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Whilst mobile phone apps have replaced sat navs for many,  a number of people still prefer a dedicated unit mounted in their car. The latest sat navs are more advanced than ever, and we’ve listed our favourites below.

First off, a sat nav that’s right for other people isn’t necessarily the right one for you – it very much depends on where and when you’re planning to use it. If you’re after some occasional simple A to B navigation then an app on your mobile phone will probably do the job as well as any sat nav, or there are some entry level models available such as the TomTom Start 52. Expect a basic sat nav to set you back somewhere between £70 and £120, which is a lot less than a several-hundred pound smartphone.

If you like the sound of digital traffic, free worldwide maps, advanced lane guidance, and a nice big screen, then there’s some great dedicated sat nav units out there. The table below shows our top 4 current favourites including the Garmin DriveSmart 61LMT-D model which was voted sat nav of the year last year.

 



Accounts

Free Trial

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TomTom

VIA 53 

5" Screen

TomTom Traffic via Phone

European Maps - Free Updates

3 Years Speed Camera Updates

Hands Free Calling

Integrated WiFi For Updates



Best For Budget

Garmin

Driveassist 51 LMT-D

5" Multi-touch Screen

Always Connected Digital Traffic

European Maps - Free Updates

Lifetime Speed Camera Updates

Hands Free Calling

Integrated WiFi For Updates

Built-in Dash Cam 

Voice Control

Integrated Cam

Garmin

Drivesmart 61 LMT-D

6" Multi-touch Screen

Always Connected Digital Traffic

European Maps - Free Updates

Lifetime Speed Camera Updates

Hands Free Calling

Voice Control

Bezel-less Design

Integrated WiFi For Updates

Best Looking

TomTom Go

Professional 6250

6" Multi-touch Screen

Always Connected TomTom Traffic

Worldwide Maps - Free Updates

Lifetime Speed Camera Updates

Hands Free Calling

Dedicated Truck and Caravan Routing 

Voice Control

Integrated WiFi For Updates

Best Sat Nav

So which is the best sat nav right now?

Best Sat Nav WInner: TomTom Go Professional 6250We’d recommend the TomTom Go 6250. It’s a bit pricey but you get what you pay for, and this is definitely a class leading sat nav. It has an integrated sim which means you always get the latest live traffic updates instantly, for free. This applies whether at home in the UK or abroad on your holidays in Europe or the USA. If you want a slightly smaller screen than the 6 inch 6250, but want similar high-end features, check out the TomTom Go 5200 with its more manageable 5 inch screen. It has recently won the IF Design Award.

One major benefit of the high-end TomTom models, (and the latest Garmin Drive models), is WiFi connectivity. More than just a gimmick, having inbuilt WiFi means an end to the rather tedious update process where the only way to update your sat nav is to bring it in from the car, connect it to your desktop via USB, and download & install the updates. With WiFi, updates can be done automatically wherever you have a WiFi signal, most likely when parked up on your drive. You don’t even need a desktop PC.

The Best Sat Nav 2018 - Winner
  • Build Quality
  • Ease of Use
  • Features
  • Value for Money
4.5

Summary

If you’re after top-class navigation for your car, then you should perhaps be looking at the standard TomTom Go 6200. If, however, you drive a van, campervan, truck, or ever have anything on tow, then you can’t go wrong with this 6250 model. It’s fast, accurate, and has a fantastic 6″ multi-touch screen. With World maps, lifetime TomTom traffic updates, and lifetime speed camera alerts, it offers everything you’ll need for many years of reliable navigation.

The models we’re suggesting are very much current at the time of writing this article, which is September 2018. Be aware that the older TomTom models are still available (the TomTom Go 6200 preceded the 6200 ‘Professional’ ), and you may well find some big discounts available on them as retailers clear old stock.

Why not see what other sat navs people are buying – that’s always a good guide. Check out Our Most Popular Sat Navs right now.

If you’re after more info, see our TomTom Comparison Chart or our Garmin Sat Nav Comparison Chart.


