Best Car GPS Navigator 2020 – Buyer’s Guide (Updated March 2020)

What’s the best GPS For Your Car? It's the unit that gets you from point A to B in the quickest possible time, driving the easiest routes, with the least amount of traffic and in all honesty it's a very easy decision to make. Just head over to Garmin or TomTom and pick up one of their latest GPS units and you will have a cracking unit that will give you all the directions and extra features to help you drive that you need.

The problem in choosing comes into account when you start to factor in price. If you just choose a Garmin DriveLuxe you’ll have the best GPS navigation unit on the market in 2020. It will have a 5-inch screen and HD digital traffic. It will also cost you over $500 which is a lot of money to pay for a GPS unit that just gives you directions.

In this review, we’re looking at GPS units for your car that you could actually buy and use on a day-to-day basis that will not break the bank.

GPS Device

The Best Car GPS Navigation System 2020

If you don’t want to read the whole review and simply want to know what we thought was the best GPS Navigation unit for your car, then head directly over to Garmin and buy yourself a Garmin DriveSmart 55 with traffic and free life time map updates.

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Garmin DriveSmart Review

Garmin DriveSmart 55

The Garmin DriveSmart 55 is part of Garmin's all new 2020 range of GPS unit and has been designed to fill the gap between the large DriveSmart 65 and the Drive 52.  While the 65 comes with a 6.96-Inch screen, the 55 comes with an all new 5.5-Inch screen.

For 2019, we loved the all new edge-to-edge design of the 61, however the biggest compliant we go from our reader was the that the 61 was such a large design, it would not fit into their car.  


The problem was that Garmin did make a smaller model, but the screen was just not good enough to see correctly  For 2020 Garmin has listened to everyone has made the 55 with its 5.5-Inch screen,  and a much higher screen resolution (‎1280 x 720 pixels, VS. 480 x 272 pixels). The difference means that you don’t need a massive screen to see directions.


In line with the screen update, the maps, traffic alerts and directions have all been improved over the previous model, but what is fantastic, and something we have all been crying out for over the last few years, is the ability to update the unit over WiFi rather than having to always attach your unit to a computer to update the software and maps.


We also really like the all new TripAdvisor concept allowing you to view ratings for travel points of interest along your route from the world largest travel site directly to your car.


Overall, this is easily the best gps navigation unit for your car in 2020.

5 of 5 Stars

Brand Names

We would highly recommend that you buy either a TomTom or a Garmin GPS unit. Yes they are more expensive, but they actually work well and will carry on working for the foreseeable future. If you head over to your local supermarket, I am sure they will have their latest deal which will be some GPS that has been imported from China and will cost you less than $30.

This might seem like a great deal to you, however I really would not do it. Garmin and TomTom have spent millions of dollars and years of preparation to make you a device that actually works well and whilst these imports might seem like a great deal, often they don’t work well, have no facility to be updated meaning that as soon as the roads are changed your GPS becomes useless.

Buying brand names do cost more, however you’re getting a GPS that will last into the future and will comes with updates, voice directions that actually work and extra features such as massive points of interest databases or websites that allow you to access other users travel data to find the best driving roads in your location.

Best Car GPS 2020

Over the last 12 months the car gps device industry has tried to simplify itself. It the past, both TomTom and Garmin had a range of units each with different features and sizes. If you wanted to compare models, you could line up a Garmin 2797 with a 5575 and 6257 and then add TomTom and you’d be able to compare these with the 620, 1525 and even a rider.

Today the market is more simple. Both Garmin and TomTom have four models, ( Garmin - Drive, DriveSmart, DriveAssist and DriveLuxe) and (TomTom – TomTom Go Basic (VIA 1525M/1625M), TomTom Comfort or a TomTom Supreme. That said, realistically we’re only interested in the Garmin Drive, Garmin DriveSmart and from TomTom Go Basic (VIA 1525M/1625M) or a TomTom Supreme. 

Other Brands

Garmin and TomTom are our two favourite brands for car gps units, however there are other brands that we have tested over the last 18 months some of which have actually been okay, however there is nothing that I could recommend on my site.

I firmly believe that if you’re going to buy a GPS unit in the USA today, you should either be buying a Garmin Drive, a Garmin DriveSmart, a TomTom Go Basic or a TomTom Go Essential.

