Sunday, March 18, 2012


Garmin nuvi 660 review

Hands on with the Garmin nuvi 660

UPDATE: Though still available and supported, Garmin has discontinued the nuvi 660. For newer models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart.

I finally broke down and purchased a Garmin nuvi 660 a couple of weeks ago,
and it has quickly become the favorite workhorse in my stable of GPS receivers.
The nuvi 660 is a joy to use.

Before we get into the details of my review, lets look at other models in the nuvi 600 series. The nuvi 670 is identical to the 660, except that it adds European maps as well. The nuvi 680 uses MSN Direct services, giving you access to weather, fuel prices and movie times, in addition to the 660’s live traffic.

Going the other direction, the nuvi 650 loses some features, leaving off Bluetooth and the FM transmitter, and making traffic an add-on option (instead of including a traffic receiver in the purchase price). For details on other models, check out our Garmin nuvi comparison chart.

Now, back to the nuvi 660…

Click here to compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 660

A user-friendly design and intuitive interface

Garmin has always shined when it came to the user interface, and the nuvi 660 is
no exception. For example, when you want to route to an address, you begin to
enter the city, and once it is narrowed down to a few choices, they pop up on
the screen. This often happens after entering only a few characters. The same
thing occurs when you enter the street name — enter a few characters and your
choices are listed.



Want to save an address as a favorite? It even defaults to title case when you enter a name, so that you get “Joe Smith,” rather than “joe smith” or “JOE SMITH.” 


There are many such examples of the nuvi’s user-friendly interface; here are just a few more:

You can tap a location on a map screen and a “Go” button pops up, allowing you to easily route to a location from the map screen.


When you view a destination, the map automatically switches to a 2–D view.


When you select “Where to,” you are given a “Near” option. Selecting this gives you the options below, which come in quite handy.


If you are a geocacher, you may appreciate the multiple coordinate formats you can use.


Maps and routing

The nuvi 660 did an excellent job of routing, with no major hiccups along the way. It has a recent highway near my in-laws in Michigan that has been missing from previous GPS receivers that I’ve tried there.

Some reviewers have complained that you cannot route to multiple destinations, either on the nuvi or through MapSource — you can only enter one Via along a route. This is true, but the nuvi’s interface is so simple that it really doesn’t matter. You can always plug in locations before your trip and then use “Recently Found” to select them. When you select a new destination while already enroute to one, you are given the choice to “Set as new destination” or “Insert in route as via point,” as shown below.



I LOVE this feature. It’s so nice to have a screen in front of me so I can see what’s playing. The nuvi 660 pauses the music when giving voice directions.


I work only a few miles from my home, in a town of 6,000 people, so I don’t exactly need my nuvi when I go to work, but there it is, every day. And it’s great having it stream over my car stereo speakers, which brings me to the…

FM Transmitter

This is another feature some people have griped about, and it does seem a little weak in terms of power. Many people have reported problems with vehicles that have a rear antenna, saying it is too far away from the nuvi to get a decent signal. I haven’t had much trouble with this feature, even though my antenna is embedded in my rear windshield. Granted, I’m driving a Toyota Camry and not a stretch limo, but it hasn’t been much of a problem for me.


I’m also quite pleased with the Bluetooth feature. It worked with my phone, even though it isn’t listed by Garmin as a compatible model.  And it took two tries, but on the second it even grabbed my phone book.

The microphone however, leaves a lot to be desired. The sound quality is horrible. I’m going to pick up an external microphone and give that a try, though I hate the idea of wires.


The nuvi 660 comes with a traffic receiver with three months of free service. After that, 15 months runs $60. The service is automatically activated the first time you receive an FM traffic signal while operating the nuvi connected to the traffic receiver (which is part of the 12V power adapter). I haven’t had a lot of time in the city yet to try out this feature, but hope to amend this review in the near future with more info on the traffic receiver.


The mount is very well designed. If you mount it squarely on a clean windshield, you’re going to have a heck of a time removing it!

My nuvi has locked up on me once, and I was pleased to discover an easy to access reset button underneath the antenna. And it didn’t even lose any data.

Click here to compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 660

What’s not to like

Well, there’s not a lot. The worst thing in my mind? Once I hit the power button, it takes my unit 26 seconds to load maps and get past the splash screen. You could quibble a little about the FM transmitter, internal microphone and the fact that routing is limited to one via, but in the end, this is a rock solid unit.

