The best sat navs

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Guide to the best European Satellite Navigation systems
The days of packing unwieldy paper maps and heavy road atlases come holiday-time are long gone. Now, no matter where you’re travelling on the Continent, you can enjoy accurate turn-by-turn guidance from a wide range of portable satellite navigation units. As well as saving you time, sat-navs also contribute to safer, more efficient driving. Once they’ve been programmed, you can keep your eyes on the road and you won’t waste fuel by taking a wrong turn or missing a motorway exit.
Garmin and TomTom are the major players in this area, and Stephen Errity from Auto Express magazine has picked out six top performers at a range of price points to suit any budget. All promise to get you exactly where you want to go with a minimum of fuss and frustration. Prices given are for guidance only and may vary depending on retailers and current offers.
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Garmin 3598LMT-D
Garmin 3598LMT-D
RRP: £289.99

It’s quite expensive, but this is a really feature-packed sat-nav and there isn’t much it can’t do. Some sat-navs with all the bells and whistles can be a bit complicated to use, but this model makes it easy and we particularly like the seamless menu system. The Garmin 3598LMT-D also has a more extensive list of pre-programmed Points of Interest than many rivals and, most importantly, we found its navigation to be extremely accurate.
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TomTom GO 6000
TomTom GO 6000
RRP: £269.99
TomTom is Garmin’s biggest rival in the sat-nav market and while its GO 6000 is a little cheaper than the Garmin 3598LMT-D, it’s also a little less impressive in some areas. It occasionally struggled to direct us right to the door of our chosen destination, for example, and doesn’t have as many pre-programmed Points of Interest. On the plus side, it was better at getting around traffic, and the 6-inch colour screen and logical interface both impressed us.
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Garmin 2568LMT-D
Garmin 2568LMT-D
RRP: £189.99

This is Garmin’s mid-range sat-nav offering, and while it doesn’t pack in quite as many features as the top-of-the-line 3598LMT-D, you still get traffic information and free map updates for as long as you own the device. Like the more expensive model, the 2568LMT-D impressed us with its detailed and accurate traffic information, as well as clear lane guidance that helps with complex dual carriageway and motorway junctions.
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TomTom Via 135
TomTom Via 135
RRP: £149.99

TomTom loses out to Garmin at the mid-range price point and the Via 135 lacks the 2568LMT-D’s live traffic updates. It is around £40 cheaper, though, and so worth considering if you just want decent route guidance. The 135 also offers voice recognition for various functions, although since you can’t enter a postcode verbally, you’ll still need to pull over to plan a route.
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TomTom Start 24
TomTom Start 24
RRP: £89.99

As the name suggests, this is TomTom’s entry-level sat-nav and if you’re on a limited budget, it’s a good choice for the money. It’s been on sale for a while, but still feels more expensive than it. It has an easy-to-use interface, plus free map updates, putting it ahead of Garmin in the budget price category.
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Garmin nuvi 52
Garmin nuvi 52
RRP: £74.99

It’s keenly priced, but Garmin’s entry-level sat-nav feels a bit out of step with rivals. It uses the previous-generation Garmin operating system, which isn’t as quite slick and easy-to-use as the latest version. It’s by no means terrible, though, and should get you from A to B without problems. The big disadvantage is that you have to pay a one-off fee of £50 for map updates, making the nuvi 52 not quite as good value as it seems.
 
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