Hands on 7″ Garmin nuvi 2797LMT review
The Garmin nüvi 2797LMT is the company’s first 7″ navigator outside of their dezl line for truckers. As a matter of fact, the hardware seems identical to the dezl 760LMT (although the dezl does have a different mount). The 2797LMT is also the top-of-the-line model in Garmin’s 2013 Advanced series. Improvements in this year’s models include active lane guidance, traffic announcements, “Real Directions” and the slide-out Up Ahead feature. I’ll explore each of those features in more detail below.
As a high-end model, the 2797LMT includes maps of the US, Canada and Mexico, as well as 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 dezl 760LMT to get a backup camera input, a headphone jack, specialized truck routing and other truck-specific features
- Drop down to the 2597LMT for the same feature set as the 2797LMT on a still generous 5″ screen
- Or keep the 7″ screen with the 2757LM but you’ll lose the Bluetooth, voice command and live traffic features
To see how the 2797LMT stacks up against other models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart.
Below you can see three nuvis for size comparison — the 7″ 2797LMT, the 5″ 2597LMT and the 4.3″ 2495LMT.
Seven-inches makes for a big navigator. It didn’t overwhelm my Honda Accord, but I sure wouldn’t want it in anything smaller, and I don’t think I’d want this for everyday use. But if you have a full-size pickup or a van, this might be a good choice for you. If you have an RV, or anything large enough to worry about bridge clearances, etc., you might want to look at the dezl 760LMT.
While the differences aren’t always as dramatic as shown below, the 2797LMT often displays more information and/or a larger area than the 2597LMT…
I’ll also note that the 2797LMT has a powered mount, unlike the 4.3 and 5″ models in the nuvi Advanced series. You can see it in the image below…
And while I prefer to use a friction dashboard mount, I found the windshield suction mount to be very secure. I had no trouble with the 7″ 2797LMT mounted using either method.
Active lane guidance
One of nicest new features on the 2013 Advanced and Prestige series nuvis is active lane guidance. There was some concern that this would be inferior to the old lane assist feature, but rest assured, the new one 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 does a much better job at showing which exit to take.
Here’s a video I’ve posted showing active lane guidance in action.
The 2797LMT 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 — both where it started and where it ended.
Next turn and the street you are on
As you can see in the image above, the 2797LMT shows the street you are currently travelling on at the bottom of the screen (unlike previous nuvis) and the next turn at the top of the screen. When you are not actively navigating the top bar shows the next cross street you are approaching.
You can see the slide out Up Ahead menu in the screenshot below. 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 feature 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 shown 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. And since the Detour button doesn’t show up on the main menu, I’d suggest adding it here!
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 2797LMT 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, extensive Where To customization options, and trip log.
Bluetooth sound quality was actually pretty good, much better than on the 2597LMT. The nuvi paired easily with my Samsung Galaxy Nexus and was able to access my phone book and call history. But there seems to be some sort of software bug — while I was able to receive calls I could not to dial out using the nuvi. Since this probably isn’t hardware related, I’m hoping Garmin will quickly fix it.
I noticed no routing errors, sluggish performance, lock ups or shut downs during a month of testing the 2797LMT.
Garmin nuvi 2797LMT pros
- 7″ screen
- Powered mount
- Lifetime maps and traffic
- Traffic announcements
- Active lane guidance
- Up ahead feature
- Customization options
- Excellent voice command functionality
Garmin nuvi 2797LMT cons
- Bluetooth bug prevents dialing out from nuvi
Conclusion and recommendation
This 7″ model is a welcome addition to the nuvi line and I’m going to cautiously recommend it. If it wasn’t for the Bluetooth issue I might deem it the best nuvi yet. Hopefully that will be fixed with a firmware update in the near future. In addition to the giant screen, the most notable improvements are active lane guidance, the up ahead feature and traffic announcements.
More Garmin nuvi 2797LMT reviews
- Consumer-authored Garmin nuvi 2797LMT reviews have been posted at Amazon
I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other Garmin nuvi 2797LMT resources
- Want to see how the 2797LMT 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 2797LMT web page