The Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S is both easy-to-use and loaded with essential and premium features, making it a straightforward choice as our best car navigation system. Offering everything from live traffic updates and voice-activated calling through to built-in WiFi, the Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S is designed to make your motoring life, and more, as simple as it can be. Indeed, once you've parked, you can even pair the Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S with a compatible Garmin smartwatch - as seen among the best fitness trackers - and navigation can continue on your wrist.
Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S Review: Navigation
The DriveSmart 61 LMT-S comes with preloaded maps of North America, and it has a slot for a microSD card for additional storage for things like maps of other countries. Garmin gives you free map updates and traffic alerts for the life of the device, ensuring that you’ll always be driving with the most up-to-date information. The GPS system gives spoken turn-by-turn directions using nearby landmarks – such as buildings, traffic lights and other recognizable landmarks – so you’re never left wondering if that was the turn you were supposed to make.
The DriveSmart 61 LMT-S has millions of preloaded points of interest, including gas stations, restaurants, hotels and other public places. You can also input some of your own favorite locations, such as your home, work or a friend’s house. If you’re planning a lengthy road trip and want to visit multiple destinations along the way, the device can handle it. Once you get each destination plugged in – or even if you add one on the fly – the system automatically creates the most efficient route possible and guides you to each stop.
Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S Review: Features
The Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S also comes with a variety of safety-conscious features to help keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road. Voice-activated navigation lets you enter a destination from your address book, view app alerts, make or receive a phone call or send a text message hands-free. You can even customize your smartphone notifications.
It features a speed limit indicator that displays the speed you’re currently driving at as well as the speed limit. The device also gives you advance notice of upcoming turns or lane changes and has built-in alerts that keep you aware of school zones, upcoming sharp turns, traffic delays, and various other traffic-related items. There’s even a fatigue warning that reminds you to stop and take a break from driving if you’ve been going for a while.
Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S Review: Design
The Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S earned the highest rating in our ease of use scoring. It was a cinch to set up and get installed in our car, and with its intuitive interface guiding us through the process, we didn't need to seek out additional instructions or assistance.
The large 6.95-inch capacitive touchscreen, which has a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, makes it easy to see the route, upcoming turns, nearby points of interest, and myriad other details. Its interface has clearly labeled icons and menus, allowing you to quickly find whatever you’re looking for. The only GPS with a higher resolution is the Rand McNallyOverDryve, which has 1280 x 800 pixels.
If you need to use the device but don’t want to deal with its accompanying charging cords, the internal battery lets you run it cord-free for up to about an hour. It also comes stock with a variety of driver alerts to keep you aware of your surroundings while driving. The unit can pair with additional backup cameras, like the BC30 Wireless Backup Camera, to help you keep an eye on what’s behind your vehicle, a Garmin smartwatch so you can navigate once you're parked and on foot, or the BabyCam in-vehicle video baby monitor to give you a view of your kids or pets right on its screen.
If you need help, Garmin’s customer service team is easily contactable via phone or email. While live chat is currently not available, there is an abundance of informational resources available on Garmin’s website too. The 61 LMT-S ships with a one-year warranty, which is standard across the car GPS industry.
Should you buy the DriveSmart 61 LMT-S?
The Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S has exceptional design, functionality and ease of use. Yes, there are cheaper car GPS devices out there, but the DriveSmart 61 LMT-S easily justifies what you pay with its array of smart features, advanced traffic assistance capabilities and intuitive menus and displays. Its high-definition capacitive touchscreen is easy to view and interact with, and with millions of built-in points of interest, your daily commute or annual cross-country trip will be a cinch.