Airstream RV Blog – Garmin GPS Review from Sean Michael on Vimeo.

Garmin nuvi 660: **** (4 Stars)

A GPS unit makes road trips more enjoyable, more safe, and more fun. In the annals of useful inventions, it ranks up there with the wheel, the bread slicer, and the washing machine. If you are in the market for a GPS — and if you own an RV, you should be — then the Garmin nuvi 660 is a brilliant choice.

Is this the perfect GPS? “Perfect” is a loaded term, but this little device makes a strong claim to the title. In the final analysis, it’s almost perfect…

Keeping with tradition, let’s start with the bad news first. It’s almost unfair to discuss this unit’s weaknesses up front, since it has so few. It does so many things so well, it’s easy to lose count. But here are three things that I don’t like about the Garmin:

1. The FM Transmitter has a few problems, especially in urban areas. The goal of this feature is to broadcast the GPS audio to your stereo’s FM receiver, so you get the GPS audio over your vehicle speakers. It’s a great idea in theory, but it frequently gets interference from local radio stations that are competing for your ears. In fairness to the Garmin, all FM transmitters have similar issues. The 660’s does as good a job as any.

2. There are occasional point-of-interest problems. It’s probably not Garmin’s fault, but in the ever-changing American travel landscape, Panera Breads are reproducing like rabbits. And they seem to hop from location-to-location on the map just as fast. The Garmin has a substantial database of restaurants and stores, but there are those (rare, but annoying) times when you may be led to a dead end.

3. There are occasional Bluetooth woes. The Garmin syncs with your cellphone allowing hands-free communication. But sometimes it may sound as if you are speaking through a megaphone, in a wind tunnel, during an F4 tornado.

Next, a sampling of the good news. There’s a lot to love about this GPS. For the sake of brevity, here are ten things I like about the Garmin:

10. The touch screen display is large, beautiful, and viewable from many angles and in broad daylight.

9. The SD card slot allows easy customization and expansion of content. You can load your GPS with digital media like audiobooks, music, photos. You can place a photo of your family on the start-up screen, which is kind of nice.

8. Firmware upgrades are available. Simply connect your GPS to a PC and (after installing Garmin software) it will connect to the mothership and download software updates. Garmin seems to be active in upgrading the firmware, so that maps draw faster and overall performance is improved. They also offer additional speech voices, all at no extra charge.

7. This GPS offers Bluetooth integration, so you can chat on your cellphone hands-free. It easily syncs with your cell phone and imports your contacts. When it works — and it usually works just fine — it’s brilliant!

6. The audiobook reader is fantastic for extended RV trips. Last year Kristy and I drove some 15,000 miles with audiobooks delivering the in flight entertainment. A great book really makes long hours on the road melt away.

5. The TTS (Text-to-Speech) feature is helpful and fun. Quite simply, this means the GPS will say street names and whatever else you happen to type. Instead of just saying, “Turn right,” it will say, “Turn right on Main Street.”

4. Thanks to fast satellite location, the boot-up process lasts but a few seconds. This GPS has excellent range, and even seems to find satellites indoors.

3. There’s an excellent database of points-of-interest here. On an extended RV trip, you will discover that these points-of-interest are crucial. Want to find the nearest Wal-Mart to stop for the night? This baby will lead you there, turn by turn. Sure, it gets a few wrong from time-to-time. But it usually is spot on.

2. Garmin includes a lovely leather case with the Nuvi 660. At first I thought we would ignore the case, but it has actually come in very handy. One of the benefits of a portable GPS is…portability. So you will appreciate the case more than you expect.

1. The price is right. When it debuted, the Nuvi 660 cost a bundle, with an MSRP clocking in at over a grand. But today you can find them for a third of that price. The Nuvi 660 regularly goes for $350 and up. And in case you are wondering, there are no subscription fees to the basic GPS services. (Garmin does offer a subscription-based traffic alert system, but it’s not necessary.)

To be blunt: I love this GPS! Garmin has gotten so much so right with this “travel assistant” that it seems crazy to nitpick. If you are planning an extended RV road trip of any kind, you will appreciate having this puppy on board. Especially if you are a man who refuses to stop and ask for directions.

Garmin nuvi 660: **** (4 Stars)

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  1. Pingback: Your Questions About Garmin Nuvi Reviews | ALLD Reviews

  2. Pingback: Garmin Nuvi 660 Portable GPS | GPS for Motorcycles, Comparisons and Reviews

  3. So I have researched the Zumo 660 specifically made for motorcycle use but came across your post and am intrigued. Some motorcyclist just might like the nuvi 660 over the motorcycle specific zumo 660.

  4. Which GPS System? has personally tested and evaluated all of the leading GPS systems so to give you an easy and simple recommendation of which ones you should choose.

    The nüvi 660 is one of Which GPS System?’s top picks with the following review:

    The good: The Garmin nüvi 660 offers an accurate GPS receiver, text-to-speech functionality, and traffic capabilities. The versatile system also features a gorgeous display, integrated Bluetooth, travel tools, and multimedia functions.

