Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garmin nuvi 54LM

Garmin nuvi 54LM reviewThe Garmin nuvi 54LM is one of the company’s 2013 Essential series models, and while considered an entry-level device, it includes features such as speed limit display, junction view and lane assist – things that were relegated to high-end models not that long ago. It’s a great choice for someone who needs a basic navigator without the bells and whistles, and it’s got an extra-large 5″ display to boot. It also comes with preloaded maps of the US and Canada and includes lifetime map updates.

Related units

  • Drop down to the Garmin nuvi 54 for all the 54LM’s features, minus the lifetime map updates
  • The Garmin nuvi 52LM drops the maps of Canada and Alaska, offering only a 49 state map set
  • Or pick to the 44LM to get the 54LM’s feature set in a model with a 4.3″ screen
  • To see how the 54LM stacks up against other models, use this compare Garmin nuvi chart

NOTE: Much of the following is adapted from my hands on review of the nuvi 52LM, which is exactly the same except that it only includes maps of 49 states.

What’s new?

The 54LM updates last year’s nuvi 50LM. Here’s what’s new:

Processor upgrade?

There’s not a whole lot new on the nuvi 54LM compared to the previous generation 50LM. I did notice a snappier response in testing the 2013 Essential seriesthough, so it’s quite possible they’ve beefed up the processor a bit.

New style mount

There’s a new style mount; here’s a short video demonstrating it…

New interface style

Garmin has also polished the interface a bit, as you can see below:

Garmin nuvi 54LM main menu

Garmin nuvi 54LM main menu

Garmin nuvi 54LM Where To menu

Garmin nuvi 54LM “Where To?” menu

What’s missing?

Why would you move up to one of the Advanced or Prestige series units? To get any of the following features:

  • Traffic (you cannot use a traffic receiver with the Essential series)
  • Multi-destination routing (with the Essential series you can only add a single via point)
  • The Advanced and Prestige series allow for extensive customization of the Where To screen
  • Maps of Mexico
  • Ability to clear the Trip Log (shown below; you can hide it but the only way to clear it is to do a factory reset and clear all user data)
Garmin nuvi 54LM trip log

Garmin nuvi 54LM trip log (the thin blue line shows where you’ve been)

There are many other features found on the Advanced and Prestige series, but these are some of the more basic ones. The remaining differences are covered in my reviews of those models.

Other Garmin nuvi 54LM features

More data

You can shift the data fields to the right and get two additional fields by selecting Settings > Map (scroll down) > Map Data Layout > More Data.

Garmin nuvi 54LM more data

The “more data” map layout

Lane Assist

This feature shows you which lane to be in for upcoming turns, as shown  in the upper left portion of the image below.

Garmin nuvi 54LM lane Assist

Lane Assist on the Garmin nuvi 54LM

Junction View

This split screen view pops up for many limited access highway exits. Note that the junction view images are generic and not the photo-realistic ones found on more advanced models.

nuvi 54LM junction view

Junction View

Garmin nuvi 54LM pros

  • 5″ screen
  • Lifetime map updates
  • Lane assist and junction view
  • Speed limit display
  • Speedy processor
  • Includes maps of the entire US and Canda

Garmin nuvi 54LM cons

  • While you can hide the trip log the only way to clear it is with a hard reset


Highly recommended. The only trouble I had testing the Essential series was that it wouldn’t connect to the computer once. But after I used it in the car, I was able to bring it in and connect it with no problem. This is a basic navigator but it has all the features most people will need. An improved mounting system and faster processor mark the most significant updates since the nuvi 50LM.

More Garmin nuvi 54LM reviews

I’ll be posting links to other reviews as they show up.

Other Garmin nuvi 54LM resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 54LM 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. Purchased a 54LM Essential series and am told why I can’t add more than one waypoint to a route is because this model is classed ‘Entry level’ therefore I cannot see the point of the waypoint feature on this model.
    I purchased this model to replace my old 250 thinking I would be getting the ability to add waypoints yes they said but not saying it will only take one. On the basis of this the only advantage is the larger screen, Lane change inset, and spelling correction without having to delete the whole word. Original price £219.99 sale price £119.99. I think the packaging should state this unit is classed ‘Entry level’ featured. or This unit will only accept one waypoint entry. Not find this out after purchase and through Garmin Southampton UK. Not happy knowing its entry level. Perhaps the original price reflects the term ‘Rip off Britain’.

    • I agree, Robert. I bought one yesterday, and will be returning it today. It has already tried to direct me to access a motorway heading north by a junction that was south-only, it doesn’t recognise the existence of my home address (which has been there for decades and was fine on my old Nuvi 200), the pronunciation of streets and placenames is almost unintelligible sometimes, you can’t delete favourites other than one at a time, and “clearing all user data” as per the manual (which you have to access online, they don’t provide one) doesn’t delete favourites either. Worse, it actually reset the favourites to include all of them as per my PC backup – I had to plug it into my PC and access the unit directly to delete the .gpx files in order to ACTUALLY remove my data.
      It’s easy enough to use, the display’s fairly decent, and the build quality is good, but it really is a let-down in terms of actually doing its job.

      • .Hi Dave thanks for your input you obviously have my thoughts its a crappy overprice model.
        I expected more than ‘Entry level ‘ seeing a rrp of £219.99 expecting multi way point facility only to find out that is not the case finding on Amazon a model which has that facility at a rrp of around £195.99 and on sale at £95 or thereabouts. The higher priced of the two was one fundamental point of taking on the sale price of £119.99 thinking it had all its ‘Whistles and Bell’s but find it has a comb wrapped in tissue paper to give crap performance of the ‘Unfinished syphony’. Yes one can purchase a caravan/lorry sat nav but that may not have what I want and is priced more than I care to pay over £300 and close to £400. My first model had to be returned due to software fault and got third degree before Halfords agreed to swap it. The second one took us in two loop routes in France getting stuck on left turns and up a slip road the wrong way plus attempting to take us through a farm track between vines, its a wonder it didn’t say ‘ At the next vine turn left’ had we obeyed, she who spoke’. I changed her to a fella at least he was clearer although did not state road names.
        Ours had to be backed up by a map book as it tried several times to take us on’ long way round routes’ and off main roads, the latter in mitigation it didn’t know I was towing my 26ft caravan.
        All in all as far as I am concerned its crap not fit for my use and over priced. Their is another facility with it for mapping out routes online Base camp, fine but you can’t download the routes to this model, not being able to do so burst my bubble of ‘How to get around way point problem’ went through with great difficulty a test route then found it could not be down loaded to this model sat nav to me that ‘rubbing salt in the wound’. I could put it stronger…oh what the heck, taking the wee wee!
        Had a wee dram so hopefully no spelling tismakes.

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