Professional buying guide – Find the best RV GPS in 2016
If you don’t have the time to look up information online about the best RV GPS units, this short paragraph will be your best bet for finding the navigation system you need. By reading about various models mentioned by user feedback, expert websites, and about their reliability tests, we came to the conclusion that the Garmin RV 760LMT is the product you should consider if you want nothing but the best. The 7 inch display is large enough for you to see the information displayed with great ease, and the screen quality is another guarantee for that. One of the most important features of this unit is its update system that basically keeps you up to date with maps and essential information without a time limit. When you travel by RV, information on the parks available and the existing restrictions is mandatory, so it is a great thing that this model from Garmin is capable of supplying you with all this RV related data that is fed to you as you travel. If the Garmin RV 760LMT is temporarily unavailable, you can safely go for the Magellan RoadMate RV9145-LM as it came in a close second in our search for the best RV GPS units.
The best RV GPS helps people who travel to new places for work or pleasure to make the most of every journey. The GPS just requires you to put in your destination, then it can plot a route, issue turn-by-turn directions that are spoken out loud, or show the driving progress along the route. It can serve as a personal navigation device that enables you to select your routing preferences, which can include the fastest travel time, shortest distance, or even those routes without toll roads. You can also get special routing options, which help cyclists avoid main pedestrian thoroughfares and highways, along with appropriate routes without any one-way traffic restrictions.
Some RV GPS devices let you save money on fuel by giving you the most fuel-efficient route to a specific destination. Most models help you locate a range of different points of interest (POI), which can include gas stations, hotels, ATMs, tourist attractions and much more.
The best RV GPS units currently available
|The best models||Garmin RV 760LMT GPS Navigator||Magellan RoadMate RV9145-LM||Garmin RV 760LMT with Backup Camera||Rand McNally RVND 7730 LM||Magellan RoadMate RV9165T-LM||Rand McNally TripMaker RVND 5510|
|Display size||7 inch||7 inch||7 inch||7 inch||7 inch||5 inch|
|Display resolution||800x480 pixels||800x480 pixels||800x480 pixels||800x480 pixels||800x480 pixels||480x272 pixels|
|Map updates||Free lifetime updates||Free lifetime updates||Free lifetime updates||Free lifetime updates||Free lifetime updates||Available at a cost|
|Trafic updates||Free lifetime updates||No||Free lifetime updates||No||Free lifetime updates||No|
|Customized RV Routing||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Connectivity options||Bluetooth and Smartphone Link||USB||Bluetooth and Smartphone Link||Wi-Fi||Bluetooth||USB|
|Extra features||Hands free calling||Highway Lane Assist||Wireless Backup Camera||Advanced Lane Guidance||Hands free calling||Advanced Lane Guidance|
|More info||Full review||Full review||Full review||Full review||Full review||Full review|
What does a RV GPS do and how/when does it help you?
Unlike paper maps that offer no level of interactivity at all, the best RV GPS enables vehicle travelers to take much more exciting journeys. Delivering in-dash infotainment potentials, a GPS allows you to travel anywhere for work or play and not have to stop every now and then to ask for directions, get a map or just hope the directions you were given can really take you to a place of appointment.
A GPS simplifies road travel to an unknown or unfamiliar destination. It employs advanced navigation technology to plot a most practical and often cost-saving route to the destination you put in. Most models even deliver voiced turn-by-turn directions just like a solicitous friend who knows the area really well and who just happens to be in the car with you. This type of gear can also show the road you’ve travelled, letting you know how much you’ve covered and how far you still need to go before arriving at your destination. There won’t be unexpected surprises such as a building that’s not supposed to be there, or ongoing construction instead of a landmark you had been told to watch out for.
Readily serving as a personal navigation device, a GPS lets you use routing you really want to utilize, taking into consideration your specifications on the least distance to get to the destination or the least amount of time to get there. It can even save you some money by suggesting routes without any toll roads.
Cyclists will surely appreciate routing recommendations that bypass highways and main thoroughfares where people could be going to and fro endlessly. A GPS can suggest the right routes to take that are not specified for one-way travel only.
Some models also save on travel costs by offering routing options that you can drive on without your vehicle eating up too much fuel. And on these days of fluctuating fuel prices, who doesn’t need to save some money on fuel? Plenty of GPS devices offer a lot of information on various points of interest (POI) such as ATMs, hotels, fuel stations, tourist landmarks and a lot more.
