Best Garmin GPS – for your Car Journey 2022

  • By: Dylan
  • Date: July 21, 2022
  • Time to read: 11 min.

It’s hard to believe, but we’re now heading into 2022, and I feel like it’s time for an updated buyer’s guide to the best Garmin GPS for your car this year. If you’re still stuck with your older Garmin or TomTom, then you might want to consider upgrading in order to benefit from the latest features on offer.

Garmin has made a name for itself in the sat nav market with its reliable, user-friendly, and pretty affordable GPS devices. But even these can be confusing, as there are so many models to choose from and each has its own special features. So, when Garmin announced it had a new streamlined sat nav range that consists of only three GPS devices, there was a collective sigh of relief by consumers.

Which one of these three Garmin models should you consider for you and your vehicle?

Budget Choice
Garmin Drive 52 and Traffic, GPS Navigator with 5” Display, Simple On-Screen Menus and Easy-to-See Maps
Best Value
Garmin DriveSmart 55 and Traffic, GPS Navigator with 5.5” Display, Simple On-Screen Menus and Easy-to-See Maps
Premium Option
Garmin DriveSmart 65, Built-In Voice-Controlled GPS Navigator with 6.95” High-Res Display , Black
GPS
Garmin Drive 52
Garmin DriveSmart 55
Garmin DriveSmart 65
Display Size
5'
5.5"
6.95"
Resolution
480 x 272 pixels
1200 x 720 pixels
1024 x 600 pixels
Live Traffic
Garmin Real Directions
Driver Alerts
WiFi Updates
Hands Free Calls
Amazon Alexa
Budget Choice
Garmin Drive 52 and Traffic, GPS Navigator with 5” Display, Simple On-Screen Menus and Easy-to-See Maps
GPS
Garmin Drive 52
Display Size
5'
Resolution
480 x 272 pixels
Live Traffic
Garmin Real Directions
Driver Alerts
WiFi Updates
Hands Free Calls
Amazon Alexa
Best Value
Garmin DriveSmart 55 and Traffic, GPS Navigator with 5.5” Display, Simple On-Screen Menus and Easy-to-See Maps
GPS
Garmin DriveSmart 55
Display Size
5.5"
Resolution
1200 x 720 pixels
Live Traffic
Garmin Real Directions
Driver Alerts
WiFi Updates
Hands Free Calls
Amazon Alexa
Premium Option
Garmin DriveSmart 65, Built-In Voice-Controlled GPS Navigator with 6.95” High-Res Display , Black
GPS
Garmin DriveSmart 65
Display Size
6.95"
Resolution
1024 x 600 pixels
Live Traffic
Garmin Real Directions
Driver Alerts
WiFi Updates
Hands Free Calls
Amazon Alexa

Last update on 2022-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Garmin GPS for your Car

Budget Option – Garmin Drive 52 

The Garmin Drive 52 is the entry-level GPS that comes from Garmin. It has a bright and easy-to-read,  5-inch touch screen. The resistive display allows you to navigate the various menus using single-finger tapping and screen swiping. What does that mean in practice? Well, as this is a budget sat nav you don’t get the same ability to pinch and zoom on the maps as you would with a capacitive screen. 

Sale
Garmin Drive 52 and Traffic, GPS Navigator with 5” Display, Simple On-Screen Menus and Easy-to-See Maps
  • 5” GPS navigator with traffic alerts
  • Easy-to-use 5” GPS navigator includes detailed map updates of the U.S. and Canada
  • Simple on-screen menus and bright, easy-to-see maps. Backup camera compatible-yes (BC 30)
  • Garmin Traffic is ready to use right out of the box — without use of a smartphone

Last update on 2022-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Drive 52 is a pretty intuitive device to use – input your destination, let it calculate the route, and press go. It really can be as simple as that.However, there are some useful additional features that make your driving a little easier. Garmin Real Directions provides you with spoken directions that make sense. For example, instead of telling you to turn left at 200 feet/meters, it will tell you to turn left after the church. This type of visual instruction should mean far fewer wrong turns on your journey.

If you download the Smartphone Link App and pair the Drive 52 with a compatible smartphone then you’ll have access to the smart features and live traffic updates (with the included traffic cable). This enables you to make hands-free calls and enables you to avoid any heavy traffic or driving in poor weather conditions. It also provides you with the latest parking information using the parkopedia platform – proper handy if you’re looking for a parking space in the city!

I particularly like the Direct Access feature that makes driving into some of those vast car parks at an airport or a large shopping center an absolute cinch. Are you looking at parking in the long-term car park C at the airport? With Direct Access, it’s easy as it removes any confusion, and it just guides you to the correct entrance point. Trust me, it’s a neat little feature that makes a trip to the airport much less stressful.

As a base model option, this is a solid purchase as it covers the basics of navigation extremely well. While it may be true that it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the more expensive models, I’d have no hesitation in recommending it if you’re on a budget. If you’re planning any road trips in the near future, then this compact Garmin will happily get you there.

