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Garmin versus 'Other' GPS system(s)


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Hey all - Now that we have going the 'big diesel pusher group', we are planning to make more trips outside of Florida and the surrounding states.  In plenty of YouTube videos and chatting with other RV'er's, I've seen lot's of folks raving about the Garmin RV dedicated GPS systems versus using the freebie and public travel apps.

Specifically, I was looking at the Garmin RV 895, Garmin RV 795, and the Garmin RV 1095.  While it seems as if the major difference is screen size, along with a couple of other small differences, I'm not concerned with the cost, but know that sometimes more expensive isn't always 'more better'!

I would love to get any thoughts and opinions from users of these models, or previous versions, if you can elaborate.  We know that there will be times that we travel on non-interstate of US highways (Canada included) where I'm sure this will come in handy and potentially keep us out of trouble!

Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts! - Chuck and Kathy

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I have the Garmin 890 in our rig.  It’s nice in the fact that it accounts for the larger rigs and tries to find the best route to accommodate it but I still feel like the guidance is from the 2000s.  I much prefer Apple Maps and the more real natural sounding voice.  I also tend to like Apple Maps layout much better.  
The Garmin did have speed alerts which were helpful if not paying attention to changing speed limits.  
I was actually going to replace my OEM dash radio/cd player with one of those nice Apple Airplay ones until I realized my dash radio is what they call a ‘Din and a half’ or 1.5 din which are basically non existent in the aftermarket world now.  Contemplated cutting it all out and fitting in a double din unit, but there isn’t enough room between the switches and the dash air controls.  🤷‍♂️.  I’ll find a solution yet. 

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1 minute ago, BradHend said:

I have the Garmin 890 in our rig.  It’s nice in the fact that it accounts for the larger rigs and tries to find the best route to accommodate it but I still feel like the guidance is from the 2000s.  I much prefer Apple Maps and the more real natural sounding voice.  I also tend to like Apple Maps layout much better.  
The Garmin did have speed alerts which were helpful if not paying attention to changing speed limits.  
I was actually going to replace my OEM dash radio/cd player with one of those nice Apple Airplay ones until I realized my dash radio is what they call a ‘Din and a half’ or 1.5 din which are basically non existent in the aftermarket world now.  Contemplated cutting it all out and fitting in a double din unit, but there isn’t enough room between the switches and the dash air controls.  🤷‍♂️.  I’ll find a solution yet. 

Thanks for your input!  As we have a 2016 Diplomat 43DF, I'm thinking that I would like to see about changing out the head unit for one that includes Apple CarPlay.  We are ALL INTO Apple and, like you, I much prefer the Apple Maps app versus Google or most other's for that matter.  

I had seen in other forums that the Garmin was one of the top GPS units that many RV'er's use.  Since we bought our original 2022 Thor Windsport 34J (gas unit), I only used either Apple Maps or Google maps.  They worked well, but for the one year that we owned it, we almost always stayed on interstates or US Highways, so we really didn't have an issue (Florida and Georgia).

Since we don't have our rig yet as it is in the shop for a reefer fix (it spent one night at home, then back to the shop), I really haven't had much time to get into the in-dash unit that is there, but I think that there is an Sirius XM satellite radio, so that's a good start!  I will say that I suspect that I will miss the unit that was in the previous unit since it was an Axtera unit and was very convenient unit to use.

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I have an older 660 model, not as large which is ok for me. Larger is heavier and may be a problem keeping it mounted depending what method you use. Voice command is nice although sometimes you have to repeat yourself if you don’t choose the vocabulary it knows. Lane Assist is vary valuable. It will take you awhile to learn ALL the options it has on the map screen. Verify your route, the logic on these isn’t perfect. You can re shape routes and such. Overall I like the Garmin and as you said not a lot of differences between them. 