More Garmin nuvi 660 reviews

I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some

Other Garmin nuvi 660 resourcesNuvi_660_menu_screen

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 660 at these merchants:

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.




    • justin woods says:

      hey if u figured out how to do that i have recently bumped into that situation over xmas please call me and let me know

  2. Call Garmin, but I think your only option is to send it back to them.

  3. first 660 was a disaster, replacement really good, albeit a bit slow to fire up. samsung phone occasionally drops out, & some of the mapping is off, but nothing too serious. Would really like to see much expanded [unlimited] ‘route via’ & also backtrack to nominated destination feature. Overall an exellent unit that could be improved with recommendations made.

  4. Robert,
    Ask the seller for the Garmin lock pin, location, or a refund on the stolen GPS. I’d hope it’s not easy to unlock the GPS without the pin or security location. Perhaps I should record the serial # of my Garmin so that if it’s stolen I can report it to Garmin and hope they don’t unlock it for whoever sends it in?

  5. Robert,
    Ask the seller for the Garmin lock pin, location, or a refund on the stolen GPS. I’d hope it’s not easy to unlock the GPS without the pin or security location. Perhaps I should record the serial # of my Garmin so that if it’s stolen I can report it to Garmin and hope they don’t unlock it for whoever sends it in?

  6. Clarence Thomas says:

    My Garmin was stolen today out of my vehicle at Bayside High School in Va Beach, while in a church service. That sucks right! But I had my Garmin lock activated so I hope it isn’t that easy to just reset the pin. I am calling them first thing Monday morning. It would cool if they could track it to the poor soul who felt that had to steal. So they could pay the consequences for being a thief.

  7. Ouch! Yeah, that does suck. Hey, please let us know if Garmin helps you recover it. I’m curious what their success rate is. I mean, someone has to buy it from the thief, figure out that they can’t get into it, contact Garmin and send it in, right? But then, what else are they going to do with it?

  8. The missus and I just bought nuvi 660’s on Monday, they arrived yesterday and so I fired mine up… I previously had a small Streetpilot I2…. night and day… this unit is so awesome I just can’t believe the functionality that’s been packed in to to it. My only current beefs are the speaker for the speakerphone blares a bit too loudly, you can’t beam individual addresses via bluetooth to the device, and even though my cingular 8525 phone book came over fine, it doesn’t seem to bring over the addresses of those contacts so you can’t use those contacts as points to navigate to. That’s kinda disappointing, but besides that I can’t wait to load some of the custom POI’s I’ve heard about… traffic camera ahoy! 😉

  9. Darien,
    That’s great. My wife and I love ours. My biggest gripe is the internal mic. I keep saying I need to try it with a wired mic, but haven’t picked one up. It’s so bad that I don’t even use the cell phone feature.

  10. Just recently brought my Nuvi 660.
    Wide screen,Beautiful and simple to use interface.
    I really enjoy discovering new routes with it.
    My only gripe is, they could have added video playing capabilities to it for such a big screen.

  11. Mike F. says:

    FYI: I just ordered a Nuvi 660 for 499.95 + tax and shipping from (members price) Sale price from 6/4-6/10 if anybody is interested. Don’t think this price can be beat any place else.

  12. justin bowman says:

    i just bought a nuvi 660 from an american guy and he left without giving me the personal code . im located in central america and there is no where i can find his home area to unlock it by location. what can i do without have to send it to garmin. anyone knows?

  13. Justin,
    I don’t know of any other options. I think you have to find him or send it in to Garmin.



  15. That’s terrible. I’m sure you’ve already retraced your steps. Do you have “Home” set? If someone finds it and is kind enough to return it, that will get them close. How about Garmin Lock? Is it enabled? Is it registered? All those things could help.

  16. Friend of mine just lost his garmin nuvi 660 during vacation in desplains, illinois, chicago subrub. Some one broken into his car and stole it. Any one know how can we track it or stop them uisng that? It’s locked.

  17. hello i also buy a garmin nuvi 660 i dident get any stuffs for it more them nuvi and holder with ladder. he show me that its workt . he gave me the kode then i forget what the code whas. so i need some help to unlock my garmin nuvi 660

  18. hello i just buy a garmin nuvi 660 and i dont know how to unlock it becouse i forget the code. and i have no stuffs. i just have the nuvi and holder with the ladder.

