RRP at time of test: £249.99Check prices on Amazon
As you’d expect the Garmin DriveAssist 50 is simple to install, it sticks to the windscreen with a sucker pad and plugs into your standard 12V cigarette lighter socket. It’ll come on when the engine is switched on too. When attaching/removing, you can either keep the sucker mount on the windscreen, taking just the unit itself off, or take the whole thing off and keeping the unit attached to the mount. We found the latter easier, as taking the unit off the ball on the end of the mount is pretty tricky, (which is a good thing when it is attached as it keeps the screen nice and sturdy). It loses a star for not having a long enough cable, we hoped to run the lead around the top of the windscreen so it was out the way, but doing so meant the unit was then out of reach from the driver’s seat. We settled for having it in the middle of the windscreen with the lead dangling down, not ideal if you’re going to be using one constantly but not a problem for single journeys.
Ease of use ★★★★☆
There’s a button on the back to turn it on and off and a slot for the SD card, once that’s in and the unit’s on, it’s ready. The interface is pretty straight-forward on the 5" screen, you basically navigate your way around with the touch-screen buttons on the bottom of the screen. Once you’ve selected your destination, it’ll automatically find the quickest route and begin navigation. You can also switch the screen to dash cam mode so you’re seeing what’s being recorded onto your SD card. This is good if you’re not using your navigation to get somewhere and don’t need to actually look at the screen while you’re driving. If you need to lock a file onto your SD card you can do so by pressing the big ‘Save’ button on the screen. You can zoom in and out of the map by touching the icons on the left of the screen, and local restaurants, bars, petrol garages etc will all appear.
Being a dash cam and sat nav in one is a real bonus, it means you have the best of both worlds without having to plug in different devices (which you’ll struggle to do with just one cigarette socket anyway, unless you hard-wire one of them). We tested the unit on a drive from Surrey to the Lake District so had plenty of time to use all the functions. In fact, it barely went a minute without bleeping or giving directions. Forward Collision Warning means if you get too close to the car in front it’ll warn you to back off. A nice feature, but something you shouldn’t really have to use (we hope anyway). It has Lane Assist, so if you’re veering off into the lane next to you you’ll get a warning bleep. You’ll be alerted when traffic starts moving (if you can’t see that for yourself for some reason) and speed changes, railroad crossings and approaching traffic jams will also prompt an alert.
Bluetooth connectivity means you can hook your phone up to it and make/receive hands-free calls, although when we tried to connect our iPhone it didn’t actually work, and it was just easier to put the phone on speaker.
Video/Audio quality ★★★☆☆
The audio is very clear and you’re constantly being updated with where to go and what’s coming up ahead. In fact, we had to turn the volume down to mute the navigation as it was almost too frequent when driving on a straight motorway (we were on it for about 8 hours though so that amount of navigation in a city would’ve come in handy, but it was too much for a straight road we weren’t turning off of anytime soon). The alerts are frequent too, but you can set the volume and indeed which ones you receive – it’s better to have them and turn them off than not have them at all, in our view. There’s no voice recognition, which is a tad surprising given the unit can be used as a hands-free phone, but it’s not something we deem essential in any case.
Overall, it’s very good. Having a sat-nav that easily finds a satellite is always a plus, and one with a built-in dash cam eliminates any problem deciding which is most important to have plugged in (assuming you’ve only one socket). It’s on the pricey side, but then you are getting a lot for your money. We tested it twice for nine hours and not once did it send us on a wrong turn, or was it a pain to get set up, which is important. The Garmin DriveAssist 50 is one of four new sat-navs in the updated range, and this one will be hard to top.Follow @SunMotorsUK