When you’re trying to decide on the best truck GPS to meet your needs, you know you need something reliable. The GPS is one of the most important things you’ll add to your rig.
It’s not just about reliability, though. Your budget, your experiences, and the setup of the rest of your cab will also determine what GPS is right for you. You also have to think about what the most vital extra features are that you need in a truck GPS navigation system.
This article will help you define your unique needs and learn about five of the best truck GPS options on the market today. To get to this list, I personally researched and tested over 20 products, and I’ve saved the best for you. By having this knowledge in hand before you make your purchase, you can save yourself a lot of time and money—and make certain you get the best truck GPS for you the first time.
Best Truck GPS of 2018
I’ll go into a lot more detail throughout the rest of this buying guide, but take a look at this table to understand each unit’s basic specs, standards, and key features.
I researched and tested over 20 of the best selling truck GPS units on the market, and concluded that these five are the best across the board.
Garmin – Best Truck Driver GPS
But does it stand out from the crowd?
The 770LMTHD seeks to beat the competition by offering what other truck GPS systems offer, only better.
On top of that, it provides some bonus features that might just make your trucking life not only a bit easier but more fun!
While many truck GPS manufacturers provide custom routes based on your truck and your haul, the 770LMTHD keeps you updated in real time to some of the following aspects of the road:
- Sharp turns
- Local truck speed limits and other regulations
- Steep grades
The GPS also keeps you informed of the local sunset and sunrise time based on your exact location, so you can stay on top of following after sunset regulations on your route.
Like many of the best truck GPS systems, this unit also offers several options for logging miles and hours, as well as helpful reminders to have your rig services or take a break to stay compliant with regulations.
However, on this unit, there is an even wider variety of options than most, and they’re very well organized and easy to use.
On top of that, this Garmin is particularly good at recognizing voices correctly the first time.
That being said, nothing is perfect, and that includes even the best truck GPS units. There a few flaws, and though none of them are dealbreakers in my book, they’re worth mentioning.
The most significant flaw on this device is its tendency to crash. This is a problem that plagues all of the best truck GPS systems, though, and has been getting better over time as Garmin continues to upgrade its firmware.
Luckily, there’s also a relatively simple solution to this issue: make sure your memory doesn’t fill up. The memory (not the same as storage) is like the RAM in your laptop (whereas storage is like a computer’s hard drive).
The memory fills up with temporary information that may need to be called up quickly, like recent destinations.
While having memory is a good thing, because it increases the device’s response time by making it unnecessary for the device to download information you already access frequently, it’s a finite resource. When you’re all out of memory, the GPS may crash.
To clear your memory, simply power the device off and unplug it. I recommend doing this with any truck GPS at the end of a trip, but it’s especially important with highly functional devices like this Garmin.
This is an incredible feature rich truck GPS that has a lot to offer truckers who need more than just directions, including great logging features, the convenience and safety of voice recognition, and great logging applications. Definitely my best truck GPS.
While it is a bit pricey, I would recommend it to anyone who can afford it and isn’t put off by slightly more complicated devices that may take a while to figure out. If you want an incredibly simple GPS, though, this may not be the best choice.
TomTom Trucker – Best Commercial Truck GPS
Their Model 620 6 Inch GPS made just for truckers offers top-notch reliability, but what extra features set it apart?
One of the big factors that make the TomTom 620 stand out is its connectivity.
In addition to updating via WiFi, and thereby eliminating the need to ever connect this device to a computer, it will link wirelessly (and almost seamlessly) with your smartphone.
TomTom’s MyDrive allows you to check traffic conditions, mark your favorite truck stops and other POIs, and save routes from any smartphone, tablet, or computer. This can be great both for planning out trips in advance or for switching things up on the road.
However, it does require signing up for a TomTom account, though there’s no extra charge for this.
620 Trucker by TomTom also boasts excellent voice recognition and a crystal clear speaker, helping you keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road (as well as helping you stay connected with friends and family through hands-free texting).
However, it’s worth noting that the complexity and the possibility of distraction that this system comes with may be off-putting to some of you. While the trend right now is for all electronics to become more and more connected to one another, that may or may not be what you want in your GPS.
However, you can mitigate this by clearing the memory frequently and not asking the device to do everything at once.
Ultimately, though, this unit is a triumph, bringing together some of the best features of trucker-specific GPS units, general use GPS units, and connected electronics like smartphones and laptops.
As one of the smartest and most connected GPS navigation systems out there, this unit has a lot to offer the savvy trucker who prefers planning things out well in advance and staying connected to friends and family while driving.
However, it’s not as responsive at the moment and lacks some logging features, so it may not be the best choice for you if you prefer your GPS separate from your social and planning devices.