We’ve tried a Aonerex 7” Touchscreen GPS Navigator which to be fair was a brilliant model. I really liked it and while it worked, it worked well. The 7-Inch screen was clear the directions great, and then I tried to update it and it never worked again. I’ve also tried the JRCX 8GB Lifetime Map GPS Navigator which in principle is another, cheaper gps unit that should be good, but in reality it’s too complicated to use. I must have spent 30 minutes trying to learn how it worked and even then I really only got the basic directions to work.

Rand McNally and Magellan are two gps units that we’ve used in the past. Magellan are quite good at building off-road gps units and their units come pre-loaded with over 160,000 4WD, ATV, Motorcycle, and Snowmobile Trails in the USA. The problem is that they are not exactly cheap – The TR7 with a 7-Inch screen cost over $500. If I’m spending $500, I would want the best and Magellan TR7 is not the best gps for your car.

Your Choice

I firmly believe that if you’re going to buy a GPS unit in the USA today, you should either be buying a Garmin Drive, a Garmin DriveSmart, a TomTom Go Basic (VIA 1525M/1625M) or a TomTom Supreme. Below are the reviews and reason for this choice.

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Garmin DriveSmart 70 NA LMT

Garmin Drive

The Garmin range for 2020 starts with the Garmin Drive, which to be totally honest is a fantastic car gps navigator that does everything you need to help get your car from Point A to Point B with the least possible effort.

It’s cheap and does exactly what it sets out to do, but its cheap for a reason, it comes with no features to help you with your driving other than providing directions.  The Drive comes as standard with a 5-Inch Duel-Orientation display screen, pre-loaded maps of USA or USA & Canada, life-time map updates, traffic updates on selected models and a best-in-class user interface and step-by-step directions – and literally that’s it.

What it does well, it does really well, but the key problems are the price which means some things are made cheaply. The screen is not a high-resolution display which means it’s not super clear like the DriveSmart below. Worse still, if you’re driving in direct sunlight, you might need to shade your navigator to see the directions. The unit also does not come with Bluetooth connectivity, voice commands, and Wi-Fi updating meaning that you will need to plug the Drive into a computer to perform updates.

While the maps do update for free, they’re not perfect and do not show topographical shading for mountains or 3D buildings in cities. The traffic alerts do work well, but this is an optional extra that does increase the price slightly.
Overall It’s a cracking GPS unit for those that just want a basic, portable GPS unit

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Garmin DriveSmart Review

Garmin DriveSmart

The Garmin DriveSmart is our favourite GPS navigation device of 2020 and comes with a range of useful features that options that help you get from Point A to Point B without sitting in the traffic. The DriveSmart comes in two models, the DriveSmart 55 with an all-new 2020 5.5-Inch Edge-to-Edge Display and the DriveSmart 65 that comes with a 6.95-Inch Edge-to-Edge display.

The choice is yours, however on a personal preference, I’ve always thought the larger is better. I just feel that you can see more information on your screen which in turn helps with directions. Just remember, the 7-inch unit is a big screen and big unit.

On a personal note, I have bought the DriveSmart 60 (2019 Model) and the DriveSmart 65 (2020 Model) and thus have tested it extensively over the last few months and as a result have been able to make a good decision on this gps unit. The 6.95-inch screen is simply fantastic especially given that it comes with a glass screen that means that the pinch and zoom combination works very nearly as well as the your smartphone. The screen has also been improved over previous models to the point where you can now look at your gps unit in both direct sunlight and in low light conditions where the old versions sometimes had problems.

Switching the unit on brings up Garmin simply to use interface and menu system meaning that after a few minutes of fiddling around you can easily find your way around your gps unit and understand where to go to make things work how you would expect. The DriveSmart comes with fully integrated pre-loaded maps of the USA that offer both fantastic detail and clarity meaning that if you need to find an address you can easily do so.

The maps come with free lifetime map updates meaning that you can be sure, as long as you update your maps, you will always find yourself driving on roads on your gps unit. The unit also comes with free traffic alerts and for the first time, speed camera alerts. Routing is simple and will take into account the traffic conditions along your route to ensure that you drive along without getting stuck in traffic. The traffic alerts work well and have been heavily worked on over the last few years and we have seen major improvements. Gone are the days when our gps unit said we have a clear road, but actually we were stuck in traffic.

