Thanks to smartphones, Google Maps and Apple Maps most of us can now get from A to Z easily without the need for a separate sat nav.
But there is a catch, or rather several. For one thing, Google, Apple just can’t yet fully compete with the likes of sat nav experts Garmin, TomTom and Mio who have years of experience in smart route guidance.
And another is the sheer range of features on offer — from safety camera alerts and vehicle-specific Points of Interest (POI) to collision avoidance. Your smartphone’s sat nav is just a toddler in the tech stakes by comparison.
There’s another reason. Companies such as TomTom frequently issue map updates, so you’re always on top of the latest roadway changes — and now most of these updates are free. In most cases you buy your sat nav once and get updated maps, safety camera alerts and traffic alerts completely gratis for as long as you own the device.
And, these days you usually don’t even need a PC to get hold of them — simply connect your sat nav to your home network via Wi-Fi and you’ll get the updates over the air.
Included in our top 10 are sat navs for just about anyone — we’re covering cars, motorbikes, bicycles and even scooters. Heck, there’s even one with a built-in dash cam.
So pull on your driving gloves, put the pedal to the metal and join us on our journey through sat nav heaven. It’s going to be one helluva ride.
Our pick of the best sat navs to buy today
1. TomTom GO 6200
Fully featured sat nav that can take you anywhere
Display: 15cm WVGA touchscreen | Memory: 16GB | microSD card support: Up to 32GB | Battery life (between recharges): Up to 60 minutes | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi | Built-in SIM: Yes | Voice control: Yes | Maps: Worldwide | Traffic Information: Yes | Speed Cameras: Yes | Dimensions: 19 x 163 x 106 mm | Weight: 263g
The TomTom GO 6200 deserves its place at the top of this list, thanks to its legendary route guidance, ease of use and Lifetime everything — from map updates for dozens of countries, to safety camera and traffic alerts — all delivered using the built-in Lifetime SIM.
Other goodies include built-in Bluetooth so you can pair it with your smartphone, as well as Google Now and Siri integration. And the TomTom GO 6200 includes Wi-Fi connectivity so you can get map updates via your home network without having to hook the device to your PC first.
Anything else? It also comes with an easy-to-fit magnetic dock and intelligent route mapping that learns the way you drive — and then adapts its settings accordingly.
If you want the very best sat nav money can buy, this is it.
2. Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S
Top-of-the-range car sat nav from the GPS experts
Display: 17.8cm WQVGA touchscreen | Memory: Internal solid-state | microSD card support: Up to 64GB | Battery life (between recharges): Up to 60 minutes | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB | Built-in SIM: No | Voice control: Yes | Maps: Europe | Traffic Information: Yes | Speed Cameras: Yes | Dimensions: 173 x 99 x 19 mm | Weight: 243g
The biggest tech trend of 2017 is reducing bezels, LG has done it, so has Samsung, and now Garmin has joined the hype. This is easily the best looking sat nav we've ever seen.
Going head to head against the TomTom GO 6200 is the Garmin DriveLuxe 61 LMT-S. It has a larger display than its arch-rival at 17.7cm (compared to the TomTom’s 15cm screen) but only includes European rather than 'Worldwide' maps, but you still get lifetime map and traffic updates for the money.
Other goodies include smartphone connectivity via the free Smartphone Link app and it also enables you to add or update maps on the device either via a wireless connection to your home router, or via USB.
Unlike the TomTom GO, the Garmin DriveLuxe 61 LMT-S uses a click-in mount, which makes it slightly harder to remove. It also includes Points Of Interest information from TripAdvisor, so you’ll always something interesting to see — whatever your destination.
It's a super slick sat nav for the smartphone generation.
3. Mio MiVue Drive 65 LM
Car sat nav with built-in dash cam
Display: 15.8cm WVGA touchscreen | Memory: Internal solid-state | microSD card support: Up to 64GB (16GB card included) | Battery life (between recharges): Not stated | Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB | Built-in SIM: No | Voice control: Not stated | Maps: Europe | Traffic Information: Yes | Speed Cameras: Yes | Dimensions: 173x101.5 x18.7mm | Weight: 295g
The Mio MiVue Drive 65 LM is the only sat nav here to include an Extreme HD dash cam on its rear — and it’s not only useful for recording the madcap antics of other road users.
That’s because this sat nav includes two other incredibly useful driver safety features, which uses the 1296p @ 30fps F1.8 camera to help you: a Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) and a Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS) — both of which should help you avoid getting involved in nasty prangs yourself.
