Sunday, March 18, 2012


Garmin nuvi 205W review


Hands on with the Garmin nuvi 2×5 series — the best entry level GPS on the market

UPDATE: The nuvi 2×5 series has been officially discontinued. For current recommendations, see our auto GPS buyers guide.

The Garmin nuvi 205W is one of Garmin’s entry level navigators and, as part of the nuvi 2×5 series, it’s loaded with features previously unavailable in the nuvi line or found only in high-end models. More about that in a moment; first the basics. The 205W sports a 4.3" wide touch screen (hence the "W"), and includes pre-loaded maps of the entire U.S. except Alaska. It does not feature text-to-speech, so you’ll hear "drive one-half mile, then turn left" instead of "drive one-half mile, then turn left on Oak Street."

Related units

  • Step up to the nuvi 255W for text-to-speech and maps of the entire U.S. and Canada
  • The nuvi 205 and nuvi 255 mimic the feature set of the 205W and 255W, albeit with a smaller, 3’5" screen

Regardless of which member of the 2×5 series you choose, you’ll have a winner. Read on to see why. And if you want to compare these to other models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart.

Advanced features found on the Garmin nuvi 205W

None of the features below are found on this unit’s predecessor, the Garmin nuvi 200W.

Redesigned map screen

New to the map screen are the direction of and distance to next turn indicator in the upper left corner of the screen, which when pressed brings up a detailed turn preview as the unit speaks the next turn instructions. Moving this to the upper left freed up the bottom left data field which now shows your current speed. You can see all this in the screen shot below.


Speed limit

Speed limit icons display the speed limit for many roads, as shown above. I really like the proximity of this to the current speed display.

Trip log display

Trip log, or as I prefer to call it ;-), tracklog display, can show where you’ve been and can be downloaded to your computer (tracklogs can be cleared and the feature disabled for those of you with something to hide!). The tracklog is the thin blue line trailing behind the car / current position icon, in the screen shot above.

Recent cities and streets

This feature was first seen on the nuvi 700 series. Tap the folder icon, as shown below, and a list of recent entries comes up.



Where am I?

This emergency location feature provides your exact latitude and longitude coordinates, the nearest address and intersection, and the closest hospitals, police stations and fuel stations.


Photo navigation

Though it’s not a feature that I find useful, you can download Google™ Panoramio™ pictures via Garmin Connect™ Photos and navigate to them.

Terrain modeling

The nuvi 2×5 series includes a built-in digital elevation model, allowing you to visualize the surrounding terrain, as shown below. Unfortunately, this only works in 2–D mode when zoomed out to at least 8 miles. The result is a nice piece of eye-candy, as shown below, but one that you are unlikely to really use.


MSN Direct or FM/TMC traffic option

You can buy an MSN Direct or FM/TMC traffic receiver as an add-on. This is often a better deal than buying a unit with MSN or FM/TMC, since the add-ons come with a full year subscription, rather than the 3 month trial included with a high-end nuvi. Physically, you end up with the same receiver.

Garmin nuvi 205W pros

  • High-end features (see above) at an entry-level price
  • Fast startup and satellite lock
  • The speaker is quite loud; I had no trouble hearing it under any circumstances
  • The ability to delete individual Favorites using the "My Data" feature
  • In addition to the above, you get a quality product and intuitive interface, as we’ve come to expect from Garmin

Garmin nuvi 205W cons

  • No text-to-speech; you’ll have to step up to the 255 or 255W for that feature
  • The power cord is not integrated into the mount, so you have to attach the power cord each time you mount the device


The Garmin nuvi 205W is a joy to use. I recommend it, or any other member of the nuvi 2×5 series, without hesitation. Garmin has set a new standard with this product line; the nuvi 2×5 series is the best entry level GPS on the market.

More Garmin nuvi 205W reviews

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

Other Garmin nuvi 205W resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 205W 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.


  1. i got a gps from a friend but didnt have the PIN for it.I did a master reset on my garmin nuvi 205w and its still asking for the pin any solutions?

  2. I forgot the pin to my garmin nuvi 205w and i am at my home location and still nothing. help?

    • I assume you’ve given it a few minutes to lock onto satellites when trying it at home? If you haven’t used it in awhile, it could take up to 30 minutes.


  1. […] Garmin nuvi 205W review – GPS Tracklog – Jul 30, 2008 … Garmin nuvi 205W review including comparisons to similar units, links to other reviews, price comparisons, owners manual, message forums … […]

  2. […] Garmin nuvi 205W review – UPDATE: The nuvi 2×5 series has been officially discontinued. For current recommendations, see our auto GPS buyers guide. The Garmin nuvi 205W is one of Garmin’s entry level navigators and, as part of the nuvi 2×5 series, it’s loaded … […]

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