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The best car GPS Garmin ever made


There is one and only one GPS for cars that Garmin made which is absolutely the best thing they ever released, the Garmin nuvi 50LM. You can sometimes find these on Amazon used. If you find one in good shape, you might want to grab one after I explain why this particular model is so good.

Now to note, this GPS is not nag-free like the nuvi 2xx series is. There are two nanny nags in the 50. First is Junction View. This nag can be defeated by deleting the Junction View file. The second is the speed indicator. Every time you go even as little is 1 mile per hour over the limit, the speed number turns red. Not too bothersome during day driving, but absolutely infuriating during night driving because the red against the dark theme is just awful. This nag cannot be defeated. The best you can do is just dim the display.

The nuvi 50 - not to be confused with the Drive 50 (which is terrible) - is a very basic GPS. It has next to nothing for features. But it does have one thing...

...that glorious screen.

A 50 in good condition has the absolute best screen Garmin ever made. For day driving in particular, it is a godsend. Even on the brightest sunny days, the screen can be read. And it's polarized sunglasses friendly too.

That screen is what makes you fall in love with the 50. It blows away any other GPS screen, and also blows away any smartphone too because it does not glare thanks to the matte display.

A second thing that makes the 50's screen glorious is that Garmin used big, readable fonts. You can read the top green bar and top left green info very easily. The colors chosen for the main map display are also bright, colorful and very easy to read.

The 50 is the absolute best execution of a 5" display. Where readability is concerned during driving, it doesn't get any better.

All the features in the world mean absolutely nothing if you can't read the screen while driving

As said above, the 50 is really basic. It was originally released in 2012 as part of the "Essential" nuvi line, which means entry level with no frills. The 50 was physically the biggest offered of this line with its 5" screen. It has no smartphone connectivity. No Bluetooth. No Wi-Fi. No traffic reporting. No weather reporting. All map updates have to be performed wired using a USB cable.

Even as ultra-basic as the 50 is, the reason to use it is that screen. It's a GPS with a display as readable as any analog gauge on your car (if not more so) and gets the job done.

Annoying things about the 50

Aside from the two nanny nags mentioned, these are the annoyances of the 50:

Mediocre touchscreen response

The display is the most legible out of any GPS ever made, but at a cost. And that cost is touch response. Not that good. Firm, slower presses are required to make the screen respond.

Screen does not display what street you're on

This was a very longstanding complaint by Garmin GPS users that was eventually addressed with later models. The 50 was made before that time however. When not navigating, the top green bar will display the next street ahead and not the street you're on. When navigating, the top green bar displays the name of the street you will next turn on to.

The only way to display what street you're on is to touch the vehicle icon that will display "nearest address".

No way to mass delete favorites

This was a huge complaint of the nuvi 30/40/50 Essential line. Garmin stripped down the interface so much that they outright removed the ability to select multiple favorites to delete. This means removing them has to be done one at a time. This can get very tedious if you have a ton of favorites saved.

Still worth getting?

If you value a screen that can be read during bright sunlight day driving (and who wouldn't?), yes.

I like the 50LM so much that I own two.

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