GPS Garmin Nuvi Car GPS Review

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GPS devices are a fully mature technology now, and gone are the days when a rubber suction cup mark on your windshield was considered a sign of luxury. You can get navigation applications for most any smartphone, which has put enormous pressure on the stand-alone direction finder companies like Garmin to offer more features and more reliable information than ever before, and offer them at a price that keeps them an attractive option.

Garmin’s The Industry Standard

The GPS Garmin nuvi line is the industry standard, and many people refer to their devices as The Nuvi, regardless of manufacturer, in much the same way consumers refer to any brand of tissue as Kleenex. The voice of nuvi’s crisp, clear, vaguely Nordic-accented spoken directions are familiar to entire generation of drivers, and Garmin continues to dominate the stand-alone industry with a selection of different models that offer varying degrees of usability.

Garmin is also concerned about being outflanked on the luxury end of the scale, and have introduced models like the 3597LMTHD that have every bell and whistle that a navigation device user could possible want, which has allowed Garmin to stay one step ahead of the iPhone onslaught of One Device To Rule Them All apps.

Let’s look over Garmin’s offering under the nuvi nameplate, and see which model offers the usability and price you’re looking for.

Garmin nuvi 54LM

Garmin nuvi 54LM

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Garmin lists the nuvi 54LM under their Essential Series devices, and that’s an apt description. No one should drive anywhere without at least an entry-level navigation device like the Garmin nuvi 54LM along for the ride. It’s got a 5” full-color touchscreen display that’s on the low end of the size and display resolution scale, but it’s packed with plenty of usability. Garmin knows that even entry-level devices have to compete with smartphone apps now, so the Garmin nuvi 54LM comes with detailed maps of the US and Canada right out of the box, and Garmin offers free lifetime updates with the device.

  • Preloaded with US and Canadian maps
  • Lifetime map updates
  • 5” full-color display
  • Lane assist feature
  • Vehicle power cable
  • Suction cup mount
  • USB cable

The GPS Garmin nuvi 54LM displays the time, the speed limit, and an accurate and constantly updated arrival time while you’re in motion without cluttering up the screen too much. Lane assist helps you prepare for junctions before you reach them, an important feature if you drive in crowded urban highways where quick lane changes can be nearly impossible. If you require a larger screen, you might be interested in the Nuvi 65LMT (review here). The GPS Garmin nuvi 54LM is extremely highly rated by users for both usability and reliability.

Garmin nuvi 2597LMT

Garmin nüvi 2597LMT 5-Inch Bluetooth Portable Vehicle GPS


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The Garmin nuvi 2597LMT is the top of the line device with a 5” screen in the Garmin Advanced Series. It’s a step up from the entry-level 54LM in features, even thought the screen is the same size and resolution. It offers the same functionality you’re used to with any Garmin device, like a colorful touchscreen interface, but it includes Real Voice guidance that gives directions based on recognizable landmarks that are easier to find than street signs, especially at night or in bad weather.

The Garmin nuvi 2597LMT (full review here) takes the stress out of navigating busy intersections on your route with PhotoReal and Bird’s Eye junction views that display three-dimensional views of upcoming turns with directional arrows projected on them. That kind of turn-specific information is bound to take 100 percent of the frustration out of busy highway turns.

  • 5” Full color touchscreen display
  • Preloaded with North American maps
  • Free lifetime map updates
  • PhotoReal and Bird’s Eye junction views
  • Up Ahead display shows info on nearby services in real time as you drive
  • Bluetooth enabled

The Garmin nuvi 2597LMT can be oriented either in the traditional widescreen, or vertically if you’d prefer, which can be handy if your dashboard is cluttered. It’s got a a Smartphone Link mobile app to connect your nuvi to either an Android or iPhone handset to share info using your existing data plan. The The Garmin nuvi 2597LMT also responds to voice commands, so you can safely find out what you need to know from your nuvi while keeping your hands safely on the wheel. The The Garmin nuvi 2597LMT is universally given high marks by users for its capabilities and dependability.

Garmin nuvi 2797LMT

Garmin nüvi 2797LMT 7-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS


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The Garmin nuvi 2797LMT is almost identical to the highly rated nuvi 2597LMT, but has a big, 7” high-resolution display. Some drivers prefer small screens to avoid dashboard or windscreen clutter, but if you’ve ever had trouble reading your navigation device’s screen while driving, you’ll love the Garmin nuvi 2797LMT (full review here).

  • 5” Full color touchscreen
  • North American maps with free lifetime updates
  • PhotoReal and Bird’s Eye junction views for stress-free turns
  • Up Ahead display shows info on nearby services in real time as you drive
  • Bluetooth enabled

Like most electronic devices, the bigger the screen, the more the power draw, so you’ll have to expect less battery life from each charge with the nuvi 2797LMT, but other than that, it’s as capable and useful a device as you could hope for.

Users love the 2797LMT, and it’s difficult to find a bad rating anywhere on the Web for it. Some users point out one easily overlooked benefit of the larger screen: It allows passengers to see the screen as easily as the driver, so they can see the screen even from the back seat.

Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD

Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth Vehicle GPS


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The Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD is Garmin’s only offering in what they call their Prestige Series, and the nuvi 3597 comes with every conceivable option a navigation device can offer. It’s got a high definition 5” touchscreen that has pinch and zoom capability like a smartphone to let you get a close look at upcoming intersections or any other information the device has at its fingertips. Read our complete review here.

  • 5” High definition touchscreen display
  • Pinch and zoom capable
  • Dual orientation capable
  • Detailed maps of North America with lifetime updates
  • Loaded with millions of points of interest
  • Allows you to add points of interest of your own
  • Digital Traffic reports for both highways and secondary roads
  • Traffic alerts come onscreen without obscuring map
  • Voice command navigation equipped
  • Real Voice spoken directions use easy to spot landmarks to direct your turns
  • Bluetooth enabled
  • Smartphone link enabled
  • Razor thin for less windshield clutter

Things To Look For When Shopping

Garmin’s line of navigation devices offer every shopper great devices at every price point, but options vary considerably. Some of the attributes to look out for:

  • Screen size
  • On-board map selection
  • Map upgrades
  • Points of interest
  • Traffic avoidance
  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • Pinch and zoom displays
  • Voice activation
  • Display resolution
  • Landmark directions
  • Smartphone link capability

Final Conclusion

Multiple tech magazines rate the The Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD as the best GPS device on the market today.

Users rate this car GPS extremely highly as well, with the only downside to the Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD being that you can’t buy one with a 7” screen like the Garmin nuvi 2797LMT. If you don’t need a 7″ screen than the Nuvi 42LMNuvi 52LM or Nuvi 68LMT might be an option for you as well.