While today’s smartphones are loaded with Google Maps or Apple Maps, they are merely quick solutions for traveling short distances. Believe it or not, getting a dedicated GPS device for your car or truck is still the best way to get to your destination safely and with ease.
Companies like Garmin and TomTom specialize in safe car travel and update their maps and traffic reports whenever changes occur on the road. GPS devices also offer the peace of mind that you’ll never get lost, even when you’re in a new location — including remote areas. They can also help you find the nearest restaurant, shopping mall, rest area, and other locations that might be considered off-the-beaten-path.
These are the GPS units and dash devices you should turn to the next time you’re planning a big family road trip or if your daily commute to work is riddled with construction sites and heavy traffic jams. They could very well help you get out of a sticky situation.
Here are 13 of the best GPS units for your car.
Equipped with a 5-inch touchscreen, the is the best GPS you can buy that won’t break the bank. For less than $65, the small, yet powerful device has the ability to display the latest full 3D maps available, including ever-changing landmarks in metro areas, with lifetime North America map updates. It even features “Traffic Camera Alerts by PhantomALERT,” Magellan’s alert system that gives you up-to-the-minute traffic reports for red lights and speed cameras on your route. While the GPS is a bit hefty at 1.13 pounds, it’s still portable enough to take from car-to-car.
Many reviewers rave about this GPS unit, specifically calling out the great dash cam. Here’s what one reviewer had to say:
“I’ve had this unit for a couple years now and love it. The first year I had it, the lithium battery failed and expanded so much it cracked the screen and case. Magellan warranty replaced it quickly with no problems and the replacement unit has been great. I purchased this specifically because of the dash cam integrated with the gps. As a heavy duty diesel mechanic, I’m constantly on the road for service calls or road tests. People are terrible drivers around semi trucks or my big tool truck, so I needed something to keep track of what happened on the road. 4 times it’s saved me from people cutting me off in a semi and slamming on their brakes to make an off ramp and they’re surprised when I cannot stop on a dime. It’s very easy to review the video directly on the unit and send the video from the micro card. It makes proving that I did nothing wrong to the police very easy. It tracks speed, gps location and impact forces among other things, and in the event of an accident it will automatically save that video. Although, you do need to clear some of the saved videos often, or the card gets full. The gps part is very nice too, I like that it displays speed, but my truck has larger tires and my speedo is isn’t accurate, so I just go off the gps. The only thing I don’t like is it’s difficult to use the touch screen with my big fingers, but I got a rubber tipped stylus pin and that works great.”
If you’re looking for a reliable GPS device that will get you from home to work day-in-and-day-out, then the Garmin DriveSmart 51 NA LMT-S is the one for you. For less than $200, this handy device features a five-inch touchscreen that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth to give you a hands-free option to place phone calls, read text messages, and get calendar reminders without taking your eyes off the road.
The GPS also features Garmin’s very detailed travel and traffic maps that will show you when and where a traffic jam may occur in real-time. It also comes with free lifetime updates, so you’ll always feel good about getting to your final destination safe and sound.
This model by Garmin is the best utility GPS device because it features a number of safety features, such as driver alerts for oncoming traffic and fatigue warnings, Garmin Drive for when you’re about to reach a school or hospital zone, and Up Ahead for milestones and landmarks during your journey.
It features detailed maps of the United States with lifetime free updates for current streets and current speed limits, so you’ll never get caught in a “speed trap” again. The device also features locations of popular restaurants and stores thanks to FourSquare integration. If you just want a reliable, no nonsense GPS device, then this is the one for you. There’s nothing fancy here, just great maps and quality turn-by-turn directions.
If you’re looking for a completely hands-free solution for getting directions and driving at the same time, the Garmin Speak is a GPS device that incorporates the Amazon Alexa with the reliability of Garmin. It’s also really simple to use and pairs directly to your smartphone and the Garmin app via Bluetooth. In fact, there is only a barebones display and no touchscreen, so it’s really all about using the power of speech.
So if you need directions to Starbucks, just request “Hey Alexa! Ask Garmin to get directions to the nearest Starbucks” and the assistant will give you turn-by-turn directions. It’s basically like having an Echo Dot on your dashboard. And since it’s Alexa-enabled, it has the same functionality of any Amazon device, so you can pull up news and weather, your playlists, order items from Amazon directly, and information on just about anything on the internet.
In addition, the GPS also has the option for a built-in dash cam that will record and save car footage with a simple voice command.
The Garmin Drive 50 USA LM is the for a reason. It’s easy to set up, reliable, has free lifetime map updates, and offers clear turn-by-turn directions at a reasonable price. The device features driver alerts that let you know when you’re in a school zone or if the speed limit suddenly changes, lane departure warning if you’re veering off the road, and a solid dash cam to record potential collisions. It also features a five-inch touchscreen that’s as responsive as it is clear and bright. The GPS even features voice search and commands for easy hands-free navigation while driving.
