Sunday, March 18, 2012


Garmin nuvi 785T review


UPDATE: MSN Direct is ceasing operations on January 1, 2012.
UPDATE 2: This model has been discontinued. For current recommendations, please refer to our auto GPS buyers guide.

The Garmin nüvi 785T differs from the other units in the new 7x5T series in that it doesn’t offer lifetime traffic. Instead, it comes with a three month trial subscription to MSN Direct. The advantages are that traffic coverage is offered for more cities, and you get extras like gas prices and weather, as well as the “Send to GPS” feature.

Like the other units in the series though, the 785T offers lane assist and 3-D buildings, along with the already significant feature set found in the first-generation nuvi 700 series.

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 785T

The 785T has a 4.3″ wide touch-screen, stereo Bluetooth, pre-loaded maps of the U.S. and Canada, and text-to-speech. That means that you”ll hear “drive one-half mile, then turn left on Oak Street,” instead of just “drive one-half mile, then turn left.”

Dropping down to the nuvi 765T, you’ll get the ad-supported free NAVTEQ lifetime traffic instead of a trial subscription to MSN Direct.

The next section of this review incorporates parts of my hands-on reviews of the nuvi 755T and 775T, and discusses most of the features found on the nuvi 785T, with the exception of MSN Direct services.

A2DP stereo Bluetooth

The 7x5T series brings us the first nuvis with A2DP stereo Bluetooth, the exception being the 755T, which doesn’t include Bluetooth at all. This allows for a number of interesting things. For example, you can stream music via the nuvi’s MP3 player to a stereo Bluetooth headset. At the same time such an audio link is established, you can connect your phone to the nuvi as well.

Yet what impressed me most about the 7x5T’s Bluetooth feature was how good the sound quality was of calls made from the nuvi. It has nothing to do with A2DP, but rather with dramatic improvements in Garmin’s echo-cancellation technology. Units I’ve tested in the past have been pretty bad for the person on the other end of the call. But the sound quality using the 7x5T was quite good.

My wife and I took turns on both ends of several calls, as we do every time I have a test unit with Bluetooth, so she’s been exposed to as many of these units as I have. And she agrees with me, this one is good enough for everyday use. She even went further, saying she would use it if we had one of our own (was that a hint?). It may not be as good as using your phone or a headset directly, but it is a huge improvement.

We were able to successfully pair and use both our phones – an LG VX8300 and a Motorola V325i.

Nuvi 7x5T A2DP Bluetooth

Here’s a video showing how to pair your nuvi with a compatible Bluetooth car stereo:

Lane assist

To me, the lane assist feature is the nicest addition to the the 7×5 series. It shows up in two places on the device. The flashiest is for major freeway interchanges, as shown below. This screen appears as you approach your exit.


Just as useful, and perhaps more so, is the lane indicator shown in the upper left portion of the map screen (see below). These don’t just show up on interstate highways; I found them to be ubiquitous in downtown Atlanta.


While the lane assist feature was very helpful, I only saw it appear in Atlanta. It did not show up during my testing in the smaller cities of Greenville, SC and Asheville, NC.

3-D buildings

This feature adds some flash, but in my mind is less helpful than lane assist.


I’ll give Garmin credit for making the 3-D buildings transparent, but the feature can still obstruct navigation somewhat, as shown below.


New customization options

New to the 7×5 series are customization options for the lower right field on the map screen. Press this field to bring up the options listed below. When not navigating, the options are:

  • Direction of travel (default)
  • Elevation
  • Time of day

When navigating, the options are as follows:

  • Estimated time of arrival (default)
  • Distance to destination
  • Estimated time to destination
  • Direction of travel
  • Elevation
  • Time of day

Other nuvi 785T features of note

The nuvi 7×5 series has inherited some other features of note from the 2×5 and/or 800 series units.

These include a redesigned map screen that adds a third data field (current speed). And while photo navigation is not a feature that I find useful, you can download Google™ Panoramio™ pictures via Garmin Connect™ Photos and navigate to them.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, the nuvi 785T has all the great features already found on the first generation nuvi 700 series. These include:

  • Multi-destination routing
  • Automatic sorting of multiple destinations to provide an efficient route
  • Tracklog recording
  • Speed limit display for many interstates and highways
  • Automatic marking of your last position when the unit is turned off (to help you find your car in mega-mall parking lots)
  • A “Where am I” safety feature that gives your current location, nearest address, nearest intersection, along with quick access to POIs for the nearest hospitals, police stations and gas stations

Conclusion and recommendation

The Garmin nuvi 7x5T models are superior navigation devices and I highly recommend them. The lane assist feature and improved Bluetooth performance are the best reasons to upgrade from the 2×5 series. Regarding the 785T in particular, I can see value in going with this model over the 765T, since MSN Direct covers many more cities than NAVTEQ Traffic. Like all Garmin nuvis, the 7x5T series is intuitive and a joy to use. Garmin has created yet another excellent product, and it’s no wonder that they dominate our top ten GPS list and Amazon bestseller list.

More Garmin nuvi 785T reviews

Other Garmin nuvi 785T resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 785T 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. Instead of paying for the MSN Direct Traffic, can the FM-TMC life time traffic receiver be used instead on the 785T?

  2. Rich Owings says:

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