On the sat nav side, the Rio MiVue Drive 65 LM comes with a large 15.8cm display, lifetime map, traffic and safety camera updates (for as long as you own the device).
The Lifetime maps thing does include a caveat — it includes most European countries with the strange exception of France, Switzerland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, although you can buy or rent maps separately.
Great value for money though.
4. TomTom GO Rider 450
Own a motorbike? Then get one of these!
Display: 11cm WVGA touchscreen | Memory: 16GB | microSD card support: Yes | Battery life (between recharges): Up to 6 hours | Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB | Built-in SIM: No | Voice control: Not stated | Maps: Europe | Traffic Information: Yes | Speed Cameras: Yes | Dimensions: 136.8x88.4 x30.5mm | Weight: 280g
If you’re a 2-wheels-good, 4-wheels-bad kind of guy or girl, then the TomTom GO Rider 450 has been designed with you in mind.
Armed with a 11cm touchscreen and lifetime world maps, traffic updates and safety camera alerts, it’s also weather and drop-proof to IPX7 and includes a special feature just for riders like you: Ride Challenge levels that enables you to choose between Winding and Hilly Roads and undertake Roundtrip Planning, which automatically puts on you on a different road home from the one you set out on.
The display is easy to read even in bright sunlight, and also comes with adjustable screen sensitivity — enabling you to carry on using it whether you’re wearing thin or thick gloves.
What else? Class-leading route guidance and Bluetooth connectivity so you can pair it with your smartphone? Yup.
5. Mio Cyclo 505 HC
Plan your route, track your journey with this bicycle sat nav
Display: 7.62cm WVGA touchscreen | Memory: 16GB | microSD card support: Yes | Battery life (between recharges): Up to 12 hours | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB | Built-in SIM: No | Voice control: Not stated | Maps: Europe | Traffic Information: Yes | Speed Cameras: Yes | Dimensions: 61x103 x19.6mm | Weight: 129g
Whether you cycle to work or cycle for fun, the Mio Cycle 505 HC is the sat nav super cycle computer for you.
Weatherproof to IPX7, it comes with a 7.62cm touchscreen display, which gives you easy access to a wealth of cycling-related routes and information — enabling you to either carefully plan your route or use the Surprise Me option to be taken on brand new route, based on the cycling time, distance or destination you’ve chosen. Even the built-in Points Of Interest (POF) have cyclists in mind.
As you’d expect from the rather high price, the Mio Cycle 505 HC also includes Bluetooth connectivity so you can pair it with your smartphone while out riding; as well as Wi-Fi so you can download the latest bike and road map updates before you set off on your trip.
To help keep track of your journey (and your fitness), the Mio Cycle 505 HC includes both a heart rate and a ANT+ sensor, which connects to the speed and cadence sensor that you attach to your bike.
Finally, you also get a range of both indoor and outdoor workout programs built-in — and you can sync it with Strava via MioShare so you can monitor your cycling activities over time.
6. Garmin zümo 595LM Travel Edition
Keep your motorcycle running with this sat nav
Display: 12.6cm WVGA touchscreen | Memory: internal solid-state | microSD card support: Yes | Battery life (between recharges): Up to 4 hours | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB | Built-in SIM: No | Voice control: Not stated | Maps: Europe | Traffic Information: Yes | Speed Cameras: Yes | Dimensions: 149x97 x33mm | Weight: 374.5g
Garmin’s answer to the TomTom GO Rider 450 is the rather natty zümo 595LM Travel Edition – and it’s well worth investigating.
Like its arch-rival it comes with lifetime map, traffic and safety camera updates, and it matches the TomTom’s Riding Challenge feature with its own Adventurous Routes for when you’re feeling, well, adventurous.
There are three things that really make this sat nav stand out though: the first is that it includes Rider Alerts, which tells you about upcoming hazards such as sharp curves, railway crossings and speed changes. It also includes a trip computer with digital fuel gauge, which works out how much fuel you have left.
Team the Garmin zümo 595LM Travel Edition with the optional Garmin Tyre Pressure Monitor sensor and it will also tell you tyre pressures too. Oh and it also works with Garmin’s range of VIRB HD action cams — enabling you to start and stop recording using the touchscreen.
One more thing: the zümo’s built-in music player allows you to listen in your smartphone or MP3 player as you ride, and it works with Spotify livestreams too.