    The bad: The device is expensive, and there are no external volume controls. The system also doesn’t support multidestination route creation.

    The bottom line: If you can afford the hefty price tag, the Garmin nüvi 660 is a solid-performing and versatile GPS device that offers all the navigation basics, tools for the world traveler, Bluetooth, and more.

    For more top picks and reviews, please visit

  5. With the technology advancing so quickly, it’s tough to choose a “best” GPS. In fact, I’m reminded of the old axiom — the best GPS is the one you happen to own. 🙂

  6. I think Garmin Nuvi 350 is the best GPS navigation system in my opinion.

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  9. Timothy

    Hi Sean, hope all is well with mickey. I read youre posts regularly. Quite an interesting progression my dear Watson. I do beleive Bond about has it all figured out, thanks to good people like yourself and youre good wife, and many un-named others. The 1st panera bread lick was the one that slew the giant, and raised the antenae, but not the 1st notice by any means. Yrs of experience with 007 has sharpened the 2 edged sword to a fine line. Saw youre new post today, the 28th, and as always right on target. Keep up the good work and thanks for all the helpful information. Happy Tailgating !!

  10. John, we haven’t had our Garmin a year yet, but I would be sorely disappointed if it failed so quickly. As for fees, the Garmin has no required subscription fees. Map updates cost, but they are optional. I think you could just buy the unit, do the free firmware updates, and be fine. So far, I haven’t paid for anything beyond the initial cost of the GPS.

  11. Hi John, most of our customers use their GARMIN GPS for several years. Some of our customers have been using them for 10 years. The map updates do cost. Most of the newer GARMIN units we charge $60.00 for the map update. Some of the older units the update is only available through GARMIN and the last update was $75.00. The unit firmware updates are always a free download from the GARMIN website. The GARMIN BlueTooth can be shut off but I don’t think they would interfere anyway. Let me know if you have any other questions about GPS. My email is [email protected] Thanks.

  12. John Ciemnieski

    Last September I purchased a Magellan Roadmate 2000. A friend also purchased a Tom Tom. Both units failed within a year. I recently received from Magellan a notice for an update. Price $75.00. Has anyone had success with any GPS that lasted over a year??? A Best Buy associate advised my friend that the GPS they handle were only good for a year or better. Does Garmin charge for updates????????????? I have an installed hands free phone system in my RV and Auto so Blue Tooth might interfere with it??????????????????. Prior to purchasing the GPS I subscribed to Verizons turn by turn routing but in some cases where there is no Verizon tower you cannot reset your route. So much for technology and inexperienced users. I would be interested in any and all replies.

  13. Darrel, thanks for the tip. I will check out the new maps and POI update. I’m sure it will come in handy this summer!

    Thanks Ricky Bobby… And I agree, having a GPS is fantastic for RV owners (especially those, for example, who are tired and looking for the nearest Wal-Mart parking lot). And by the way, you were great in that movie! 😀

  14. Ricky Bobby

    Great review. I have a Nuvi 350. While it doesn’t have all the features the 660 or the 700 series has, its still a great help when I’m out of town. I never travel without it.

    I like using it to find restaurants or places for entertainment. It’s even great if you want to find shopping centers. Great video, great review. Keep em coming Sean!

  15. Hi Sean, also there is a new map update that just recently became available for many of the GARMIN units. The City Navigator North America NT update is available from GARMIN for $69.95 and can be downloaded but it is a huge download and people have been having problems with it. The download is a new thing just started in the last couple of weeks. Most customer are choosing to just order the DVD to eliminate the download problems. We sell the update for $60.00. The map and POI update may help you find some of those new rabbits….err I mean Panterra Bread’s that your short on. 😉 Units registered after 3/1/08 should be eligble for a free map update. Also as you mention it is a good idea to run the WebUpdater program with your GARMIN GPS. I recommend doing that on a monthly basis. Go to to download the WebUpdater program. The GARMIN firmware updates are always free. Thanks.

  16. Hi Sean, some of the GARMIN units have a campground category but I have never found out why the nuvi doesn’t. I have requested that GARMIN add it but to date they obviously haven’t.

  17. There are many RV Parks and campgrounds built into the POI database of the Garmin 6xx/7xx nuvi family. They are mixed in with the lodging category. If you know the name, or at least part of the name of the park you can find them. I use a 780 myself and love it.

    At the risk of injecting a “shameless plug” into the conversation, that’s one of the reasons we developed our Ultimate RV Parks and Campgrounds Directory. It is well on its way to becoming exactly what Sean is talking about. It lists over 50,000 parks and other RV-related business as “Custom POIs” kept separate from the other lodging POIs. We don’t have the road restriction and low clearances in it quite yet, but we’re planning that for later this year.

    A bit more “back on topic” – the Nuvi 6xx does have a few programming issues that cause us to recommend the 7xx series for anyone looking for an upper-end unit. The 7xx interface seems a bit more intuitive. In addition, we’ve found it necessary to work around several problems programming the 6xx series POIs. These problems are present in the 7xx units.