Pros:

  • Easy to Use
  • Bright & Clear Display
  • Garmin Real Directions
  • Driver Alerts

Cons:

  • Smaller Screen Size
  • Lower Display Resolution
  • Only 8 Gb Internal Storage

Mid-Range Option – Garmin DriveSmart 55 

The DriveSmart 55 offers a crisp and relatively lag-free 5.5″ edge-to-edge multitouch screen, that provides you with the benefit of a pinch and zoom function. This enables you to use your finger and thumb as you would with your smartphone to navigate the screen. You can zoom in on a specific area for some further details or move the map around, change your viewing angles, and flick between 3D and the birds-eye views. 

Sale
Garmin DriveSmart 55 and Traffic, GPS Navigator with 5.5” Display, Simple On-Screen Menus and Easy-to-See Maps
  • Easy-to-use 5. 5” GPS navigator.External memory storage: This USB mass storage device is compatible with Windows XP or newer and Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
  • Simple menus and bright, easy-to-see maps, Display resolution: 1280 x 720 pixels
  • Garmin Traffic suggests alternate routes
  • Voice-activated and ability to pair with a compatible smartphone for hands-free calling

Last update on 2022-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The DriveSmart is literally a smarter version of the Drive 52 as you can receive your phone notifications on the screen of the GPS. You can provide the GPS with verbal directions, for example, say “Ok, Garmin” and tell it where you want to go, and it’ll calculate the route, and provide you with step-by-step directions. Now there are no more excuses for getting lost or, more importantly, for taking your hands off the steering wheel. 

One of the best features of this GPS navigation device is the Lane Assist and the detailed Junction displays. Essentially, what this does is make sure that you are in the correct lane as you approach an exit or a junction. At some busy intersections, there could be five or six different lanes that you could use to exit a freeway.

On the top left-hand side of your screen, you will see a number of arrows depicting the lanes that are ahead of you. The correct lane for your trip will remain highlighted while the others will be greyed out. The clearer lane guidance makes it easy for the driver to follow the map displays with plenty of time to adjust your lane should that be necessary.

The DriveSmart 55 may be the best value option as you get a whole host of features for your money. The redesigned user interface seems better organized than ever. It provides the information that you need while driving, clearly and succinctly on the screen. By putting all of your most commonly used options in a single place, DriveSmart provides top-notch directions, shows current traffic conditions, and helps you find the nearest gas station, restaurant, or coffee shop without leaving the map. It’s a simple device, that stands out for its ease of use, detailed directions, and, above all, its reliable performance, and solid value. 

Pros:

  • Voice Activated Navigation
  • Multi-touch Display
  • Smartphone Compatibility
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity

Cons:

  • Some Voice Recognition Difficulties
  • Updates Not Always Automatic

Premium Option – Garmin DriveSmart 65

The DriveSmart 65 is a premium GPS that’s designed for consumers who want to stay on the cutting edge of smartphone integration and have Wi-Fi connectivity. This is the device for you if you want to attach an all – singing and all – dancing navigational device to your windshield. You get everything that’s included with the other GPS in the range, all packaged within an intuitive user interface.

Sale
Garmin DriveSmart 65, Built-In Voice-Controlled GPS Navigator with 6.95” High-Res Display , Black
  • Easy to use 6.95” GPS navigator.Display resolution 1024 x 600 pixels
  • Simple menus and bright, easy to see maps
  • Garmin Traffic suggests alternate routes. Backup camera compatible-yes (BC 30 or BC 40)
  • Voice activated and ability to pair with a compatible smartphone for hands free calling

Last update on 2022-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The huge screen is almost 7″ in size and has a high-resolution non-reflective display that is very easy to read. The screen maps are crystal clear and the relevant information pertaining to your journey is laid out in a simple and clear format. This GPS takes away many of the stress points that you can experience while driving and provides you with the ability to make hands-free phone calls.

I’ll be honest with you and admit that it can’t do anything about the bickering kids in the backseat!  It will, however, provide you with speed limit alerts, current road conditions, traffic alerts, and details of any upcoming speed cameras. These are communicated by clear audible directions that provide you with the confidence to approach and drive any road layout.  The advanced lane guidance is a feature that makes approaching even the most complex of junctions easy to navigate. It’s great to know that you’re in the correct lane whenever you need to be.

If you’re planning an epic family road trip, then the DriveSmart 65 provides you with everything you need. As you’d expect, you get the arrival time for each destination, but you can also plan and find some interesting additional stops on your journey. You get access to a database full of information on historical sites, national parks, and points of interest.  These are provided via the history and national parks’ directories along with the Foursquare POI platform. Use them in your planning, and they’ll help you make your journeys a bit more fun.  