Which is our favourite cheapest sat nav?
For the cheapest option, we love the TomTom Start 42 for only £79 right now. It comes with a bright 4.3 inch display, which is plenty big enough for some basic navigation. It has maps of the UK & Europe which are updated free for life. It includes some great features which you’d normally only expect to find on some higher priced models, such as special alerts for dangerous curves, red light cameras and speed cameras. it even has a ‘fatigue warning’ when you’ve been driving for too long. It also includes lane assist for complex junctions. If you’re just after simple navigation on a small screen then you can’t go wrong with this. If you want traffic updates, bluetooth connectivity, a multi-touch screen, or live services, you’ll need to look at a higher priced model such as the Garmin DriveAssist or DriveLuxe.


Which is the best sat nav with built-in dash cam?
Well in all honesty, there’s not a lot of choice. Other than a couple of lesser-known brands such as Mio, there’s only one you should be considering, and that’s the Garmin DriveAssist 51 LMT-D. Luckily, this is a great sat nav and is good value at around £270. We can only think of one reason why you wouldn’t consider this, and that would be if you want a bigger screen. A 5 inch screen isn’t small by any means, but some people tend to prefer 6 inches these days.


 


Best Motorcycle GPS & Sat Nav

Motorbike GPS and Sat Nav

Best Value
Our Favourite
Top of Range
Best Motorcycle Sat Navs Continued…

For more info and motorcycle GPS comparison charts see our dedicated Best MotorCycle GPS page.


Our Top 10 Sat Nav Buying Tips

So you’ve decided that you want to buy a sat nav, but which one do you go for? There are so many out there and it’s not immediately obvious why some are £50 and some are £350.

Things you should be looking out for when buying your sat nav are:

1. Screen Size

Gone are the days of the small, square screens on the 3.5 inch sat navs, but there are still a few models around with a smallish 4.3 inch screen such as the Garmin Drive 40LM (all sat navs are considered ‘widescreen’ or ‘XL’ these days). The most popular mainstream size for in-car use is now the 5 inch models (such as the TomTom Go 5200 or Garmin DriveSmart 51LMT-D). However, a number of people prefer the slightly easier-on-the-eye 6 inch models, especially for use in larger family cars (6 inch models include the TomTom Go 6200 and Garmin DriveSmart 61LMT-D). Bigger still, there’s the option the 7 inch models (such as the Garmin DriveSmart 70LMT-D), which are probably most suited to motorhomes or trucks.

2. Maps & Navigation

Adding new maps to your sat nav is always possible, but can be more expensive than you might think, so it always makes sense to include the maps you’ll need into your initial purchase. So by all means stick with UK & ROI maps if you’re sure you’re not going to want to take the sat nav on your travels, but if you think it might come in useful on your next trip to France etc, then go for a model with EU maps. Also, a lot of models sold in the UK offer a ‘Western EU Maps’ version which includes France, Italy, Spain etc, but not Croatia, Bulgaria etc. Buying Western EU maps over Full EU maps can save a bit of money. Just to avoid confusion, all sat navs sold in the UK include maps for the full UK & Ireland!
Whilst extras such as ‘text-to-speech’ and ‘lane guidance’ used to be considered premium features, you’ll find these as standard in any sat nav that’s been released in the past couple of years.

3. Traffic

There’s a few different ways of getting traffic updates on your sat nav these days. The most basic sat navs (such as the TomTom Start) don’t have traffic updates and have no way of adding them. The more intermediate sat navs (such as the Garmin Nuvi 2599LMT) offer lifetime traffic updates via a RDS/FM transmitter. This is special traffic information broadcast over the airways like radio. Whilst useful, it’s not as accurate or updated as frequently as ‘Digital’ traffic. The high-end sat navs (any Garmin with LMT-D after it, or the TomTom Go 5200/6200) offer a SIM card based service that uses data broadcasts to give the most accurate traffic info available. This service works abroad as well as at home, for no extra charges. Somewhere between intermediate & high-end models, (such as the TomTom Go 52), the ‘Digital’ traffic service is offered, but only by pairing the sat nav with your smartphone (and therefore using your mobile data plan and roaming charges accordingly).