RV GPS Usability
Perfect for travelers who are not that keen on using maps or who just can’t waste time asking for directions every time someone walks by, the best RV GPS makes driving into unknown/unfamiliar territory not that intimidating. It is effortless to drive to specific destinations when one is thoroughly familiar with the location or spot even without googling it, but try and do that in a totally unknown area where you don’t know which way is south and which way is north and you could easily get lost.
On the other hand, if you have a GPS handy, it can be easy to locate a specific point of interest, find ones in another area or check out those within your current location. You could even finally visit that restaurant that serves the best tamale or pizza everyone has been talking about.
A GPS can issue spoken directions including street names so you can focus on the road ahead and not have to check the screen every so often to know if you’re going the right way. The device can also deliver contact information so if you do get lost, the proper route is just a phone call away. A GPS can provide graphical images of primary intersections, reality views and speed warnings, so you have more info on how the traffic is where you are going. Premium models are equipped with an FM receiver where you could listen to traffic info, as well. They even come with Internet-browsing features, weather and traffic reports, or hands-free phone use due to Bluetooth support. Today’s RV GPS models offer much more than the requisite map and directions.
What to look for in an RV GPS
Portability is what the top GPS for RV travel in 2016 can boast. This specific quality allows the user to bring the unit along in a travel bag. Some models are even sized like a typical wallet, or maybe the same size as a paperback reading material.
The screen has to be of the right size to allow hassle-free viewing of displayed info without being overly large to affect optimal view of the road out the front of the car. A 4-inch diagonal screen is often the best size for frequent road trips, but some drivers do find the greater number of details displayed on a 4.7-inch screen a bit more practical. With larger touchscreen buttons, it can be easy to input addresses and other essential data for searching.
Predictive Data Entry
It should be easy to take RV GPS units for comparison if you know which one/s allow easy entry of specific city names or addresses. With predictive data entry, the touchscreen keyboard highlights letters that match an already commonly searched location. This makes searches quicker, in the same way you would input a few letters on an Internet browser and the system presents the most commonly searched items so you can just scroll down and choose the right one.
A suction cup often comes with windshield-mounted devices. GPS devices should feature a steady, angled arm that attaches the unit to the suction cup. A gooseneck arm tends to vibrate when the car is in motion.
The device should not be difficult to put into and remove from the mount. A unit that slides or snaps into place is quite convenient.
The storage capacity of the device is important, as well. A unit that has very little main memory doesn’t allow expansion. Therefore, adding points of interest or augmenting the device with other features will be virtually undoable. When possible, get a model that stores more than just the pre-loaded maps provided during purchase with very little excess memory, if any. A memory expansion slot may solve the issue of limited internal memory, so that is something worth looking into.
A Text to Speech functionality is an audio notification that can give you the spoken directions to a street and the street’s name. It’s a helpful feature for RV drivers who need to keep their eyes on the road all the time
A Bluetooth chip allows use of the GPS device for hands-free calling. You may even be able to dial a specific point of interest to make inquiries or reservations on the way.
Usual issues with these products
New vehicles often come with GPS units. However, the vehicle buyer can also procure aftermarket devices and install them in the car. Most of the time, many GPS units are accurate. They can require little maintenance and fantastic warranties. However, GPS devices can also present some problems of their own.
When the GPS interprets the wrong position, which can typically occur when the satellite angles are quite small, this can present an issue simply known as Geometric Dilution of Precision (GDOP).
Even if you own a pricey GPS, large buildings, tunnels or areas filled with brush or overgrown trees can block signals from satellites. These impediments can block the satellite signal or the GPS receiver as it attempts to obtain satellite signals from thousands of miles away.
Some GPS models may simply stop working after the car gets to certain high speed levels. This is common when attempting to use a handheld GPS device in an automobile.
It is also unfortunate that plenty of computer electronics components don’t perform well in extreme temperature conditions, which can be an issue with GPS devices. Be sure to check out the device’s temperature level breaking point, both high and low, before forking out your money.
Sometimes, the satellite may not be able to identify the route in some deeply rural locations. This causes constant recalculation, which is a hassle.
New versions of GPS models may be released by manufacturers, and those systems may also entail purchase of new software, which means additional expenses.
Models that we recommend:
Yes, there are plenty of RV GPS systems that the RVer can choose from, but this doesn’t make the search for a great product that much easier. it is always good advice to consult reviews and buying guides so you’ll know what product to get, like these six great ones.
