Hands on trucker review of the Garmin dezl 560LMT
UPDATE: A new 7″ model is available, the Garmin dezl 760LMT.
The Garmin dezl 560LMT is a new top of the line navigator designed for commercial truckers (though it is likely to be quite popular with RVers as well). It has an ultra-wide 5” screen, preloaded maps of the US, Canada and Mexico, and comes with lifetime map updates and traffic.
The 560LMT comes with a dashboard mount, and includes many features from the nuvi line like Lane Assist, Junction View, and Garmin’s new historical road speed database, trafficTrends.
- UPDATE: The newer Garmin dezl 760LMT has a a larger 7″ screen and adds voice command, a headphone jack/audio line out, and display of the elevation grade for the road you’re driving
- Drop down to Garmin dezl 560LT and you’ll lose the lifetime map updates but retain the rest of the feature set
- Garmin’s nuvi 465T is a first-generation trucker-specific model sporting a smaller 4.3” touchscreen; it also comes in a 465LMT version with lifetime map updates
I was fortunate to convince a nearby trucker to try out the dezl. I’ll start with his take on it, and then wrap up with anything I have to add. We’ll just call our guest author/trucker John Anon…
Out of the box, the dezl was easy to put together and setup in the truck. The base stayed firmly in place through a 550+ mile trip. Before the trip, I was asked to setup a driver and truck profile. The driver profile went fine, but I was hauling a set of double trailers and during the “interview”, the dezl didn’t ask how many trailers I was carrying. I later found the option for trailer quantity under the truck profile, but it wasn’t asked during the initial setup questions.
I’ll chime in long enough to say that the following items are available under truck profile:
- Gross weight
- Max. Weight per axle
- Overall length
- Number of trailers
- Hazardous material
- Avoid traffic
- Tractor VIN
- Tractor number
- Trailer number
Using the software was fairly easy and I found that common sense told you where a lot of the options would be found. I liked the fact that you could touch the truck on the screen and get the options for finding truck stops, etc., and touching the map itself showed you truck approved roads.
I tried the different views, but stayed with the 3D view for the majority of the trip. One thing I really liked about the 3D view was that, if you had the zoom level high enough, you could “see” all of the major roads around you and which direction they ran in. It always kept me thinking about possible alternate routes if an emergency hit. One of the drawbacks, however, was that the unit had no zoom level indicator. If you were at a particular zoom level and changed to a closer or farther away level and then wanted to get back, you had no reference point and just had to guess.
On the trip north, I used map mode and did not set a destination. After passing an exit, the name and number of the next exit would appear at the top of the screen. If there was a rest area ahead before you got to the next exit, the unit notified you of the rest area ahead. The only thing missing from the notification was any indicator showing you the mileage to the next exit or to the rest area ahead. In the vast majority of states, the interstate exit numbers run in accordance with the mile markers. However, in a few states, the exits are numbered in sequential order and do not follow the mile markers. The next exit could be 20 miles up the road and you would still be going from exit 5 to exit 6. Not knowing how far ahead a rest area is could prove to be detrimental as well.
The program has built-in proximity alarms for things that would pertain to driving a truck. There were indicators for steep grades, weigh stations and red light cameras (a 30 day trial subscription is included for the latter). There was an option for a sharp curve warning alert and I had the option checked, but I went through three different places with sharp curves signs that are there to let trucks in particular know about the dangers up ahead. The alarm never went off for any of those curves. I’m not sure if a map update would have solved that issue, but the curves are not new and there have been many accidents in each of them. I was surprised this feature didn’t seem to work. There was also one instance where I was informed a rest area was up ahead and it was actually a weigh station that was open. Not a mistake you want to see in a GPS unit geared towards truck drivers.
The speed limit changes were very accurate. There was an area I came through on the way back that had been under construction and was finally open for travel free and clear. New speed limits had been set and the next software update will probably have those new speed limits set in them. I did use the option to adjust the speed limit on the screen and the unit saved the info for the next trip. The unit didn’t change speed limits when there was a split speed limit for cars and trucks. The speed limit for the cars was still showing when the speed limit for trucks was 10mph slower. That could be an issue for a rookie or someone who has never been on a particular stretch of highway.
The volume level was adjustable for both the routing and the in-call volume. Connecting my bluetooth phone was a snap and I was paired in no time. The pitch and volume for the routing and alarms was fine, but using the dezl for wireless calling was less than ideal. The speaker had a real tinny sound to it and even at the highest volume level, it was still difficult to have a conversation and understand what was being said with the cabin noise inside a truck. I was driving a very late model Volvo tractor that night and it’s one of our quietest trucks.
