buy it here.


Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • Turn-by-turn directions
  • Lane assist with junction view
  • Includes suction cups, supports SSD
  • Lightweight

Cons:
  • Limited battery life
  • Only comes with maps for continental United States
  • Smaller screen than some models out there
  • Getting Canadian maps costs extra
  • Fine print for lifetime maps states: “You will receive up to 4 map data updates per year, when and as such updates are made available on Garmin’s website, for 1 compatible Garmin product until your product’s useful life expires or Garmin no longer receives map data from its third party supplier, whichever is shorter”

Find more Garmin nüvi 52LM 5-Inch Portable Vehicle GPS with Lifetime Maps reviews and product information here.

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.
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If they fall short to do so, you can chat other dealers as well as buy
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reports for their product.

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