Brian Smith

December 6, 2023

10 minutes

The Best Trucking GPS Devices VS Awesome GPS Apps

The Best Trucking GPS Devices VS Awesome GPS Apps

Planning a route is considerably easier if you use a tool that was specifically made with truck drivers in mind. Even if you only have one stop, you can leverage the best trucking GPS to avoid traffic, bad weather, low bridges, and narrow roads.

A feature-rich GPS can keep you running safely and efficiently, planning hours of service (HOS) with precision and plotting out multi-drop routes with ease.

Below we've created a comparison of the top contenders in the trucking GPS game complete with reviews from drivers and all the specs you need to make an informed decision.

Device VS Apps: Which is Better?

Many drivers use a standalone GPS or a combination of a few apps: one to plan a route, one to locate truck stops along that route, and/or one to see a nice satellite view of lots.

The best GPS for truckers can do it all, but they get pricey, with the most popular models reaching up to $800. Because they're such a large investment, we're here to help you decide the best options for you.

First, we'll cover GPS devices, then we'll move on to the most common and helpful apps.

best trucker gps units

Features to Look for in the Best Trucker GPS Devices

Not just any old GPS will do; you'll notice as you shop that some have more features than others, longer lifetimes, and more ease of use. In order to get the most out of your investment, it's important to choose the best GPS for truckers that's equipped with the following.

Screen Size

A large screen means more visibility and less time squinting at the screen. This is important for safety and comfort. It also provides better touchscreen use, making it easier to punch in details without fumbling over small buttons. Most trucking GPS devices are pretty large, but some nowadays are self-declared GPS tablets.

Updates & Customer Support

Roadways change every year, and the best GPS for truckers keeps up. There's not much sense in getting a several-hundred-dollar system that doesn't offer accurate maps and POI updates, not to mention the day-to-day changes like detours, closed roads, and traffic jams. Many systems stop welcoming updates after a few years, which is when it's time to replace.

The best trucker GPS will not only offer frequent system updates, built-in Wi-Fi, and a helpful customer service team to step in when you can't figure something out. Make sure to check the box for warranty information and troubleshooting instructions.

Semi Truck Specific Features

Unlike a typical GPS built for personal vehicles, trucker GPS systems have atlas-like features that help drivers avoid low bridges and construction, and find rest stops or safe places to pull over. They also allow you to enter the dimensions and weight of the loaded truck to formulate the safest, fastest, and shortest possible route. These are all factors that increase a driver's bottom line; every hour counts.

In some cases, sprinter van driving or hot shot trucking doesn't require the use of an expensive device. For semi drivers, some non-negotiables in the best trucker GPS include:

  • Hands-free calling (some systems connect to your phone with Bluetooth).
  • Weight-restricted road info.
  • Stand-alone Wi-Fi for map updates.
  • Destination and POI details.

Our Search for The Best Trucking GPS

Ask just about anyone and they'll tell you the best trucker GPS is any Garmin or Rand McNally. But there are several other good truck GPS brands out there. The problem is, it's hard to decipher a quality product from one that will crap out after 6 months or a year. So why trust us?

We judged our top picks by researching several avenues:

  • Narrowing down the list by requiring certain ultra-important features.
  • Read positive and negative Amazon and private seller reviews.
  • Watched hours of YouTube video reviews from drivers that explained their personal pros and cons.
  • Browsed trucker forums on Reddit, Truckersreport.com, Trucker Truth, and Bulkloads.com. 
  • Compared new and old models of the same brand, acknowledging that most sellers wrap the same technology up on a larger screen and charge double the price.

At a Glance

Comparing The Best Trucking GPS Devices

Below you'll find the top contenders we found on our search for the best truck GPS. We've outlined the pros, cons, price comparisons, and real driver reviews to help you make your own decision.

Remember - you don't always need the shiny latest device to get the job done. Most brands offer system updates that install newer technology into older devices, so don't feel pressure to upgrade your GPS every time a new one comes out.

Rand McNally 750

Rand McNally is the best gps for trucks

Rand McNally is known as one of the best truck GPS brands. Of their models, this one has the best value for price balance. While the 1050 has great reviews and a larger 10" screen, we weren't able to prove that its features are worth the steep price.

