Vehicle GPS: Top Picks & Reviews

The Best of the Best. If you don’t have the time to invest reading reviews and comparisons, consult our Top Picks below for our top recommendations. Since all of the GPS units we feature are rated 4 stars or higher, our Top Picks truly are the “best of the best.”.

If you’d like to do some more research, consult our GPS Buyers Guide which will give you an in-depth look at GPS features to look for and, of course, our GPS Reviews to find the top-rated GPS with the features you’re looking for. Remember: All the GPS units we feature are rated 4 stars or better. We’ve done the homework for you.


1. Best Fully-Featured GPS for the Car


Garmin nuvi 3700 Series: Looking for the best top-of-the-line, fully-featured GPS? Garmin’s nuvi series tops the list again this year , which has taken its blending of form and function to a new level, offering an elegant yet essential travel tool to the traveler. Building on the the overwhelming success of Garmin’s nuvi line, which both dominate U.S. sales and consistently garner the highest owner satisfaction ratings, the nuvi 3700 series brings the strong nuvi heritage forward in a beautiful, svelte package that PC World calls “without doubt the sexiest, sleekest and best-looking GPS unit we’ve ever seen.” We agree.

This Holiday Season’s best fully-featured GPS. The gorgeous, top-of-the-line Garmin nuvi 3700 series, including the 3750, 3760T, 3760LMT, 3790T and 3790LMT. Read Our Full Review

Garmin has taken the top-of-the-line of its popular and acclaimed nuvi series to yet another level with rich functionality and iPhone-era touch screen capability without sacrificing Garmin’s trademark top of class easy-to-use interface. Along with newly-minted features and the addition of Mexico to the pre-loaded maps of North America (U.S. and Canada), the new king of this class arrives in the thinnest, most portable package yet. PC Magazine calls it a “solid navigator that raises the bar for the standalone GPS category...” The 3790T earned “Editor’s Choice” awards from both PC World and PC Magazine.

This isn’t the first time that Garmin has pleasantly surprised us with a notable leap forward after it had already set the standard in its class, but with the nuvi 3700 series, Garmin once again asserts its innovative spirit and redefines the high end.

The nuvi 3750, 3760T, 3760LMT, 3790T and top-of-the-line 3790LMT each weigh in at a mere 4 ounces (113.4 g) and measure 4.8”;W x 2.9”;H x .35” D (12.2 x 7.5 x .89 cm). Yes, that’s .89 cm thick – GPS calls it the thinnest GPS in the world, and, like the iPhone, its sexy good looks make you want to reach out and touch it. And while earlier nuvi units have capable touchscreens, the 3700 series adds iPhone-style multi-touch on an ultra-bright, high-resolution (800 x 480) touch screen that is easier to read than earlier models. Read our full review for the impressive list of features packed into this unit — several of which are brand new. If you’re looking for a full-featured and versatile vehicle GPS – oh, and a rather good looking one at that – the nuvi 3700 series sets the new standard in its class


2. Best Mid-Range GPS for the Car


TomTom XXL 540 Series
By creating a mid-priced GPS loaded with features, TomTom has a best-selling winner on its hands with the XXL 540 series. If the typical screen size of vehicle GPS units still leaves you squinting, TomTom’s XXL 540 series repackages the features of its successful and highly-rated XL 340 series into an eye-pleasing unit with an ample 5″ (diagonal) screen at a competitive price for a unit i this size class.TomTom brings all of the features from the XL 340 series into the XXL 540 series, including its Advanced Lane Guidance feature.

TomTom’s popular XXL 540 series sports an ample, easy-to-read 5″ screen along with many high-end features. Read Our Full Review

The new XXL540 series includes a built-in receiver for TomTom’s LIVE Services, including live traffic, weather, fuel prices and Google Local Search. According to MacWorld,”The XXL 540S has the same easy-to-use interface and menu system that virtually all other TomTom products do, but it’s easier to see on a bigger screen.”

Like the XL 340 series, the XXL 540 series includes TomTom’s Advanced Lane Guidance feature. Though GPS systems are terrific at guiding you down the highway, when it comes time to exit, it’s not always clear what lane you should be in. The TomTom’s Advanced Lane Guidance feature clearly shows you what lane you should be in for upcoming turns. Also notable is the inclusion of maps for all of North America, including Canada and Mexico. Overall, another solid and competitively-priced offering from TomTom.