If someone, gets hungry on the trip then you can search for decent nearby restaurants using the TripAdvisor traveler ratings as a guide. This can help you find that little gem of a restaurant and ensure that you don’t pick a food joint of poor quality. 

The huge selling point for this GPS is the inclusion of Alexa integration. This provides you with full access to a whole range of services that you may ordinarily only associate with your Amazon home devices. A huge number of additional services can be accessed using voice commands, and the more you use the device, the better the voice recognition seems to get. You can listen to some music from your favorite artists, turn on the heating in your smart home, and buy some more detergent that you’d forgotten at the supermarket. 

Pros:

  • Complete Hands-Free Experience
  • Built-in Alexa Integration
  • Large 6.95″ Screen
  • Plenty of smart options – incl. notifications, weather, parking availability
  • Customizable screen layouts
  • Wi-Fi updates

Cons:

  • Premium pricing
  • Questionable Rerouting Calculations

Summary 

Each one of these latest Garmin navigational devices will do the basics extremely well. In other words, they will all get you from A to B with little to no fuss. They all come with lifetime updates and will help you avoid traffic jams, keep you under the speed limits as well as provide you with some helpful information on your surroundings. You can easily find a restaurant or read a Trip Advisor review for a hotel directly from the device using voice command. (otherwise you’d probably do this from your smartphone?)

We have summarized the main features of each Garmin device above. If, however,  you’re still undecided about which is the best Garmin GPS for you one then perhaps this short recap may help you:

If you’re looking for a cheaper option with one of the smaller resistive screens then choose the Garmin Drive 52.

Are you looking for a balance between navigation assistance and smartphone integration, then go for the excellent value Garmin DriveSmart 55.

And finally, if you’re looking for the ultimate Garmin GPS for your car then look no further than the Garmin DriveSmart 65. With its huge 7-inch screen and Amazon Alexa integration, you’ll be rocking the voice controls in no time while looking at the 3D displays.

FAQs

What size GPS do I need for my car?

The recommended screen size of your GPS can depend on a couple of different factors.

The most obvious is your personal preference. Some people prefer to have larger screens as they are generally easier to read. A 7-inch screen will look much larger than those units with 5-inch screens.

These navigational devices are usually attached to your windscreen, so it’s important to attach them in a place that doesn’t restrict your viewing. The larger screens can be obstructive to your viewing if you happen to drive a very small vehicle. In this instance, I would recommend a device with a smaller screen size.

The size of your GPS will also come down to your budget. Typically, the larger screens are the premium models and are therefore more expensive to purchase.

Does the GPS act as a speedometer?

Your GPS will indeed provide you with your current speed. In many instances, it will also provide you with the current speed limit for your area. Rather helpfully, it will also let you know when you are going over the speed limit – great for keeping you safe and on the right side of the law.

As a note of caution, however, you shouldn’t wholly rely upon the GPS for your current traveling speeds as the accuracy will depend upon a number of factors, including signal strengths, etc. It’s always best to keep an eye on your vehicle’s speedometer as, ultimately, this should always be the most accurate guide.

Can you use an auto GPS outside the car?

Yes, you can use your GPS outside your vehicle. There are, however, a couple of limitations to be aware of when using the device in this way. 

The battery life of a GPS designed for the car will not last long. Expect to get around an hour of battery life when the GPS is out of the charging cradle. 

It’s also not the most convenient device to carry around due to its shape and size. If you are exploring an urban area, then I would recommend using your smartphone as a navigational aid. If, on the other hand, you are planning on heading out a little further, then a dedicated handheld GPS is recommended. 

Does a GPS provide different routing options for journeys?

Yes, it will. When planning your trip, any GPS worth its salt should provide you with a number of route options. Ordinarily, you will more than likely use the shortest route or the quickest routes provided for your journeys.

There are, however, instances where you may want to seek alternate routes; perhaps you want to avoid toll roads, certain busy roads, or perhaps you want to pass certain attractions on a more scenic trip.

Can you change the language on a Garmin GPS?

Yes, you can change the language within the settings of your device. In order to make a change, go to the following options


Settings > Language & Keyboard
Here you’ll have the option to change the language of both the voice and text prompts. Do bear in mind, however, that changing the text language will not change the language of original street names. These will always remain in their native language in order to avoid any driving confusion.

How does satellite navigation work?

What a great question! Check out an earlier post of ours where we look at how sat navs work.

How does Garmin get traffic reports?

In order to provide you with alerts about traffic Garmin receives traffic information from numerous sources. They obtain these traffic alerts from other Garmin users, governmental and fleet management partners along with local road service information portals.

All of this information is then fed into one of the Garmin data centers and then passed through to your GPS. All of this information is updated every minute which does in theory mean that you get up to date real-time traffic updates about any potential traffic delays etc 

Is the Smartlink App free to use?

The app is free to download and you should be able to use it without any additional charges. The only caveat I would provide is to make sure that you don’t go over your current data plan.

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