If you intend to be on the road on a regular basis, the best thing you can do is invest in a portable sat nav (unless, of course, you're lucky enough to have a built-in system). It reduces your chances of getting lost, helps you find the best possible route to any destination and, depending on your choice of model, can help you bypass heavy traffic. Of course, with the sheer number of sat nav models available, you might be a bit confused as to where to begin.
If you're working with a tight budget, we've got just thing for you! We've compiled a list of the top 10 best budget sat navs around!
The price for each sat nav will vary depending on where you look. We've included the original price from the manufacturer, and followed it with the cheapest price we've found advertised as of July 2020.
We'd recommend looking at places like Amazon, Halfords and Currys to get the best possible deal.
We're kicking off our list of best budget sat navs with the Mio Pilot 15 LM.
One of the cheapest sat nav models around, the Pilot 15 LM is basic and easy to use. The touchscreen is 5-inches, so it gives you widescreen viewing without you having to take your eyes off the road for long. Plus, with turn-by-turn audio guidance, you won't have to keep glancing at your sat nav for updated directions.
It comes with lifetime map updates for all of Europe, which means you don't have to worry about unexpected road changes or closures. You'll even be able to download full updates of your maps at least four times a year!
Once you enter your destination, the Pilot 15 LM will give you a multiple routes option. This handy feature breaks down your routes into the following options: easy, short, economic (great if you're trying to be more eco-friendly) and fast.
If that wasn't enough, it also comes with lane guidance and speed alerts. Not bad for a budget sat nav!
The next best budget sat nav on our list is the TomTom START 52.
This sat nav comes with a 5-inch touchscreen which enables drivers to easily pick out destinations from the search menu, or by touching a point on the map. If you struggle with lane positioning on the approach to an exit, you'll be pleased to hear that the START 52 comes with Advanced Lane Guidance—so you'll never miss a turn again!
With how much the roads change, even in the space of a year, it's important that sat navs are able to evolve. With that in mind, the TomTom START 52 offers drivers free software updates. All you need to do is connect the sat nav to your computer and you'll be able to enjoy new navigation features, extra customisation options and updated lifetime maps.
These map updates come with road changes and revised speed limits. If you find it difficult to keep track of speed limits in any given area, you'll definitely like TomTom's speed camera warnings. They'll tell you when you're approaching a speed camera and what the current speed limit is in your area. You also have the option to download updated speed camera locations for 3 months (at no extra cost).
Learner drivers will get an added bonus from purchasing this model. That's because the TomTom START 52 is the sat nav used in the driving test! By choosing one of these, you'll know exactly what to expect from the device examiners use. With 80% of all tests featuring them, this could be a real advantage.
Though the Mio Spirit 7700 LM is a bit pricier that the sat navs we've looked at so far, you shouldn't discount it so quickly! With most top sat navs coming in at over £180, this sat nav is a steal!
Offering drivers a 5-inch touchscreen, the Spirit 7700 LM boasts simplicity and style in one single package. The sat nav comes with a magnetic mount so you can attach it to the windshield with no fuss.
With lifetime map updates, you don't ever have to worry about being behind on road changes. All you need to do is connect your sat nav to your computer, install the MioMore software, and you'll get receive update notifications.
The Spirit 7700 LM makes use of real data from other drivers in order to optimise your journeys, reducing the chances of you having to deal with heavy congestion. And with Parking Assistance, you can find your nearest car park as soon as you're within 1 km of your destination. No more hoping you can park on a pavement and get away with it!
The more you use the Spirit 7700 LM, the more it starts to figure out what kind of a driver you are. Eventually, its LearnMe Pro feature will start to give you personalised routes that match your driving preferences. Pretty neat, huh?
Next up on our best budget sat navs list is the Garmin Drive 51 LMT-S.
You might know Garmin for their top dash cams, but they also know how to make a decent sat nav model. Given the price, you'd be right to assume that the Garmin Drive offers everything you'd expect from a sat nav—and then some! With a 5-inch dual-orientation display, the Garmin Drive comes with UK, Ireland and Full Europe maps.
For those of you who get slightly distracted on the road, you'll be most interested in the model's driver awareness features which include warnings for dangerous curves, speed changes, speed cameras, school zones and much more. By using the Garmin Live Traffic feature with your smartphone, you'll be able to take advantage of live traffic updates and avoid heavy congestion. You'll also be able to check out car park pricing and availability for on-street public parking.
If you enjoy the odd road trip, you'll also enjoy the sat nav's implementation of TripAdvisor ratings for travel Points of Interest (POIs), which include hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions. If you're in no particular rush, you might also want to take advantage of the Trip Planner tool, which offers up interesting stops scattered along your chosen route.
Mio is back again on our best budget sat navs list with the Spirit 8500 LM.
This sat nav offers drivers a slightly larger touchscreen than they might be used to—coming in at 6.2 inches. Inside the box you'll find a simple windscreen mounting bracket which means you won't struggle to attach it to your windshield.
As you've probably come to expect by this point, the Spirit 8500 LM comes with lifetime map updates, thus reducing the chances of you encountering any road changes or closures. It also comes with lifetime safety camera updates, which helps you know where to drive more carefully. The LearnMe Pro feature will adapt to your driving style and adjust your routes and ETA accordingly. And with 3D junction views and Lane Guidance, you can rest knowing you'll never miss an exit again!