But don’t take our word for it, here’s what satisfied Amazon customer had to say about the device:
“We love this. We got it after returning a Tom Tom that stopped working after less then 2 days. This is a great GPS. It’s very user friendly and has all the bells and whistles you could want. The controls are so easy to set. The routes are very clear and the little car shows you where you’re going. The voice alerts are perfect also. They let you know what to do in plenty of time. We really like this and have recommend it to many of our friends. Those that have gotten it have also been pleased.”
The is regularly priced at $150 but we’ve seen it on sale for $104 on Amazon.
6. — Best non-Garmin GPS device
If Garmin is the Coca-Cola of global positioning systems, then TomTom is Pepsi. Both companies are great for maps and directions, though there are minor differences when it comes to approach and services.
For example: Garmin is an American company that focuses on GPS units for North America, while TomTom is based in Amsterdam and is the leading brand of GPS navigation in Europe. If you want something that’s a little different from Garmin, then the TomTom GO 500 is the best non-Garmin GPS device you can buy.
With its lightweight, five-inch touchscreen display, the device from TomTom features interactive maps that come with free lifetime updates, up-to-the-minute traffic reports via smartphone tethering, and up to 99.9% map coverage of North America. It also features parking assist, so you’ll never aimlessly drive around looking for an empty parking spot again.
While the Garmin Drive 50 USA LM is the #1 best-seller, the Garmin Nuvi 57LM is the best rated on Amazon. The GPS features real-time traffic updates, while it also has Garmin’s Direct Access option that gives you easy and simple directions to popular locations around you, such as shopping malls and airports, along with highly-rated restaurants and shops from the built-in FourSquare app. It includes free lifetime map updates of all 50 states, along with maps of Canada and Mexico.
Amazon customer writes:
“This unit is more than I expected. It warned us of an accident that took place on the road 20 miles ahead of us while driving at night and on the return trip it warned us of an interstate closure because of a severe accident, then directed us on an alternative route to not get stuck in traffic. Awesome!”
The retails for $199.99 and has a 5-star rating from more than 2,500 reviewers on Amazon.
The Garmin dēzl 770LMTHD is built for professional drivers and commercial use for long-haul semi-trucks and recreational vehicles (RVs) for families. It’s reliable for navigating through less known areas and truck-related restrictions, like short bridge heights and weight limits. It’s also powered by FourSquare, so it’s good at locating truck stops, rest areas, weigh stations, and repair shops for bigger vehicles.
The device also comes with lifetime maps and real-time traffic reports, while it’s a lifesaver for avoiding sharp curves and turns and narrow lanes. It even accounts for your own vehicle after you plug in its length and weight into the device itself, so the GPS can stay within your vehicle’s driving limits.
The is a bit pricy at $375.66, but packs in extra features for those going off the beaten path.
9. — Best for world travelers
If you plan to travel outside of the United States, the TomTom Go 520 is the perfect GPS for traveling around the world. With its five-inch screen, the Go 520 delivers maps and real-time traffic information just like any other good GPS device, but it comes with the added bonus of lifetime updates and access to maps from around the world at no additional cost. World maps are ready for download whenever you need them, so you can rest assured that you’ll never get lost, even if you’re in a foreign country. The device is even compatible with Apple’s Siri or Google Now via Bluetooth, so you can have hands-free capabilities with ease.
You know that pick for the best GPS for “” from earlier in this list? Well, the Garmin DriveAssist 51 NA LMT-S is near identical to that model, but it also includes a built-in dash cam that continuously records footage of everything that happens in front of the car. The device features “DriveAssist” software that will automatically save and send video, as a text message or link, if it detects a crash. In addition, the software features forward-collision warnings and lane-departure alerts so you don’t lose control of the car.
The will not only help you get to your destination, it can also keep you safe.
While many smartphones have voice assistants and voice commands baked in, they are still not as reliable as a GPS device that was built for navigation and safety. If you’re looking for a seamlessly hands-free GPS navigator, then the Garmin Nuvi 2689 LMT is the ideal solution. While it features real-time traffic updates and lane guidance, the GPS’s biggest selling point is its always-on voice-activated navigation system.
It features natural language directions and voice commands, so you can keep your eyes on the road and not get distracted with robotic speech like you might find from others on the market. The device also connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, so you can also use your voice to control your phone while you drive safely to your destination.
The six-inch model of the retails for $224.95 from Walmart.
If you’re looking for something more high-end, the AVIC8201NEX Flagship In-Dash Navigation AV from Pioneer is the all-in-one GPS and entertainment device for your car. The seven-inch in-dash display requires some installation, but Pioneer makes it really easy to just plug-and-play your car’s inputs into the sophisticated GPS device.
Not only can you use the device for navigation with world-class maps and precision turn-by-turn directions, it’s also an entertainment center with a built-in DVD player, Sirius XM radio, and Pandora streaming out of the box. It also features Apple Carplay when you plug in your iPhone. This feature essentially turns the devices interface into Apple iOS with voice commands from Siri for hands-free navigation and controls.
The Pioneer AVIC-8201NEX Flagship In-Dash Navigation AV features premium performance with a premium price tag of .