Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic review

The Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic is the straightforward car GPS that requires no directions to use.

Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic review
(Image: © Amazon)

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

The ultimate aim of any car GPS is to make your driving life simpler, and that’s exactly what the Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic does better than any other car navigation device.


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    Easy setup, straightforward to use

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    Turns advised by landmark names

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    Points of interest TripAdvisor reviews

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    Live traffic


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    Screen is relatively low res

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    No premium features

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The Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic is quick to set up and easy to use, making it the best car navigation system if you want simplicity from your car GPS. Garmin has been making devices to help make all manner of outdoor pursuits easier and more enjoyable for over 30 years, so it knows what it’s doing. As well as specializing in GPS technology for all manner of automotive, aviation, and marine activities, Garmin is also at the forefront of wearable tech.

Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic review: Navigation

The Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic comes preloaded with street maps for the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Bahamas, giving you a generous range of motoring peace of mind, and includes map and software updates for free. 

The Drive 52 & Traffic has all the navigation basics that you’d expect, including driver alerts to warn of sharp bends and speed limits, and live traffic data to help you avoid construction work and accidents. Live traffic is pulled in via a connected smartphone with the app installed, meaning you have up to the second traffic to get the best route.

The directions that it issues are delivered turn-by-turn, using street names, store names and notable landmarks to make sure you always know where you’re heading. And if you’re hungry, or in need of rest, the device flags up a multitude of points of interest showing where you can stop for food, fuel and other milestones along your route. 

Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic review: Features

The Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic is not as feature heavy as some of the other car GPS devices that you’ll find today, but that’s exactly why it’s so easy to use. What it does offer is preloaded Foursquare data to make it easier to find millions of stores, hotels, restaurants, and more by name, along with on-screen sight of TripAdvisor ratings for the various places and attractions you might like to stop at along your route. 

There’s also a directory of National Parks that provides quick navigation to entrances, picnic spots, and campsites, and access to data from The History Channel that includes pictures and descriptions of notable historic sites, landmarks and museums.

What the Garmin Drive 52 doesn’t offer is Bluetooth connectivity, voice command, and Wi-Fi updates, but as we’ve said, it’s simplicity that makes this car GPS stand out. If you do want something rather more feature packed, the TomTom GO 620 is perfect for satisfying all those needs.  

Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic

(Image credit: Amazon)

Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic review: Design

Unlike many other car GPS devices, the Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic is primed for action as soon as you get it out of the box. The quick-start manual will help get everything ready in double-fast time, and there’s no fiddling around connecting smartphones - it’s a truly self sufficient, standalone device.  

The 5-inch display is not as large as some, and you should bear in mind that the touchscreen is resistive and doesn’t allow multi-touch input. The 480x272 resolution means sharper pictures can be found on other devices too, but that said, the maps and directions are bright and still easy-to-see. The on-screen menus are as simple to navigate as the roads the Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic will take you down as well. 

Should you need to unplug, battery life is a pretty standard one hour, while attachment to the windshield or dashboard is straightforward using the suction cup mount that comes included with the device. 

Should you buy the Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic?

If it’s the easy life that you’re looking for with your car navigation GPS, there are few devices that are as straightforward yet as effective as the Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic. As soon as you take the Drive 52 & Traffic from it’s box, it’s raring to go, with preloaded maps, live traffic and ratings and insight into the millions of points of interest it’ll bring to your attention. The same landmarks are used to make the directions you’re given easier to follow, and there’s traffic alerts and speed information too. 

If you’re looking for voice control, Bluetooth and hands-free calls, then the Garmin Drive 52 & Traffic isn’t for you, but their absence is ultimately what makes this great car GPS such a cinch to use. 

Tim Leonard

With over 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry, Tim has spent most of his career working for a financial data firm, where he was Online Editor of the consumer-facing Moneyfacts site, and regularly penned articles for the financial advice publication Investment Life and Pensions Moneyfacts. As a result, he has an excellent knowledge of almost areas of personal finance and, in particular, the retirement, investment, protection, mortgage and savings sectors.