Best sat nav 2018: map your way from A to Z with the finest in-car GPS

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Are you looking for the best sat nav to update your ageing motor? Well you've come to the right place. 

Yes, Google Maps and Apple Maps are very good at getting you from A to B, but they're not ideal when it comes to long car journeys.

The biggest reason is your smartphone's battery life, GPS will tear through it faster than you can say "Take the third exit on the roundabout".

That's why you need a sat nav.

Another reason 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.

Oh, and 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. n

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 T3's best sat nav guide are sat navs for just about anyone — we’re covering cars, motorbikes, bicycles and even campervans. 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

Best sat nav: TomTom GO 6200

(Image: © TomTom)

1. TomTom GO 6200

The best sat nav you can buy – fully featured and can take you anywhere

Specifications
Display: 15cm 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
Reasons to buy
+Lifetime updates+Lifetime data SIM+Easy to use interface+Class-leading route guidance+Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
Reasons to avoid
-Plastic-y build

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.

Best sat nav: Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S

2. Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S

The best sat nav from Garmin

Specifications
Display: 17.8cm 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
Reasons to buy
+Premium design+Bluetooth and Wi-Fi+Easy to use interface
Reasons to avoid
-No built-in SIM-We prefer TomTom maps

The biggest tech trend of 2017 was 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.

Best sat nav: TomTom GO Via 53

3. TomTom GO Via 53

Mid-range sat nav with a decent range of features

Specifications
Display: 13cm 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
Reasons to buy
+Lifetime map and traffic updates+3-month safety camera trial+Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
Reasons to avoid
-Some trial-only features

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.

Best sat nav: Mio MiVue Drive 65 LM

(Image: © Mio Technology)

4. Mio MiVue Drive 65 LM

The best Mio sat nav has a built-in dash cam

Specifications
Display: 15.8cm 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
Reasons to buy
+Built-in dash cam+Lifetime updates+Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
Reasons to avoid
-Europe maps not comprehensive

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.

Best sat nav: Garmin Zumo 396

(Image: © Garmin)

5. Garmin Zumo 396

Prefer two wheels? This is the best sat nav for motorbikes

Specifications
Display: 4.3-inch touchscreen (glove friendly)
Memory: Unknown
microSD card support: Yes, included
Battery life (between recharges): Up to 4 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB
Built-in SIM: No
Voice control: No
Maps: World
Traffic Information: Yes
Speed Cameras: Yes
Dimensions: 125x86x25mm
Weight: 241g
Reasons to buy
+Weatherproof to IPX7+Adventurous Routing+Resistant to fuel vapours, UV rays and harsh weather+Rider alerts+Automatic Incident Notifications
Reasons to avoid
-Could take your eye off the road

If you’re a 2-wheels-good, 4-wheels-bad kind of guy or girl, then the Garmin Zumo 396 has been designed with you in mind. 

Armed with a 4.3-inch touchscreen and lifetime world maps, traffic updates and safety camera alerts, it’s also weatherproof to IPX7, resistant to fuel vapors, UV rays and harsh weather.

The Zumo includes a special feature just for riders like you: Adventure Route finds curvy and hilly roads in between you and your destination, and limits your time on boring motorways. 

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? Well there built-in Wi-Fi for easy map and software updates without a computer, and super helpful rider alerts for upcoming sharp curves, speed cameras, and hazards.

Finally, if you end up upside down in a hedge somewhere, the Zumo will automatically text an emergency contact with your GPS coordinates. It could well save your life.

Best sat nav: Garmin Camper 770 LMT-D

(Image: © Garmin)

6. Garmin Camper 770 LMT-D

Get your motor(home) runnin’…

Specifications
Display: 17.7cm WSVGA touchscreen
Memory: not stated
microSD card support: Yes
Battery life (between recharges): Up to 1 hour
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB
Built-in SIM: No
Voice control: Yes
Maps: Europe
Traffic Information: Yes
Speed Cameras: Yes
Dimensions: 152x89mm
Weight: 243g
Reasons to buy
+Large 17.7cm display+Live traffic updates via DAB+Fast updating via Wi-Fi+Campsite data included+Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
Reasons to avoid
-Very short battery life

If you own a camper van or caravan you need this sat nav. Why? Let us count the ways….

