We’ve tested our first batch of dedicated sat navs aimed specifically at drivers of larger vehicles, including those for the UK’s large community of caravan and motorhome owners. Only one model managed to secure a coveted Best Buy award.
Sat navs are an increasingly indispensable piece of in-car technology. So much so that the driving test has recently been subject to the most radical changes since the theory test was introduced in 1996. It now includes an assessment of how candidates use their sat nav device to navigate while driving.
As handy as they are, they are often of limited use to those with oversized vehicles, such as a caravan or commercial van. These drivers can often find themselves blocked by a narrow road or low bridge, which the device would not pick up on, as it’s only suitable for a car.
Sat nav reviews – read our in-depth verdicts of every new dedicated, built-in and app-based sat nav we’ve tested.
Indeed, the problem was first highlighted by the numerous lorry drivers who made headlines having caused major tailbacks after getting stuck blindly following sat nav instructions. This led to the birth of devices specifically aimed at lorry drivers, which take into account vehicle weight and dimensions, as well as avoiding routes with narrow roads, sharp inclines and weight limits.
Manufacturers are now marketing these devices at – and creating new models specifically for – caravan, campervan and motorhome users. Most are based on existing models, but have increased software functionality to tailor routes in the same way as for trucks. In almost all instances, users are able to enter the height, width and length of their vehicle, and can browse an extended point-of-interest database of camping and caravan-related sites.
We’ve tested nine new models from a number of manufacturers, ranging from established brands TomTom and Garmin to Mio and Snooper, which offers its subscription-based safety-camera database with its devices.
TomTom Go Professional 6250
We start off with the heavy-hitting Go Professional 6250, the flagship model in TomTom’s range of devices, aimed at drivers of larger vehicles (from big cars all the way up to full-size lorries). It’s feature packed, but comes with an eye-widening recommended price of £389.99. So what do you get for your money?
You get lifetime subscriptions to both TomTom’s speed-camera database and excellent LiveTraffic system, the latter of which receives real-time traffic updates and automatically adjusts your route accordingly. On top of that, you can also update the device without the need to connect it to a PC, via its built-in wi-fi receiver.
It also doubles as a Bluetooth hands-free kit for legal in-car calling, and will even display your text messages on screen. It’s also got a point-of-interest database specifically aimed at truck and van drivers. But, as with all the sat navs we test, if the quality of its navigation isn’t up to scratch, a plethora of additional features won’t save it from a poor score. Read our full TomTom Go Professional 6250 review to see how it fared.
Other TomTom models tested
We’ve also tested the slightly cheaper Go Professional 6200 to determine whether it’s a better-value proposition. It has the same hardware and features but without the same level of live services access.
Further down the TomTom model hierarchy, we’ve tested both the five and six-inch versions of the brand’s entry level Professional sat nav device, the Go Professional 520 and Go Professional 620 respectively. These forgo the built-in Sim cards and larger screens of the more expensive models – you connect a data-enabled smartphone to it via Bluetooth to access its advanced features. Head to our sat nav reviews to find out if these will prove more suitable for your journey-planning needs.
Garmin 770 Camper LMT-D
Another premium model from industry giant Garmin. The more expensive of its two specialist motorhome sat navs, the 770 Camper LMT-D, includes live traffic updates via DAB, Bluetooth telephone connectivity and a huge database of campsites and other relevant points of interest.
Like the TomTom Go Professional 6250, it has a wi-fi connection for hassle-free updates of maps and services. It also sports a premium price tag of £359.99 – head to our Garmin 770 Camper LMT-D review to find out how it compares to its TomTom nemesis.
Snooper Ventura Pro S2700
Snooper has made a name for itself with its range of speed-camera detectors and dash cams. However, it also offers a range of sat navs specifically for caravan owners. We’ve tested the entry-level Ventura S2700 version, which is priced at £229.99. Despite its relatively small screen size, it claims to be everything a motorhome driver could ever need, with more than 24,000 campsites listed in its database, and the ability to specify your vehicle’s exact dimensions for tailored route guidance.
Other Snooper models tested
We’ve also tested the more expensive Snooper Ventura Pro S8100 and Ventura Pro SC5800, which offer the same functionality but feature a built-in digital TV and HD dash cam respectively. Does this unique additional functionality make them Best Buy models? Read our full reviews to find out.
Mio Spirit 8670 LM Truck
At the other end of the price spectrum, the Mio Spirit 8670 LM Truck makes no claims about being particularly useful for caravan drivers. However, it offers specific route guidance for HGVs, so could it prove a useful, but cheaper, alternative to its big-name rivals?
It comes with lifetime map updates and Bluetooth connectivity, and receives traffic information like the more expensive models we’ve tested. But is there a catch? Head to our full Mio Spirit 8670 LM Truck review to find out.