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I have the 795. I mount it on a sandbag mount sitting towards the driver's mirror. I find this unit fine to read without glasses. If it were the 0 inch unit, where I have it it I think it would be too large and obstruct the view. My thought is that the size is dependant on where/how it is mounted. You might get one and try it out (or make a standin out of cardboard and return it if it seems too small or large. Be aware you sometimes need to touch the screen ( when you hit a bump, sometimes a bump you hardly notice and it thinks you've had an accident, mine seems a little sensitive at times,, other times it's not) so a larger screen mounted farther away might be problematic if mounted beyond arm length from your seated position.

In using it full time for 3 years to 49 states I have to say I wouldn't drive without it, but on occasion the directions are wrong (route you down a dirt farm road or fire road for no real reason. Mine seems to sometimes wants to bring me in the wrong entrance at truck stops (just occasionally) and id not a problem if you know to not follow it blindly.

I wanted to mount a front camera (the 795 is compatable with this) but found the camera angle was not good enough, if I mounted it inside the cab, the reflection of the windshield blocked seeing outside. I might mount it below the windscreen, but that just seemed too clunky looking.

Good luck.

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I have a Garmin 760, I like some of the features but I've learned to check the route after you put in your destination.  It has sent me on wild goose chases several times.  We were traveling south from St Louis and all seemed good but we started to head in a direction that didn't seem right.  We we stopped and looked at the route, it had me headed to a completely different city.  So I put in the destination again and it did the same thing.  So you have to be careful.

Before a long trip every year I up date the Garmin since it is a LTM unit.  Last year I updated at home using a better wifi connection at home.  When I was on the road I found the NONE of the POI's had updated, in fact I had none at all.  The map seemed to update but not the POI's.   Had a similar issue with a backup Garmin trucker GPS that I had.  So I had to take the time the first night to update the GPS's. 

I was also disappointed in 2021 when I had two major road construction projects with detours were not accurate.  Ended up have to route through a low branch tree lined residential area, only saving grace was that it was obvious that the large commercial trucks had to do the same thing as most of the low branches were spewed all over the place.  Some truckers just parked until they could find a decent way out.  I kept forging ahead with a couple trucks following me until I found an access back onto the highway.

The last issue I've had is that the Garmin is not as accurate as to the distances before you turn.  Last year I  was a 2 lane hwy and coming to an intersection that I was suppose to turn at and the GPS verbal turn distance was way off, I ended up missing the turn and had to do about a 5 mile drive before I found a good place to turn around.  Wheat I've since done is start using my Iphone maps as a backup, it has better voice commands and is way more accurate.  So I will use both when I'm in an area that might cause a problem with Garmin. 

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We have a Garmin 890 in our 40 ft DP. I really do not use it anymore for a variety of reasons. I have owned a number of Garmin GPS units dating back to the early 2000s. While the 890 is larger and accounts for our size and weight I find the maps and software often outdated and slower than Google Maps. For example the Garmin, with newly updated maps just days before a trip to San Antonio, TX, Took us to roads that no longer existed and did not show roads that were several years old. It usually gives directions verbally about 4-6 seconds behind google, which does not sound like much but when you are traveling down the interstate at 65 mph driving a 32k pound 40 ft beast that can add to tension. Lastly I find the POI files rather limited and poor, even RV parks. Unless you anter a location exactly as it is in their system the location will not appear. As a result I often find I have to look up the actual street address on my phone and key that in instead of using the name. Lastly, the device must be in the mounting device with power inorder to program it. If "works" on battery power but not for plotting in a route with multiple stops. This, for me, made it such a PIA to use that I stopped using it to plan trips.

Now I use google maps in conjunction with RV Trip Wizzard to plan trips and Google maps on my phone for actual turn by turn routing. Google is not without its limitations and problems but is, in my openion more user friendly and in conjunction with Trip wizzard makes planning and actual opperation much easier.

