Garmin DriveAssist 51 LMT-S Review

Garmin DriveAssist 51 LMT-S Review

The Garmin DriveAssist 51 LMT-S is a fantastic mid-range Car Based GPS on the market today, however I probably still would not recommend it to you. The idea behind the DriveAssist is to combine both a GPS unit with a built-in dash cam to video you as you drive. The idea with the Dash cam is that it not only can provide you with driving data to help, but also if you have an accident, help to prove who is at fault. My problem with the DriveAssist is I don't always use my GPS unit. 

If I’m going somewhere, I know, I’m not going to have the gps set up and therefore its not going to be recording. If I wanted a dash-cam to record my journey, I would buy a dash-cam and have it running the whole time I’m driving. As a result, I’m paying extra for something that I’m not going to use, which does defeat the object of having it in the first place.

Garmin DriveAssist 51 LMT-S Review

The Garmin DriveAssist 51 LMT-S is part of Garmin 2018 car gps units and comes with a 5-inch, captive touch, pinch-to-zoom display. The screen has good brightness and allows for good viewing for a fixed car GPS screen. The 5-inch screen is easy to read but could do with a little more contrast and a screen resolution.

The DriveAssist is fast, accurate, has a great interface and useful features to help you direct yourself from one location to the next. The fast processor ensures that the device starts up quickly when switch off, and almost instantly when in sleep mode. The fast processor also ensure the GPS finds the needed satellites quickly.

The interface is clear and nicely designed ensuring that everything is laid out practically and logically within the menu. It’s easy to look up addresses either by typing in the whole address in one go or by searching using town and streets and the predictive text works well by graying out letters that are unavailable as you type.

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Maps & Directions

As with most of the newer Garmin Car GPS, the DriveAssist has free lifetime map updates which gives you the ability to update the map up to 4 times a year for the whole of the device’s lifespan, therefore stopping you from getting caught out with new roads or street modifications.

The Garmin comes standard with active lane guidance, which uses a map animation and voice prompts to help you navigate better when entering complex interchanges. The interface also allows for a slide out menu system which can be used to get a list of up and coming gas stations or ATM’s or provide information such as you current speed or the highway speed limit.

The ‘real voice’ function directs you by referring you to landmarks and road features for direction. As an example, rather than saying, “in 200 feet turn left, the real voice technology will say, after the petrol station turn left”. The voice is also much more natural and nicer to listen too than in previous models.

One slight problem that I found with this GPS takes place on a roundabout where the device just gives you the exit number whereas it would easier to get more of a direction – “take the third exit, which actually translates into going straight even though I was expecting to turn right”

The built-in speaker is good, but it’s not perfect and you defiantly cannot listen to the driving instructions and have the car roof-top down or the windows down. This also applies to the voice-control function which does work well however you need to make sure that there is little, or no background noise and you have not placed your GPS device too far away from you otherwise you’re going to have to shout.

The voice control makes sense as it means that you don’t have to take your hands of the wheel or your concentration off the road to enter an address into the device.

The live traffic updates which used to only be seen in the premium models are now free in this model. The service uses Bluetooth to connection to your smartphone and access the internet to update real-time traffic info. This system works well, however is not perfect and I have been stuck in traffic jams that the GPS device did not pick up until I was stuck for a while.

With nearly all of the mid-to-premium Garmin GPS’s, a smartphone link is available which can connection your smartphone to your GPS device allowing you not only to sync your mobile to the GPS device for hands-free calling, but also guide you back to the location of your car.

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In navigation mode, the screen in clear and graphics allow you to easily follow the directions. The satellite function also works well by giving you a bird’s eye view of what to expect in any difficult junction or intersections. The navigation mode also allows you to see speed limits, speed warning and speed camera alters which have been pre-loaded and are up date-able.


Overall, it’s a decent car GPS that works well. The dash-cam feature works well given it uses an incident detection G-sensor that automatically saves video footage on impact. The problem is that I just don’t think I would use it.

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