The Garmin Nuvi 3597 LMT looks like a high-end smartphone. It has a sleek aluminium design and its 5-inch multi-touch screen supports pinch to zoom capabilities. It fits easily onto the mount because its magnetic. The first time I had to do this, I really appreciated it. It cuts out the unnecessary time it takes trying to clip the device onto a mount.
Inside the box you get the Nuvi 3597, the suction with magnetic mount, power cable, antenna attachment for traffic info, USB cable, and a manual.
My very first GPS unit was a little Garmin when I moved to Johannesburg years ago, and since then, it’s been drastically improved. The capacitive touchscreen makes a big difference, and offers a more smartphone-like experience. Previous Garmin models used resistive touchscreens, so no more pushing down really hard to navigate.
The LMT in the model name is an indicator that the unit comes with free lifetime maps and live traffic.
The lifetime map updates gives you up to four updates a year – handy if you live in Johannesburg, which is constantly being developed. You don’t have to register for this or activate anything, it simply involves you connecting the device with the USB cable provided, which is done over an Internet connection. This is a huge plus, as the unit I had bought years ago was second hand, and it was impossible to update the maps due to information required which only the first owner had.
The traffic information system works via a built-in radio receiver, which requires the antenna attachment, supplied in the box. I didn’t make use of this, as I usually leave slightly earlier if I’m going further out than normal, to an unfamiliar destination. Another option of real-time traffic works via connecting a smartphone via Bluetooth, to allow internet access to the device. Again, I didn’t try as battery life on my smartphone was more important.
As for actual navigation, I found that the routes I chose by default took me via a route I wouldn’t normally go through. Example, from Sunninghill to Rosebank, you’d expect it to navigate you directly on the M1, and get off at the Glenhove offramp (which leads you into Rosebank), but instead, it led me to take the Grayston off-ramp, halfway through the M1. I carried on and let it recalculate when it did mid-way cuts between straight routes.
One gripe about the display, it shows you your arrival time but not the actual time, so if it tells you that you will arrive at 12:30, there’s no quick reference as to what the time is, according to the Garmin. I like that it displays the nearest petrol station, rest room and restaurant when you are driving on a straight road. When you are approaching a turn, Lane Assist shows a pic of which lane you need to be, while logos of ATMs, restaurants and petrol stations appear on the map for quick reference.
The Garmin maps in terms of accuracy, is excellent and up-to-date. I drove quite far out on two occasions recently and while Google Maps on my smartphone led me literally to an area I couldn’t enter through and the wrong place, the Garmin had both destinations marked correctly.
The Garmin Nuvi 3597LMT really surprised me. It looks good, offers up-to-date maps, and has a clever magnetic mount. I just couldn’t understand some of the routes it uses by default, so I skipped turns I wasn’t sure of and let it recalculate.
It’s available at a recommended retail price of R3,999. It is by no means cheap, considering you can use your smartphone as a GPS, however, it is top of the range, and 4 map updates a year means it should last a good few years.