I’d recommend this to anyone who has the budget to pay for it and the time to dive deep into this complex but rewarding truck GPS.
Garmin – Best Garmin Truck GPS
How does it hold up for truckers, and what additional features does it offer that other models don’t?
Read on to find out!
Let’s start with the good stuff: this is not only one of the fastest and most responsive models out there, but it also comes with Garmin’s trademark clarity, accuracy, and reliability at a fraction of the cost of some other Garmin units.
While it’s not as much help on the highway, it can really speed up and simplify navigation in the city—and you know that’s where we truckers sometimes have the biggest problems!
However, there are some downsides to this unit, too. While opinions may differ, throughout my testing experience I noticed two that stood out:
- Lack of specialized truck specific features
- Lack of voice operation
The latter may not mean a whole lot to many of you, who prefer to type in directions anyway. The quick responsiveness means that almost no time is lost when going with manual route input, and the lack of voice recognition means that you don’t have to worry about a voice recognition system that won’t understand you.
The lack of specialized truck features is a bigger deal to me, though it’s still not a dealbreaker. While having truck-specific routes preprogrammed into your GPS, as well as logging functions and other bonuses, is nice, there are other paperwork and software for that.
The difference in price between this and more trucker focused units might mean that you’re fine logging by hand.
This is one of the few general use GPS systems that I would ever recommend using in a big rig, and getting this as opposed to something more trucker focused can come both with tech benefits like the new Real Directions feature and financial ones (keeping a little more money in your pocket).
While some users who really want to customize their trucking experience with a GPS won’t be satisfied by this one, it might be perfect for those of you who just want your GPS to give you directions. It’s also great for anyone looking for a highly responsive, quick, and intuitive user interface.
On top of that, the giant display and cool features help this one stand out from the competition—but how does it compare in terms of the basics?
Of course, the larger screen size comes with a bit of a disadvantage, in that this unit will take up a bit more real estate in your cab than comparable units with smaller screens.
That being said, the benefits of the larger screen will outweigh the drawbacks for many truckers, for whom the best truck GPS is sometimes the biggest truck GPS. On top of the size of the screen, the unit also offers prime visibility in other ways:
- A bright, colorful, and easily readable interface
- Includes a sun shade for blocking glare
Of course, it’s not all about visibility. Luckily, the voice guidance on this system is excellent and clear too, though it will not accept voice inputs.
The device also has several key features that can make your trucking life easier, including automatic route adjustments based on your vehicle’s height, weight, and other attributes.
On the other hand, there is a bit of a drawback to the update and download system. The unit will not download its own updates via Wi-Fi, meaning you’ll need to download updates to your computer and transfer them to the GPS.
While this isn’t a huge drawback by any means, I’d like to see a truck GPS navigation system like this one support Wi-Fi updating in the future.
While this option lacks some of the special features found on later Garmin and TomTom models, it has some great selling points that make up for that:
- It’s available at a much lower price point
- Customizes your route based on the attributes of your truck and your load
- Overall, it is a simpler GPS to use
- Best of all, it has one of the most visible screens on the market today
All of these benefits add up to potentially make this a great choice for you if you want a big screen or you need a GPS on a tight budget. It’s also great for less experienced GPS users who want a simple interface that packs plenty of power without fluff.
It’s also one of the most affordable and versatile models that’s specifically designed for trucking, meaning that it will customize your route based on your vehicle’s size and your load’s weight.
TomTom – Best Rated Truck GPS
Is it worth the extra cost and complexity for most truckers?
Ultimately, that’s a matter of opinion that you’ll need to decide based on your personal needs and wants. Let’s look at some of the major features to see how they could improve your trucking life.
It also features one of the best incarnations of one of the top convenience and safety features truckers have come to expect from their navigation systems: voice recognition.
With clear instructions, accurate voice recognition software, and the ability to accept a wide variety of commands, it might just be one of the most seamless and versatile pieces of voice interaction software on the market.
Of course, it also features automatic map updating via computer connection (sadly, there’s no Wi-Fi updating included with this model), and even sweetens the deal by including lifetime maps for Canada and Mexico in addition to the US.
That being said, this unit does have some drawbacks. It, unfortunately, does not allow route customization based on vehicle dimensions and weight, which can create problems for some truckers in restricted areas, especially when running specialist jobs like refrigerated and hazmat loads.
On the other hand, adding an SD card isn’t too difficult or expensive, and between this system’s low cost and other great features, it’s an easy problem to work around.
While it doesn’t offer as many route customization options as I’d like based on truck dimensions and load weight, this unit offers tons of value. With its prime connectivity and amazingly accurate voice recognition, its UI is sure to satisfy the most tech-savvy truckers.
