Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garmin nuvi 52

Garmin nuvi 52 review

The Garmin nuvi 52 is one of the company’s 2013 Essential series models, their entry-level line. Even so, it includes many features that were relegated to high-end models not that long ago — speed limit display, junction view and lane assist. The nuvi 52 is great choice for someone who needs a basic navigator without all the bells and whistles. It’s got an extra-large 5″ display and comes with preloaded maps of the entire US except Alaska.

Related units

  • The Garmin nuvi 52LM has all the 52’s features, plus lifetime map updates
  • The Garmin nuvi 54 adds maps of Canada and Alaska to the 52’s 49 state map set
  • Or drop down to the nuvi 42 to get the 52’s feature set in a model with a 4.3″ screen
  • To see how the 52 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 idemtical except that it adds lifetime map updates.

What’s new?

The 52 updates last year’s nuvi 50. Here’s what’s new:

Processor upgrade?

There’s not a whole lot new on the nuvi 52 compared to the previous generation 50LM. 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 and 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 52 main menu

Garmin nuvi 52 main menu

Garmin nuvi 52 Where To menu

Garmin nuvi 52 “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
  • 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 52 trip log

Garmin nuvi 52 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 52 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 52 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 52 lane Assist

Lane Assist on the Garmin nuvi 52

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 52 junction view

Junction View

Garmin nuvi 52 pros

  • 5″ screen
  • Lane assist and junction view
  • Speed limit display
  • Speedy processor

Garmin nuvi 52 cons

  • While you can hide the trip log the only way to clear it is with a hard reset
  • No lifetime map updates


Highly recommended. The only trouble I had with my test unit 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 50.

More Garmin nuvi 52 reviews

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

Other Garmin nuvi 52 resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 52 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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