Customer Reviews: Garmin nüvi 52 5-Inch Portable Vehicle GPS (US) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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Style Name: Base Model (US)|Product Packaging: Standard Packaging|Change
Price:$118.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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Having been born with the dreaded condition NSOD (no sense of direction) a GPS is essential if I'm ever to end up getting to where I need to go. My last GPS was the Garmin 3790 which was excellent - however it froze up and died on exactly the 29th day of use which allowed me 24 hours to return it to Amazon.

As I researched a new GPS I found it more complicated than putting the specs together for a computer. Reviews are incredibly mixed on each model. All of them have plenty of pros and no shortage of cons. I decided to call the dedicated number for GPS units on Amazon. And doing so was an excellent experience and one that I highly recommend to anyone frustrated over which unit to buy. Amazon also has consultant Reps for computers, cameras, televisions and so on.

These folks don't work on commission - so there's no vested interest on their part in the recommendations the make it's a zero pressure approach and really an under estimated service - but a very valuable one. After going through the applications I was looking for i.e.: map updates, voice recognition, large screen etc - I was steered to the Garmin 52LM.

At the low price of $145 I was at first skeptical as the 3790T was $300

As I prowled through all the GPS units on Amazon the 52LM had the highest percentage of positive reviews - I was sold.

Quick Specs:

* Preloaded Maps

* Card Reader microSD

* Interface USB

* Voice Street name announcement,

* Navigation instructions

* Included Software Garmin City Navigator North America NT,

* nüMaps Guarantee

* Antenna Built-in

* Internal Memory Flash

* Speed limit warning

* Junction view

* Emergency Help

* Lifetime map updates

* Custom POIs (points of interest)

* Built-in speaker

* Gorgeous Display

* Trip Computer let's you Avoid toll roads

* Connector Type is USB

* Battery - Lithium ion

Included Accessories;
USB cable
Suction cup mount
Car power cable

This unit offers tremendous bang for your buck, I miss the photographic quality of the street maps of the 3790T but considering how beautifully the 52LM performs it's one issue that's easy to get past. The voice directions are crystal clear, set up is effortless and the large screen really makes an enormous difference.

You can spend more - however if your looking for a solid non problematic GPS that's going to get you to and from where you need to go, warn you of traffic delays, provide alternative routes and is absolutely effortless to set up and update - You'll be hard pressed to find a better GPS at any price.

Highly Recommended.
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on August 7, 2013
After much research online and reading reviews here on Amazon I ordered the nuvi 54LM. I wanted the lifetime maps but the traffic alerts on the more expensive models don't seem to be worth it according to the reviews. I bought this to replace my old Garmin Street Pilot 2720. It still works but now takes forever to find the satellites and lock on.

I received this new 54LM yesterday and today took it out for a spin locally to addresses I knew in the area and testing the POI. It worked like a charm and found all places without a hitch. Since it's setup for fastest route by default it wants to stick to major roads. I knew some shortcuts so purposely went a different way a few times. It recalculated quickly and it was refreshing not to hear that annoyed female voice saying "recalculating". It just did it and quickly. In the next few days I'll try it on a longer trip out of the area.

My one complaint, and one that's shared by many, is that there was no manual in the box. Only a quick setup sheet of paper and a thick safety & product information booklet in about 20 languages. They could have included a user manual about the same size in that box. Finding a manual at the Garmin site online was pretty easy. If Amazon keeps the URL here it's at: [...] If Amazon takes out the URL, go to the Garmin site and go to Support. There you can plug in what you need from the dropdown menu's and you'll finally get to a PDF manual for your unit. Then just print it out. For the 54LM the manual is titles "nuvi 42/52 Series Owner's Manual" dated Dec. 2012. Even if you don't have the manual the setup screens are pretty intuitive.

