Don’t use a Garmin GPS if you want to take a major highway

I’m sure someone will just start in about read the manual or state that my recent problems are just new user related. I’d be very interested in these loud mouths showing me the error of my ways. The fact is I have gone over various documentation. I’ve played around with various settings and ways of creating a route. No matter what I do our refurbished Garmin Nuvi 680 GPS doesn’t seem to like major Interstates. The unit will direct you to every two lane highway in existence though. Then on a few very rare occasions it will have you hop onto an Interstate. Is this common place for all GPS units to do? If so it makes them pretty useless in my opinion.

I see a GPS unit as a convenience product. But how can this be the case when the system at least in the case of Garmin Nuvi 680 seems to have some very quirky flaws? Even after the map update from last night there are many well known destinations that either don’t exist or are hard to find. The Nuvi 680 refuses to consider the United States Interstate system for a route. This unit seems to have a preference for state highways. I’ve been unable to find anything in the included documentation that would explain why this is. If this is how a satellite thinks you should travel then I guess I shouldn’t be using them to guide me down the road. What is totally illogical is the fact that the selected route doesn’t even save time or distance. Keep in mind this statement is being made after trying to setup the route using multiple configurations to determine if this would in fact influence how the GPS unit guided you down the road.

Microsoft Streets and Trips has always given us a fairly straightforward logical route to take out to Seattle. However Microsoft Streets and Trips is some of the most non user friendly software I’ve ever used. I’m sure the programmers and designers would of course argue how logic based it is. All I can say is if that is logic then it must be that fuzzy kind. Every time I’ve put Microsoft Streets and Trips to use it has been nothing but a frustrating experience. Why? Because what you would think would be a logical way to interact with the product doesn’t exist.

I’m sure someone will jump on here with a high and mighty attitude and explain to me the error of my ways. It will be explained that the mighty satellite is guiding me in a very direct logic based way. I guess truckers must just ignore their GPS units. Because I don’t see any of them travelling these two lane back roads to get across the country. Why would a navigation satellite see it as logical to route you onto multiple ( and I do mean multiple ) highways and Interstates when in fact you could setup the same route with just 3 or 4 major Interstates? Even though the interaction with Microsoft Streets and Trips is a nightmare. I would have to give a thumbs up to how it routes you. In this case Microsoft has the upper hand in regards to getting you to your destination in a logical somewhat hassle free way. So far from what I’m see with the Garmin Nuvi 680 GPS unit is exactly the opposite.

Not only is the Garmin GPS failing in my opinion in regards to long distance routing. It isn’t doing much better within the City of Springfield, IL. Last night coming home from a restaurant the unit wanted to send us in a direction that would have been slower do to the number of lights and congestion you would encounter. Versus sending us down a four lane road with less lights. I have a feeling that this would be the experience in other cities as well. This shouldn’t surprise me do to the many reviews I have read in regards to various GPS products. Many reviewers felt there were more logical time saving routes to be taken. In at least on case I remember someone stating the route to work wasn’t the same as the route going home and that using the first set of directions would have worked best for coming and going. So my thought is what I’m seeing must just be how GPS works. I’d say that if that is in fact the cases. Then GPS isn’t the useful tool everyone has praised it to be. At this point I’m far from impressed. I have a somewhat expensive paperweight that works well in some cases as a digital phone book. If I’m wanting logical cross country directions it looks as if I will have to stick with paper maps or the aggravation of Microsoft Streets and Trips 2007.

One positive note is that I have gotten the Bluetooth option to work smoothly with my Motorola E816 ( Amp’d Mobile Hollywood Edition ). So for those of you who are thinking that the review above is from a clueless half wit think again. I read a number of reviews that stated they couldn’t get their phone to work smoothly with their chosen GPS unit. That was actually one of the easiest things to do with the Garmin Nuvi 680 GPS. I’ve not bothered to go see if Cheryl’s phone has Bluetooth. If it does have that feature I will of course try to see if it will interact smoothly with the Garmin GPS.

