The annual refresh of Garmin’s GPS includes 10 models as part of their Essential Line of devices. Like 2013, the 2014 line includes a series of GPS devices priced on the lower end with the functionality that most GPS owners want. These are called the Garmin Nuvi 55, 55LM, 55LMT, 56, 56LM, 56LMT, 65LM, 65LMT, 66LM, 66LMT.
Garmin continues to stick to the same naming standards. Where you see LM as part of the model, that one has lifetime map descriptions. When you see LMT that one gets lifetime map updates plus a lifetime traffic subscription. So the difference between all these units is size, map updates and coverage. There is no 4.3 inch GPS as part this year’s series so it looks like Garmin has abandoned the 4.3 inch diagonal screens which makes sense as the price points between 4.3 and 5.0 inch screens are very slight. The Garmin Nuvi 55 and 56 models have a 5.0″ diagonal screen. The 56 and 66 include maps for Canada and the US. The Garmin Nuvi 55 and 66 have just the lower 49 states of the US.
Personally, I never had use for the lifetime map updates as I found that you will likely purchase a new GPS before it’s time to update the maps. GPS models are like any other technology. And for traffic, this only works well in large metropolitan areas so if you live in a rural area, skip that feature.
We’ll discuss mounting options in a bit. First I wanted to be sure that if you have one of the LMT units with traffic, don’t lose the cable. Your traffic subscription is tied to the actual cable itself. If you lose your cable, you will need to replace with a very expensive traffic charger. A plain car charger will not provide you with traffic, you need to buy the model with traffic incorporated into it.
In the box is the usual Garmin offerings which is a suction cup mount, adhesive disk and a charger. All of these units come with a cradle which snaps onto the back of the GPS for a tight hold. The cradle has a 17mm socket on the back and can be adapted to many alternative mounts by simply pulling the cradle off the suction cup mount that comes with your unit. The mounting kit in the box also includes an adhesive mounting disk. This is particularly useful for states like California and Minnesota where mounting to a windshield is not legal and you need to mount it elsewhere. We wrote a detailed article on these states and you can read it here.
The suction cup mount that comes with this series is very basic. There are many alternative mounts to the suction cup which we find to be very marginal in terms of reliability. We have used and can endorse the Arkon suction cup mount which is long enough for both the 5 and 6 inch models. The mount comes with a 2-year warranty from the manufacturer as well as a replacement dash disk. Unlike the Garmin suction cup mount, this one has an adjustment feature halfway down to permit greater freedom of adjustment versus the OEM mount.
A very popular mount made for the Garmin Nuvi series is the Garmin Portable Friction Mount which has a 17mm ball which you can snap the cradle onto. We wrote an in-depth review of this mount which you can read here. That’s the mount shown in the photo that accompanies this article.
I continue to be amazed at the number of cup holders that are present in my SUV. I cannot possibly drink that many bottles of water nor can the passengers that ride in my car. Why not use one of these spare cup holders to mount your Nuvi? We wrote a detailed article on cup holder mounts previously. The cup holder mount for the Nuvi is made by a company named Arkon and it features a base that expands to the contour of your car’s cup holder. These place your Nuvi at a good location for viewing. for GPS reception, we find these work best with a sunroof as depending upon the location of your cup holders, it may be challenged to see the satellites in the sky.
We like car vent mounts a lot and Garmin offers a good one. Finally coming out with a vent mount of their own a few years back, Garmin’s vent mount is very well made. Unlike many of their competitors, Garmin saw the need for a vent mount with a clamp on the back if it. This means these mounts will fit horizontal and vertical vents. While it costs a bit more than the competitors, it’s worth the extra for a well made mount that you can easily install and remove.
On the motorcycle, the best manufacturer from our experience is RAM Mounts. RAM makes custom cradles for the Garmin Nuvi 55 and 56 series. You can combine this with the RAM Handlebar Mount to create an extremely secure mount for your GPS to fit bars up to 1.25 inches diameter. For the 65 and 66 series, RAM offers some very well made mounts for smartphones and tablets that utilize spring-loaded tension grips and one of those models fits this line of GPS. We discussed RAM’s X-Grip line in a previous article which can be read here. RAM offers the RAM Handlebar Mount with Universal X-Grip IV Holder which includes the mount and cradle. The cradle opens large enough to accommodate 3.7 inch (65 and 66 series) width of the GPS. The mount fits handlebar diameters to 1.25 inches.