3. Most Economical GPS for the Car


Garmin nuvi 2×5 Series
Garmin’s popular 2×5 series, building on the success of the 200 series, designed as a budget-friendly GPS, continues to blur the lines between “entry level” and mid-level with the 265T, 265W, 275T and 285WT models which sit at the upper end of this category. (These models are not fundamentally different from the other models in the 2×5 series but include richer feature sets, maps and other included options.)

TomTom’s popular XXL 540 series sports an ample, easy-to-read 5″ screen along with many high-end features. Read Our Full Review

As we pointed out in our review of Garmin’s first models released in the 2×5 series (the 205, 205W, 255 and 255W), the result is a product that is marketed as an entry-level system but in fact has a solid mid-level feature set under the hood. Not surprisingly, the 265, 275 and 285 have won accolades from editorial reviewers and owners alike, the latter especially pleased at the perfomance per price. In its review of the 265T, PC World notes this, indicating, “…a reasonable price for a full-featured GPS–especially when you factor in the lifetime traffic service.”

The 2×5 series tucks numerous into the same sleek exterior of the 200 series, including a new and improved user interface for what we already considered the car GPS world’s simplest and most intuitive interface. Fortunately, the changes are truly enhancements, including the display of the posted speed limit for the road you’re traveling on (where available).

The Garmin 2×5 series finds its niche among those seeking a solid entry-level offering that’s exceptionally easy to use. When released, it blurred the lines between entry- and mid-level, even including features found only in its top-end systems.The most notable absence from these models is Garmin’s lane guidance (which helps keep you in the right lane at confusing intersections or highway ramps) and an MP3/audiobook player. If thse features arent’ critical, the 2×5 series might just deliver the features you want in the most economical package.


4. Best Handheld GPS for the Back Country, Boat, or Vehicle


For the hiker, hunter, fisherman or anyone who likes to explore the back country,the 5-star Garmin GPSMap 60csx is powerful handheld unit that’s all about versatility and ruggedness.

It’s waterproof and is an ideal choice if you’ll be in the field, on the water, and need a unit that is packed with features yet portable and durable. It also provides turn-by-turn driving directions for use in the car. It even has a “geocaching” mode. A great single unit solution to a wide range of navigation challenges.

There are newer and more powerful handhelds available since the 60csx was introduced, namely Garmin’s Oregon and Colorado series (see below), but we still have great admiration for the 60csx. Winner of Outside Magazine’sGear of the Year” award.


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Comments

  1. Great site. Loads of good information, reviews, and product comparisons. Makes for easy shopping and, if desired, easy ordering of top rated products.

  2. If you are interested in a GPS for your car or when we travel, consider these…..

  3. roger simon says:

    wish i had known about this site b-4 i bought a tom tom 730. I have had about 5 garmins over the years including aircraft and marine and have found them to be quite user friendly but hard to hear using the bluetooth phone hookup. I saw that tom had a larger speaker and thought I would try one.. Big mistake. These are prehistoric compared to garmin.. no altimeter no way to adjust volume on the phone no trip meter no odometer very hard to see in extreem lite and a pain in the butt to program.. i am not too much into reading manu\als and it took me a week to figure out how to cancel a trip.. this thing was put together by a bunch of college freaks and not someone that would like to stick it to your windshield and go.. Just like the built ins on our bmw and lexus.. if you want to use those you would have to start out an hour early to figure out how to program it.. needless to say i am returning this tom tom and buying another garmin…altho if you are old like me dont call garmin support as your funeral might happen b4 some one talks to you..

  4. LOL re Garmin phone support. Fortunately you don’t have to call them very often.

    I have a 10 + yo Color StreetPilot and it is better than the built-it unit in the stereo in my other car. I’m looking to upgrade to a 376C or 478 but not because I have to but because I want some of the goodies like weather radio that were not thought of 10 + years ago. Go Garmin!

    I’m looking for a good site that compares features of Garmins.

  5. great site will help in my purchase,first gps was a nextstar.this was ok has a entry
    unit,time for the good units(garmins).thanks tac

  6. Brian Sonberg says:

    I have not seen a section concerning what I’d like in a GPS but I’m new here. I’m in the middle of buying a new GPS and I’ve kind of settled on the Garmin 780, however, the single feature I would like would be some route plotting with my GPS and my PC. Are there any GPS system on the market that support this feature? I like the features of the Garmin 780 but just one more would be nice.

  7. Brian, which gps did you decide on ? 765T looks good to me as well.

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