Extra features that we have not seen before really central around ensuring that you can drive safely. These include alerts for street speed changes, up and coming sharp curves, school zones and even one way roads. We also like the all new Bluetooth connectivity which allows you to both connect your smartphone to the gps for hands free calling and for voice control meaning that you can control your gps without taking your hands off the wheel. In the past we have seen these features really not work well, however with this latest DriveSmart, these features now work as you would expect.

Overall we really like the DriveSmart 65 and the all-new features that it comes with that seem to have been design all to help you drive safely. We love the fact that the traffic alerts have been seriously improved to point where we rarely get stuck in traffic that we don’t know about beforehand and the extra features that make sure the Bluetooth connectivity for hands free calling work well. If you’re going travelling this year, then buy yourself a DriveSmart and you will not regret it.


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TomTom Go Basic

TomTom Go Basic

The TomTom Go Basic (VIA 1525M/1625M) is TomTom’s equivalent to the Garmin Drive above. It’s TomTom’s aim at a cheap, basic GPS navigation system that will get you from point A to point B. 

The GO Basic is part of TomTom's all new 2020 range and has been built from the ground up.  It might look like models of old, but its comes with a new and improved 5-inch screen and the option of a 6-Inch screen for a few extra dollars.  As standard, the unit comes with maps of the US, Canada, Mexico and as with all gps units these days, they include free lifetime map updates.


Finding destinations is simple from the Search menu or by touching a point on the map. Advanced Lane Guidance helps you prepare for exits and intersections by clearly highlighting the correct driving lane for your planned route.


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TomTom Go Essential

TomTom Go Supreme

The TomTom GO Supreme is TomTom’s top of the range GPS unit that comes with a range of features to help you get to your destination without sitting in traffic. 

​The GO supreme is part of TomTom’s all new 2020 GPS Navigation Units that aims to compete with Garmin above. In all honesty, it does a great job. If it wasn’t a brand new model (release Jan 2020) and we had had more time to test it properly, I would go as far as saying it’s the best car gps on the market in 2020.


The GO Supreme comes as standard with a 5-inch and a 6-inch, crystal clear touch screen that works well in both low light, and direct sunlight conditions. The interface works well, it’s very similar to past editions, however I feel it’s been updated slightly to make it easier to use. The maps are fantastic, and it comes with both free life-time map updated via Wi-FI and most importantly, world-maps meaning that you can your GPS on holiday.

Much like the Garmin’s above, TomTom comes with Traffic Alerts that are actually very good and not only intelligently plan routes around traffic, but update in real-time using information from millions of drivers helping you take the best route to take. One thing we have not seen much in the past is speed camera alerts. The Supreme comes with Speed Camera Alerts for fixed and mobile safety cameras across the USA.

Other standard features include Hands-free Calling and Smartphone Messages, the ability to share your location and ETA with friends though the app and trip statistic helpful hints to make your driving easier and safer. We’ve seen all these in the past, and while they’ve been updated, it’s hardly noticeable.


Whats new for 2020 is three fold, firstly Last Mile Navigation and Find My Car – This combines both your GPS unit and an App on your mobile to help you in situations where you’ve had to park away from your destination and have had to walk that final few hundred meters. No you have not only directions to your destination, but also an accurate record of where you’ve parked your car, and how to get back to it.


IFTTT Integration – helps all your maps, apps, smart home devices and virtual assistants work together in harmony. IFTTT stands for IF That, Then This and basically means, if I do one thing, do this. As an example, your could set your GPS to switch the heating on at home when your 10KM away from it, or send a notification when your 2KM away from your destination. In principle, it’s a great idea, in reality, will I ever use it, I’m not sure.
Trip Planning with TomTom MyDrive and Road Trips – we have seen this before, however it’s been update to combine the above and make it even more user friendly.


These are not deal breakers, but I hate the magnetic mount that might simplify the attaching of your GPS unit to the windshield mount, but it also just say there is a GPS unit in your car that could be stolen.


I also hate the voice controls that just do not work. You can enter an address using your voice, but it’s impossible to search the place of interests even for something like a petrol station. I could not make it work when I asked for something like, “show me a gas station”.

