Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dissecting the Garmin nuvi series

nuvi 3790 group It seems that Garmin is trying to create a nuvi for everyone, but with so many models in the marketplace, they’ve also created quite a bit of confusion. So here’s the low down on the various nuvi series available in the US. I’ll go through each series in numerical order; below that is a chart which breaks them down by date of introduction. These are fairly broad strokes — for more details, see my Garmin nuvi comparison chart.

  • x0 series – Entry-level models, AKA the 2012 Essential series. The 30 series models have 3.5″ screens, the 40 series has 4.3″ screens and the 50 series has 5.0″ screens. Introduced in August 2011
  • x2, x4 series – The 2013 Essential series. The 42/44 series has 4.3″ screens, the 52/54 have 5″. Announced in January 2013.
  • 200 series – This was Garmin’s first budget, entry-level lineup. It includes the nuvi 200, 250, 260 and 270. All have a 3.5″ screen. The 200 series was the first nuvi group with an internal antenna, giving them a less obtrusive profile. Introduced in March 2007; DISCONTINUED.
  • 200W series – The 200W, 250W and 260W added 4.3” wide-screen models to the 200 series. Introduced in June 2007; DISCONTNUED
  • 2×5 series – A subsequent entry-level line added several new features, including speed limit and trip log display. Like the 200 series, the “W” models sport a 4.3” wide screen. Introduced in March 2008; DISCONTINUED.
  • 2×5T series – Updated the 2×5 series, adding free lifetime traffic and Bluetooth. Introduced in August 2008; DISCONTINUED.
  • 295W – An oddball, and not really part of the 2×5 series, the 295W is the first nuvi to offer WiFi. Introduced in May 2010; DISCONTINUED.
  • 300 series – The original nuvi series, it has more features than the 200 series. Introduced in September 2005; DISCONTINUED
  • 465T– A trucker-friendly model introduced in March 2009
  • 500 series – “Crossover” models designed for driving, hiking, cycling and boating. Based on the 2×5 series and introduced in July 2008
  • 600 series – An early high-end line, this group includes the nuvi 650, 660, 670 and 680.  Marrying a 4.3” wide screen and nuvi 300 series features, it was introduced in September 2006; DISCONTINUED
  • 700 series – These units incorporate the high-end features of the 600 series, with the internal antenna found on the 200 series. Introduced in August 2007; DISCONTINUED
  • 7×5T series – Another high-end line that adds lifetime traffic (except for the 785T), lane assist and 3-D buildings to the nuvi 700 series features. Introduced in August 2008; DISCONTINUED.
  • 800 series – The first nuvis with voice recognition. Introduced in January 2008; DISCONTINUED
  • 8×5 series – The second-generation voice command nuvi lineup. Introduced in January 2009; DISCONTNUED
  • 1200, 1300, 1400 series – This newer line is thinner and lighter than previous generations, and adds some features formerly found only on higher end models. Introduced in March 2009. The 12xx models have been discontinued.
  • 1600 series – The first connected nuvi. Introduced in September 2009.
  • 22×0, 23×0 series – The newest budget series, it includes the myTrends and trafficTrends features found on the high-end 3700 series. Announuced in November 2010.
  • 24×0 series – 5″ widescreen models based on the nuvi 22xx and 23xx series. Announced in January 2011.
  • 2xx5 series – The 2012 Advanced series, these 4.3″ and 5.0″ models bring a beefed up processor. Announced in August 2010.
  • 2xx7 series – The 2013 Advanced series includes 4.3″, 5″ and 7″ models. Announced in January 2013.
  • 3400 series – Updates the 3700 series, despite the lower model numbers. AKA the Prestige series; introduced in September 2011.
  • 35×0 series – A 5″ version of the 3400 models, albeit not as thin. Introduced in February 2012.
  • 35×7 series – One model, the 3597LMTHD, announced in January 2013.
  • 3700 series (pictured above) – A super-thin (9 mm) series and the first to use historic traffic data (trafficTrends) and have the ability to switch to portrait orientation. Introduced in June 2010.
  • 5000 – Another one-off model, this was the first nuvi to offer a 5” screen. Introduced in February 2008. DISCONTINUED
  • x7x and xx7x models – The transatlantic 270, 275T, 370, 670, 770, 775T, 1370T, 2370LT, 2475LT and 2577LT models cross geographic as well as nuvi series boundaries, offering pre-loaded maps of the U.S., Canada and Europe.
  • x8x models – The 285WT, 680, 780, 785T, 880 and 885T models each come with an MSN Direct receiver; that service is being discontinued as of January 1, 2012.
  • xxxxLM or LMT models — Garmin nuvis bundled with lifetime map updates (LMT models also include lifetime traffic)