Equipped with a generous seven-inch high-resolution touchscreen display, the Garmin RV 760LMT GPS Navigator offers easy viewing on the 800 by 480 pixel panel. The white backlight on the WVGA TFT color display ensures easy reading of information. The system comes with free traffic and map updates for its lifetime. The updates give you information on RV-specific services, repair shops, vendors, and truck stops. It also provides an in depth list of nationwide tow and repair facilities, including the ones that offer after-hours road service.
The device provides specialized RV routing according to customized restrictions, and these may include width and length or height and weight so you can obtain routes suitable for your vehicle. The device offers smart response to verbal commands through the extra-loud speakers thanks to voice-activated navigation. It is compatible with the Garmin BC 20 backup camera.
The GPS is equipped with a complete directory of almost 20,000 RV Parks and Services in the USA and Canada.
An impressive product of the partnership between Magellan and Good Sam, the RoadMate RV9145-LM (one of the best Magellan products) is engineered for use by RV drivers. The information obtainable on the generous 7-inch touchscreen display can be controlled using the brand’s exclusive OneTouch Favorites Menu, which enables you to customize your navigation experience. You can enjoy immediate access to your favorite searches and destinations.
The extremely versatile industrial-grade extension mount ensures problem-free installation in vehicles with deep dashboards. This enables easy adjustability and safe viewing.
From the Trailer Life Directory and the Good Sam Club discount locations, all US and Canada campground locations have been pre-programmed into the device. The detailed information comes with the exclusive triple rating system, along with parking, RV services and millions of points of interest.
The system automatically adjusts your route according to your RV’s length, width, height and weight. The smart navigator familiarizes you with the route even before you drive it.
The Garmin RV 760LMT is an RV GPS with backup camera. The included BCTM 20 wireless backup camera transmits images without the cables, at up to 45 feet to the display, helping you spot vehicles and obstacles effortlessly. For vehicles longer than 45 feet, an extension cable may be required.
The roomy seven-inch display offers the simplicity of touch screen interface, making it easy to see inside vehicles of any size. Equipped with Lifetime MAPS, the Garmin RV 760LMT offers updates on opening and closure of businesses and new roads built, so you can drive secure in the knowledge that you have the current map data obtainable from Garmin.
To help you avoid RV-based restrictions, the Garmin RV GPS comes with customized RV routing. This entails simple entry of the height, weight, length and width of your vehicle, and the GPS device can then guide you as you drive along the most suitable roads, including the major ones and highways so you don’t get stuck in low bridges and other road restrictions.
The Rand McNally RVND 7730 LM RV GPS is a third-generation model designed to help users maximize every RV adventure and outing. It has undergone extensive re-engineering inside out, with fresh cutting-edge hardware, a faster processor plus three graphical user interface options. The GPS device offers advanced lane guidance, which shows you which lane to take and if you are coming to a turn or entering a complicated intersection.
The three user interface options include Carbon, Ice and Classic view, so you can select the one that works best for you. You can view a greater amount of detail on the large, seven-inch screen. The device enables you to check the weather, traffic and fuel prices where you will be journeying. It allows you to avoid areas, routes or roads according to your preference. The GPS unit ensures safe navigation with routing customized for over ten various RV types, customizing routes based on your vehicle’s physical dimensions, a feature that also includes propane restrictions.
The Magellan RoadMate RV9165T-LM GPS Navigator is yet another of the brand’s premium line of GPS models. You will enjoy peace of mind knowing you have constantly updated maps, as this device is packed with free lifetime map updates. You get up to two maps every year, updateable through an Internet connection and compatible with Mac and PC.
The touchscreen display is made extra-large at seven inches so you can view more at a glance. The patented OneTouch Favorites Menu allows customization of your RV driving experience by giving you hassle-free access to your favorite searches and destinations. The GPS ships with an ever-dependable rugged and adjustable extension mount for easy installation in vehicles with deep dashboards.
The system has an integrated Bluetooth connection so you can use it as a speakerphone to make hands-free calls safely and conveniently. Preprogrammed into the device are all of the campground locations in the USA and Canada from the Good Sam Club discount locations and Trailer Life Directory.
Delivering RV-type routing, the Rand McNally TripMaker RVND 5510 lets you choose the class and type of RV you are driving so you can enjoy safe driving on suitable routes without getting stuck on the road because of RV restrictions. It also provides RV logs and checklists so you can prepare your vehicle and the campsite accordingly prior to every trip.
