Top Standalone GPS Units for Your Car

A Comparison of Some of the Top GPS Units for Your Automobile

With so many of us spending so much of our lives lived on the go, finding ways to save as much time as possible, in addition to optimizing our travel time is extremely important to the most people. Wasting the least time is always key to ensuring we accomplish as much as possible each day, with as much time left over for fun and excitement as possible.

One tech device in particular that has helped us to reduce the time we use for travel, as well as scale down the frustration that can come with getting lost along the way to an important destination is the GPS unit. A GPS unit functions by triangulating its position using satellites in orbit above the Earth.

While many of today’s smartphones offer very good GPS capabilities, having a standalone unit may offer you substantial advantages. Standalone GPS units offer many more features than what you will find contained in most smartphones, regardless of which model of phone you buy, or the app you use.

Determining which GPS unit to buy is similar to any other tech purchase, in that it needs a basic understanding of different terms, features and capabilities in order to find the best model for your needs. That said, let’s see if we can’t help reduce the learning curve by providing you with all the basic information you will need to get you on your way to owning one of the most helpful tech items you can buy.


Operating Mode: The 2 main operating modes for GPS are 2D and 3D. The 2D mode sets a fixed point without elevation, returning only the horizontal location, while the 3D mode adds in the elevation of the destination as well, using four satellites to achieve this instead of the three that are used with 2D.

Waypoint: A waypoint is a destination or location. These are typically points along the path to your destination. In some units, waypoints are customizable, allowing you to set different stops along the way to your destination. How this is accomplished depends heavily on which unit you are using.

Bearing: Your bearing is the direction you are actually aiming at. This should not be confused with your heading, which is the direction you are actually traveling.

Destination: Your destination is the ultimate targeted end of your route, the place you are headed to. 

Distance: The length (in feet, meters, miles, etc.) between two waypoints or from your current position to a destination waypoint.

Elevation: The distance above or below mean sea level. 

Top GPS Units

GPS units in circulation today primarily come from three main manufacturers: 




As such, our list will be comprised of the top model lines for each manufacturer by order of excellence. As you can see, this is a little different than the individual models found in previous top lists.

Garmin Nuvi

No matter which review or ranking site you visit, even in forum discussions about which GPS line is the best, undoubtedly, the Garmin Nuvi series is going to head the list. Ever since it was released in 2004, the Nuvi line of GPS units has been amazing both industry professionals and end users alike with its incredible combination of power and affordability.

The Nuvi line is comprised of several models, ranging from simpla and basic to completely loaded with fantastic features. For example, if you are looking for one of the lowest cost quality GPS units, the 50LM model is most likely your best bet. If you need the added power and features of a higher priced model, the 3597LMTHD will undoubtedly be the model to choose.

TomTom GO

While the second and third spots on this list may be in contention when comparing different reviews and ratings sites, our second place pick is the TomTom Go series.  Garmin, TomTom’s first GO series unit was also launched in 2004. Since then, they have been lauded far and wide as a line of high quality units at affordable prices.

One of the most attractive features of the GO line of GPS units is that they all offer spoken, turn-by-turn directions, without the need for any type of data or internet connection. On the Low-end, the GO 50 provides speed camera and traffic data, and the GO 600 has pinch-to-zoom, quick search and advanced lane search. Additional features worthy of note are active lane navigation and alerts, a full five inches of viewable area and voice command support.

Magellan RoadMate

Coming in third in this list is the Magellan's RoadMate series. However, while they may be resting in the number three spot, they should still be considered as an noteworthy contender.

The RoadMate, while last on our list, is a feature rich and functional series, packed with innovative tools. On the basic side, you will find active spoken street names, lane assistance and multi-destination routing on all models. However, many individual models also carry such sought-after extras, such as traffic cam alerts, speed limit warnings and compatibility with in-vehicle camera systems.

Ensuring that you never get lost on the way to any destination is something that can save not only time, but also the accompanying frustration that inevitably comes with getting lost. Using any one of these exceptional GPS product lines will prevent that, as well as give you an opportunity to sit back and relax and let the GPS be your guide, so you can focus on the road and the sights along the way.