The 6 Best GPS Devices on the Market in 2018
Smart phone apps have made the dedicated GPS market leaner, more competitive, and a whole lot more inventive. Newer models from the three big players—Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom— don’t just help get you where you’re going, they also take photos during accidents, stream music, map the foreboding backcountry, share your location with loved ones, and create records of your exploits—hell, you can even order products directly from Amazon. Here, six of the best models out there.
This post has been updated for 2018.
This new take on a dashboard GPS is designed to do much more than just get you where you’re going. With Amazon’s Alexa, you can use voice commands to stream music, play podcasts and audio books, check the weather, and listen to news, sports, or traffic updates. Just download the Garmin Speak app and you’re good to go. It also delivers turn-by-turn spoken directions, along with lane guidance arrows and upcoming turns. Beyond the driving experience, you can also remotely control your home smart devices, update your calendar, create to-do lists, and order pretty much anything directly from Amazon.
TomTom Go 520
This magnetic-mounted dash device pairs with your smart phone to let you plan your route via the TomTom MyDrive app, so that you can set up your trip before hopping in the car. It’s both Siri- and Google Now-compatible, offers hands-free calling when paired via Bluetooth, and uses Wi-Fi to drastically streamline the map database update, which spans the entire world. Traffic and speed camera updates are also included.
Magellan eXplorist TRX7
The eXplorist is a GPS turned up to 11, overkill for the casual traveler but a godsend for the off-road set. The seven-inch touch screen comes protected by a rugged casing, and includes three different mounting options to help dial the fit to your 4x4, SUV, or ATV. It comes pre-loaded with 115,000 trails and high-res 3D base maps, and uses crowdsourcing to building additional off-road trails throughout the United States. Safety features include backtrack guidance and off-road warnings, and you can also record your exploits as you explore, including the ability to supplement a route with audio, images, track conditions, and waypoints. Magellan’s “Dirt Miles” even game-ifies things, letting you earn “achievements” for following trails and visiting new locales.
Garmin inReach Explorer+
More a handheld communication device than a mere GPS, the inReach Explorer+ comes with 100% satellite coverage to help you navigate in the wild via pre-loaded DeMorme TOPO maps. Better still, for those who love going off the grid, your friends and family can track and share your location—and you can trigger an interactive SOS to a 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center if things go south. No one ever plans on getting their arm pinned by a massive rock, but if that happens, this device will help them find you just as easily as it helped you reach that remote stretch of canyonland.
TomTom Via 1625M
For those looking for a simple GPS that delivers the features you need without all the bells and whistles, the Via is a great option. The six-inch touchscreen makes it easy to find routes, and free map updates for the life of the product will keep you on track, along with advanced lane guidance to get you ready for the right exits.
Magellan RoadMate 6620-LM
In addition to the expected suite of navigation features, the RoadMate employs a forward-facing HD 1080D dash camera that uses a G-shock sensor to capture video recordings on impact, saving the location and time of the event on a microSC card (sold separately). It also provides visual and audio warnings of fixed red light and speed cameras, along with speed limit alerts and reminders to switch drivers due to fatigue or to turn on the headlights. The five-inch high-res touchscreen includes maps for the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, and also includes pre-loaded points of interest and directions to the best parking garages.
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