7. TomTom GO Via 53
Mid-range sat nav with a decent range of features
Display: 13cm WVGA touchscreen | Memory: 16GB | microSD card support: Up to 32GB | Battery life (between recharges): Up to 1 hour | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB | Built-in SIM: No | Voice control: Yes | Maps: Worldwide | Traffic Information: Yes | Speed Cameras: Yes | Dimensions: Not stated | Weight: Not stated
If you’d like the features of our first pick, the TomTom GO 6200, but don’t quite have the readies, then the mid-range TomTom Go Via 53 should be to your liking.
It comes with most of its more expensive sibling’s assets, but eschews some, while time-limiting others. How so? Well, for a start, you only get three months’ worth of safety camera updates out of the box, which means you’ll need to pay an annual sub if you still want them after the trial period is up.
The TomTom Go Via 53 also lacks the TomTom GO 6200’s lifetime SIM, so you’ll need to pair it with your smartphone via Bluetooth to receive life traffic updates — and that will obviously have some effect on your mobile data plan. It also uses a non-magnetic mount so attaching / detaching it is a little less easy. You pays yer money…
On the plus side, the TomTom Via 53 includes almost everything else, including the ability to update the lifetime maps by connecting via Wi-Fi to your home network. It’s also Siri and Google Now compatible, and can read out your text messages to you — perfect for hands-free driving.
8. Navman 5000 LM
Get where you’re going — on a budget
Display: 12.7cm WVGA touchscreen | Memory: 4GB | microSD card support: No | Battery life (between recharges): Not stated | Connectivity: USB | Built-in SIM: No | Voice control: No | Maps: Western Europe | Traffic Information: No | Speed Cameras: Yes | Dimensions: 135x86x14mm | Weight: 160g
Another incredibly affordable sat nav, from the same stable as the Mio MiVue Drive 65 LM. That means somewhat inevitably that it borrows some of the technology inside it from other sat nav companies (syncing via Mio, IQ routes via TomTom); but obviously you’re getting these features at a knockdown price.
It also lacks Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or smartphone connectivity — and there’s only three month’s worth of safety camera updates included — after that you’ll need to pay a sub. So what does the Navman 5000 LM going for it?
Well, you get a lifetime of Western European map updates, the aforementioned TomTom IQ routes for intelligent route planning, a large 12.7cm widescreen display and Navman’s easy-to-use interface. It’s not the slickest sat nav around, but it does the job for not much dosh.
9. Garmin Edge Explore 1000
Advanced, and expensive, cycling sat nav
Display: 7.6cm 400x200 pixel touchscreen | Memory: 4GB | microSD card support: No | Battery life (between recharges): 15 hours | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB | Built-in SIM: No | Voice control: No | Maps: Western Europe | Traffic Information: No | Speed Cameras: No | Dimensions: 58x112x20mm | Weight: 114.5g
This is the second-most expensive cycling computer that Garmin makes — and it’ll still cost you a pretty penny. But if you’re nuts about cycling, then this incredibly capable sat nav is worth every penny. Why?
For one thing it includes preloaded cycling maps for the whole of Western Europe, with round-trip routing to help you explore wherever you are. Those maps include both roads and bike paths, plus info essential to cyclists — such as bike-related Points Of Interest (POI) and even a guide to how steep the hills are.
One feature though you hopefully won’t ever get to use — and that’s built-in incident detection. This uses a built-in accelerometer that automatically detects whether you’ve had an accident and then sends your location to anyone you’ve set up as an emergency contact. Sadly essential.
Pair the Garmin Edge Explore 1000 with your smartphone and you’ll also be able to take incoming calls, get weather and route updates; and let your friends and relatives see where you are via Garmin’s LiveTrack feature.
It’s already starting to feel like an essential part of your cycling toolkit, isn’t it?
10. TomTom Vio
Shoot! There’s now a sat nav for scooters too…
Display: 6cm 320x320 pixel touchscreen | Memory: 1MB | microSD card support: No | Battery life (between recharges): 5 hours | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, microUSB | Built-in SIM: No | Voice control: No | Maps: Europe | Traffic Information: Yes | Speed Cameras: Yes | Dimensions: 103x107x106mm | Weight: 310g
Whether you’re living La Dolce Vita in Rome or Romford, the TomTom Vio is what you need. Designed to fit on the tubular mirror sticks on scooters, it delivers turn-by-turn driving instructions from the dedicated TomTom Via app on your smartphone via Bluetooth — enabling you to concentrate on where you’re getting your next frappuccino from.
Available in seven different colours — green, blue, white, pink, red, yellow and black — to match your scooter and your lifestyle, it comes with a weatherproof 6cm colour circular display that displays your route, safety camera alerts and even tells you about incoming calls. And the touchscreen still works even if you’re wearing gloves.
The ultimate style statement. On a sat nav.