It’s a great GPS that probably will be better than the Garmin above, time will tell, however I might update this best of later I the year.


Previous Models

Garmin DriveSmart 60 NA LMT

The Garmin DriveSmart 60NA LMT is part of Gamin’s all new and improved range of car gps units that come in a range of sizes but all have one thing in common - fantastic performance. The DriveSmart range comes with a DriveSmart 50LMT with that has a 5-Inch screen, a DriveSmart 60LMT that comes with a 6-Inch screen and a DriveSmart 70LMT that comes with a 7-Inch screen.

Whilst we do like the 70, we do feel that a 7-inch screen is really only needed for truckers and the 6-inch screen means that you have all the viewing you need whilst at the same time be able to store your gps unit.

We have bought the DriveSmart 60 NA LMT and have tested it extensively over the few months and as a result have been able to make a good decision on this gps unit. The 6-inch screen is simply fantastic especially given that it comes with a glass screen that means that the pinch and zoom combination works very nearly as well as the your smartphone. The screen has also been improved over previous models to the point where you can now look at your gps unit in both direct sunlight and in low light conditions where the old 2797 below sometimes had problems.

Customer Reviews
Switching the unit on brings up Garmin simply to use interface and menu system meaning that after a few minutes of fiddling around you can easily find your way around your gps unit and understand where to go to make things work how you would expect. The DriveSmart comes with fully integrated pre-loaded maps of the USA that offer both fantastic detail and clarity meaning that if you need to find an address you can easily do so.

The maps come with free lifetime map updates meaning that you can be sure, as long as you update your maps, you will always find yourself driving on roads on your gps unit. The unit also comes with free traffic alerts and for the first time, speed camera alerts. Routing is simple and will take into account the traffic conditions along your route to ensure that you drive along without getting stuck in traffic. The traffic alerts work well and have been heavily worked on over the last few years and we have seen major improvements. Gone are the days when our gps unit said we have a clear road, but actually we were stuck in traffic.

Extra features that we have not seen before really central around ensuring that you can drive safely. These include alerts for street speed changes, up and coming sharp curves, school zones and even one way roads. We also like the all new Bluetooth connectivity which allows you to both connect your smartphone to the gps for hands free calling and for voice control meaning that you can control your gps without taking your hands off the wheel. In the past we have seen these features really not work well, however with this latest DriveSmart, these features now work as you would expect.

Overall we really like the DriveSmart 60LMT and the all-new features that it comes with that seem to have been design all to help you drive safely. We love the fact that the traffic alerts have been seriously improved to point where we rarely get stuck in traffic that we don’t know about beforehand and the extra features that make sure the Bluetooth connectivity for hands free calling work well. If you’re going travelling this year, then buy yourself a DriveSmart and you will not regret it.

Garmin Nuvi 2797LMT

The Garmin NUVI 2797LMT is currently the best gps for car on the market right now. It's made by Garmin who are one of the top two GPS manufactures on the market right now and therefore means that when your buy this GPS for your car, you know you're buying a quality product that will last you for the foreseeable future. The Nuvi 2797LMT comes with a massive 7-Inch Touchscreen, super easy-to-use interface which means that finding your way around your GPS device is very simple, meaning that the minute you switch on your gps unit, you're going to be able to find your way around your device without even reading the instructions. It's just so simple to use and in a few click, you have entered your destination and are on your way.

The 2797LMT comes as standard with preloaded maps of the US which are updated free for the lifetime of the GPS Unit and also have the added benefit of including free Traffic updates to help keep you stuck out of all those annoying traffic jams and most importantly all this for a realistic price tag that actually you can afford.

This model comes with Garmin's all new super fast processor that means super fast route calculations, re-calculations and maps which come with Garmin's real voices that use recognisable buildings, landmarks and features to direct you to your destination. Once you have decided where to go, simple bring up the on-screen keyboard which allows you to easily enter the address of where you want to go to using Garmin's predictive text which helps to ensure that you don’t have to type the whole address of where you want to go.