The device offers a choice of eleven RV types so it can provide personalized routing information. The navigation alerts you on right and left turns depending on the size of your vehicle, with warnings on changes to the speed limit, dirt roads, sharp curves and other potential road hazards.
The GPS device has a unique “breadcrumb” feature that takes the vehicle’s trail into memory so you can navigate back to your campsite when no road seems to be in place. The Quick Planner feature displays the time, cost per mile and mileage to your destination, so you can pick which route is economical to take.
What are the best brands ?
Finding the best RV GPS brand on the market is not quite easy, since the manufacturers of this type of gear have come out with their own models and even series of models. This is a good sign that the technology continues to evolve into better, more accurate and more reliable units. The development of the GPS market has gotten more competitive as well, making newer models more loaded with greater functionality and fantastic features compared to their older siblings.
Garmin has geared itself to be a leading source of high-technology products engineered for a range of sectors including sports, outdoor, marine, aviation and automotive. For the marine industry alone, they offer specially-designed units engineered for different fishing activities, whether inland or coastal. They have also designed GPS units for sailing and cruising. The company has handheld and personal GPS receivers for the military, hiking, mapping and traffic markets.
Since 1998 when the first Garmin StreetPilot was launched, Garmin has introduced a range of automotive GPS devices. Geared for those who get their kicks out of road travel (read: frequent road trips), this lineup is quite extensive that it would take a really long time to navigate the page dedicated to it. Aside from the nuvi line, Garmin has the dezl (for trucks), the RV Trip Planner and Navigator, the aera (touted as the total navigation package), the zumo (for motorcycles) and the Montana lineups.
These versatile product ranges offer flexibility in use, so consumers can find the perfect GPS for just about any budget range and activity. The buyer can also select which features they want for the price they are willing to pay.
Magellan, a leading consumer electronics company, has designed, promoted and marketed top selling portable vehicle navigation products, handheld outdoor navigation units, and their most exciting product to date, the Magellan SmartGPS. The company holds a multitude of key patents in GPS technology, having produced award-winning, innovative and state-of-the-art GPS products from the mainstream to the crossover type. Aside from the SmartGPS, Magellan also offers the Maestro and Roadmate lineup of compact car navigation devices.
The innovations never end at Magellan. The brand now brings Mobile GPS solutions to suit the always-on-the-go lifestyle. These include the RoadMate App for iPhone. On the other hand, the Magellan SmartGPS, which brings the best of smartphones and the best of GPS, is the connected car solution made for any vehicle. Amazingly, the product comes at just a fraction of the price of high-end in-dash infotainment systems.
Like the Roadmate before it, the Magellan SmartGPS offers an unparalleled combination of safety and navigation tools to provide exceedingly useful information on the road, all in real time, which helps makes RV journeys truly worth taking.
Rand-McNally had been into publishing of textbooks, maps, atlases and globes used for commercial, travel, reference and educational applications. It was only a matter of time for the firm, as a form of self-innovation, to venture into mileage data and commercial transportation routing software. The brand has the bragging rights to being the official source in the development and creation of the North American Mileage Guide. The company is going strong with over seven decades of experience and expertise in the commercial transportation market. It enjoys wide platform support from Windows, AS400, Mainframe and Unix, ensuring problem-free interface and integration.
Rand-McNally designed the first navigation device geared for the RV market, the TripMaker RVND. Both the RVND 5510 and 7710 boast top notch routing supplemented with a formidable host of features including right- or left-turn selection, vehicle height and weight restrictions (on bridges), RV type customization plus the heavily updated Rand McNally Road Atlas for use as a handy reference when needed by the RVer.
Rand-McNally has geared the RVND series to deliver all the necessary information to ensure fun-filled and exciting trips of exploration in an RV.
Common RV GPS terms you need to know
The best RV GPS simplifies travel and locating of destinations in a huge way. However, if one is to optimize use of the device, they should be familiar with the most used terms that describe the unit, its features and operations so confusion is prevented. Here are the most common terms you need to know on an RV GPS.
Accuracy -> The accuracy of the device defines the level of how it can deliver an approximate GPS position based on a specific area’s true location.
Coordinates -> Your location on the earth or above it is referred to as the coordinates, which are expressed as a set of numbers taken from the latitude and longitude lines of reference or grid projection.
Detour function -> The detour function provides an alternative route to a given destination.
Distance -> The distance is a measure of length, expressed in meters, miles, feet, etc between two opposite locations, or simply, number of miles, feet, meters, etc. between your current location and the destination.
ETA -> The Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) is a measure of time estimated for you to reach your destination point.
