Best Navigation Systems iMore 2019

Buying a GPS shouldn't be tricky; all you need is to get from point A to point B right? Once you see everything else they can do, you'll be switching from your smartphone app over to a real GPS. We're here to help find the customization you want at the price you like whether you're a casual driving trying to find better routes for work or a trucker with a long path ahead. No matter how far you plan to go, we recommend the TomTom GO COMFORT as the overall best navigation system with features to help you avoid traffic, access your phone, and much more.

Best Overall: TomTom GO COMFORT

This device gives the avid road-tripper everything they need to know on their trip — all without being overly expensive. It'll send you traffic updates and change your route to help find a quicker one. You can also connect your phone through Bluetooth and have texts read out loud to you so you can avoid distracted driving. For those used to the classic look of their TomTom, the screen displays have been updated and maybe a bit unfamiliar, but don't worry; you'll get used to them in no time!

Another great feature: Once the TomTom is set up, it's quick to get your trip going! The maps update seasonally, changing anything from new speed limits to planned out roadwork. It's also easy to update; all you need is to connect it to Wi-Fi — no computer needed! The GPS has a 6-inch screen that switches views when turns are coming up. You'll find all the features any other GPS may have all compacted here in one. The only features your TomTom won't have are the ones for those driving vehicles other than a car.

Pros:

  • Phone and text connectivity
  • Live traffic updates
  • Easy to update

Cons:

  • Different menu and display screens than previous TomToms
  • Voice only works in language purchased in
  • No options specific for other vehicles

Best Overall

TomTom GO COMFORT

Best for everyone

This GPS gives you directions but also connects to your phone for more hands-free options including voice control texts and phone calls. Get weather and traffic conditions, too.

Best Value: Highsound GPS for Car 7

Enter the address of where you want to go, and the Highsound GPS will both show and tell you how to get there. It tells you up upcoming lane changes, exits and traffic jams with enough time to adjust your route. The large, colorful display includes current road conditions, speed limits, and approximate arrival times, plus it connects to Foursquare for suggestions and more detailed navigation to points of interest, airports, and restaurants nearby. It has maps for the United States – including Alaska – Canada and Mexico with a lifetime map update. This unit comes with a suction cup mount and a screen to shade it from the sun.

Because it is a basic unit, this GPS system doesn't have Bluetooth capabilities or a dashcam. Its battery only holds enough power for about an hour. You can recharge the battery using the included USB cable, or plug in the car charger.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Connects with Foursquare
  • Visual and audio directions

Cons:

  • No voice connection
  • No dashcam
  • Low battery life

Best Value

Highsound GPS for Car 7

Why spend too much?

This budget-friendly GPS system both shows and tells you directions to anywhere in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. See upcoming traffic jams, exits, road conditions, and speed limits.

Best for Trucks and Trailers: Rand McNally OverDryve 8 Pro

We spoke to several semi drivers and fleet managers, and Rand McNally is their top pick for truck navigation. The Rand McNally OverDryve GPS navigation system gives you real-time updates for road conditions, including upcoming tolls, construction, and traffic jams. Rand McNally shows you the street layouts of your route, including road signs and traffic signals. It includes a dashcam to help digitally record drivers and road conditions around you and has SiriusXM radio built into its system.

Truckers can set this GPS system to warn of upcoming weigh stations and speed limit changes. It helps you find truck-only routes, avoid toll roads and routes with bridges of a certain height. It shows truck stops and rest areas with enough time to decide when and where to stop when daily hours of service limits have been hit. The OverDryve connects with electronic log systems to help keep accurate reports and has so many voice-activated prompts including hands-free calls and texts, and news, weather and sports updates.

The biggest complaint truckers have with the Rand McNally OverDryve GPS is the mounting unit it comes with. It doesn't adhere to the dashboard or window very well, and the magnet used to attach the GPS to the mount isn't secured well causing the OverDryve to shift, rattle or fall off while being used.

Pros:

  • Real-time updates
  • Truck-specific navigation
  • Connect to electronic log system
  • SiriusXM radio
  • Voice control

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Mount isn't sturdy

Best for Trucks and Trailers

Rand McNally OverDryve 8 Pro

When you need to account for bridge height

This voice-activated GPS helps truck drivers avoid bridges and toll routes with real-time navigation. It shows truck stops and weigh stations and connects to electronic logs.