The trip meter and log book functions were very accurate and having a record of your hours of service handy makes filling out that log book a breeze. One of the best features is the option to find the nearest address. There have been so many times where I’ve taken a break somewhere and ended up guessing where I was either because there were no signs indicating where I was or there was no one on the CB radio who knew where we were. Very, very big help!
On the return trip, I used the navigation mode and entered the address of my destination and took off. I had intended to go a different route on my return and decided that was a good time to put the dezl to a test. I hit the detour button and the dezl rerouted me on the exact route I would have chosen myself. I knew that the route had hazmat restrictions as there was a tunnel at the top of a mountain you had to go through and certain hazmat loads are not allowed to go through the tunnel. I reprogrammed my truck info to show I had hazmat and that I was carrying explosives, a big no-no in the tunnel. The Garmin instantly rerouted me around the tunnel on a truck-approved route. I was very impressed and not having to hunt down a route and make phone calls was a huge time saver.
I reset everything back to normal and continued on my journey. One of the other nuances I liked was that, regardless of your zoom level, the dezl adjusted your zoom level when you were expected to take an exit or when it was directing you which lane to stay in to make it through a series of intersections. It adjusted in so you could see exactly where you needed to be with arrows pointing the way and an icon of your truck showing you which direction you were going. After the guidance was over, the zoom level adjusted back to where you were. I’ve been in large cities where you were merging in from the right and needed to be 5 lanes over to the left to get off at an exit. This feature will be worth its weight in gold should someone be in an unfamiliar city and need the assistance.
A feature that I would like to see would be for a temperature indicator made available. Black ice can form from around 37 degrees and lower and knowing what temperature it is outside is a must. Most tractors have some sort of outside temperature gauge built into the trucks computer, but I would almost expect a GPS unit for trucks to have that included.
There are pluses for employers who might be thinking about putting a GPS in their company tractors, yet haven’t decided which one to go with or haven’t had the time to do the research. The dezl has a lockout feature where the unit can be placed in “safe mode” and cannot be programmed when the truck is moving. There is a pin number that can be used to lock the unit’s programs and settings in place and an employer might feel better putting the dezl in their tractors knowing that they can control the safety features.
By the end of the night, I had become comfortable with what the dezl would do and the information it gave me. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rate it a solid 8. There were a couple of more things I’d still like to see in a truck-oriented GPS unit and a couple of items I think Garmin needs to tweak, but overall I was impressed and would definitely recommend the dezl to any of my fellow drivers.
PS – One last thing I didn’t mention from my notes was that included in the list of truck stops was a list of amenities those truck stops had. I could see if the truck stop had shower, a scale, tractor repair shop, etc. Very handy.
Garmin dezl 560LMT mount
The dezl is the first Garmin model I’ve seen that actually comes with a friction dashboard mount; I’m assuming that’s more practical to operators of large vehicles than a windshield mount.
In the mount detail pic below, you can see where the mini-USB cable plugs in. This “powered mount” setup means you don’t have to fuss with a connection each time you use the device. Just clip the device into the mount and go. You can also see a composite video input below for a backup camera.
Other notable Garmin dezl 560LMT features
Portions of the following were adapted from recent hands on reviews of other Garmin models.
This feature, similar to Magellan’s Exit POIs, shows you points of interest (POIs) for the next 10 exits or so. It is found by going to Where To? > Exit Services, and can be added to the customizable main menu as described below.
Customizable main menu
Garmin is taking advantage of the 5” screen real estate on the dezl series by allowing you to customize the main menu. Here’s how mine is set up…
Speed limit adjustment
I’ve discussed this before, and I’ll refer you there for details, but the short story is you can correct speed limits when the device has them wrong.
Customizable data field display
There are a couple of options here. Tap the left data field on the map screen to bring up a range of choices. These vary depending upon whether you are actively navigating or not.
And if you go to Tools > Settings > Navigation, then choose Truck, RV or Automobile, you can select Map Data Layout and choose More Data. This will shift the data fields to the right, picking up two more that you can modify, as shown below. Note that Grade is a new option found on the dezl series.
Custom avoidances and Advanced detours
Custom avoidances allows you to specify individual streets or sections thereof (see image below) and complete areas to avoid. Advanced detours gives you some new options when you tap the Detour icon, including the ability to exclude specific roads from routes on the fly.
One tip – It appears that the custom avoidances must be from intersection to intersection. If you simply picked two points near the east and west ends of the road above, the dezl would ignore the custom avoid. For more details on these features, see my post on custom avoidances and advanced detours.
The lifetime traffic feature is ad-supported, which is a big turn off for a lot of people. But the ads are very low-key, and will primarily display when you are stopped or viewing traffic details.
