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Garmin Drive 51 vs 52 (2021): Is There A Difference?

A smartphone with either Google Maps or Apple Maps is great for navigating short distance travels. However, for long distance drives, a dedicated GPS is still a better solution since it offers more functions and features. Garmin is one of the brands at the forefront when it comes to car navigation systems. Their entry-level Garmin Drive 51 and Drive 52 car navigation systems are easy to use and they come with features such as Driver Alerts, TripAdvisor ratings, map updates and more. In this post, we compare the Garmin 51 vs 52, to find out how they differ so that you can decide which one to get.

Garmin Drive 51 vs 52 Comparison Chart

ModelGarmin Drive 51 Garmin Drive 52
 
Price
Available Models– USA + CAN Lifetime Maps
– USA Lifetime Maps
– USA + CAN Lifetime Maps and Traffic
– USA Lifetime Maps and Traffic
– Drive 52
– Drive 52 and Traffic
Dimensions5.5 x 3.3 x 0.8 inches5.5 x 3.3 x 0.8 inches
Weight6oz (170.8g)6oz (170.8g)
Display5-inch
480 x 272 pixels
WQVGA color TFT
Resistive touch
5-inch
480 x 272 pixels
WQVGA color TFT
Resistive touch
Storage8GB
microSD card compatible
8GB
microSD card compatible
Preloaded Street MapsYesYes
Map UpdatesYesYes
Garmin Real DirectionsYesYes
Foursquare POIsYesYes
TripAdvisor RatingsYesYes
Speed Limit IndicatorYesYes
Driver AlertsYesYes
BatteryUp to 1 hourUp to 1 hour

Design

The Garmin Drive 51 and 52 have the same physical dimensions and overall look.

The Garmin Drive 51 (left) and Drive 52 (right) have the same design.

The two car GPS devices are basically the same when it comes to their designs. They have the same physical dimensions of 5.5 x 3.3 x 0.8 inches, and they weigh the same at 6 ounces or 170.8 grams. The two are compact and lightweight, making them easier to carry around if you need to, and when mounted on your car, they take up less space than larger GPS devices.

They have the same 5-inch resistive touch screen that has a resolution of 480 x 272 pixels. The resolution is quite low but the devices still display acceptable images. Text are blocky, but they are big enough to be readable without issues. The screens are fully colored so the directions and maps are easy to see. Overall, their screens are good enough that you won’t have issues, unless you have poor vision. In that case, you should opt for Garmin GPS devices that have a larger screen, such as the Garmin DriveSmart 55 or DriveSmart 65.

Included with both GPS devices are suction cups that attach to your dashboard or windshield and a back plate that allows you to mount the unit. You just attach the back plate to the devices and you can mount them to your dashboard or windshield with ease. In terms of looks and design, the Garmin Drive 51 and 52 are your basic car GPS devices without the bells and whistles.

Features

Features-wise, the Garmin Drive 51 and 52 are similar.

The Garmin Drive 51 (left) and Drive 52 (right) have the same interface.

The Garmin Drive 51 and 52 offer similar features such as Garmin Real Directions, preloaded Foursquare data, TripAdvisor ratings, lane assistance with junction view and more. Both of them are straightforward GPS devices that come with visual and voice navigation. The voice sounds a bit robotic and outdated, but if you can tolerate it, the voice navigation is pretty good.

Instead of just using street names, both GPS devices use landmarks and points of interests when advising you to turn. This is good if you aren’t good with street names or if you are in an unfamiliar place and you don’t know most of the streets.

Both GPS devices also come with driver alerts that will let you know in advance if there are school zones, sharp curves, speed cameras and more. In addition to that, they also have speed limit indicators on the screen that will let you know if you are going past it.

The only difference between the two is that the Garmin Drive 51 can be purchased with just US maps or with US and Canada maps. You can also buy either of these versions with traffic tracking. In contrast, the Garmin Drive 52 only has a version with both US and Canada maps and you can get it with traffic tracking as well. The version with traffic tracking is called Garmin Drive 52 and traffic.

Performance

Both are responsive and easy to use.

Both the Garmin Drive 51 and Drive 52 can be easily mounted to your dashboard or windshield.

Once you’ve powered them on, the Garmin Drive 51 and 52 will ask for your region and language. After that, you can start using it or you can fiddle with the settings if you want to adjust anything, such as voice alerts, map styles and more. The two GPS devices have the same layout and interface that look a bit outdated, but they work just fine. Text are blocky, but they are large and readable.

At the home screen, you can search for specific locations or view the live map. You can also access the settings menu if you want to adjust the volume, voice alerts and more. The screens on both the Garmin Drive 51 and Garmin Drive 52 and Traffic are touch sensitive, but they don’t support multi-touch input. They are responsive and you shouldn’t have any issues with them.

As mentioned earlier, the Garmin Drive 51 and 52 have voice navigation and they give you directions using points of interests and notable landmarks instead of just street names. They come preloaded with Foursquare data so that you’ll find restaurants, hotels and other places of interest with ease. In tandem with that, they also have TripAdvisor ratings so that you’ll know which of these places are highly rated and worth visiting or stopping to.

If you need to unplug them, both the Garmin Drive 51 and 52 have a battery life of 1 hour. It takes 3 to 4 hours to charge them when completely drained.

Verdict

Even though they are functionally the same, we recommend that you get the Garmin Drive 52 or the Garmin Drive 52 and Traffic if you want live traffic tracking.

The Garmin Drive 51 and Drive 52 are basically the same. They have the same set of features and they also have the same layout and interface. Looks-wise, they are also identical. If you are looking to get an entry-level GPS device for your car, we recommend that you get the newer Garmin Drive 52 or the Drive 52 and Traffic since these are newer models and they may have better support in the long run. However, if the older Garmin Drive 51 is significantly discounted at the time of your purchase, we recommend that you get it instead.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ What is the difference between Garmin drive 51 and 52?

You can get the Garmin Drive 51 with either US maps only or with USA and Canada maps. The Garmin Drive 52 comes with both USA and Canada maps.

๐Ÿ“Œ Does the Garmin Drive 52 have lifetime maps?

Yes, the Garmin Drive 52 have lifetime maps in addition to other features such as traffic updates and more.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Garmin Drive 52 a truck GPS?

The Garmin Drive 52 GPS is also suitable for trucks.

๐Ÿ“Œ How long does it take to charge a Garmin drive 52?

It takes around 3 to 4 hours to fully charge the Garmin Drive 52.

Last update on 2022-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Carlo Salvador

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about fitness, gaming and music.