Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garmin nuvi 42LM

Garmin nuvi 42LM review

The Garmin nuvi 42LM is one of the company’s 2013 Essential series models, and while an entry-level 4.3″ device, it includes items like speed limit display, junction view and lane assist – things that were found only in high-end models not so long ago. It’s a great choice for someone who needs a basic navigator without the bells and whistles, and it comes with preloaded maps of the entire US except Alaska and features lifetime map updates.

Related units

  • The Garmin nuvi 44LM adds maps of Canada and Alaska to the 42LM’s 49 state map set
  • The nuvi 42 has all the 42LM’s features, minus the lifetime map updates
  • Or step up to the 52LM to get the 42LM’s feature set in a model with a 4.3″ screen
  • To see how the 42LM 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 has an identical feature set but a larger 5″ screen.

What’s new?

The 42LM updates last year’s nuvi 40LM. Here’s what’s new:

Processor upgrade?

There’s not a whole lot new on the 2013 Essential series units compared to the previous generation models. I did notice a snappier response though, 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 some, as you can see below:

Garmin nuvi 42LM main menu

Garmin nuvi 42LM main menu

Garmin nuvi 42LM Where To menu

Garmin nuvi 42LM “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 add a traffic receiver to 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
  • 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 42LM trip log

Garmin nuvi 42LM 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 will be covered in my upcoming reviews of those models.

Other Garmin nuvi 42LM 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 42LM more data

The “more data” layout

Lane Assist

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

Garmin nuvi 42LM lane Assist

Lane Assist on the Garmin nuvi 42LM

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 42LM junction view

Junction View

Garmin nuvi 42LM pros

  • Lifetime map updates
  • Lane assist and junction view
  • Speed limit display
  • Speedy processor

Garmin nuvi 42LM 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 40LM.

More Garmin nuvi 42LM reviews

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

Other Garmin nuvi 42LM resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 42LM 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. We just bought the 42LM but were disappointed that there is no Pedestrian mode (or none we could find). We are returning it but wonder if you know which Garmin has the Pedestrian and bike modes.

    • The 2012 Advanced series models (2xx5) have a pedestrian mode but not bike mode. Presumably the Prestige series does too. Not sure about the 40/50 models.

  2. John Campbell says:

    Asked another question elsewhere, but forgot to ask this as well: We’ve got a 1350LMT currently and since it’s a few years old, now looking into a newer model. Will the 42LM be a worthwhile buy over the older unit?

  3. George Stevens says:

    I REALLY dislike the touch screen. Have to hit it several times and then it skips. I WENT back TO MY nUVI 350 AND 360. wILL TRASH THE 42LM.

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