One new feature this unit has that my old one didn't is that when you are on major roads, next to your speed, it shows a little speed limit sign for the road you are on. When your speed exceeds the speed limit the speed numbers change from black to dark red. Might save you a ticket if you are on unfamiliar roads and haven't seen a speed limit sign in a while.
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on March 2, 2013
(NOTE: OOPS! I wrote this review for my Garmin 1450 and put it here by mistake. Apparently the 54 has a faster response time, but the basic interface has not changed and that is my main complaint here....) Once you are on the road, this thing is awesome. The map guidance is clear, the information on the screen is relevant and timely, and it even tells you what lane you need to be angling for. This is an indispensible part of how I drive. HOWEVER it is unnecessarily painful to enter address information, change settings, etc. The interface for entering an address, for example, proceeds down through screen after screen with a single question on each screen. If you change your mind, you have to click "Back" like 17 times to get out again. This "drill down and back out" pattern is everywhere in the interface and it just sucks. Stuff like that is just bad design and it has not changed for years with Garmin so I don't think they care about it. How hard would it be to put a "back to map" button on each screen? Etc. Convenience is not the main idea here sadly. But still 4 stars for being RELATIVELY awesome! :-)
UPDATE: my Garmin recently broke. It took me 4 emails over a period of 3 weeks, plus two phone calls lasting 20 and 40 minutes each, to finally just get it arranged to ship the thing back for a repair. Garmin's support for device issues is really painful. Just so you know. So now it's 3 stars for having a good device with poor support.
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on March 28, 2013
I had an earlier model but after 4 years the product finally died and it was time for an upgrade....and boy what an upgrade this was!

Unfortunately the first one delivered to me was DOA (Dead on Arrival), but thanks to Amazon's easy replacement policy, I was able to quickly return it and get another one.

This version is so much more sleeker than the old model that I had, and it features a larger touchscreen (5 inches) with larger font that is much easier to read at a glance (especially the arrival time). Living near New York, I always had issues with the satellite connectivity every time I drove into the city with the older version, but with this one I've had absolutely no issues! The lane assist / junction view was particularly helpful on the more confusing interchanges and it automatically appears on the screen as you approach those interchanges as if it reads my mind.

I also like the real time speed indicator, which shows the speed at which I'm driving, though I must say the font turns red if you go even a little faster than the speed limit on the street that you're driving on.

The icing on the cake was Free Lifetime map updates! Thank goodness! You can easily update the map data by connecting this unit to your Mac or PC and syncing the device using Garmin's Express software (easily downloadable from the Garmin website.

Frankly I would have given this product a full 5 stars had the first one worked out of the box, but I do understand that sometimes there are issues and thankfully the good people at Amazon have a quick and painless replacement policy.
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on April 29, 2013
I'm not going to repeat all the praises others have had for this. It's a great unit - until you go to check for map updates. Before you go to buy this, or any Garmin unit, check their forum and any other forum related to GPS navigation. The software Garmin recommends using to update and backup your data simply doesn't work. I thought it could be that I'm on Windows XP (there's no mention of system requirements anywhere on their website) but considering the amount of complaints about the software, I doubt it's an operating system issue. Trying to update through the website is no better. It runs you around in circles, taking you back to previous screens instead of proceeding to find any updates. I tried Firefox, Opera, Chrome and IE to rule out browser issues. No luck with any of them.

This is my second go round with Garmin. A few years back, I paid $100 or so for lifetime map updates for a Nuvi200. The ID number they gave me wasn't recognized. Calling customer support ended with them telling me that that ID number was the only one they could give me because it was already registered to my unit. I asked if I could get a refund. "No - you've been issued an ID. How do we know it isn't working and you're just trying to get your money back?" I told them to check their records for my serial number to see if any updates had been downloaded. "That's not possible, sir." End of story. They have my money, I have an outdated unit that can't be updated.

Having sworn to never buy another Garmin again, imagine the thoughts that went through my head when I received the 52LM as a gift. While I was really grateful for getting it, in the back of my mind I was already thinking about how to break it to my friend that I'd probably want to return it. Garmin didn't let me down. They are definitely consistent in their lack of support and concern for customer satisfaction.