Most reviewers are satisfied, but quite a few complain of a short battery life and longer routes than necessary. Most of these complaints seem to be resolvable, with a few settings tweaks addressed in this YouTube review.

It's also important to note that many truckers are still happy with their Rand 740 550 trucker GPS units, but we didn't put them in first place due to being unsure how much longer they will support updates.

Best for: Functionality & Guidance Viewing

Cost: $399.99

Screen Size: 7"

Pros

  • Anti-glare screen protector.
  • Functions well.
  • Speed limit warnings.
  • Shows fuel prices.

Cons

  • Auto dim and brightness feature for day/night comfort.
  • Doesn't always suggest the fastest route option.
  • Won't charge fast enough while in use.

Trucker Reviews Mention:

  • Several route issues if you don't pay attention to settings with detail.
  • User-friendly, features work as they should, upgraded map software looks great.
Rand McNally 750 gps positive review
Rand McNally 750 gps negative review

Garmin dezl 710

Garmin Dezl is the best trucking gps

Best for: Most Reliable

Cost: $349.99

Screen Size: 6" - 10"

Bad reviews for this device are few and far between. Any complaints we have seen have been related to ordering a faulty device from Amazon. Divers like its quick recalculations and vast POI-finding options. It seems to work faster than older models, and the screen has more pixels for a clearer, upgraded view. For this price range, the Dezl 710 is the best truck GPS we've found.

Pros

  • Wireless updates.
  • Voice assist for touch-free command.
  • Fuel prices.

Cons

  • Unexplained lost signal.
  • Does not alert of speed traps.

Trucker Reviews Mention:

  • Be careful if ordering on Amazon - they have been sending used devices when drivers ordered a new one.
  • Sometimes it loses signal on and off while driving.
Garmin dezl 710 gps positive review
Garmin dezl 710 gps negative review

OHREX N800

OHREX gps for truck drivers as a low-budget option

Best for: Low budgets

Cost: $69.99

Screen Size: 7"

This low-cost device is one of the best truck GPS for smaller budgets. Drivers say it does the trick when used together with an atlas and a mobile app with traffic reports. Unlike many other low-budget GPS devices, you can input trailer/RV dimensions in this and get a customized route.

Pros

  • Bluetooth hands-free calling.
  • Strong suction cup.
  • Free lifetime map updates.

Cons

  • Screen protector has a bit of a glare.
  • No traffic updates.
  • Not as user-friendly as the other brands.

Trucker Reviews Mention:

  • It announces turns too late which can be a safety issue.
  • Must be used together with an atlas or Google Maps.
  • "You get what you pay for".
OHREX N800 gps positive review
OHREX N800 gps negative review

TomTom Trucker 620

TomTom trucker gps systems are long-lasting

Best for: Long-Lasting

Cost: $140 - $475

Screen Size: 6"

You might have noticed that TomTom doesn't sell devices on their website any longer. Despite only used models being on the market, they remain one of the best GPS for truckers. This is a testament to their longevity and value. TomTom continues to provide system updates despite its decline as a trucker GPS contender -- so you don't need to worry about your device going obsolete anytime soon.

Pros

  • Bluetooth & Wi-Fi connection.
  • SD card for additional storage.
  • Longer lasting than Garmin and Rand McNally.

Cons

  • Have to buy used/refurbished.
  • Updates come later than competitors.

Trucker Reviews Mention:

  • Traffic and weather updates are great.
  • Easier trip planning than Garmin.
  • It will send you down restricted roads.
TomTom Trucker 620 gps positive review
TomTom Trucker 620 gps negative review

Rand McNally 550

any Rand McNally model is a good gps for truck drivers

Best for: Non-obstructed views.

Cost: $300 - 329.99

Screen Size: 5"

This is essentially the TND750, but with a smaller screen and a lower price. If you're okay with the 5" screen, this is the pick for you. Note that this one also seems to have battery life issues, whereas the Garmins offer longer, less problematic battery lives.

Pros

  • Compact solution.
  • Wifi and Bluetooth.
  • Same technology as the newer models due to frequent system updates.

Cons

  • Some drivers complain that the screen is too small, making buttons hard to press.
  • Must charge when not in use; charging while using isn't enough.

