At the most recent CES, Garmin introduced its newest line of navigation devices, the 2017 Garmin Drive product line which includes the Garmin Drive 51/61, Garmin DriveSmart 51/61, Garmin DriveAssist 51/61, and Garmin DriveLuxe 51/61. These personal navigation devices are focused heavily on drivers who are more interested in connected features and live services than actual navigation features, unfortunately, and the press release doesn’t actually have all that much information about the navigation features. There might be more once the devices are released, but at the moment, it’s a little slim. However, for the casual driver who is looking for a good alternative to phone navigation, these devices are probably right up your alley.
In addition to basic maps and navigation, all four of the 2017 Drive devices feature a handful of driver alerts including warnings for upcoming sharp curves, railroad or animal crossings, one-way alerts, red light cameras (where applicable), and speed cameras. The devices also all feature Garmin’s signature Read Directions, which uses easily recognizable landmarks, buildings, and traffic lights when giving directions to provide for ease of navigation. The devices also are capable of connecting with a Connect IQ compatible Garmin smartwatch to provide navigation to the driver’s wrist. I’m not sure how useful that’s really going to be, but it’s kind of nice to see connectivity between Garmin devices at the least.
Anyway, each of the four devices have additional features and slightly different price tags. Personally, I’m a little disappointed in these devices as they lack a lot of the features that I find incredibly useful on Garmin. It almost seems like the company is trying to put a dent into a new market at the expense of those actually interested in navigation. We’ll go into each of the devices separately below, and you’ll see what I mean.
Garmin Drive 51/61
This is the entry-level device of the new Drive line and has several free real-time services including live traffic, which gives users routing information about traffic and accidents; LiveTrack, which allows drivers to share their location with friends and family; and Parkopedia, which provides parking information. All services require users to download the Smartphone Link app and will use smartphone data.
This device also comes preloaded with TripAdvisor data so that user can see ratings for popular points of interest including hotels, restaurants, and other attractions.
Garmin DriveSmart 51/61
This device builds on the previous device, and in addition to the features listed above, it also features built-in Wifi for easy map and software updates when connected to Wifi. The DriveSmart also features voice-activated navigation, hands-free Bluetooth calling with a compatible device, and smartphone paring so that users can receive texts and app alerts right on the device (requires data).
Additionally, the DriveSmart is available in not only a 5 inch format, but an edge-to-edge high-resolution touchscreen that is nearly 7 inches and features small bezels. The display is designed to be easy to read while on the road.
Garmin DriveAssist 51
This higher-end device features all the features of the Drive and DriveSmart, but adds a dash cam which will continually record not only visual, but also audio. Upon impact, the data is automatically saved on the included microSD card. The device, obviously, includes a Forward Collision alert and Lane Departure warnings as well to help drivers be safer. It also has a new feature which will send a text message to contacts if user has an incident while driving, providing loved ones with the driver’s location.
Other features included in this model are a “Go” Alert to notify distracted drivers when standstill traffic moves ahead of them, Garmin Real Vision, which shows a live camera view on the display with an arrow pointing out the specific destination, and Travelapse, which allows users to create a video of their journeys with the Garmin VIRB app.
Garmin DriveLuxe 51
The most expensive and top-of-the-line device in the new Drive series, the Garmin DriveLuxe features all of the above features, but adds a bit of class with a sleek metal design. It also comes with a powered magnetic mount for easy transportation. As far a features go, this device is essentially the same as the DriveAssist—the additional price is merely cosmetic. Although I do think it looks nice, I can’t say that I really see the point in this device, personally.
All four Garmin 2017 Drive devices are expected to be available online and in stores in February 2017. As each device features different features and sizes, prices are all over the board. However, the series is expected to retail in the $149.99 – $329.99 range. For more information on these devices, check out Garmin’s press release or visit the Garmin website.