The latest generation of GPS apps is more advanced than ever, offering precise maps, voice-prompted directions, suggestions for alternate routes and regular updates on traffic, road hazards and accidents. With so many options available to download, it’s worth scoping out the competition to make sure you’re using a navigation app that meets your needs. Here’s a look at how five of these trusty copilots compare so you can decide which is the best GPS app for everyday driving or your next road trip.
1. Google Maps
Google Maps offers highly reliable maps for driving, cycling, walking and public transportation, including offline access to previously downloaded maps. It excels at hands-free voice guidance for turn-by-turn directions and lane-change advice. Color-coding indicates how heavy traffic is in real time, and there are icons for construction, accidents and police presence. Another handy feature: If you’re logged into Google Maps on your desktop computer or another device, you can see the recent searches you made on your smartphone; plus, the “Send to Phone” feature shares a location from your computer so you can route yourself there. If you’re looking for the best GPS app, Google Maps is hard to beat.
Besides providing accurate, easy-to-read maps, Waze is one of the best GPS apps because it sources information from users to provide real-time updates about driving conditions, road closures, hazards and police presence along your planned route and in the surrounding area. Plug in your origin and destination, and you’ll get a variety of route options to choose from. If you miss a turn, the app quickly recalculates and offers the next-best option.
3. HERE WeGo
If your travel plans take you abroad, then consider HERE WeGo as one of the best GPS apps for international driving. It does a better job of correctly locating destinations and providing offline voice instructions in a timely manner when you find yourself, say, making tight turns in a European mountain village. Even if you choose this app for use within the U.S., it has the same great features you’ll find in other top GPS apps, like turn-by-turn voice guidance and directions for routes with multiple stops. Save the places you visit most often to a collection in the app so that you can access driving directions quicker and keep destinations organized for each city you visit.
There is a free and pro (paid) version of this app, and depending on your needs, you might consider upgrading to the paid version. The inRoute app stands out among the best GPS apps for its automatic severe weather alerts. This handy pro feature is important if your road trip will take you into the mountains or another area where weather changes, such as temperature, precipitation and wind speed, can suddenly occur and leave you in a dangerous situation. You can also import from XLSX, GPX and KML files, which is perfect for those adventurous trips where standard road signs won’t necessarily help you get where you need to go.
5. Scout GPS Link
This is one of the best GPS apps for cars that have a multimedia screen, as it’s been designed to pair perfectly and provide an easy, hands-free navigation experience. Use Scout GPS Link’s interactive features to quickly find gas stations, ATMs, coffee, parking and more near you. When you’re in another app, like Yelp, you can choose the location you’re looking at as your destination and launch Scout GPS Link directly from the app to load directions. When you aren’t road tripping, you can save your most-visited destinations, like the office, gym and your kids’ schools, for one-touch navigation.
Road trip rental cars
Once you have the best GPS app for your road trip, make sure you also have the right car. Even if you own a car, it may not be the most suitable for the trip you plan to take. You may want to rent an SUV if your sedan can’t reliably get you into the Rocky Mountains, or opt for a fuel-efficient economy car if you’re worried about taking a larger vehicle on a road trip from Chicago to a nearby town.
Avail car sharing has a wide selection of vehicles for whatever type of trip you’re planning. Convenient neighborhood locations throughout Chicago and Denver will help you get on the road faster, especially with our self-service pick-up and drop-off. Go ahead and add a second driver to share the wheel during your road trip — we don’t charge extra. And you’ll have the peace of mind of having Allstate insurance coverage and 24/7 roadside assistance.