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The Best GPS Devices for Your Car

You don’t have to drive the fanciest car to have a built-in GPS, but maybe your car still doesn’t have one. It’s easy to pull out your phone if you need to map a route to a destination 30 minutes away, but it can be a hassle to use during long road trips. Phones can get overheated if an app is constantly open and it can be hard to see directions if your phone has a smaller screen.

While some people see wandering as a part of the journey, most of us like to know where we’re going. Here are a few reliable and affordable GPS devices that you can buy for your next big trip according to WireCutter.

Garmin Drive 52

If you’re not particularly tech-savvy or don’t have a lot of money to spend, pick out the Garmin Drive 52.  This GPS features simple on-screen menus and maps on a 480×272 5-inch touchscreen.

Maps of Canada and the U.S. are already loaded onto the device, with driver alerts to notify you of any speed limit changes or sharp turns. The Garmin Drive 52’s Direct Access feature helps you pinpoint your exact destination in crowded shopping plazas or large office buildings.

Despite its basic interface, this GPS has a few extra features. It includes TripAdvisor and Foursquare to help you find new hotels and restaurants on your trip. Spots of interest from the History Network, such as museums and national monuments, will be marked with the History Network’s logo. The U.S. national parks directory is also programmed into the GPS.

TomTom Go 520

Unlike the Garmin Drive 52, this slightly more expensive GPS comes with a wide array of smart features. This GPS has built-in Wi-Fi and will guide you along with maps from anywhere in the world, with the option to download as many as you need for free.

It’s able to detect real-time traffic information so that you can avoid accidents or other heavy congestion. While it doesn’t have points of interest programmed in other than parking lots or gas stations, the device allows you to access Siri or Google Now to help you find shops or restaurants on your trip.

The TomTom Go 520 also helps you keep your hands on the wheel by allowing you to sync your phone with your GPS using Bluetooth. You’ll be able to see incoming calls and texts on your GPS screen, and you can use the TomTom’s built-in microphone to respond. The TomTom also comes packaged with a magnetic mount that can be easily attached to your windshield.

Garmin DriveSmart 55

The DriveSmart’s screen is a little bigger than the Drive 52’s, with a 5.5-inch display at a superior resolution of 1280×720 pixels. The on-screen maps show 3-D landmarks like buildings and trees, making it easier to get an exact idea of where you’re going. Its built-in Wi-Fi continuously updates the maps so that you never need to plug it into a computer. 

The Garmin DriveSmart 55 is the best of both worlds: it includes all of the useful applications like TripAdvisor and the History Network for finding points of interest, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and texting, driver alerts, and real-time traffic updates to keep you aware of any incidents that could slow down your trip.

One unique feature of the DriveSmart 65 is its voice-activated navigation feature, which allows the Garmin to listen to your voice commands and help direct you to your destination. One downside is its higher price tag, but the DriveSmart 55 definitely still gives you a lot of value for your money.