Trucker Reviews Mention:

  • They seem to last around three years before needing replacement.
  • Fast updates and great satellite map view.
  • Beginner drivers might want a larger screen.
  • Charges slow (like other Rand McNallys).
Rand McNally 550 gps positive review
Rand McNally 550 gps negative review

Features to Look for in the Best GPS Apps for Truckers

Your GPS should be like your sidekick - useful in all types of situations. Like devices, apps can help you stay out of sticky situations, monitor MPH, save money, and even preview lots with a satellite view. Here's what to look out for in the best GPS apps for trucks.

Mileage and Tracking

Having your own copy of mileage records provides a level of autonomy and serves as concrete proof of your driving. This can be invaluable for personal record-keeping or resolving any disputes related to your mileage.

Choosing a good GPS app for truck drivers with quick and easy access to mileage information can be extremely timesaving. Look for apps with intuitive platforms that allow you to retrieve mileage data effortlessly so you can stay focused on the road.

Approved Roadways

Unlike regular GPS apps designed for small vehicles, a trucker-specific GPS considers trailer size and legal restrictions. This ensures routes adhere to commercial vehicle regulations, avoiding hazards, and reroutes. The best GPS for truck drivers will prioritize approved roadways, helping you steer clear of narrow streets and low-hanging bridges. This helps keep journeys safe and to minimize stress on the road. 

Live Alerts & Updates

Good GPS apps for truck drivers can keep you in the loop with real-time traffic updates. Weather alerts add another layer of preparedness, keeping drivers equipped to navigate through or avoid ice, snow, wind, and storms. These live updates aren't just about convenience; they're about planning efficient routes and steering clear of time crunches. 

Voice Commands

Voice command is another important safety feature, however, it's less common to find among apps. Typing or manually inputting information into a GPS is distracting and takes attention away from the road, which is especially dangerous for solo drivers. Truck drivers often need to make quick adjustments to routes or find specific points of interest driving, and doing so as a solo driver is just plain unsafe unless you have voice command.

The best GPS for truck drivers will have a voice command feature that works well; one that never understands you correctly is just frustrating.

Find Stops and Stations

Trucker-specific POIs include truck stops, rest areas, weigh stations, and service centers – essential destinations not commonly featured in lower-grade GPS alternatives. While there are individual apps catering to specific trucking needs, you can imagine how having an all-in-one, the best GPS for truck drivers, solution simplifies the process. For example, there are separate apps for CAT scales, lot parking availability, weather, and more. But, that's a lot of apps to keep checking.

Our Search for The Best Truck GPS App

Like our search for the best GPS device above, we scoured the web to find the best truck GPS app. We started on trucker forums and YouTube to hear what actual drivers had to say. Most drivers have a list of apps they use in conjunction with each other. Then, we checked out each app's features and app store reviews to discover if there were any details missed in those reviews.

Best GPS Apps for Truckers

Even if you have a GPS device, apps can be extremely beneficial for their variety of specialized services. For example, your GPS could show you where the truck stops are, but only an app can show you how many empty spaces are left.

Note that many truck driving companies have created their own apps that help drivers with GPS-like capabilities. Also, most fuel cards for truckers come with location-finding apps. These are a must-have if you want to take advantage of those discounts.

best truck gps apps

Below are the best GPS apps for truckers:

Hammer (GPS) 

Hammer is a free GPS app specifically for truckers. Here are a few highlights:

  • POI recommendations.
  • Parking availability.
  • Off-line functionality.
  • Gas prices.
  • Weigh station hours.
  • Customize by truck size.
  • Plan multi-stop routes.

Many truckers consider Hammer to be the best GPS app for truckers and use it alongside their GPS as a comparison because it's easier to see POIs on it. As with any GPS, there are issues here and there with inaccurate guidance or, in the case of Hammer, it uses a lot of cellular data.

Hammer is the best gps app for truckers

Waze (Police & Traffic Updates)

Waze is another free navigation app that drivers use alongside trucker GPS systems. 

