Sunday, March 18, 2012


Garmin nuvi 855 review


UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For current recommendations, please refer to our auto GPS buyers guide.

The Garmin nüvi 855 is one of Garmin’s excellent voice command navigators. Updating the nuvi 850, the 855 adds junction view, lane assist and a speed limit indicator. It is also compatible with the third generation of MSN Direct services (an optional add-on), including doppler radar and flight status.

Comparing the nuvi 855 and 7×5 series

Despite these improvements, the 855 does not include all the features found in the 7×5 series. It is missing the following:

  • 3-D buildings
  • A2DP Bluetooth
  • ecoRoute
  • Recent cities and streets folders that speed searches (though these aren’t really necessary if you’re using voice commands)
  • Customizable data fields

On the other hand, the 855 has the following features which are not present on the 7×5 series:

  • Removable battery
  • Dual speakers
  • Voice command
  • Custom avoidances (avoid specified streets or areas)
  • Backup camera input

This is unfortunate – there really isn’t one top of the line Garmin nuvi. If you want the best, you’ll need to choose between a 7×5 series and an 8×5 series unit.

One other note; the nuvi 885T adds Bluetooth and an MSN Direct receiver to the 855’s feature set. Since the models are so similar, much of the information below is taken directly from my hands-on review of the 885T.

To see how the 855 stacks up against other models, check out my Garmin nuvi comparison chart.

Using voice commands with the nuvi 855

The nuvi 8xx series offers the best voice command feature of any GPS unit on the market. I covered this extensively in my Garmin nuvi 880 review and rather than repeat myself, I’ve shot a quick video demonstrating the voice command feature:

I remain impressed with this feature. Popular Places even had ‘”libraries” and “rest areas.” Nevertheless, it is much faster to enter many things by hand, though the voice recognition feature is nice for anything that would involve a lot of keypad entry, like addresses and cities.

Custom avoidances

The nuvi 8xx series allow you to set custom avoidances. Follow the link for a full run down on this feature. You can select streets (or portions thereof) or rectangular areas to avoid. The only other nuvi with this feature to date is the nuvi 5000.

Lane Assist and Junction View

I had previously experienced this feature using the 7×5 series in Atlanta, and I think Garmin has done an excellent job with it. Unfortunately, coverage is woefully lacking, as I did not see any signs of it in Charlotte or Greenville / Spartanburg. I can understand the latter, but c’mon, Charlotte is the 18th largest metro area in the country. Maybe it’s because I stuck to the northeast side of town, but I thought I would at least see it on I-85.

Other features

On top of all this, the nuvi 8×5 series includes:

  • Pre-loaded maps of the U.S. and Canada
  • Multi-destination routing (and auto-sorting)
  • Text-to-speech
  • Where Am I? (find closest hospitals, police & gas stations, nearest address & intersection)
  • Garmin Locate™ (marks position when removed from windshield mount)
  • Photo navigation (navigate to geotagged photos)
  • MP3 / audio book player
  • FM transmitter

Garmin nuvi 855 recommendation

If you do most of your driving alone, and especially if you succumb to the temptation to use the GPS touch screen while driving, I highly recommend the Garmin nuvi 855. The voice command system makes it one of the safest GPS units to operate, and it is without doubt the best voice command navigator on the market.

However, if you usually have a passenger with you who can operate the device, or have the self-restraint to not operate it while driving, you might choose the nuvi 785T instead.

Finally,a recommendation for Garmin — charge what you will, but please, give us a top of the line unit that combines the features of the nuvi 7×5 and 8×5 series!

More Garmin nuvi 855 reviews

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

Other Garmin nuvi 855 resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 855 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.


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