On top of that, it’s priced just low enough to serve as a true budget choice for those just getting started trucking or in need of a quick upgrade or replacement.
With all the standard connectivity and updating features we’ve come to expect from TomTom, combined with some great bonuses (especially with regard to voice recognition), this machine has a lot going for it, especially compared to other units in the same price class.
If you need great voice recognition, are seeking amazing Bluetooth phone support to stay in touch with friends and family, or particularly want a TomTom system at a reasonable price, this just might be the perfect truck GPS for you.
Now that you’ve learned a bit about five of the most impressive truck GPS navigation systems on the market today, it’s time to think about buying, using, and caring for a truck GPS more generally. How can you get the most out of one of these amazing machines?
Screen Size and Other Specs
Looking at the general, objective specs of a given truck GPS is a great way to decide if it’s the right fit for you.
While special features are also important, making sure the basics match up to your needs should usually come first.
One of the most important basic specs is the screen size. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to screen size:
- A larger screen makes for easier viewing and input
- On the other hand, a smaller screen leaves more of your dash open
Of course, which is better comes down to your personal preferences. Many opt for a middle of the road approach that balances screen size and dashes real estate.
Others, however, prefer to have either a lot of space on the screen or a lot of space in the cab.
Best Truck GPS Buying Tip
Look at the overall dimensions of a GPS you’re interested in as well as the screen size if you’re interested in getting a large screen while saving as much space as possible.
Because the screen has a frame around it, the overall dimensions are a more accurate indicator of a product’s size. The frame takes up a room just the same way that the screen itself does!
Of course, there are other important specs as well as screen size, like storage size.
Storage capacity is one of the most important aspects of a GPS. That being said, it often won’t help you make your decision once you’ve started looking at the best truck GPS navigation systems.
However, it is important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t buy a GPS that doesn’t have enough storage for your needs, or expandable storage to offset a lower internal storage capacity. It’s always better to have too much than it is not to have enough!
User Interface and Brands
While it’s much harder to measure objectively than specs are, the “feel” of a given truck GPS is also important.
Much of the “feel” of a GPS navigation system—or any other electronic device—comes from its user interface (UI).
The user interface is the software that the user (in this case, that’s you!) interacts with directly. It determines what the screen looks like, where all the options are, and more.
When it comes to truck GPS navigation systems, the user interface and the brand often go hand in hand.
Each brand has a proprietary UI that makes all their products work and look a certain way.
There’s also a lot of brand loyalty and competition in this market. While I usually recommend looking at products rather than brands, when it comes to the best truck GPS navigation systems there are some brand advantages.
While these aspects may vary slightly from model to model within the same brand, they’ll be much more different when looking at one truck GPS from one brand and another from a different brand.
Everyone has to get used to GPS navigation the first time, but getting a totally new system can involve getting used to it all over again.
To make things a bit easier, I’ve included some key information about three of the top performing brands in this industry below.
As one of the original GPS manufacturers, Garmin is known for its extremely high accuracy and reliability. Its best truck GPS units also tend to feature a lot of great extras like logging and Department of Transportation clocks.
TomTom is also known as a historic innovator in the GPS field, and in more recent years it’s top of the line navigation systems have been associated with ever increasing connectivity with apps, the internet, and other electronics.
As a newer player in the GPS game, MYH is known for making affordable but extremely long lasting units focused specifically on the trucker market.
Maps and Storage
Most of the best Truck GPS navigation systems have lifetime maps. That means that when the brand updates its maps, you can access the new maps for free.
This is highly important, as you don’t want to invest in a system only to have to pay more for map updates frequently.
Luckily, all of the systems featured in this buying guide have lifetime maps support.
However, you also need to consider storage space. Every update or new map region you add will take up storage space, so make sure you get a model that will meet your needs.
Devices that update via WiFi automatically are generally considered the most convenient because they don’t take as long to update and because not every trucker takes their computer on the road, or even owns a computer.
However, some folks don’t mind updating manually via a computer connection if it means saving money or getting other perks.
Of course, some truck GPS devices (like the TomTom 620) take it to the next level by integrating with your smartphone and allowing you to hear and write text, as well as make calls, via the GPS’ speaker and microphone. This feature will mean the world to some users and won’t be a bonus at all to others: which type of trucker are you?
Last but not least, you’ll want to consider what special features you’re looking for in a GPS navigation system.
Caring for Your Truck GPS
Luckily, caring for a truck GPS isn’t very hard. Care and maintenance essentially involve only three things:
- Keeping the device clean
- Preventing physical damage
- Keeping up with map and firmware updates
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Cleaning Your Truck GPS—and Keeping It Clean
Keeping the GPS in your truck clean can be a challenge due to all the dust, dirt from the road, and other debris that can get into your cab
Preventing Physical Damage
Besides regular updates, preventing any physical damage from happening to your truck GPS is one of the most vital parts of caring for it.