4. Bluetooth

Bluetooth allows you to connect your smartphone to your sat nav. If you want access to Digital Traffic (see above), want to make phonecalls using the sat nav as a microphone/speaker, or use smart features such as Siri integration, you’ll need Bluetooth.

5. Screen Type

There are two types of screen. A resistive screen is found on the entry-level sat navs. This means you have to slightly push the screen to register a touch. The higher-end models have a capacitive touch screen, which is what we’re more familiar with these days, (the type of glass found on smartphones), and allows multi-touch features such as ‘pinch-to-zoon’.

6. Resolution

Not an immediately obvious choice to make, but whilst low resolution on the entry-level sat navs is perfectly fine for maps & directions, if you intend to use smart features such as Google search or TripAdvisor reviews, then a high resolution is much better for reading. In reality, you shouldn’t have to worry about this as the high-end models have a high resolution anyway.

7. Mounting

Entry-level models have a pretty standard suction-cup type mount that you stick on your windscreen. The higher-end models have some neater magnetic solutions which allow the sat nav to be mounted and unmounted with ease, and even to be swivelled around for a dual orientation view.

8. Voice Control

Voice control is found on all high-end sat navs, but not necessarily on the more basic models. Voice control allows you to talk to the sat nav, e.g. “Take me home”, rather than have to type it in using the screen. Whilst not always perfect, it can be safer and quicker than touch screen entry.

9. Caravan, Truck, Car, Motorbike?

Whilst we’ve focussed on in-car sat navs, there’s no such thing as ‘one sat nav fits all’. If you’re towing a caravan, driving a motorhome, or navigating a truck/HGV, a specialist sat nav may well be your best choice. See our selection of the best caravan and camper at navs right now. The primarly advantage of a dedicated camping/trucking sat nav is the ability to add vehicle weight & dimensions to ensure only suitable routes are given. There’s also dedicated sat navs for motorcyclists such as the TomTom Rider and Garmin Zumo. And whilst not exactly a traditional sat nav, there are Garmin Forerunner GPS devices for runners and Garmin Edge GPS devices for cyclists!

10. Smart Features

A relatively new thing to consider on sat navs, but if you’re a fan of the latest technology then look out for features such as text messaging, Siri integration, Google integration, and integrated TripAdvisor reviews.


Dedicated Sat Nav or Phone App?Dedicated Sat Nav or Phone App?

So should you use a dedicated sat nav or just an app on your smartphone? Here’s a few pros & cons…

Two of the most popular satnav phone apps are Google maps and Waze, available on both iOS and Android.


Frequently Asked Questions

Using speed camera alerts in France
It’s illegal to use any form of speed camera detector or locator when travelling in France. Since 2012 this has applied to sat nav and GPS systems. Therefore, if using your sat nav in France you will need to disable the speed camera notifications. Most models will give you an option to do this, although some may force you to completely remove the safety camera database rather than just disable it. If you use a manufacturer sat nav that is built in to your car, then you’ll need to contact your car dealer to see what they can do for you. Note that it’s still perfectly legal to use speed camera detectors in the UK.

Is using a phone as a sat nav legal?
As we’re all aware, there’s been a recent clamp down on drivers using mobile phones at the wheel, so what happens if you’re using your phone as a sat nav and need to interact with it in some way? As things stand, it is only legal to interact with your phone if it’s docked to the car in some way. If you take the phone off its stand and attempt to type in an address for example, then you will be breaking the law.
What is Voice Control on a sat nav?
Voice control allows you to speak directions to your sat nav instead of type them in. Not all models have this feature, so check before you buy. Whilst not perfect, it can be a useful feature and is undoubtedly a safer option than trying to interact with the screen whilst on the move.