Is the Garmin Car GPS the Best? Get the Pros & Cons in Our Garmin DriveSmart Review

We’ve become so accustomed to hearing that friendly voice tell us where to turn next that we miss it when we actually know where we’re going. Car GPS navigation systems have become so helpful, that most of us wouldn’t think of going on a trip without one.

When you think of a GPS, it’s hard not to think of Garmin, a major name in auto navigation systems. They were also one of the earliest to take advantage of the US Defense Department global positioning system (GPS) when it was made available for civilian use back in the 1990’s.

Is the Garmin Car GPS the Best? Get the Pros & Cons in Our Garmin DriveSmart Review

Garmin Drive Smart Reviews

Garmin DriveSmart is a brand mentioned often as the best Garmin GPS due to features such as pinch-to-zoom display and voice-activated navigation and calling. And it’s often among the top 10 in Garmin GPS reviews and reviews of other nav systems for the best GPS navigation for drivers.

Since the market for consumer satellite navigation systems has boomed over the last decade, there are a lot of options out there. Is Garmin DriveSmart GPS the best choice? And which model is better, the Garmin DriveSmart 50, Garmin DriveSmart 60 or Garmin DriveSmart 70?

Has Garmin kept up with the newest GPS advances or have other brands taken the lead? We’ve researched this best Garmin GPS to bring you the answers in this AdvisoryHQ News Garmin GPS review!

You’ll hear the pros and cons from buyers in Garmin DriveSmart reviews, find a mini-review of each model type in the Garmin DriveSmart line, and get a Garmin GPS price comparison between them.

If you’re thinking of buying a new GPS nav system this year, you’ll want to read on to learn all about the Garmin DriveSmart, it’s features and drawbacks.

See Also: Is the TomTom Go Navigation System a Good Deal?

AdvisoryHQ Garmin GPS Reviews | About the Company

The company behind the Garmin car GPS system was started in 1991, the same year that international rival TomTom was also founded. Garmin is headquartered in Olathe, Kansas and has 60 offices around the world.

While Garmin DriveSmart and their other auto navigation systems are one of their main areas of business, they also work in other fields such as:

  • Aviation
  • Fitness
  • Marine
  • Outdoor
  • Wearable technology

Garmin Car GPS systems have gone through several different lines and models over the years, with the Drive series, including Drive, DriveAssist, DriveLuxe, and DriveSmart being first introduced in 2016.

What’s the difference between Garmin DriveSmart 50 and Garmin DriveSmart™ 50LMT? Are they the same thing? How many new features does the DriveSmart 61 have over the Garmin DriveSmart 60?

Next we’re doing a deep dive into DriveSmart models, features, and Garmin GPS prices.

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What’s the Difference Between Garmin Car GPS Models?

If you’re trying to weigh the features and the Garmin GPS price between the models, it helps to have some background. When did the Garmin DriveSmart 50 come out? How does it differ from Garmin DriveSmart 60 or 70 or 51?

We’ve got mini Garmin GPS reviews of all their models below to help you decide which is the best GPS navigation tool for you. We’ll go over prices and features and release dates for each best Garmin GPS, then in the next section you’ll hear from Garmin DriveSmart reviews.

Garmin DriveSmart 50LMT Review

The Garmin DriveSmart 50LMT, also known as Garmin DriveSmart 50, was first introduced in 2016. It has a 5” screen with dual-orientation and the popular pinch-to-zoom display.

A Garmin DriveSmart 50LMT review of driver safety features shows that it includes driver warnings for things like sharp curves, speed changes, railroad and animal crossings, speed cameras, and more.

garmin gps reviews

Garmin GPS 50LMT Reviews

Price: $229.99

Garmin DriveSmart 50LMT review of features:

  • Display size, 4.4” W x 2.5”H
  • Free lifetime maps & traffic
  • Bluetooth hands-free calling
  • Voice activated navigation
  • Driver alerts
  • Customizable smartphone notifications allowing you to display calls, texts & app alerts

Garmin DriveSmart 60LMT Review

The next screen size up is the 6” screen of the Garmin DriveSmart 60LMT. This model includes all the same features of the DriveSmart 50LMT, with a larger, easier to see display. It was also released at the same time at the Garmin DriveSmart 50.

Price: $269.99

Garmin DriveSmart 60LMT review of features:

  • Display size, 5.36” W x 2.83”H
  • Free lifetime maps & traffic
  • Bluetooth hands-free calling
  • Voice activated navigation
  • Driver alerts
  • Customizable smartphone notifications

Garmin DriveSmart 70LMT Review

If you want the biggest and easiest to see screen while driving, then you’ll want to check out the Garmin DriveSmart 70LMT. As you can guess it brings you all the familiar features of the Garmin DriveSmart 60 and 50, but you will pay a bit more for that larger display.

Price: $349.99

Garmin DriveSmart 70LMT review of features:

  • Display size, 6.0” W x 3.4”H
  • Free lifetime maps & traffic
  • Bluetooth hands-free calling
  • Voice activated navigation
  • Driver alerts
  • Customizable smartphone notifications

Other standard features of the Garmin DriveSmart 70, 60, and 50 include:

  • 1-hour battery life
  • Trip planner & log
  • Suction cup mount
  • Ability to pair with the BC™ 30 Wireless Backup Camera

Garmin DriveSmart 51 LMT-S Review

These next two models are the newer releases, and the 51 and 61 have some key differences from the Garmin DriveSmart 70, 60, and 50. First, they were released about a year later, in 2017, next you get real-time services with them like Garmin live traffic and live parking.