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14 minutes ago, JohnC3 said:

I have the 795. I mount it on a sandbag mount sitting towards the driver's mirror. I find this unit fine to read without glasses. If it were the 0 inch unit, where I have it it I think it would be too large and obstruct the view. My thought is that the size is dependant on where/how it is mounted. You might get one and try it out (or make a standin out of cardboard and return it if it seems too small or large. Be aware you sometimes need to touch the screen ( when you hit a bump, sometimes a bump you hardly notice and it thinks you've had an accident, mine seems a little sensitive at times,, other times it's not) so a larger screen mounted farther away might be problematic if mounted beyond arm length from your seated position.

In using it full time for 3 years to 49 states I have to say I wouldn't drive without it, but on occasion the directions are wrong (route you down a dirt farm road or fire road for no real reason. Mine seems to sometimes wants to bring me in the wrong entrance at truck stops (just occasionally) and id not a problem if you know to not follow it blindly.

I wanted to mount a front camera (the 795 is compatable with this) but found the camera angle was not good enough, if I mounted it inside the cab, the reflection of the windshield blocked seeing outside. I might mount it below the windscreen, but that just seemed too clunky looking.

Good luck.

Wow, great review.  Thanks so much for taking the time to give me your input.

7 minutes ago, 1nolaguy said:

We have a Garmin 890 in our 40 ft DP. I really do not use it anymore for a variety of reasons. I have owned a number of Garmin GPS units dating back to the early 2000s. While the 890 is larger and accounts for our size and weight I find the maps and software often outdated and slower than Google Maps. For example the Garmin, with newly updated maps just days before a trip to San Antonio, TX, Took us to roads that no longer existed and did not show roads that were several years old. It usually gives directions verbally about 4-6 seconds behind google, which does not sound like much but when you are traveling down the interstate at 65 mph driving a 32k pound 40 ft beast that can add to tension. Lastly I find the POI files rather limited and poor, even RV parks. Unless you anter a location exactly as it is in their system the location will not appear. As a result I often find I have to look up the actual street address on my phone and key that in instead of using the name. Lastly, the device must be in the mounting device with power inorder to program it. If "works" on battery power but not for plotting in a route with multiple stops. This, for me, made it such a PIA to use that I stopped using it to plan trips.

Now I use google maps in conjunction with RV Trip Wizzard to plan trips and Google maps on my phone for actual turn by turn routing. Google is not without its limitations and problems but is, in my openion more user friendly and in conjunction with Trip wizzard makes planning and actual opperation much easier.

Thanks so much!  As I just replied to @jacwjames above, I really appreciate your well thought out reply and review.

You all are really great and helpful to a true big DP newbie, and an RV in general newbie only starting our RV life just over a year ago.

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Posted (edited)

I purchased the first Garmin RV GPS when they introduced the RV760-LMT back in 2012. Had it for many years and sold it 2 years ago after I had purchased a used Garmin RV-890.

I like the new RV GPS platform which is based on an IPAD and apps versus the old type which is a Garmin proprietary format.

Edited by Dr4Film
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Chuck and Kathy, Welcome to the new life of DP travel. As to GPS devices everyone's experience level is different. I first used GPS technology about 30 years ago when GPS units were mounted in the trunk and maps were on CDs. GPS technology has progressed greatly over the subsequent years have evolved greatly. In the early 2000s through about 2015, when google maps first came out it was very frustrating and Garmin was my gps of choice, having used multiple brands and models. I use to spend much of my working life driving all across North America as well as over seas, so a lot of regular use in a wide variety of locations. It is my opening that in the last decade Garmin has focused more on the devices physical attributed like size and 3D imaging and less on making sure there data is up to date or that their OS is properly fast enough. Since you need to pair your 890 or later version your cell phone for the driving condition portion to work it would seem to me that they would benefit if they could integrate their  Google Maps or Apple Maps for their map technology so their mapping was more accurate and timely.

