The Garmin nuvi 2557LMT is one of the few 5-inch Garmin nuvi products that is currently under $200. Even if you don’t dive into the limited feature set, it is a fantastic deal in terms of longevity because your maps will stay updated throughout the years and you are guaranteed the best possible route as it takes the real-time traffic statistics into consideration. In fact, it isn’t considered a priority to swap this now outdated Garmin device for something newer if it still functions properly. But if you are currently looking for such a GPS model right now, there are a few more choices available. The Garmin nuvi 56LMT is one of the new kids on the block and while it currently costs a bit more than the 2557LMT, it has a few more features.

Garmin nuvi 56LMT

Garmin nuvi 56LMT

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Design

The nuvi 56LMT is part of the entry-level Essential Line so the overall appearance is less attractive than the 2557LMT, which was introduced as a midrange model at the time. The Garmin nuvi 56LMT lacks that eye-catching bottom bezel on the bottom but it still feels pretty light and the 5-inch display makes the whole unit look pretty large. Large screen GPS devices is always good as you can read the text and map even if you are positioned further back. It has the same 480 x 272 resolution as Garmin’s older 4.3-inch models so you can be sure that all the interface elements look bigger. The included suction cup mount allows you to mount the Garmin nuvi 56LMT horizontally or vertically since there is a portrait mode.

Features

Garmin did not have any LMT units in the Essential Line in the past and the good news is that the lifetime map updates and lifetime traffic avoidance features are the same as the lifetime features present in other LMT devices. While the map coverage is only limited to the US and Canada rather than all of North America, you will still be guaranteed free map updates throughout the life of the nuvi 56LMT. So when new businesses emerge or shut down, the updates will keep you up to speed. The Garmin Express service helps keep your GPS device up-to-date and you can optionally install some custom voices and vehicles too.

With lifetime traffic avoidance, you get access to the Traffic option from the map. This adds another map layer where you can see the current traffic. There is a legend that tells you what the colors mean. You can search for traffic incidents as well so you can prepare to find an alternative route. The best feature of the traffic avoidance functionality is the automatic alerts. You will be notified by the Garmin nuvi 56LMT if there is a traffic delay on your current route and an automatic route change will be generated as a result. You can optionally switch this feature off and still get a fairly good estimate on when you will arrive at your destination taking the traffic delay duration into account.

Traffic alerts won’t be the only prompts that you will receive from the nuvi 56LMT. One of the new features that the Garmin nuvi 56LMT brings is school zone alerts. This simple feature brings up a message once your location is within a school zone and an audible alert is thrown in too.

Planning a route with a Garmin nuvi device has always been simple and it is pleasantly surprising to know how it is even easier to accomplish this with the nuvi 56LMT. There is a more universal search functionality that accepts various kinds of location queries including exact addresses, general places, categories and coordinates. Searching for a route from the “Where to?” icon has become more of a direct affair.

Once your route is good to go, you can continue driving without worrying about the screen. The text-to-speech functionality works fine and it accurately calls out the street name just so you know you are making the correct turn. But the screen shows some valuable information while you drive too. The “Up Ahead” feature was one of the finest additions to the 2013 lineup but it sadly didn’t land on the entry-level devices. Fortunately, the Garmin nuvi 56LMT and other new 2014 devices have this feature making it a lot easier to see how far away your current location is from important points of interest like ATM machines, banks, restrooms, parking and restaurants. This data can be brought up via a side panel and you don’t have to cancel your current route to check it out. If you want to see where the emergency services are, like the hospitals and police stations, you can still use the “Where Am I” feature.

Bottom Line

The most attractive feature of the Garmin nuvi 2557LMT is its support for Garmin Real Directions with Garmin Real Voice. While the nuvi 56LMT lacks that feature and is about $10 more, you get a newer GPS device that is a lot easier to use thanks to the improved search function and the convenience of school zone alerts. US and Canada maps should be sufficient for most Garmin fans and there is a cheaper variant known as the Garmin nuvi 55LMT, which has the same impressive set of features but covers only the lower 49 states in the US. Garmin’s new entry-level lineup is looking stronger than ever and the Garmin nuvi 56LMT offers tremendous value because of its rich features.

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