I sent this same story to Garmin and got the typical automated response that included this: "We appreciate your support of Garmin products and look forward to serving you." I actually flipped off the monitor. Hello, Magellan and TomTom!

(Update 5-2-13)
Not surprisingly, the response I got by email said to try the very software that I'd said doesn't work. Compare that with Garmin's opinion of what they are about:

Our Mission:
To be an enduring company by creating superior products for automotive, aviation, marine, outdoor, and sports that are an essential part of our customers' lives.

Our Vision:
We will be the global leader in every market we serve, and our products will be sought after for their compelling design, superior quality, and best value.

Our Values:
The foundation of our culture is honesty, integrity, and respect for associates, customers, and business partners. Each associate is fully committed to serving customers and fellow associates through outstanding performance and accomplishing what we say we will do.

Built to Last:
These 3 simple words describe our products, our company, our culture ... our future. As a leading worldwide provider of navigation, we are committed to making superior products for automotive, aviation, marine, outdoor and sports that are an essential part of our customers' lives.

Our "vertical integration" business model keeps all design, manufacturing, marketing and warehouse processes in-house, giving us more control over timelines, quality and service. Our user-friendly products are not only sought after for their compelling design, superior quality and best value, but they also have innovative features that enhance the lives of our customers.

Honesty? User friendly? Service? When are companies going to stop publishing mission statements that don't have anything to do with reality? Probably never. But it'll never change until people demand better. Call 'em out, people! When you see something seriously wrong, call 'em out!

(Update 5-22-13)
To be fair, I've upped the rating to three because the unit itself is really good out of the box. But the inability to update it basically makes this a throwaway as roads change.
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on June 28, 2013
I returned the 1st one because it could not navigate, it got "lost" enroute and/or the car icon wandered all over, sometimes 1/4 mile off the track. Replacement unit the same and I returned it for refund. I have had previous Garmin GPS units and they have been excellant. Don't buy this one!!!!
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on March 18, 2015
I received this GPS a little over 4 months ago. Because I am a pizza delivery driver, I have used this item to find addresses hundreds of times, if not thousands yet, and have driven, as of writing this review, 19,042 miles with it (it tracks this). I haven't had it for super long, but because of how often I use this, I figure I'm qualified to give a good review.

This product has it's ups and downs. I'll list them in a simple fashion:


- Quick start up, quickly finds the address
- Very accurately reports your speed, down to the very mile per hour, only it lags a second or two behind. (Pretty good for a device that connects to a satellite in space then back!)
- Easy to read UI.
- Is good about which side of the street the house is on, and usually around where it is on the street.
- Automatically turns off when you turn off your car (On a 30 second countdown timer.)
- Battery life without being plugged in is a few hours if left on.
- Has decent approximations as to when you will arrive to the address.

- It "saves" previously entered addresses, up to a point. For example, if one day I put in "1234 Amazon Way", then the next I start entering that in again, a little folder lights up, that you can click and just select the street instead of having to type in all in. The reason this is not in the positive category, is that it doesn't save that many. I often go to streets I know for a fact I have been to many times, but it doesn't save it unless it was very recently.
- There's a function to put multiple waypoints in. So, if I had to deliver to 3 houses in 1 run, I could supposedly put one address in, then the next, then the next, and it would direct me to them one by one, without me having to reenter the information even when it briefly turns off when I leave the car. This function, at least for my device, is very glitchy and not worth it. Sometimes it will mess up the order I put them in (and not even in logical fashion, like it choosing the next closest one or anything), and sometimes it will just not work at all. After I go to the first address, it will act as if that's the only one I entered in in the first place.


- It sometimes will report the speed limits of certain streets. Often they are wrong. Usually just by 5 MPH, but still. I mean, you shouldn't trust a GPS on this in the first place, you should look for posted signs, but it gets annoying when the speed turns red to indicate you're "speeding" when you aren't.
- Too many screens to go through to get it going. Google maps is super simple, click the line, type in the address, and go. This device is a little outrageous. First, you start up your car, and if plugged it, it will automatically start up. Then you have to click an agreement to not use it when driving (1). Then, you have to click "Where to?" (2) Then, a page with multiple options, but I usually select "address", to put the address in (3). Then it asks to select city, postal code, or search all. I usually select search all (4). Then, you have to enter in the house number and click done (5). Then, you have to enter in the street (6). Then you may have to confirm the city if there are multiple streets of that name (7), then you click "go" (8). That's 7-8 pages. Way more than necessary.