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Have used the Garmins since the mid 90.  Had a Hand Held one.  Made an adapter cord that plugged it into my laptop and used the new defunct.  STREET Atlas.  That was great….and as accurate at the Hertz NeverLost systems.  My gold standard as I did a lot of business travel.

Then, I switched to the Garmin simple one…used it for 4 years, but still had my wife using the Street atlas as the laptop screen was bigger.

For a while, I had a Video Feed into the Backup Camera Monitor and used Google Maps.  Bought the Garmin 760…circa 2013.  Still use it in the MH as well as carry it when traveling in a car as there are places where a Cellphone ain’t got coverage.

I have soldered a loose connection and used JB Weld plastic to repair the strain relief on the cord.  I keep it updated.

It has a few of the quirks that folks discuss.  Once in the upper areas of Novia Scotia, driving down the equivalent of a nice secondary road, it routed me onto a side road….and we could see the map.  It looped us around that side road for maybe 2 miles….but knew it was coming back out on the same main road.  WHY?  Talk to the electronic Gods.

We also keep a cellular iPad up with Google Maps.  I prefer that to WAZE or Apple Maps.  Basically, they all route you, generally the same.  Recently there was a major tie up on a stretch of Interstate highway.  We had 3 versions going….Maps, WAZE & Google maps….three folks with iPhone’s.  NONE of them agreed on the alternate….

NOW, I DO use the freebie (used to be paid) Garmin App and connect the 760 to a cellular device and get real, as best it can be, traffic and weather.  The traffic is about the same as Google Maps….so the “Reds & Yellows & Greens” on the route is the same.  So Garmin’s app works.

As to the $65/YR RV Trip Wizard App.  It might be worth it.  BUT, when you are in the middle of Monument Valley or across the border in an isolated state park (Muley…something or other and that is where Lake Powell begins) and want to know whether to turn left or right…..a Satellite device is a lifesaver.

I have wandered around the “paths” in the grass between the main road through the Tetons and the river….several times in offroad mode in an SUV.  All the “paths” show up on a Garmin.  Some did, when you could get a cell signal….but I would have been wandering around forever without the Garmin.

There are many members with newer Garmins and they have, I think, not been as satisfied with the newer models as the original 760.

I’m keeping mine working and uodated….

BTW….we have traveled in all lower 48’s and 5 CDN provinces….and put over 80 K on a MH….since 2006…so, we have “used it a bit”….

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1 hour ago, Dr4Film said:

I purchased the first Garmin RV GPS when they introduced the RV760-LMT back in 2012. Had it for many years and sold it 2 years ago after I had purchased a used Garmin RV-890.

I like the new RV GPS platform which is based on an IPAD and apps versus the old type which is a Garmin proprietary format.

Hmmm.... Interesting thought.  I hadn't really considered an iPad with the Garmin app.  Will have to check that one out!

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8 minutes ago, Chuck-Kathy_Orlando said:

Hmmm.... Interesting thought.  I hadn't really considered an iPad with the Garmin app.  Will have to check that one out!

Sorry if I didn't make my earlier post clearer, Garmin doesn't have apps that you can load onto your own IPAD. The newer Garmin GPS devices such as the RV890 I now use is a Garmin IPAD loaded with their proprietary apps.

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I purchased the Garmin RV 780 a year ago and it has been great over the last 6000 miles. I like it because my 34000 pound coach's weight, hieght and width are all in there. It will not let you down a road with a sub standard bridge such as a 10 ton weight limit nor height under the specs of my coach. See attached picture of where it works best for me.

Screenshot_20240706_120327_Gallery.jpg

Screenshot_20240706_120053_Amazon Shopping.jpg

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For auto-routing I prefer Google, despite the lack of large vehicle warnings. 

I like seeing where I'm at and what roads / cities are around me.  The Garmin, and it doesn't seem to matter which one, lacks detail sometimes. 