By date:

Series Introduction date Status
300 September 2005 Discontinued
600 September 2006 Discontinued
200 March 2007 Discontinued
200W June 2007 Discontinued
700 August 2007 Discontinued
800 January 2008 Discontinued
5000 February 2008 Discontinued
2×5 March 2008 Discontinued
500 July 2008 Discontinued
2x5T August 2008 Discontinued
7x5T August 2008 Discontinued
8×5 January 2009 Discontinued
465T March 2009 Discontinued
1200 March 2009 Discontinued
1300, 1400 March 2009 Most discontinued
1600 September 2009 Discontinued
295W May 2010 Discontinued
3700 June 2010 Most Discontinued
22×0, 23×0 November 2010 Most Discontinued
24×0 January 2011 Most Discontinued
30, 40, 50 August 2011 Current
24×5, 25×5 September 2011 Current
3400 September 2011 Current
35×0 February 2012 Current
42, 44, 52, 54 January 2013 Current
2xx7 January 2013 Current
35×7 January 2013 Current

Go to my Garmin nuvi chart to see a detailed list of features and links to reviews.

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. Rich,

    I posted earlier this morning on this subject. I forgot to check off the box that says: Notify me of followup comments via e-mail this is why I am reposting, not worded exactly as earlier post made today.

    Are there maps for Chile for any of the Garmin GPS and if so what GPS would be best to use out there in Chile?


  2. In your comparison chart you list answers to features several ways. Yes, No, Option and Lifetime. I understand No (learned that from my Mom) but I am confused about the others. I assume Lifetime means it is included ( like Yes ) and paid up for a Lifetime??? What is the difference between Option and Yes???

    Thanx, John

    • Hmm, looks like I need to better define those at the bottom of the chart. Thanks for the nudge.

      No – Traffic is not an option
      Option – You have to pay extra for a traffic receiver and subscription
      Yes – Older models include a traffic receiver, but only a trial subscription
      Lifetime – Good for the life of the unit; these subscriptions are ad supported

  3. Great site but still unclear as to a couple of things. I’m in a car club and we like to do long cruises. Sometimes up to 2500-3000 miles long. I’d like to be able to create a route, showing places of interest, that I can save and email to other Garmin/GPS users.

    Does Garmin offer anything like that?


    • Yes and no. If you all have MapSource City Navigator on your computers, you can plan a route a share it with them. Alternatively, you should be able to do the same thing in Google Earth, but they wouldn’t be able to load the route to their devices.

  4. I have the 750 Garmin series 4.3 screen, looking at upgrading to the 5.O screen what would have the same or more features of the 750 in the new 5.0 screen? Do need save favorites for repeat appt visits and drive in very bad Midwest weather where freeways shut down.

  5. Rich, Thanks for all of the useful information. I have an older Garmin MapsGPS 60CS, the model without the removable memory card. It was packed with tons of great features. I haven’t used it in a while due to the memory size limitation. It seems like it had a feature that would tell you the distance to the next town or distance to the next gas station or restaurant. Do any of the current models have such features?

    Do any of the newer larger sreeen models have all of the features of the 60Cs type GPS models?

  6. Sorry for the repost but I had a typo in my email address to cerrect

    Rich, Thanks for all of the useful information. I have an older Garmin MapsGPS 60CS, the model without the removable memory card. It was packed with tons of great features. I haven’t used it in a while due to the memory size limitation. It seems like it had a feature that would tell you the distance to the next town or distance to the next gas station or restaurant. Do any of the current models (Nuvi or otherwise) have such features?

    Do any of the newer larger screen Garmin models (Nuvi or otherwise) have all of the features of the 60Cs type GPS models?

  7. Thanks very, very much for your dissection and comparison chart. After a morning browsing the web, I was about to give up understanding the Garmin line. Now I know what to buy.

  8. I don’t have a question, just wanted to say thanks for keeping up with this very helpful site. I used your reviews a couple of years ago when I was in the market for a gps. I ended up with a Nuvi 265WT which was sadly stolen from my car yesterday and wanted to see what else new was out there. Sure enough I ended up here again. Thank you.

  9. Hi Rich,

    Great site. Cant really understand the value for Garmin to create so many models.