Some might say I’m expecting to much from a mid-range GPS system. In my opinion this isn’t about how much was paid for the unit. What it is about is basic functionality. A GPS unit to me is worthless if it isn’t going to send you on the most direct hassle free route. I’d point out again that it is even more pointless to send customers on such wild goose chases when in fact these routes do not save time or mileage. This is a key reason people buy GPS in the first place. To save time and to hopefully provide a hassle free experience. From what I’ve seen with the Garmin Nuvi 680 to this point is the unit fails in this regard. The interface is much better than the competition in my opinion. Although there are many things that could be done to make the overall experience even friendlier. I would have to say that the true function of a GPS unit is a failure with the Garmin Nuvi 680. No matter what options are enable or disabled the unit gives the same exact route every time. This shouldn’t be the case. As I’ve clearly stated above the routes given aren’t exactly the most logical. Although I’m more than aware that the developers of this product would beat their chest stating how wrong I am and how great their product is. Again I’d have to come back to comparing route offerings to Seattle. Microsoft Streets and Trips 2007 gives a straightforward route to the city of the Space Needle while the Garmin Nuvi 680 sends you on some wild cluster of a cross country journey. Keep in mind though that Microsoft Streets and Trips is far from a user friendly product in it’s own right. I’d venture a bet that I should be able to import the Microsoft data into the Garmin GPS unit. So I guess that will be next adventure. But this brings me back to what is the point? Shouldn’t the GPS unit fulfill my needs right out the box without the need for some other software?

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What is up with all the U-Turns Garmin

Just purchased a refurbished Garmin Nuvi 680 GPS

11 thoughts on “Don’t use a Garmin GPS if you want to take a major highway”

  1. I completely agree! I hope they correct the software soon and include a “prefer highway” selection. If not, it will be the last Garmin product I buy. I will also endeavor to leave my findings for others to avoid this issue completely.

  2. On newer Garmin GPS that I’ve used, there is a “avoid highways” option in the settings – maybe your unit has that checked? Also, I saw your other post about U-Turns – you should check the “avoid U-Turns” option too.

    I’m also considering a refurbished 680… I was wondering what version of maps came on your refurbished 680. Since it’s been out for 4 years, I was hoping the maps weren’t 4 years old!

  3. This is right on, I was searching the web, stupid 680 avoids the FDR highway and insists I take it local all the time. It frustrates me. I make sure to uncheck avoid highways. I have the maps 2009 version,

  4. OOOOOman! I thought I was the only one! I have a nuvi200, this thing is awful. it refuses to use highways. It prefers back roads through the middle of nowhere. The avoid hwy setting is unchecked, doesnt matter.
    I have a 300 mile trip next week…back to yahoo maps.
    The following week, i have a trip to the firing range, the GPS will meet the end of the road.

  5. Hey,

    I just got the 765t after having a streetpilot c330 for years without any problems
    The new garmin is nothing compared to the old, I followed its directions blindly today and was taken on all the 2 lane highways in ohio instead of the turnpike or i 75 I was Peoood

    Very disapointed in the new garmin

  6. I also thought I was alone until I found this site. After reading the post here I started to play with my Garmin C340 that I’ve had for a year. I have come to the conclusion that the reason it avoids major highways is because I had it set to car/motorcycle. I think that the Garmin automatically assumes that you are on a motorcycle and therefore avoids major highways. I changed my setting to taxi and tested my theory twice. It seems to work now. On both occasions where it would normally go around Interstate 40 it jumps right on. I will continue to test this but I think that this was my problem. I hope this helps. PS. Next I’m going to try Ambulance. Thanks all for helping me sort this out.

  7. under avoidances put a check in Highways. The logic is backwards if you check highways it will actually route you on interstate roads. I tried to set mine to go from Wisconsin to Idaho and it kept routing me down hwy 20 instead of interstate 80 or 90 once I checked highways it now routes me on interstate 80

  8. I had an old GPS that did a much better job. The Magellan’s actually have a Most Use of Highways feature that was ideal, and logically routed you. I’ve had 2 Garmin Nuvi’s and although they have cool features like fm link to your radio, traffic, and MP3 players, they suck when it comes to logical straightforward routing. I really want to return this, give up all the bells and whistles for a simple machine with good logic.

  9. I’ve really needed to do an update to this article for some time now. I’d like to include my experience with Garmin Support Staff. Also include my opinion after testing out the suggested settings change mentioned in the comments.

    Anyone who reads this story should keep in mind that my opinion was given as a first impression. I’d come across something that aggravated me & hadn’t seen a solution that completely resolved the issue.

    While I still have some of the same frustrations mentioned above. I’d have to say that in many cases this product has made life easier. Although it hasn’t performed well at times in Chicago, East Peoria, St. Louis & Seattle. A longer external antenna might resolve a portion of this lack of performance.

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