Hands on Garmin nuvi 2597LMT review
The Garmin nüvi 2597LMT is the top of the line 5″ model in Garmin’s 2013 Advanced series. Improvements in this years model include active lane guidance, traffic announcements, “Real Directions” and the slide-out Up Ahead feature shown above. I’ll explore those features in more detail below. As a high-end model, the 2597LMT includes lifetime traffic and map updates, Bluetooth for hands-free calling and voice command.
UPDATE: Here’s a feature I initially missed — it turns out that all 2013 nuvi LMT and LT models have ad-free traffic.
- Step up to the Garmin nuvi 2797LMT to get the same feature set with a giant 7″ screen and powered mount
- Or choose the 5″ Prestige series 3597LMTHD and get a powered mount, HD traffic receiver and capacitive touch screen
- Drop down to the 2557LMT and you’ll lose the Bluetooth and voice command features
- Or keep the 2597LMT’s full feature set in the smaller screened (and lower priced) 2497LMT
To see how the 2597LMT stacks up against other models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart.
You can see the front of the unit in the shot above. Below you see the rear and the mount; the 2597LMT utilizes the same mounting system as the Essential series. Note though that it is not a powered mount; you’ll need to move up to the 2797LMT or the 3597LMTHD for that. I do find the 2597LMT’s mount easy to use though.
And how should I say this?… The rear of the unit is more curvaceous than past models, which you can get some idea of from the top view…
Active lane guidance
One of the first things I want to mention is the active lane guidance because there was some concern that this would be inferior to the old lane assist, but rest assured, the new feature is clearly superior. While it is true that the lane guidance doesn’t always show up in the next maneuver indicator, consider the image below where the vehicle is approaching two different exits. The new system is clearly superior at showing which exit to take. Here’s a video I’ve posted showing it in action.
This new model will announce “if there is traffic on the route, what the expected delay is and if there is a faster route,” similar to TomTom’s approach. There are settings allowing you to control how frequently you hear such announcements.
While I did not do extensive testing in traffic, I did hear the unit say “light traffic on your route,” with the screen showing “on fastest route” (see image above). Another time it said something to the effect of “there are seven minutes of delay, you are on the fastest route.” I will say that it nailed the incident shown above — where it started and where it ended.
Next turn and the street you are on
As you can see in the image above, the 2597LMT shows the street you are currently on at the bottom of the screen (unlike on previous models) and the next turn at the top of the screen. If you are not actively navigating the top bar shows the next cross street.
Below you can see the slide out Up Ahead menu. Tap one of the icons to get a list of upcoming gas stations, banks/ATMs and restaurants. Unlike last year’s Exit Services feature, this alerts you to upcoming POIs on surface street routes as well. The three menu items and their order can be customized by tapping one of the icons and then tapping the wrench icon. Additional options include parking, rest areas, lodging and custom search (for a business name or category). Note the X to close the Up Ahead menu.
You open the Up Ahead feature by tapping the menu icon in the bottom right corner of the map screen, and selecting it from the menu below. The items shown in this menu can be customized as well. Additional options include detour, brightness and a trip data slide out menu (also customizable from Settings > Map & Vehicle > Map Tools). All seven options can be included if desired.
This feature tells you to turn at a landmark rather than a street name (although the street name is still shown on the screen). It’s only available in a limited number of markets (52 as of this past February). I heard it a couple of times during a quick trip to Atlanta, where it said “turn right at the traffic light” and “turn left at the Holiday Inn.” A little voice bubble shows up on the screen at junctions with this feature…
Here’s a video of it from GPS City.
School zone warnings
Warnings such as the one below appear (along with a chime) when you approach a school zone.
Missing feature: Dashboards
One item Garmin took away (in order to show the road you are currently on), is the selectable dashboards feature. This allowed you to add more data fields to the map screen, such as elevation, remaining travel time, etc. Now you’ll need to use the slide-out trip data feature if you want such information.
Of course the nuvi covers all the basics, such as calling out street names for turns, lifetime traffic and map updates Additionally, you’ll find trip planner (multi-destination routing), custom avoidances, Where Am I, voice command (which continues to work very well), photo-realistic junction view, route choices, landscape/portrait orientation selection, extensive Where To customization options, and trip log. Smartphone Link is now available for iPhones or Android phones, and the detour by road feature is now available when you tap the detour button
While the 2597LMT paired easily with my Verizon Galaxy Nexus, the sound quality left a lot to be desired, and was nowhere near as good as the last couple generations of Garmin devices. I found myself having to speak quite loudly in order for my wife (testing the receiving end of the call) to be able to hear me. She was able to understand me, but the sound quality definitely did not meet expectations, sounding like a Bluetooth device from several years ago. Hopefully this is a firmware and not a hardware issue.
I noticed no significant routing errors or sluggish performance during a month of testing the 2597LMT. I did experience one lockup and a reboot during that time though. Otherwise the unit seemed quite stable.
Garmin nuvi 2597LMT pros
- 5″ screen
- Lifetime maps and traffic
- Traffic announcements
- Active lane guidance
- Up ahead feature
- Customization options
- Excellent voice command feature
Garmin nuvi 2597LMT cons
- No powered mount
- Poor Bluetooth sound quality
Conclusion and recommendation
With the exception of the poor Bluetooth sound quality, the 2597LMT is a worthy successor to last year’s 2595LMT. The most notable improvements are active lane guidance, the up ahead feature and traffic announcements. Is it worth it to get the 2597LMT over the 2557LMT, given the Bluetooth issue? For me the answer would be yes, since I am often out on the road alone and the voice command feature works very well. Except for that nagging Bluetooth issue, the 2597LMT is one of the best nuvis yet.
More Garmin nuvi 2597LMT reviews
- Consumer-authored Garmin nuvi 2597LMT reviews have been posted at Amazon
- PC Mag gives it 3-1/2 out of 5 stars in their Garmin nuvi 2597MT review
- DigitalVersus gives it a five star rating
I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other Garmin nuvi 2597LMT resources
- The Garmin nuvi 2597LMT owners manual
- Want to see how the 2597LMT stacks up against other models? Check out this Garmin auto GPS comparison tool or my own Garmin nuvi comparison chart
- There is a dedicated Garmin nuvi message forum at GpsPasSion
- And another nuvi forum at GPS Review
- Our auto GPS FAQs, which includes quite a few nuvi tips and tricks
- The official Garmin nuvi 2597LMT web page