    As far as good basic function, being solid, reliable routing, is there much difference in the Garmin units or do they all use the same maps/software to generate a route. How about Tom Tom.

    While I understand all of the other “candy”, reliable routes are most important.

    Thanks again for this site.

    • I used to say that (within a brand) the low end units would route you from point A to point B as well as the top of the line ones. Not anymore though. Garmin and TomTom each have models with historical roadspeed databases that can generally result in improved routing in areas with routine traffic problems. For TomTom, this means most newer units (they first appeared in the XL x40 series). For Garmin look for 2xxx models numbered 2350 and above, as well as the 37xx series.

      • Thanks Rich,

        Very good to know. So, would you say that there was a GPS technology breakthrough starting with those models and the use of historical roadspeed databases will be the norm for newer Garmin and Tom Tom models, or just reserved for the high end models.

        Again, thanks for providing such a useful service.

  10. Rich, what would you recommend for a gps that has an audio output jack and also mutes music while giving navigation instructions. I plan on using it with my Scala motorcycle helmet. The device will be in my bag so screen is not important and I don’t need bluetooth.

  11. Herbert says:

    Great site, thank you! I am looking to replace my 255W which still works fine, but lacks one feature I really miss: an easy way to choose a different route from the auto-generated one – a bit like Google maps where I can simply drag a route to a different highway and I get a recalculated route.

    I could not find this feature in any of the current Garmin models. Am I missing something maybe?

    • Nope, this is something Garmin lacks. Your best bet would be the 24xx series which has an Advanced Detours function…

      • Herbert says:

        Thank you, that helps A LOT, it can get really confusing to dissect the huge offering currently on the market.

        Do you know if any other brand has this feature to let me choose/modify a route like Google Maps or Map Quest?

        Thank you!

        • Many TomToms have a calculate alternative feature. Newer Magellan units display multiple route choices, but they aren’t as good as Garmin or TomTom in other respects.

          • Herbert says:

            Thank you Rich! As a European I am very familiar with TomToms, though, like everyone else it seems, I have switched to Garmin since I moved over here …

            I’ll take a look a the TomToms then. As I don’t know how this feature is called in TomToms I very much would appreciate if you could point me towards a range of models that have this feature?

  12. I did a little digging and it looks like they all have it except for the EASE. You could verify it by checking the owners manuals at and searching the PDFs for “find alternative.”

  13. Herbert says:

    It’s mee again, I’m back asking for a bit more help if possible. I never thought this could be so difficult to figure out.

    I just spent a few hour trying to understand TomTom products how to easily change auto-generated routes if needed. I haven’t been able to find this feature in any of the product descriptions or reviews.

    I am close to assume that this feature simply doesn’t exist, or I don’t know what TomTom is calling it so naturally I can’t find it.

    Thank you for any pointers!

    • Not sure what you’re asking. Can you re-phrase?

      • Herbert says:

        Apologies! I was off to a rant and venting… 🙂

        Could you please recommend a few TomTom models that have the feature to easily change auto-generated routes? This would make it easier to research only models that I am interested in. Thank you!

        • I’m just stating to test the new VIA and GO models, so can’t really recommend those yet. The most popular recent models have ben the XXL 540TM and XL 340TM, both of which have the “Find Alternative” feature.

  14. Herbert says:

    Thank you Rich, this is VERY helpful!!! I’ll report back once I know where this journey is taking me. 🙂

  15. Stan Dell says:

    Hi Rich. I am looking at a nuvi 3760 lmt. Do you know if they have any route suspend/resume, route trace, alternate route, edit route, or alternate route features? Also do any TomTom’s show elevation or any of the above features? Thank’s for any ideas. Stan

  16. I just bought the 3790, and it didnt have the chime that sounds before you make the turn like my Magellian2000. I went ahead and installed it myself with my military background with electronics, I wonder why they didnt add this feature being the tip of the line explorer to navigation, we use all Garmin communication,Navigation & it was easy to install. Being invilved with Law Enforcement it helps bettter with my add on. I cant tell you how many times I missed a turn due to my excessive speed trying to listen to thr device and my Police radio.Maybe I can contact Garmin and be on the payroll or pad it now,and leave Law Enforcement..

  17. Rich…wow, so much information.

    I’ve got a Garmin Nuvi 200W that’s pretty beat up. I’m looking to upgrade, but really don’t know which way to go. I definitely want to stick with Garmin. I average 45,000 miles per year with my job & the Garmin has saved me lots of time.

