Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garmin nuvi 42

Garmin nuvi 42 reviewThe Garmin nuvi 42 is one of the company’s 2013 Essential series models, their entry-level line. Even so, this 4.3″ navigator is quite capable, and features speed limit display, junction view and lane assist — things that were relegated to top-of-the-line models not too long ago. The nuvi 42 comes with preloaded maps of the entire US except Alaska and is a great choice for someone who needs a basic navigator without all the bells and whistles.

Related units

  • The Garmin nuvi 42LM adds lifetime map updates to the 42’s feature set
  • Or choose the nuvi 44 which adds maps of Canada and Alaska to the 42’s 49 state map set
  • The nuvi 52 is identical to the 42, but offers a larger 5″ screen
  • To see how the 42 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 except for a larger 5″ screen and lifetime map updates.

What’s new?

The 42 updates last year’s nuvi 40. 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 42 main menu

Garmin nuvi 42 main menu

Garmin nuvi 42 Where To menu

Garmin nuvi 42 “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 42 trip log

Garmin nuvi 42 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 42 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 42 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 42 lane Assist

Lane Assist on the Garmin nuvi 42

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 42 junction view

Junction View

Garmin nuvi 42 pros

  • Lane assist and junction view
  • Speed limit display
  • Speedy processor

Garmin nuvi 42 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 40.

More Garmin nuvi 42 reviews

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

Other Garmin nuvi 42 resources

Compare prices on the Garmin nuvi 42 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. Steve Chisenhall says:

    Can I create a custom route on my computer and load to my Nuvi 42? Is there software I need to buy in order to do this? Will it work on my Nuvi 42?

  2. The one feature I expected was to be able to measure to the nearest meter. Not in 100 meter distances which is useless MY CAR ODOMETER CAN DO THAT!!!!

  3. fritz widener says:

    Valuable writing , I loved the specifics , Does someone know if my company would be able to get a sample CA DMV REG 195 version to type on ?

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!


× 7 = twenty eight