The dezl 560LMT allows you to add multiple via points on the fly, using Where To. To pre-plan a multi-destination route, select Tools > Trip Planner. Once a route is created, you can access the menu for the options shown below.
You can tap a via point to select an item and specify an arrival time and/or duration of stop. I find this feature quite useful — I plugged in the duration of several stops, the time I wanted to arrive at my final destination, and was able to determine when I needed to start my trip.
Dragging destinations to change their order in the Trip Planner is much easier than when I tried it on the nuvi 37xx series. I’m assuming that is about firmware improvements, although I suppose it could be a resistive vs. capacitive touchscreen issue.
Unlike my experience with the nuvi 2400 series, I was not able to transfer routes from MapSource. An update to allow this has been promised for the nuvi 23xx and 37xx series, so hopefully this will be extended to the dezl series as well.
Lane Assist and Junction View
Lane Assist (see below) is a very useful feature, showing you which lane you should be in. Coverage seems to be fairly extensive for Interstate highways, with some surface street coverage in large metros.
Junction View coverage (shown below), on the other hand, still seems pretty sparse. Expect to see this only if you live in the very largest metropolitan areas.
Speed limit display and warning
Back to something with good coverage, you’re likely to find speed limits displayed for even secondary roads on the dezl 560LMT. And your current speed field turns red if you’re over the limit, and as noted earlier, you can correct speed limits where you see errors.
Garmin’s historical road speed database is a feature that can be helpful, but can also be counter-productive. The idea is that the device knows that certain roads lock up with traffic from say, 4:20 to 5:45 pm on weekdays. On the good side, I’ve seen significantly improved routing, putting me on limited access freeways rather than older two-lane highways paralleling an Interstate. On the other hand, I’ve seen it send me on longer routes as well. To be fair, those have almost always been in a car, involving (one way or another) minor residential streets – something not likely to affect truckers. I’ll have a little more to say on this subject in my conclusion.
This feature also results in some increased routing time; a trip of 150 miles using another trafficTrends model took 9 seconds to calculate. While I haven’t see any significant lag for local routes, I have seen recalculation times of 7 to 8 seconds following a missed turn on a longer route.
Garmin dezl 560LMT pros
- Has truck, auto, RV and pedestrian modes
- Routes according to truck and trailer profile
- Truck-specific points of interest
- IFTA fuel logging capability
- Tracks drivetime and provides HOS notifications
- Preloaded NTTS Breakdown Directory
- 5” screen
- Powered mount
- Includes dashboard friction mount
- Advanced detour functionality allows you exclude roads on the fly
- Ability to exclude specific roads and areas from all route calculations
- Lane Assist
- Junction View
- Lifetime traffic
- Lifetime map updates
- myTrends learns preferred routes for routine trips
- Customization options
- Speed limit display, warnings and adjustment
- Multi-destination routing
Garmin dezl 560LMT cons
- Bluetooth quality worse than expected
- Traffic is ad-supported
- trafficTrends historical road speed database results in increased route calculation times and occasionally produces routing errors
- Junction View coverage limited
Conclusion and recommendation
Highly recommended. Garmin has made significant improvements since releasing the trucker-friendly nuvi 465T. For one thing, the 5” screen is much more appropriate for this audience. The dezl is based on the Garmin nuvi 2400 series, which offers quite a few high-end features, the best being custom avoidances and advanced detours. It is true that trafficTrends can occasionally generate a wonky route, but this is much less likely with the dezl using truck-preferred routes than it is in a passenger car. And after all, with the advanced detour functionality, you can exclude routes on the fly.
More Garmin dezl 560LMT reviews
- Consumer-authored Garmin dezl 560LMT reviews are starting to be posted at Amazon
- More trucker reviews of the dezl 560LMT have been posted at GPS City
I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other Garmin dezl 560LMT resources
- A PDF version of the Garmin dezl 560LMT owners manual
- Want to see how the 560LMT stacks up against other trucker-friendly units? Use this Garmin comparison tool
- While written for nuvi auto units, these tips will work for the dezl series too
- The official Garmin dezl 560LMT web page
- RAM is coming out with a locking mount/case for this model
Compare prices on the Garmin dezl 560LMT at these merchants:
- Check the current Garmin dezl 560LMT price at Amazon
- Find the low price on a Garmin dezl 560LMT trucking GPS w/ Free Lifetime Maps and Traffic at BuyDig.com
- Get a great deal on the Garmin dezl 560LMT 5″ GPS Navigator with Lifetime Map & Traffic Updates at J&R Computer/Music World
- Check out the deal on the Garmin dezl 560LMT Bluetooth Trucking Bundle with Lifetime Maps & Traffic Updates at TigerGPS