Best for Motorcycles: TomTom Rider 550

Personalize your trip for your motorcycle. This weatherproof GPS will help you plan out trips no ordinary GPS could do. Traveling on a motorcycle shouldn't lead you on a monotonous path, for example, and the TomTom Rider 550 will let you select different levels of windiness and hilliness for your trip.

By connecting to the MyDrive app, you can plan out your route so you can make stops along scenic paths, for instance. Connect your headset, and you'll be able to change the music, make calls, and hear texts through your GPS. You'll be able to make trips from one coast to another no problem with the road trip routes available.

Pros:

  • Customize for thrill
  • Road trip planning
  • Weatherproof

Cons:

  • Instruction manual is minimal
  • Requires app for trip planning

Best for Motorcycles

TomTom Rider 550

No cars allowed

This TomTom will allow you to customize your route whether you need to get somewhere quick or you want to take the exciting scenic route.

Best Simple GPS: Garmin Drive 50

Sometimes all you need is just a simple GPS to get you from one place to another, and the Garmin Drive 50 will do that for you. It's a great price for what you get; the screen display is easy to read, and navigating through the menu is very simple. You'll be back to the basics with this GPS, and that's more than enough for a lot of people.

This GPS will alert you of dangerous road conditions and keep you updated if there is traffic on your route. With its connection to Foursquare, you'll get access to plenty of locations to stop at. If you're looking for something to help out your daily commute and a few little trips on the side, look no further than the Garmin Drive 50.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Foursquare compatibility
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • No Bluetooth connectivity
  • Low battery life

Best Simple GPS

Garmin Drive 50

Stay simple

If you're just looking to improve your daily commute or take a trip out to the beach on occasion, the Garmin Drive 50 is all you need.

Best Voice Only: Garmin Speak

Not everyone needs a screen for their GPS, and not everyone wants to spend a ton of money on one either. The Garmin Speak is cheap and features a small screen to show you which direction you'll be turning — and that's it! The small size of the GPS is great for people with small cars. Sometimes a GPS can take up a lot of room on the dashboard, but this one can be attached to your windshield.

Other than it's small size, the Garmin Speak uses Amazon Alexa. You will need to download the Garmin Speak app to connect with your Alexa, which will require your phone to connect with data. You can use your Alexa to change music, check weather and traffic updates, and other common Alexa functions. Ask Alexa questions to help along your trip, such as "Alexa, ask Garmin what lane I should be in?" All the navigation features of a regular GPS, but you can just ask rather than having to look at the map while driving.

Pros:

  • Small
  • Cheap
  • Amazon Alexa compatibility
  • Can attach to your windshield

Cons:

  • Requires special app

Best Voice Only

Garmin Speak

Super small

Using Amazon Alexa, the Garmin Speak gives you step-by-step directions but only audibly rather than visually with maps.

Bottom line

Sometimes you need a bit more than what your phone GPS gives you. Whether you want to save your phone's battery while you're on the road or stick with a dedicated system for extra features, there's a navigation system out there for you. One of the greatest advantages that these GPS have over your phone's is specialization: you can get a GPS for your car, but also for your motorcycle or your truck.

There's a lot of different navigation systems to choose from out there, but if you're looking for the best to one to take you around the country, the TomTom GO COMFORT is the best deal. It offers all the perks of any other GPS, such as Bluetooth control and traffic updates, all in one. This is the perfect GPS for someone that likes to drive — in a car. For other vehicles, there are systems out there for you.

For truckers, who depend heavily on navigation systems to help them stay on truck routes, avoid toll roads and find truck stops, we recommend Rand McNally OverDryve 8 Pro. This system connects to electronic log systems to help keep track of driving and down time. You can see upcoming weigh stations, posted truck speed limits and approaching road, weather and traffic conditions.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Brianna Oshrin is a writer and editor that cares about everyone finding the perfect product for them. Traveling has become a common part of her life, and having the right GPS is key!

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