  19. Your only options are to find the seller or send the unit to Garmin.

  20. Good idea is to put your contact details and phone number on a picture and change the splash screen picture so the one with this text is displayed. I have done this with lock in place. This way if anyone finds and fire it up they know who to call

  21. I am trying to decide between Garmin Nuvi 680 and Tom Tom 920. I believe both units are on the same playing field. Both are great units from what I have read with regard to accuracy. When it comes to the extras both have their plus and minuses. Any suggestions?

  22. Mmmm…
    Are you a music fan? You can control your iPod with the TT (with an optional cable).
    Traffic…I’m hearing reports that MSN Direct is better than TMC. Score one for the nuvi.
    Bound for Europe? The TT has maps.
    Like more options and flexibility? The TT has the edge here too.
    Have any use for a remote (like when parenting a baby from the back seat)? The TT has one.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love Garmins. But when you mentioned the extras, these things came to mind.
    The TT 920 is new. You might want to read some 720 reviews to see how more folks feel about the interface, etc.

  23. HTH,
    Thanks for the response. I did read a review on the TT 920, as well as other units, with regard to interface issues. It seems that after updating the latest version of Navcor 7; TT had issues with bluetooth and phone interface.
    Remote and Europe maps are not important. During my research I discovered that TT 920 compatibility with Bluetooth phones are limited compared to Nuvi. Forexample, the TT 920 is not compatible to IPhone or Blackberry Perl. Just to name a few, while Nuvi were capable (according to both TT and Garmin websites).
    Any experience with the Garmin Nuvi FM transmitter? I curious to know how well it works, especially when you are listening to music or directions and a call comes in. In general, how well is the interface between the Nuvi (microphone) and car stereo (speakers) when using the Nuvi to make/receive phone calls via bluetooth and FM transmitter.
    Thanks again for the help.

  24. K,
    Just in case you have an iPhone, it’s compatible with other TomToms, so the 920 probably isn’t far behind.
    Some people complain about the weak FM transmitter in the nuvi. I have a small car and the distance to the antenna isn’t far, but if you drive a big SUV with a rear antenna, it might be problematic. I really like this feature on my nuvi 660. I listen to a lot of music and like having the MP3 screen up to show what’s playing. Both Garmin and TomToms will pause the music for directions. I assume for a call as well.
    I don’t use the Bluetooth due to the bad sound quality on the mics (like an echo chamber for the person talking to you). I haven’t heard one yet that sounds good and I’ve tested TT and Garmin on this score.
    Hope that helps.

  25. Wanted to say thanks for the great info on this website and the folks that helped me with my decision. I purchased the Nuvi 680 and am extremely happy with it. The unit is accurate and the travel kit is great, especially the hands free and FM transmitter options. Works great!!!
    As I was playing with the unit, I truly enjoy changing the vehicle icons. Any idea how I can get the BMW icon? I was online looking for the .srf for the BMW vehicles but all I got was the software to customize. Don’t want customize, just looking for the icon for a BMW. I also visited Garmin website, was able to see the BMW vehicles’ icons but was not able to download. Appreciate any help anyone can provide.
    Thanks again for the help.

  26. Glad you’re enjoying the nuvi. Re: icons…
    This page has instructions, but I haven’t seen a BMW icon…

  27. bigtymer562 says:

    i bought a garmin nuvi 660 and it is locked and i cant find the guy now I wonder if it is stolen what should I do

  28. bigtymer562, I think you are out of luck. If you paid with a credit card, you could dispute the charge. And send it back to Garmin to return to its owner. Of course I did see someone say that it would take less than a day to go through all possible 4 digit combinations.

  29. I recently brought a nuvi660 and I am unable to pair my Motorola V3 (verizon wireless)with the device. Please help

  30. Anindya,
    First of all, be sure you have the latest firmware using the WebUpdater or direct download…
    Then if it still doesn’t work, contact Garmin support to let them know that model doesn’t work.