For a start it comes with a huge 17.7cm touchscreen display for easy route planning and navigation; and they’re not just any ordinary routes: you can tell the Garmin Camper 770 LMT-D the size of your rig so it can plot your route accordingly; and it  includes campsite data so you’ll not only be able to find somewhere to rest up overnight, but you’ll also know what facilities are there before you arrive. Heck, it can even tell you about parking availability and local weather at your destination via Garmin’s Live Services.

The Garmin Camper 770 LMT-D also comes with built-in Wi-Fi for fast updating without the need for cables, and you can hook it up to your smartphone via Bluetooth – you even can use its LiveTrack feature to tell your friends and family exactly where you are.

Even better, Garmin has teamed up with TripAdvisor and FourSquare to offer point of interest, restaurant and attraction reviews. The Camper 770 LMT-D’s Trip Planner tool can even suggest interesting places to stop off at along your route. Let's sit around a campfire and sing a song.

The only thing we don’t like? This sat nav's very short battery life when you’re not plugged into power – it lasts an hour.

Best sat nav: TomTom Rider 550

(Image: © TomTom)

7. TomTom Rider 550

Updated biker sat nav is now even better

Specifications
Display: 11cm WQVGA touchscreen
Memory: 16GB
microSD card support: Yes
Battery life (between recharges): Up to 6 hours
Connectivity: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; USB
Built-in SIM: No
Voice control: No
Maps: Europe
Traffic Information: Yes
Speed Cameras: Yes
Dimensions: 136.8x88.4x30.5mm
Weight: 280g
Reasons to buy
+Weather- and drop-proof to IPX7+Lifetime maps+Lifetime traffic alerts+Lifetime speed camera alerts+Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing really

An updated version of one our favourite bike sat navs from last year, the TomTom Rider 550 is better than ever.

Goodies include a higher resolution 11cm WQVA touchscreen, which is easy to read even in bright sunlight, while adjustable touch sensitivity means it’ll still work whether you’re wearing light or heavy gloves. The TomTom Rider 550  also includes a new quad-core processor for faster, smoother operation and navigation, and you can now also update the device via Wi-Fi.

Naturally, the TomTom GO Rider 550 is weather and drop-proof to IPX7 and includes a bunch of features that will a delight to riders – from Ride Challenge levels, which enables you to choose routes with winding and hilly roads rather than straights; and Road Trips – carefully curated routes for bikers which send you on some of the world’s most spectacular journeys with rest areas and scenic stops marked along the way.

What else? Class-leading route guidance and Bluetooth connectivity so you can pair it with your smartphone? Yep. You can even have your smartphone messages read out loud to you through your headset, and make and take hands-free calls using Google Now and Siri.

Oh, and you also get Lifetime Map and Lifetime Speed Camera updates, plus Lifetime TomTom Traffic warnings, which include known accident black spots and jam tailbacks. Time to get your leathers on...

Best sat nav: Garmin Edge Explore 1000

(Image: © Garmin)

8. Garmin Edge Explore 1000

Best cycling sat nav

Specifications
Display: 7.6cm 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
Reasons to buy
+Weatherproof to IPX7+Preloaded cycle maps+Incident detection+Bluetooth built-in
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

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?

Best sat nav: TomTom Vio

(Image: © TomTom)

9. TomTom Vio

Ciao! There’s now a sat nav for scooters too…

Specifications
Display: 6cm 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
Reasons to buy
+Weatherproof to IPX7+Lifetime maps and safety camera alerts+Bluetooth built-in
Reasons to avoid
-Smartphone pairing needed-Limited functionality

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 satnav style statement.