Review: Best GPS Navigation Systems
Even though many new cars sold today have the option of adding an in-dash global navigation satellite system, nothing beats the convenience of having a portable unit. However, one glance at the market can confuse anyone who simply wants a global positioning system (GPS) navigator with useful features and good performance. We’ve narrowed down the best GPS in 2021 selection and categorized them with respect to their particular advantages. For more information about how to pick a good GPS receiver, have a look at the buyer's guide below.
Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 75Cv, 7" Keyed-Assist Touchscreen Chartplotter GPS Navigation System
TomTom GO Portable Vehicle GPS Navigation System
Garmin DriveAssist Portable Vehicle GPS Navigation System
JVC KW-Z1000W Bluetooth Car Stereo Receiver with USB Port GPS Navigation System
Best GPS Navigation Systems Worth Considering in 2021
When selecting a portable global positioning system (GPS) unit, it's important to consider several important factors before making a decision. Some of the best GPS receivers strike a good balance between performance, features, price, and value. You want to make sure that the GPS unit you're potentially going to live with for the next couple years or so has all of the features you want, but you also want to make sure that you aren't overpaying for a feature-laden unit which performs poorly. All of the picks here approach that 'ideal' balance in different ways, so here's how we rate each according to our criteria.
How Do I Find the Best GPS System?
Any good GPS will offer outstanding performance. We, like everyone else, prefer a GPS receiver that processes data quickly. GPS devices with good performance will obtain a GPS lock relatively early, and will be able to plot routes and directions without much delay. The interface must be intuitive and responsive, and system slowdowns and crashes are not considered acceptable. Detailed maps are a must, and missing or incomplete streets are penalized. You may also want to consider an in-dash system for an all-in-one solution if you are willing to make the investment.
Another side of the equation is features. Simply having quick performance does not necessarily make a GPS unit a 'Best Pick'. The best global positioning system units will have widescreen displays, text-to-speech directions with spoken street names, lane guidance, and a high POI count (6 million or more). Better GPS receivers offer even more such as Bluetooth phone pairing, live traffic feeds, user-adjustable maps, and multiple guidance modes and capabilities. The general rule with features is 'the more, the merrier'. But, be sure that the features you want are also features that you truly need and will actually be used, or you may end up overpaying for your GPS.
That leads us neatly to the price aspect. It's relatively easy for a manufacturer to offer a GPS unit that has blazing performance and tons of features, but these units usually end up costing much more than what most people are willing to pay. On the other end of the scale, there are bare-bones models which seem attractively priced at first glance. In a nutshell, what we're looking for when judging price is if the features justify the investment.
Finally, a 'Best Pick' must offer outstanding value. A GPS unit priced at $1500 which offers the best performance and most features is not a good value simply because the price is too high. Likewise, a global positioning system unit that costs $80 but does not offer much in the way of features or performance is not considered a good value because there are much better options available. But when it comes to judging value, it's important to not get too hung up on the price. A GPS system which is loaded with features and performs well is a better value at $300 than one which has few features and basic maps for $150. A good value offering can also be referred to as a 'good deal' - you know it when you see it.
Each of our picks approaches this equation in its own unique way. Garmin's products dominate the market simply because they do things better. The highly detailed maps and long list of user-friendly features that come with each Garmin GPS unit are the gold standard in this market. The only flaw is the fact that not all of Garmin's products can be considered to be the best value when compared to the competition.