    I don’t need one that takes or stores pictures, is bluetooth capable for my phone, has pedestrian navigation, etc. I want a unit that gets me from point A to point B, letting me adjust my route for food, gas, etc. I like the lane assist & turn by turn directions (with spoken street names). The traffic service for congestion sounds good, but does it really work?

    I’ve been looking at the 14xx series & 25×5 series. I definitely want the 5″ screen. I would appreciate any help. Thank you!

  18. Paul Johnson says:

    On “T” models that get traffic data, if you’re using a third party map such as the OpenStreetMap snapshots at , is the traffic still usable?

    • I doubt it. What area do those maps cover?

      • Paul Johnson says:

        These maps are for the entire US, though there’s other servers pulling OSM data for the entire planet.

        • I currently have a nuvi 205. It is working fine and I just updated for free through garmin.
          I need it for work now and am considering getting a new one. Looking to stay on a budget less than $150. Are the advances in technology since the 205 worth buying a new one?
          I am liking the LMT programs

  19. Janell Steele says:

    Have been reading up on the Garmin Nuvi 50LM. One thing I’ve not seen addressed in any reviews, nor in the product description, is whether this model has an integrated address book–does it save addresses you’ve entered and used once (or more), so that you can return to them without having to re-enter the address info? Also, we’re looking to replace a several-year-old Nuvi 755 which has no free map or POI updates. We have a beanbag disc-mount for the 755, which we really like much better than windshield mount. Do you know if our disc-mount will also work for the Nuvi 50LM? Thanks in advance for your help

    • Yes, you can create favorites and pull up recent searches, just like on the 755. The ball attachment point is the same too, so your friction mount should work fine.

  20. Elgog Partynipple says:

    About 2 months ago my Garmin software downloaded something called Garmin Express. I was hesitant to use it because of the fear that it could brick my 14xx device. I had previously tried to update my maps but received the Dreaded “Out of Space” error during the update. Of course that means spending hours trying to figure out how to move things around to make more space for map updates. I have a micro SD card (4gig) in my device but apparently Garmin Updater ignores it.

    Today I decided to try the Garmin Express software and let the chips fall as they may. Surprisingly my maps updated as well as the firmware and other compnents in less that an hour!!! Has Garmin finally addressed the massive problems with there map updater? I think so.

  21. Barbara Carter says:

    I’m swimmy headed after trying to figure out if it’s better to buy my husband a new Garmin (he needs a map update) or buy the update.
    One beloved feature to him is the audible book player. Mine is a Nuvi 750, his – maybe 760 or 770. I’m not really finding a player except on the $600 or $700 models.
    Any charts out there showing the Garmins that have MP3 and book players?
    Thanks for your knowledge!

  22. Thank you for your post and this blog site. It’s very helpful.

  23. Graham Nairn says:

    I have a Nuvi 3400 and would like to know how it handles resuming a stored route at the current location if the unit powers down at a stop along the route when the external vehicle power supply is turned off or should it be left on with internal battery.

  24. Steve Gaddis says:

    Just ordered a 2595LMT. Garmin says it is not compatible with Garmin TOPO Maps. I would like to put the 24K West TOPO I have on this unit. Do you know how to convert the TOPO maps so they are compatible?

    I wonder if the issue is \Map vs \Garmin folder. I installed 24K TOPO on my 60CSX SD card. It created the normal gmapsupp.img file in \Garmin folder.
    Idea: Put my 60CSX SD card in the 2595 and see if I can use it. If not rename the folder from \Garmin to \Map and try that.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    • Steve Gaddis says:

      Received the 2595LMT and did a little experimenting. I copied the \Garmin folder with the gmapsupp.img file onto a new SD card from the 60CSX. Put it in the Nuvi 2595LMT and everything worked. Just have to go to Maps and select the one i want to use. Display of the TOPO24K leaves a little to be desired but it does give me all the BLM and logging roads which is what I wanted. No need to use it off road with the 60CSX available.

  25. Bill Hutton says:

    How does one tell what series he has. Have a Garmin nuvi have no idea what series it is. Got from my brother that passed last week. On the bottom is E11 with a circle around it and also 10R-023994


  26. Looking for up to data and models, now 12-2016


  1. […] Dissecting the Garmin nuvi series – GPS Tracklog – May 24, 2010  · It seems that Garmin is trying to create a nuvi for everyone, but with so many models in the marketplace, they’ve also created quite a bit of confusion. […]

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