While there are a wide variety of things that can physically damage a truck GPS, the major one is heat from the sun.
Even in colder climates, a truck’s cab can heat up quickly. Because of the delicate electronics inside a truck GPS, as well as the plastic housing and screen, the devices are particularly susceptible to heat damage.
You can also store your GPS in a cooler area out of the sunlight, such as under a seat. This can also help protect you from theft.
Keeping Your Truck GPS Battery Healthy
Many of the best truck GPS offerings on the market feature rechargeable batteries so that the units don’t have to be plugged in all the time to operate.
Rechargeable batteries are great, but they must be kept “healthy” to keep your device performing.
Of course, protecting your device from heat damage is an important part of maintaining battery health, but there’s more to it than just that:
- Fully charge your device before use whenever possible
- Let your battery drain significantly before recharging
Both of these tips will help you “train” your battery to last longer, preventing overcharging.
Of course, the manual that comes with your chosen truck GPS will also include battery care instructions that may be specific to that model.
Updating your GPS regularly is the best way to make sure that your maps will always be accurate.
Depending on the connectivity of your GPS and your own internet connectivity, you may be able to download updates directly to the device, or you may need to download them to an SD card to install them.
Either way, always refer to your truck GPS’ owner’s manual for update instructions. Instructions may also be included on the device.
Always be sure to get official updates from the website of the GPS manufacturer. Don’t rely on unofficial updates as they may contain inaccurate information or even malicious software.
Just like other electronics like in-dash DVD consoles and the ubiquitous smartphone, a GPS can prove to be a dangerous distraction if used improperly.
The first is to keep your eyes on the road. Looking at the screen of your GPS while your truck is in motion can be very dangerous.
To keep yourself from getting distracted, you should only input destinations and change settings while your truck is parked.
However, it’s not just looking at the screen that can distract you. Just like sights, sounds can be distracting when you’re driving.
As such, you have to be careful even if your chosen truck GPS has great safety features like voice recognition. Focus on the road even while speaking to your GPS.
Also, speak as clearly as possible to complete the process efficiently.
Additionally, when your truck GPS’ speaker reads directions to you, that can cause a distraction in the wrong settings:
- If the volume is too loud, it can prevent you from hearing other key sounds you need to stay focused on driving.
- If the volume is too low, you may not hear the directions.
Your volume setting is more important than you might think! Be sure to set the volume with your engine running, and not in a silent cab.
Also, if you listen to music while you drive, listen to music while you set the volume.
Conclusion: The Best Truck GPS Is…
For my money, the best truck GPS navigation system on the market today is the Garmin 770LMTHD 7 inch GPS. That’s because it combines the best of two of the most important aspects of a trucker’s GPS:
- General navigation
- Tons of truck-specific features like logging and weight specific routes
I also like that it’s feature rich enough for users who have the time to dive in deep and customize their experience, but that it’s also simple enough to use that any features you don’t want won’t get in your way.
On top of that, it’s durable, and a good investment despite its higher price tag because of the inclusion of lifetime maps and traffic support.
All that being said, I know the Garmin 770LMTHD won’t be perfect for everyone, whether it’s because of your preferences, your needs, or just your budget. Here are two of my other favorite truck GPS units, which may be the best for you depending on your situation.
Best Budget Option
Finding the best truck GPS can be hard when you’re on a tight budget. If you don’t have as much to work with, I’d recommend the MYH 8 Inch GPS.
Between its huge screen and overall reliability, this GPS may just be the best in its price class by far. There might be cheaper truck GPS systems out there, but none of them offer the same benefits.
While it doesn’t have all the features that some of the highest end Garmin and TomTom units offer, it does pack a surprising amount of special benefits. On top of that, its clean look and simple operation will keep you safe and comfortable on the road.
Voice Recognition Feature
If voice recognition is a feature you’re after, whether it’s for convenience or safety purposes, I’d recommend the TomTom Via.
This unit’s voice recognition may just be completely unparalleled even among the best Truck GPS systems.
While the inclusion of voice recognition systems has become more and more common over the years and is set to become an industry standard within the next decade at most, not all voice navigation products are created equal, and TomTom’s Via is at the top of the food chain in that regard.
Of course, it packs plenty of other cool features on top of that and has all the reliability and history of TomTom’s GPS legacy behind it, too.
I hope you’ve learned as much about the best truck GPS options by reading this article as I did while researching and testing these products.
Did your best truck GPS not make the list? Have you found success with one of the systems reviewed above? Let us know in the comments, or send us a message anytime!