Fuel Log -> The Fuel Log allows you to check fuel consumption, total fuel cost and the average fuel economy on every trip. This will require prior input of the fuel cost of the RV.
Junction View -> The Junction View feature displays the streets, intersection layout and lanes for easier navigation.
Lane Assist Feature -> The Lane Assist Feature guides the RV-er to the right lane when approaching an exit or turn, making it easy to navigate exits and intersections.
Lifetime Traffic Updates -> is a feature that employs live traffic data to help you plan your trip accordingly.
Lithium battery -> A lithium battery is used to power a cordless RV GPS that isn’t directly wired to the vehicle’s power box.
LCD -> The Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) is the display circuit through which characters on the screen are produced.
Mileage Log -> The Mileage Log shows the fuel usage and mileage for each trip.
Multiple Destination Routing -> With Multiple Destination Routing, the user has multiple ways to get to a route. This is especially useful when one has to make a number of stops midway to a specific destination.
Pixel -> The Pixel refers to a single element of display on the LCD screen. With higher resolution units, there are more pixels, making the characters on the screen more vivid and easy to read.
Points of Interest -> Also known as POI’s, these are the different locations that are pre-loaded in the RV GPS for one touch navigation.
Route -> The route is what you enter into the device in the sequence you prefer to go through to a destination. With straight line navigation, you can go from one point to another in the most direct way without turning into any side streets.
Tracback -> The TracBack feature, otherwise known as a breadcrumb feature, takes the driver’s current track log to present a route that can take them back to the starting point. This is convenient when you leave the main road and want to get back to the campsite more easily.
Voice -> With voice-activated navigation, the driver can issue voice commands for convenient navigation.
Benefits of a RV GPS
For those who’ve never tried it, RVing can seem like a different way of living life. However, for those who have had a taste of the RV life, driving around the country in an RV is the only way to live. You aren’t tied to the four corners of an actual brick-and-mortar house when you live in an RV. Here are more reasons why people who retire, on a honeymoon, or just want to get a break consider RVing as the ultimate way to spend the weekend, months or their entire life- and also why millions of American households own a motor home, RV or travel trailer.
You seldom go RVing alone.
Remember that 2006 Robin Williams (God rest his soul!) movie entitled RV? Robin Williams played Bob Munro, a stressed out executive who took his dysfunctional family out in a rented recreational vehicle to travel to the Colorado Rockies, all to rediscover old family values that had gotten lost in the hustle and bustle of their quotidian existence.
Now, we’re not saying RVing is only for dysfunctional families, but you could just as easily enjoy the positive impact of camping as you would driving in an RV with the family.
While in the close confines of the vehicle, each family member could rediscover the most essential elements of being part of the family: love, cooperation, togetherness, security and a genuine concern for every member’s welfare.
Every RV trip is just as exciting-or even more exciting-than the last.
Across the US, there are thousands of public and privately-owned RV campgrounds and parks, ensuring that RV campers have an abundant number of destination picks and places to stop.
Many of those RV parks are open to everyone and rent spaces on a cost-efficient weekly or nightly basis, much cheaper than checking in with the family in a hotel and definitely as safe as or safer than a motel. Some city and country RV parks even allow free RV parking.
You can choose from a variety of RV parks offering little to no utility hookups to luxury resorts that offer hotel-identical perks.
Most importantly, RV clubs are all over the US, and they offer discounts for members on campground and park fees, fuel, roadside assistance, cooking gas like propane, travel guides and lots more.
The affordability of RVing is top notch.
Imagine traipsing around the country without having to spend thousands on airplane fare, hotel accommodations, restaurant bills, etc. That’s what RV trips give you. Unless you have unlimited moolah, RV camping allows you to cook your own food, sleep in a warm and comfortable bed every night, enjoy all the amenities of home, and drive to myriads of locations without making a huge dent on the pocket. You can fuel up where you want, camp where you want, even enjoy a nicely cooked meal when you want. RVing saves you money on holiday destinations.
RVing doesn’t require you to pay local or state taxes.
Federal income taxes are everyone’s obligation, but RV users may be able to avoid paying local or state taxes. Many RV users have benefited from selecting income-tax free states for their official address.
Providing the best way to travel, an RV can take you to special destinations around the US. All you need is a full tank of gas, supplies to last the trip, a paper map or better-an affordable RV GPS, spending money or a credit card (of course, for groceries and such), and a strong determination to have the best RV trip ever. Happy RVing!