The maps are brilliant and really show Garmin’s quality and given that this model comes with free lifetime updates, you will always have the right map for the right time. The maps are very detailed and when one of those really difficult junctions comes along, the device switches to it’s PhotoReal and Bird’s Eye Junction mode that offers a birds eye view on one side of the screen and detailed images with arrows to help you along your route on the other side of the screen meaning that it's practically impossible to get lost by taking the wrong road.

The NUVI 2797LMT comes with free traffic alerts which are completely integrated into the GPS unit meaning that any routes the gps device calculates for you will also take into account any traffic problems when its makes the decision of which is the best route to get you to your destination. As an added benefit, the unit comes with extra features such as Garmin’s “Up Ahead” feature which gives you nearby services such as petrol stations and restaurants, voice-navigation that allows you to speak to your GPS unit and bluetooth meaning that you can make and receive phone calls with the in-built speaker system.

Garmin Nuvi 2539LMT

Our second favorite will probably one day be our favorite car gps unit, however it's a little too early to say given this is a 2015 model that has just been released. Our second favorite also comes in two models, the 2539LMT and the 2639LMT with the only difference being the screen size with the 2539 coming with a 5-inch screen and the 2639, a 6-Inch screen. Our favorite is the 2639LMT given the slightly larger screen and therefore allowing the user greater ease to view their directions, however it's a personal choice and dam the 5-inch model is just as good.

One of the reasons we like the 2539 and the 2639 is that they are slightly cheaper models that come with a few less features, notably no bluetooth or voice control, both of which are great to have, but often they are not used more than a couple of times straight after the user has bought a new gps unit and therefore can be given up. The gps units come with glass touchscreens, super easy to use menu systems and most importantly Garmin's fantastic 2015 turn-by-turn directions, very detailed maps and directions that include the use of a dual navigation screen for complicated interchanges where (as shown in the picture above), the gps switches into a dual screen model where one side of the shows your direction and the other an image with a brightly coloured pink arrow showing the lane and direction you need to travel in to reach your destination.

Extra features include, Smartphone Link Capability that means you can get your smartphone to directly communicate with your GPS model, Traffic Alerts to ensure that you stay out of the traffic jams and Lifetime map updates to make sure that you never use your car gps system with maps that are out of date.

TomTom GO 600

This TomTom GO 600 could well be the best gps design for your car, however unless you have a good smartphone with both internet and a great battery, you don't want to buy this gps. The problem with the GO600 is that it's great, comes with fantastic features, easy to use menu and great performance, however the problem is that if you want traffic alerts, and let's be honest, they are very useful especially as they are free in the above models, you have to plug your TomTom gps unit into your smartphone so it can connect to the internet and then update itself with this information.

I am sure people are asking what the problem with this really is and I want to tell you. The biggest problem is that my Apple iPhone's battery last about 12 hours and less if I use the internet. This means that if I have to use my smartphone with my TomTom gps unit, i need to take my charger with me on my car journey which if I am honest is fine and I usually have it, however it's the times when I don't, cannot use my smartphone with my gps and then get stuck in traffic because I have not used this feature that really makes me think that I should have bought the Garmin above.

How to Buy

When deciding which is the best car GPS unit you need to take into account a number of factors that will often help you to decide which is the best navigation model for your personal situation. You also need to remember, what is right for me, might not be right for you.

If you’re planning to drive a small sports car then you’re unlikely to want a massive 7-Inch TomTom given it’s probably not going to fit. On the same token if you’re driving a camper van, then most likely you will want a large screen as it will be based further away from you and therefore you will need a large screen to be able to see if.

  • Screen Size – A small screen will limit both the features you can have displayed at anyone time and how easy the touchscreen is to use.
  • Processor Speed - Fast Processor Speeds mean faster route calculations and re-calculations.
  • User Interface – The simpler the better is often the best and means that you can find all the features you want quickly and easily
  • Voice Command – Great in principle, however if yours does not have this, don’t worry. Most users i know don’t use their anyway.
  • Bluetooth – Very similar to above, great to have the option to connect with your phone, however most likely you will never use it.
  • Real-Time Traffic – No one likes being stuck in traffic, but try to buy a GPS where this comes as standard and not as with some units where you have to pay a subscription each month to use the facility.
  • Up-To-Date Maps – Having a facility to update your maps is very important as road change the whole time and if a road has changed or even been closed and your GPS does not recognized this, then it can be a nightmare.

 

 

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