  31. Discovered a lower price that appears to be legit. See link below.
    Thank you,

  32. Thanks Bob!

  33. Own a Nuvi too, love it, but if this is a GPS unit, where can I track it’s movements, as in my teenage son on my car? (sneaky mom)

  34. Missy, the 660 doesn’t record tracks. The 700 and 800 series do. This is a new feature for nuvis.

  35. Found Garmin nüvi 660 GPS for $349.99 on 1/30/2008 on

  36. My experience using the Garmin 660 was a little disappointing the other day.
    I drove over 40 miles to meet up with some friends in Winchester Virginia for dinner. The seafood restaurant happened to be closed so we decided to use the Garmin to search for other seafood restaurants in the area. The Garmin came up with a list of 6 seafood restaurants in the immediate area. We followed the Garmin directions to The Seafood Wharf which happened to be a Latino Supermarket. After a couple laughs we decided it would just be safer to go to Red Lobster. I keyed in Red Lobster and the Garmin gave me a list of them the closest one 35 miles away. One of my friends remembered that there was a Red Lobster much closer then 35 miles away but didn’t remember where. I phoned one of the Red Lobster restaurants and sure enough there was one less then 5 miles from where we were.
    Now I’m a reasonable guy, I figured this was probably a new Red Lobster and didn’t make the updated map POI. (my maps are newest 2008 maps, just purchased my Garmin last month) but when we arrived at the restaurant I looked at the occupancy chart and it was open in 2006!! Two years old! I was very disappointed!! To add insult to injury the next day I went to Best Buy and keyed in this same information into the Magellan & Tom Tom units and they picked up the Red Lobster location with no problem.
    I know no GPS unit is perfect but if my friend hadn’t mentioned that he thought the restaurant was closer the Garmin 660 would have us driving over 70 miles out of the way. That’s a scary thought!!
    I’m going to give the unit another chance but so far I’m very leary of POIs and only time will tell if it will get any better. PLEASE, PLEASE ,PLEASE Garmin update your POIs. It unacceptable that the other GPS Manufactures are picking things up that you aren’t. Don’t just rest on your reputation!

  37. Thanks for sharing that Carl. I’ve experienced the same thing with various brands. It often is just plain luck in that it certain areas just seem to have bad coverage.

  38. I see only one third party map update for a 660 that incluses China on Garmins Site. I wounder if there are more elsewhere or if TT offers a better selection of China Maps. Any thoughts?

  39. I see only one third party map update for a 660 that includes China on Garmins Site. I wounder if there are more elsewhere or if TT offers a better selection of China Maps. Any thoughts?

  40. TomTom is moving into China, but I don’t think they have maps available yet. Check here for maps for Garmin units…

  41. S Narayan says:

    I have had the 660 for a while now with the traffic subscription. To go over the weaknesses, it has many. Navigation for example… If I select the fastest route and there are traffic backups, it will not route me around those backups even though routing me around would save me time! There are times I have taken a detour and the delay has dropped from my original route I was on! The GPS knew I could save time, yet it did not suggest a change. I would also like to see more information on the display such as distance to destination, elevation etc. I know I am asking for a lot, but when using city streets there should be some fuzzy logic to give more realistic speeds due to signals etc. One can never expect all signals to be green on a given stretch of road. Also, I got a recent update on the mapping, but it did not have some new streets from more than a year ago. In general, the GPS part of the unit is not impressive compared to their user interface in their aviation units.

  42. Thanks for the review. It was very informative. I’m still not certain what GPS system I want to replace my current unit with but the Nuvi 660 will definitely be considered.

  43. Equipos de GPS y Rastreo Satelital – Argentina

  44. now you can see comparison price of garmin nuvi 660 update from

  45. Latast update price of Garmin nuvi 660 from

  46. Latast update Garmin nuvi 660 price comparison from

  47. I have the Garmin Nuvi 660 and now the Nuvi 880.
    Good points:
    – good maps from Navteq, but none are perfect
    – great sensitivity
    – easy to use
    – remote with voice command recognition a nice addition (but see below)
    – One can get USB charger (, tip 73), that will charge the unit while you use it in the car or at home (Garmin support says this is not possible by the way).
    – poor FM transmitter power (on both the 660 and 880) makes this feature useless in all rental cars that I have tried it on (I use the devices when I travel extensively)
    – lack of a switch to activate voice commands on the unit is a problem; one has to use the included remote (I have to carry it when traveling)

  48. Thanks for sharing that.

  49. Great review. I have 680 and love it..somehow my bluetooth is not working with my blackberry.

  50. Regarding the link to posted on 12/12/07: make sure to do your research before buying from them or avoid them entirely. They have an unsatisfactory BBB rating and numerous complaints about bait-and-switch tactics.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!


three + = 8