Additional features include Parking Assistance so that you can find nearby parking spaces and Pedestrian Mode which helps you get closer to your destination on foot. If you connect your Spirit 8500 LM to your computer, you can even plan your journeys and find the most optimal route.
There's a good reason why TomTom has made it onto our best budget sat navs list more than once. The TomTom GO Basic is a step up from the Start 52, offering drivers the latest updates with built-in Wi-Fi.
Like most of the sat navs on our list, the GO Basic comes with a 5 inch touchscreen and an easy reversible mount that fits right onto your windshield.
Unlike the other sat navs mentioned so far, the GO Basic can update your maps and software through its built-in Wi-Fi. This means you don't have to worry about connecting it to your computer. As you drive, you'll be provided with intelligent routes that will help you bypass heavy traffic in real-time. The more you use the GO Basic, the faster it will begin to predict your destinations so that you can start driving immediately, without inputting anything.
As with other TomTom sat navs, you'll be able to take advantage of the 3 months speed cameras trial—giving you a heads up whenever you're approaching a speed camera. If you connect the sat nav to your smartphone, you can even have your text messages read out loud!
The next batter up on our best budget sat navs list is yet another model from the heavy-hitter Garmin. The Drive 52 offers drivers a 5 inch touchscreen with a bright display and easy-to-see maps.
With a suction cup mount, you can easily attach the sat nav to your windshield, and take it off when you park back up at home (a must-do car security habit).
As with other sat nav models on our budget list, the Drive 52 offers drivers lifetime map updates. It also comes with a range of driver warning features, including alerts for sharp curves, speed changes, school zones and much more. This is great for encouraging safer driving habits and preparation. Similar to the Drive 51, the Drive 52 also gives you the ability to locate TripAdvisor Points of Interest (POIs).
The Up Ahead feature also highlights any upcoming stops along your route for fuel, food and so on. If you connect the Drive 52 to your smartphone using the Smartphone Link app, you can not only avoid traffic jams with live traffic updates, but also stay updated on the latest weather forecasts.
Coming in at third place on our list of best budget sat navs is another TomTom model. The VIA 52 is the next logical step to take for drivers who want a bit more from their sat nav beyond the Go Basic.
Offering drivers a 5 inch touchscreen, the VIA 52 helps drivers plan the best possible routes, all the while avoiding heavy traffic in real-time. The best feature from the VIA 52 is undoubtedly its ability to connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The moment you're connected, you can make use of real-time traffic updates, speed camera updates and much more.
And the best part? On average, it uses less than 10 MB of data per month!
The VIA 52 can even be used to make hands-free calls using its speaker and microphone. All you need to do is connect your phone with Bluetooth and then put it away!
As with other models on the list, the VIA 52 comes with additional features that include Advanced Lane Guidance, free software updates (as long as you connect to your computer), lifetime maps and much more. If you use the TomTom MyDrive feature, you can also plan and save your routes from any device. Your VIA 52 will then pick up these routes the moment it's connected to your smartphone!
The runner up on our list is the Garmin DriveSmart 55—one of the best sat navs to come out from Garmin.
Before get stuck into the nitty gritty, however, we'd like to point out that the prices we've listed are for the model with UK and ROI maps only. If you'd like Full Europe maps, you'll need to upgrade (this is around £30 more).
The DriveSmart 55 boasts a big 5.5 inch display, and comes with built-in Wi-Fi that enables it to automatically update your maps and software without you having to connect it to your computer. You can avoid delays with live traffic and even stay up-to-date on the latest weather forecasts and current road conditions.
The moment you connect your sat nav to your smartphone and download the Garmin Drive app, you can look at live parking and PhotoLive traffic cameras. You can even make calls hands-free via Bluetooth and view text messages.
As with other Garmin sat nav models, you can take advantage of features including driver warning alerts, Up Ahead and TripAdvisor ratings. If that wasn't enough for you to sink your teeth into, you can even make use of a Voice Assistant feature—all you need to do is say "OK Garmin" before any direction query, and it will do the rest!
Coming in at first place on our best budget sat navs list is, unsurprisingly, another model from none other than TomTom. The GO Essential is one of the best sat nav models around—coming in at a slightly steep, yet still reasonable price, considering its wide range of features.
Offering a 5-inch touchscreen, the GO Essential gives drivers all the go-to features expected from a sat nav, from lifetime maps to lifetime traffic updates, and then some! With built-in Wi-Fi, you can easily plan your journeys around heavy traffic. You don't even have to connect your GO Essential to your computer for updates! Drivers can also make use of advance warnings on approach to speed cameras with TomTom's 6 months speed cameras trial feature.
Compatible with Siri and Google Now, you can ask your sat nav to plan journeys without having to lift a finger! And with hands-free calling available, you don't have to worry about the temptation of using your phone in the car.
As with other TomTom models, you can discover and plan your journeys using the Road Trips feature. Additionally, if you're planning on taking a particularly complex trip, you can carefully create the best possible route (whether that's short, long or economical) using the TomTom MyDrive feature.
You can even use it to find and book places to stay and eat with TripAdvisor!
And there you have it—our complete list of best budget sat navs! Whichever model you choose, it's sure to be a worthy investment. If we have, or haven't, mentioned a sat nav model you use, let us know in the comments!
Keep your eyes peeled on the PassMeFast blog for more top 10 lists!