GarminNoDetail.thumb.jpg.6e2ae6febea6804102a2ddd01edcf565.jpg

I'm on GA83 and crossing US23 with Flovilla to the North and heading into Forsyth.  That's I-75 on the left.  Pretty much worthless if you don't know where you are already.

Here's the same screenshot from Google Maps -

Screenshot(74).thumb.png.c09947aecb478914632214161bed8ed9.png

- bob

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4 hours ago, Cajunboy1959 said:

I purchased the Garmin RV 780 a year ago and it has been great over the last 6000 miles. I like it because my 34000 pound coach's weight, hieght and width are all in there. It will not let you down a road with a sub standard bridge such as a 10 ton weight limit nor height under the specs of my coach. See attached picture of where it works best for me.

Screenshot_20240706_120327_Gallery.jpg

Screenshot_20240706_120053_Amazon Shopping.jpg

Very nice!   I like how you have it mounted.  By the way, what TPMS do you use?  The previous owner gave me his, but he admitted that her didn't like it and I was thinking about getting one that I liked.  Your's looks interesting, as I'm assuming that the lower screen is the TPMS.

35 minutes ago, cbr046 said:

For auto-routing I prefer Google, despite the lack of large vehicle warnings. 

I like seeing where I'm at and what roads / cities are around me.  The Garmin, and it doesn't seem to matter which one, lacks detail sometimes. 

GarminNoDetail.thumb.jpg.6e2ae6febea6804102a2ddd01edcf565.jpg

I'm on GA83 and crossing US23 with Flovilla to the North and heading into Forsyth.  That's I-75 on the left.  Pretty much worthless if you don't know where you are already.

Here's the same screenshot from Google Maps -

Screenshot(74).thumb.png.c09947aecb478914632214161bed8ed9.png

- bob

Yeah, there is a bid difference in the information given between Google Maps and the Garmin.   I see what you mean!

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Posted (edited)

Buy an annual RV Life subscription and run it on an iPad, Android tablet, or phone of your choice (or all of them).  It serves multiple purposes.  And you can run it with all your other apps, like Open Roads for fuel, RV Parky and The Dyrt, AccuWeather, etc.  Download the maps state by state if you might not have a cell or wifi signal (GPS mapping function will still work).  You get bridge heights, etc.  Campground info, reviews, and much more.  All mapping software is at the mercy of bad data, so any of them may mis-route you once in a while.  RV Life has been great about correcting the two issues I reported (side road, impossible u-turn).  Don't through money away on Garmin... they lost their edge a while ago when competition heated up.  IMHO 😉 

Edited by Steve P
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NOTE.  There was a CHANGE OF TOPIC.  Going from GPS discussion to TPMS.  This is a violation of site rules. When a topic subject is switched, at the end or anywhere and the topic then drifts, it is impossible for members to be able to search or follow it.

In the future, we request that if a topic is being changed, to please notify a moderator....as well as simple statement....

The Topic (TPMS) is not germane to GPS and needs a new topic.

Thanks for helping out the Staff as moving all the responses to TPMS and creating a NEW topic is very time consuming....  We do NOT get DOUBLE TIME PAY for this.

Thanks for understanding.  TPMS are important....

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5 hours ago, Tom Cherry said:

NOTE.  There was a CHANGE OF TOPIC.  Going from GPS discussion to TPMS.  This is a violation of site rules. When a topic subject is switched, at the end or anywhere and the topic then drifts, it is impossible for members to be able to search or follow it.

In the future, we request that if a topic is being changed, to please notify a moderator....as well as simple statement....

The Topic (TPMS) is not germane to GPS and needs a new topic.

Thanks for helping out the Staff as moving all the responses to TPMS and creating a NEW topic is very time consuming....  We do NOT get DOUBLE TIME PAY for this.

Thanks for understanding.  TPMS are important....

Sorry about that.  Didn't realize that I changed the subject and kept it on the same thread.  I'll remember next time to create a new thread on the new question or subject.

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