Another nifty feature of this Garmin DriveSmart GPS is the ability to pair it with the Garmin smartwatch and get navigation on your wrist while walking or help finding your parked vehicle.

Price: $199.99 (sale price is $149.99)

Garmin DriveSmart 51 LMT-S review of features:

  • Display size, 4.4” W x 2.5”H
  • Capacitive touch display
  • Free lifetime maps & traffic
  • Bluetooth hands-free calling
  • Voice activated navigation
  • Driver alerts
  • Customizable smartphone notifications
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for easy map & software updates

Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S Review

A screen size up from the 51 is the Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S, which doesn’t just have a 6” screen, like the Garmin DriveSmart 60 LMT, it has a 6.95” edge-to-edge screen. So, this is the best Garmin DriveSmart GPS for all the bells & whistles and a larger screen too.

You also get the Garmin live traffic and real-time updates with this model as well as the 51 LMT-S.

Price: $249.99 (sale price is $199.99)

Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S review of features:

  • Display size, 6.0” W x 3.5”H
  • Capacitive touch display
  • Free lifetime maps & traffic
  • Bluetooth hands-free calling
  • Voice activated navigation
  • Driver alerts
  • Customizable smartphone notifications
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for easy map & software updates

Now that you know the products, prices, and their features, let’s find how well these Garmin car GPS models score with drivers.

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Garmin GPS Reviews | Pros & Cons

Ready to find out if consumers think Garmin is the best GPS navigation system around or if they find it lacking? We’ve dug into Garmin DriveSmart reviews to bring you the pros and cons from drivers.

Do those Garmin live traffic updates really help? Is there a particular model that stands out? We’ll go over the overall ratings for the Garmin car GPS first, then get into the nuts and bolts of the Garmin GPS reviews.

Garmin GPS Reviews & Ratings

  • Best Buy (784 Garmin GPS reviews) – 4.6 out of 5
  • (22 Garmin GPS reviews) – 3.6 out of 5
  • Reevoo (103 Garmin GPS reviews) – 8.6 out of 10
  • Walmart (16 Garmin GPS reviews) – 4.1 out of 5

Garmin DriveSmart Reviews – Pros

  • In a positive Garmin 60LMT review, the reviewer said they loved all the features and information. They did say that this Garmin car GPS alerts you about everything, so you may want to turn off some of the features if you find that disruptive.
  • In a Garmin DriveSmart review for both the 51 and 61, the reviewer said they liked it so much, they bought two of them. The found the navigation menus easy to use and enjoyed the handy turn-by-turn function. They also found the display easy to read at a glance.
  • Being alerted which lane to be in and where speed cameras are were two pros mentioned in a Garmin DriveSmart 50LMT review at Reevoo. They said the Garmin car GPS was a fantastic value.
  • In a Garmin DriveSmart 70LMT review, the reviewer found the screen very detailed and said it was one of the best GPS navigation units they’ve ever seen. Another positive mentioned was the good antenna.

Garmin DriveSmart Reviews – Cons  

  • One driver had several issues they mentioned in their Garmin DriveSmart review for the Garmin DriveSmart 50. They said the Bluetooth doesn’t automatically connect with their phone and that the current map database had issues.
  • A bad update utility was the reason for one 2-star Garmin DriveSmart review. They said they enjoyed the bright screen with high resolution and user interface of their Garmin DriveSmart 51/61, but the updates take an hour to download and are very cumbersome.
  • One reviewer had problems with traffic updates by Garmin. In their Garmin DriveSmart 60LMT review, they said the GPS missed several traffic conditions, and they didn’t feel it always gave them the best route, so they ended up using Google maps instead.
  • Another unhappy reviewer said the Garmin car GPS wasn’t very intuitive and tried to choose roads that didn’t exist and gets confused when on smaller roads that are next to a larger road or freeway.

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AdvisoryHQ’s Garmin DriveSmart GPS Review Conclusion

Despite some cons about making poor road choices, a majority of reviewers find the Garmin DriveSmart GPS models very helpful and easy to use. The large screens are mentioned as a big plus along with the driver safety alerts.

Negatives for the Garmin DriveSmart GPS revolved around the map database and the length of time it took for updates. It’s possible that some map issues could be due to the unit not being updated recently.

The Garmin GPS prices are fairly reasonable, and you can even find lower prices for some of the earlier models, like the Garmin 50LMT, at retailers like Walmart.

While comparing their overall scores against competitor, TomTom, Garmin DriveSmart came out ahead in the star ratings averages.

So, which is the Best Garmin GPS for you?

If you want real-time traffic and road conditions and Wi-Fi connections for easier updates, then the DriveSmart 51 or 61 are your best options. If you’re looking for a bargain and don’t need as many features, then you’ve got some good choices between the Garmin DriveSmart 70, 6o or 50 GPS models.

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Review Date
Item Reviewed
GPS Navigation System - Garmin DriveSmart
Author Rating
Item Name
Garmin DriveSmart