  18. Darrel, we will give that a shot. Last month we were camping at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness. The campground appeared under the “resorts” section of lodging. I had to dig around a bit to find it.

    It would be ideal to have an RV customization package for this (or any other) GPS. The package would direct travelers to RV-appropriate roads, pit stops, and campgrounds (with reviews). I’m sure that someone, somewhere, is working on this idea…

  19. Hi Sean, when I try to find a campground on GPS’s without a campgroud category I search by name and search for campground or rv or park. That seems to bring most of them up anyway.

  20. 2old, after tapping my 660 a bit more, I can see what you mean. The city search does seem to produce counterintuitive results with regard to ordering. I searched for a nearby city and it emerged on page 2 of the search results, instead of being top of the list. Yes, I would chalk this up to a programming glitch. I’m surprised they haven’t corrected it in a firmware update.

    My GPS has software version 4.40. Have you updated your firmware? Perhaps that would help (although it didn’t in my case).

    That said, I very rarely have used the city search functionality. For whatever reason, it hasn’t been something we’ve really needed to use.

    Dave, your point about RV-appropriate roads is a good one. I’m not sure if there’s a GPS catering to RVers. I can report that the Garmin is not really RV-focused. For example, it lacks a dedicated campground search. But our solution has been Trailer Life. We usually find a recommended Good Sam campground, and plug the address in the Garmin.

  21. 2oldman

    “2old, I haven’t had any problems with the city search, but I’m sure your particular issues are disappointing”

    Assuming your city search works the same way, it doesn’t bother you? It doesn’t seem like a programming goof?

  22. Dave B

    I’m not sure if this is the right place for this comment but a problem for RVers using a GPS is that one can be routed over undesireable roads. I once was routed onto a road with a 25 foot length restriction in my 36 ft motorhome plus a toad. It was not fun.

    Do you know of any GPS products to solve this problem?

  23. Marc

    Thanks Sean for the quick reply and answer. Sounds good to me.

  24. Darrel, I’m sure the 760 is a nice unit. If someone wants to send me one, I’ll be happy to review it. 🙂

    2old, I haven’t had any problems with the city search, but I’m sure your particular issues are disappointing. Maybe this is something you could raise with Garmin? Who knows, perhaps one of their firmware updates could address the problem.

    Marc, the 660 definitely connects to your PC via USB. The PC will recognize it as a storage device, and you can easily drag & drop fresh media to it. The GPS comes with a software CD. Once installed, it’s a cinch to update the firmware on your GPS.

  25. DavidJ

    I had a 660 and it was a good unit but has a few more faults than you mentioned. I agree with Darrel about the 7xx series. They allow multiple way point routing which the 660 doesn’t.

    The Fm transmitter isn’t Garmiin’s fault and it should be mentioned that all FM transmitters have been neutered by the FCC.

    The POI’s are a constant complaint with all manufacturers. I wish the manufacturers would allow you to buy more POI’s if you wanted to. Having said that I’ve only owned one GPS with more built-in POI’s than the Nuvi and that was an Iway 500C.

  26. Marc

    A quick question

    All the descriptions I have read for the 660 say no connectivity to your PC.

    Are they not listing the description accurately ?

    Thank you for a great review,has me looking.

  27. Michael

    Yep, I can’t agree more about the Nuvi 660. It is simply an indispensible travel aid along with “The Next Exit.” I now have two 660s, one for me and one for my wife’s car. She uses the traffic alert feature to avoid gridlock on her long freeway commute.

    The one feature I could not do without anymore is the Text To Speech function. It makes a HUGE difference when negotiating the myriad route / lane changes on unfamiliar metro freeways in the MH + dinghy. Just listen to the spoken directions and concentrate on the driving.

    The 660 truly is a great GPS, especially at today’s bargain prices. I highly recommend it. A+

  28. 2oldman

    I have a 660, and I wouldn’t travel without it. However, one thing I really dislike is the city search.

    I’m in Washington. I search for Odessa. The list of Odessa results starts with Odessa, ON (didn’t know we had a state ON) 2053 miles away. The list doesn’t appear to be in any order – next is GA, NE, WV… all thousands of miles away (and not sorted). I have to go to the bottom of the 3rd page to find Odessa WA.

    This makes no sense.

  29. Hi again, I should have also added that the nuvi 760 is the newer model that will eventually replace the 660. The differences are the 760 no longer has the flip up antenna, it has a “where am I button” that will show you your current lat/long, closest address, nearest intersection, nearest police station, hospital and fuel station all on one screen. It also shows speed limits on Interstates, it will automatically remember the location where you last took the GPS out of the mount. This is handy for finding your vehicle in a large parking lot after you remove it from the mount to take it with you so some thug doesn’t remove it for you. The 760 will also allow you to create and save manually created routes as well as let you do multiple destinations in a route. For more info on the 760 go to