Garmin DriveSmart 86: High-res 8″ GPS Navigator with Voice Assist –Review

Garmin DriveSmart 86 Car GPS Navigator Review

Garmin DriveSmart 86 Car GPS Navigator Review


I recently purchased the Garmin DriveSmart 86, an 8-inch Car GPS Navigator, and I am absolutely thrilled with my purchase. This GPS navigator is packed with incredible features that make navigation a breeze, and I am eager to share my experience with potential buyers.


Core Features and Specifications

  • 8-inch dual-orientation display
  • North America map updates
  • Garmin Voice Assist for easy navigation
  • Speed change and potential hazard alerts
  • Tripadvisor traveler ratings
  • DIRECTORY of U.S. national parks
  • HISTORY database of notable sites
  • Garmin Drive app integration
  • Alexa Built-in for hands-free control
  • Bluetooth compatibility for hands-free calling
  • Driver alerts for enhanced safety
  • Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for updates

Detailed Display

Personal Experience

From the moment I started using the Garmin DriveSmart 86, I was blown away by its crisp and bright high-resolution display. The 8-inch screen provides ample space for detailed maps and clear directions, ensuring that I never miss a turn. The touchscreen is responsive and intuitive, making it easy to interact with the device while on the move.

Responsive Touchscreen

The map updates for North America are a fantastic feature that keeps me on track and aware of any changes in routes or road conditions. The updates are accurate and timely, ensuring that I always have the most up-to-date information to make informed decisions on the road.

Accurate Map Updates

One of the standout features of this GPS navigator is the Garmin Voice Assist. It allows me to easily find and navigate to my desired destinations without the need to take my hands off the wheel or my eyes off the road. The voice guidance is clear and precise, providing step-by-step instructions that ensure I never miss a turn.

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Voice Guidance


While the Garmin DriveSmart 86 is an outstanding GPS navigator, it does have its limitations. One area that could be improved is the voice recognition for Garmin Voice Assist. There were occasions where it struggled to understand my commands, leading to frustration and the need for manual input. Despite this minor inconvenience, the overall performance of the device is exceptional.

Voice Recognition

Real-life Scenarios

I’d like to share a real-life scenario where the Garmin DriveSmart 86 proved to be an invaluable companion. I was planning a road trip to a national park and wanted to explore some notable sites along the way. With the HISTORY database and the U.S. national parks directory, I was able to easily plan my route and discover interesting places to visit.

Throughout the trip, the GPS navigator provided me with accurate and timely alerts for school zones, sharp curves, and speed changes. This enhanced my driving experience, ensuring that I stayed safe and vigilant on the road.

National Parks

Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve discovered while using the Garmin DriveSmart 86:

  1. To optimize battery life, adjust the screen brightness and turn off unnecessary features when not in use.
  2. Use the Tripadvisor traveler ratings to find highly-rated restaurants, accommodations, and attractions in unfamiliar areas.
  3. Pair the Garmin DriveSmart 86 with the Garmin Drive app on your smartphone to access live traffic updates, fuel prices, parking information, weather conditions, and traffic camera feeds.
  4. Take advantage of the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity to easily update maps and software without the need for a computer.
  5. When using Alexa Built-in, remember to only use this function when it is safe to do so and your hands are on the wheel and eyes on the road.
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Tripadvisor Ratings

Comparison with Competitors

The Garmin DriveSmart 86 sets itself apart from its competitors in several ways. Firstly, the 8-inch dual-orientation display is larger than most GPS navigators on the market, providing a better viewing experience. The high-resolution maps are incredibly detailed and easy to read, ensuring that I never miss a crucial piece of information.

The integration with the Garmin Drive app is another standout feature. It allows me to access live traffic updates, parking information, and weather conditions, providing me with real-time information to make informed decisions on the road. Additionally, the inclusion of Alexa Built-in allows for hands-free control, enabling me to play music, listen to audiobooks, and hear the news without distraction.

Detailed Maps

Customer Support and Warranty

During my experience with the Garmin DriveSmart 86, I had no need to contact customer support as the device worked flawlessly. However, Garmin is known for its excellent customer support and provides a one-year warranty for their products. This gives me peace of mind knowing that I am covered should any issues arise.


The Garmin DriveSmart 86, 8-inch Car GPS Navigator, is an exceptional device that delivers on its promises. The combination of its crisp high-resolution display, accurate map updates, Garmin Voice Assist, and numerous features make it a must-have for any driver. While it may have minor limitations, the overall performance and reliability of this GPS navigator make it a worthwhile investment. I highly recommend the Garmin DriveSmart 86 to anyone in need of a reliable and feature-packed car GPS navigator.

Garmin DriveSmart 86

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