While Waze doesn't have a 'vehicle type' filter that would make it immensely more useful for truckers, it stands out for its community-based data. Drivers can easily report road obstructions, traffic, speed traps, and more. This gives drivers real-time updates and allows them to benefit from not just satellite data but also the data that other users input.

Overall, Waze is the best way, so far, to avoid speed traps and can easily run alongside your GPS.

waze can be used as a truck gps app

CoPilot App (GPS & Route Planning)

The CoPilot App is customizable for trucks, RVs, and cars. It does have a trailer size input to help avoid restricted roads and low bridges, and recommends POIs along your route.

The app has 3.5/5 stars on Google Play and Apple, with most negative reviews citing various glitches relating to the accuracy of trailer size restrictions.

Overall, this is a pretty good truck GPS app for the low cost of $10/month.

CoPilot is a useful truck gps app

Google Maps (Street View & Satellite)

Google Maps doesn't yet offer trucker GPS systems, but they do have a number of valuable features.

The most popular use is for the satellite view of stops, including docks and parking areas. Some drivers use it to plan trips while using the toll filter and the avoid small roads feature. 

Obviously, since you can't adjust for trailer size, there's no way to guarantee their routes will be safe for semis, so we like it as a way to preview docks before you get into too tight of a situation.

best gps app for truckers

How Cota Systems Helps Truckers

Cota Systems is dedicated to helping logistics professionals navigate the supply chain with some expert tools in their pocket. Our platform facilitates seamless connections between direct shippers, brokers, and vetted carriers, giving all parties a sense of security and efficiency.

We also put drivers first. We are a team of past truckers and industry professionals who know how hard it is to stay afloat. We use driver testimony to write our guides, making sure every article is created with the interest of drivers in mind.

Free Dispatch Software

Our trucking dispatch software, CarrierPro, makes it easy for carriers to make more money on the road, right from their smartphone. Carriers have the opportunity to explore available loads along their route, minimizing unloaded miles and simplifying the load-finding process through and through.

Cota Systems Mobile App

Our TMS for carriers offers a number of timesaving benefits like real-time notifications, simple load board browsing, and streamlined document scan and send. It's designed to help carriers increase profit per trip and earn more money per mile - and it does, especially when used along with an advanced GPS system to guide the way.

Free Load Board

What's better than a free load board? One that lets you sync up all your favorite load boards in one place. The Cota Systems load board feature makes it possible to book a load from shippers you can trust; we work hard to prevent double brokering by vetting all parties before they get access, not after they get a complaint.

Free Freight Factoring

For Cota Systems loads, freight factoring is handled by us. We pay our carriers while we wait for payment, never making a carrier suffer due to a slow paying customer. You can't beat same-day payments and no factoring fees! For private loads, we can connect you with a factoring company that will best suit your needs and situation.

Education and Resources for Truckers

Cota Systems serves as your all-in-one destination for logistics information and insights. Our comprehensive guides cover a range of subjects for drivers looking to increase their margins to shippers struggling to stay within budget. Whether it's a thorough CDL pre-trip inspection checklist or an exhaustive manual on avoiding double brokering, our team has a guide to help navigate the waters.

Why trust our research? We leverage our extensive industry expertise and relationships to maintain up-to-date, accurate guides. Our active connections with carriers of all sizes and shippers from different industries mean we stay informed on the latest changes and challenges in the world of shipping.

Key Takeaways: Finding the Best Trucker GPS

Trucker GPS units aren't cheap, so of course the goal is to strike a balance between longevity and feature-rich software. Most of the best GPS for truck drivers on our list have the same features, but the difference is in usability and reliability. Many complaints about inaccurate routing, for example, can be avoided by taking a bit of extra time spent in the settings. 

After our in-depth research process, our top recommendation is the Garmin Dezl 710. It's got all the advanced features you'd expect of a new GPS without the battery issues of the Rand McNally.  

Another key takeaway is that drivers of all ages still use their Rand McNally atlas. You can't always rely on having service to get you where you need to go, and old-school maps never fail.

Brian Smith

I joined Cota Systems to help U.S. truckers grow their businesses. I proudly served in the U.S. Navy, managed some of the largest brands on earth, and I'm excited to share what I've learned with you. Truckers are the backbone of our great nation and when you and your family are thriving, so is America! 🇺🇸

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