Hands on with the Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD
The Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD is the top-of-the-line model in Garmin’s 2013 nuvi series, updating last year’s 3590LMT. Dubbed a “Prestige” model, the 3597LMTHD offers a new magnetic mounting system, super-thin design, 5″ capacitive touchscreen, ad-free lifetime HD traffic, as well as all the new features found in the 2013 Advanced series models.
The new features include active lane guidance, traffic announcements, “Real Directions” and the new slide-out Up Ahead feature — all of which I’ll cover in detail below. The 3597LMTHD comes with preloaded maps of North America with lifetime updates, Bluetooth for hands-free calling and voice command.
- Drop down to the Garmin nuvi 2597LMT and you’ll give up the thinner form-factor, capacitive screen, HD traffic, 3D terrain/buildings, automatic portrait/landscape orientation and the magnetic mount
- To see how the 3597LMTHD stacks up against other models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart.
New magnetic mount
The 3597LMTHD has a new magnetic powered mount that works very well. The magnet is super-strong and there is almost no way to misalign it unless you try to mount the unit upside down (which you can’t really do). I wish all navigators were this easy to mount.
In the image below you can see that the mount includes an additional speaker as well.
Active lane guidance
I really like the new active lane guidance feature, and find it much clearer than previous versions of lane assist. Here’s a video showing it in action on an Advanced series model. Where it really shines is as you approach multiple exits in quick succession, as shown below in a screenshot from an Advanced series model.
Having spent some time with three different 2013 models in several states and metropolitan areas, I’m finding active lane guidance coverage a bit spotty (I saw it more in Atlanta than in smaller metros). Where it is not available you’ll see more standard lane assist, BirdsEye lane guidance (very similar to active lane guidance but it uses static imagery) and junction view.
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.
Shows the street you are on
As you can see in the image below, the 3597LMTHD shows the name of 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.
In the image above 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, which was restricted to limited access highways, Up Ahead 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 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). You’ll hear something like “turn right at the traffic light, then take the second left” 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.
Like active lane guidance, this also seems to suffer from limited coverage, although I do expect it to expand over time.
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.
It also appears that pedestrian navigation options are gone from the 2013 series.
Correcting speed limit
You could tap the speed limit icon on the 3590LMT to correct it when it was in error. That feature is also gone on the 3597LMTHD.
Of course the 3597LMTHD 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, photo-realistic junction view, route choices, automatic landscape/portrait orientation, 3-D terrain and buildings, extensive Where To customization options, trip log and HD traffic (discussed below). 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. Here are a few more screenshots…
I live in an area without HD or TMC traffic coverage, but I did test the unit out in Greenville, SC one day. As it turns out, there were no incidents on any of my routes, but I did grab a few screenshots (above and below) showing regional incidents.
In testing the 2597LMT and 2797LMT Advanced series in Atlanta, I heard the new traffic announcements feature, with the units saying “light traffic on your route,” while the screen said “on fastest route.” Another time it said something to the effect of “there are seven minutes of delay, you are on the fastest route.”
While the 3597LMTHD 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. In this respect, it was comparable to that of the 2597LMT. In testing it with my wife, she was able to understand me, but the sound quality definitely did not meet expectations — it sounded more like a Bluetooth device from several years ago. And while I was able to receive calls, I was not able to dial out for some reason. Hopefully these are firmware and not hardware issues.
For the most part, the 3597LMTHD performed well for me. What follows are notes of any issues I ran into…
It wouldn’t show the proper time nor let me set the time until I updated the time zone map using Garmin WebUpdater and did a hard reset. I’ve been told Garmin is aware of this issue and a firmware fix has or will be released.
While I didn’t notice any routing errors when using the device, it did lose satellite reception once while underway. It recovered it within about 30 seconds. I live in mountainous terrain and this was the only time I saw this issue.
Voice command performance was also weaker than expected. I had to repeat commands more often than I’m used to with nuvis and had more commands that I finally gave up on. Also, the device took a long time to make additional selections available – the “Down” on the voice command menu was often unavailable for ten seconds or so, and at times never did become available.
The back of the unit is aluminum and this extends around the sides and slightly around the screen on the front. Once during a month of use I was at an angle such that the sun reflected off this bezel in an annoying manner. But that was the only time I noticed it during many hours of use.
Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD pros
- 5″ capacitive touchscreen
- Lifetime maps
- Lifetime ad-free HD traffic
- Traffic announcements
- Active lane guidance
- Up ahead feature
- Extensive customization options
Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD cons
- Weaker than expected Bluetooth performance
- Weaker than expected voice command performance
The new magnetic mount and various new features (up ahead, traffic announcements, active lane guidance) are great additions to the Prestige line. Unfortunately the poorer than expected Bluetooth and voice command don’t measure up. Hopefully those issues can be resolved with a firmware update.
More Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD reviews
- Consumer-authored Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD reviews
- PC Mag gives it their Editor’s Choice award
- T3 has also posted a Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD review
- CNet gives a 4 out of 5 star rating in their nuvi 3597LMTHD review
- Digital Versus reviews the 3597LMT in the UK
- Popular Mechanics reviews the 3597LMT
I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD resources
- A PDF version of the Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD 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 3597LMTHD web page
Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD at these merchants:
- Check the current Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD price at Amazon
- Get the Garmin nuvi 3597LMTHD from GPS City
- Buy the 3597LMTHD direct from Garmin