- About 5% of the time, it will not be able to find the address, and I will have to fall back on google maps. Worse yet, about 1% of the time, it will bring me to blatantly the wrong place. Very upsetting for me and the customer!

- Sometimes suggest slower routes. Not terribly slower, but slower none-the-less.

- Touch screen is meh. 1/5th of the time, I try to click a letter, and even though it lights up in response to me pressing it, it won't put it down. Incredibly. Annoying.

- There's a function where when you start entering in the address name, it will suggest the only possible options. For example, if I wanted to enter in "Northstar Way", once I typed in "Norths" it will suggest that street along with others that fit. Convenient, but runs into problems. If I accidentally select the wrong one (say "NorthStore Lane" , then click the back page, the full street name remains typed in. So when I try deleting it, with each letter it goes to the suggestion page.

"NorthStore Lan"
Did you mean:
"NorthStore Lane?"
"Northstore La"
Did you mean:
"Northstore Lane"
"Northstore L"
Did you mean:

and on and on. Really annoying.

I bought this device because I was spending lots of money on my phone for extra data when using Google Maps. This device was a one time payment, and allowed me to save money on my phone plan. After 3 months, this device paid for itself, and I get to use it for a long time to come. For me it was worth it, but for the layman, it might be better to just to use Google Maps. It's just more reliable. I used it for many months as well, and I rarely had problems with it besides the data usage.

I have a lot of things to say about this device, and may update this review later when I remember more about it and if people are actually finding this review helpful.
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on October 9, 2013
Two months in and dead. Unit will not boot. Customer service is not helpful. They send you emails saying try this. When you respond with a the result they send you another email saying then try this instead. I have done that three times now. Each with a day lag in between. No offer of replacement or real time trouble shooting. Do not purchase from Garmin
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on February 27, 2015
Voice a little loud; must learn how to turn it down. Works very well (one usage so far)
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on November 20, 2013
I bought this Garmin after my TomTom XL was stolen from my car. I have to say, I'm very pleased so far.

Hopefully this review will answer a few questions that you may have yourself, so that you can see if this is the right GPS for you.

Off the bat, the first thing I noticed is how quickly the satellites find your location. Sometimes my TomTom would take a few minutes to locate me, but with the 52LM, it never seems to go over 10-15 seconds.

One of the features I really loved about my TomTom was the mutli-line information on the screen. It would list my current time, the time I would arrive, how fast I was going, all on the screen. I was sad at first to find Garmins on screen information was very simple, but later rejoiced as I found you can have FOUR customizable "widgets" on the screen, which closley resembles the mutli-line format from TomTom. For example, you can pick Current Time, Arrival Time, Distance, Elevation (if that's your thing) , Speed, etc.

Also, the big 5 inch screen is a plus, almost too big if you don't find the correct spot in your car.

Another thing I HATED about my TomTom was that when you added a Favorite, and titled it e.g. "Work" it would delete the address, so if a friend needed the exact address to one of your favorites then you were out of luck, because it simply showed the title of the favorite and not the location. With my Garmin, it STILL shows the location as well as letting you name it! Fantastic!

Of course, this Garmin comes with access to other cool stuff including Emergency services.

All in all, I think an in car GPS is the best investment you can make, for yourself or for your kids , especially new drivers. Gets rid of the anxiety of being lost and it's accurate 99% of the time.

So if you're looking for a powerful GPS that isn't loaded with a lot of "gimmick" features (*cough* like Bluetooth dialing *cough*) then I highly recommend this one. Just take caution, because a GPS is like candy to car thieves, which I learned the hard way with my TomTom.
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