Review: Drive A 4WD Or Truck? Navman's MyEscape Is The GPS For You

Written by Matthew Lentini     06/12/2011 | 00:21 | Category name i.e.AUTOMOTIVE

Navman's latest sat-nav takes the simplicity of its MY series GPS devices and throws it into the niche truck driver market to deliver something special. It's a bulky, sturdy unit with some clever innards, but it's still very user friendly for anyone to jump in and punch in a route.


The MyEscape is a dedicated GPS navigator for heavy vehicle drivers as diverse as campervan drivers and four-wheel-drivers to truckies (but capped out at 9 tonners). On top of the typical array of navigation features, the Escape throws in specialist settings specifically for helping large vehicles get around. These are so seamlessly dropped into the works though that anybody could use the features or use the unit as a standard GPS replacement - but at a $599 premium, it's best to go for a cheaper model if you're a standard driver.

Just because it's a specialist GPS, doesn't mean it overburdens users with complicated additives. The simple user interface holds eight, bold tiles per page across four screens, with a large dedicated button for switching between the four screens. The resistive touch screen is very responsive and switching between menu screens is quick and painless. From power off to power on, boot-up times can hit around 30 seconds including the initial power up and loading maps screen, so it's pretty slow on the uptake. Map load-up times once you're up and running could be quicker for the price, but it runs smooth all-round, much the same as the rest of the higher-end Navman line-up.

As a truckie-friendly GPS, the MyEscape lets users punch in their vehicle details like size and weight then tailors routes to these dimensions. It looks out for low clearance roads, sharp turns, high-wind areas, weight limits, and everything else that affects trucker journeys. While the usual sat-nav will give out a beep for upcoming speed cameras (so does the MyEscape, for that matter), this unit will alert drivers to incoming hairpin turns so they can slow down and prepare for a wider turning circle.
Driving a truck or towing a boat? Input your vehicle dimensions and weight to get routes tailored to the bigger and taller car

Once you throw in the large, rigid mounting arm, the unit gets pretty top heavy - enough to test the strength of the rubber suction cup if you don't have a good position set up. Rigidity works in its favour though, holding firm against shocks and jolts and the typically rumbling chassis of a heavy vehicle. A dust and vibe-proof casing makes it that little bit more resilient. If truckers and van drivers pick up a separate reversing camera, it can be hooked up to the GPS via the AV IN that sits under the mount, turning the GPS into a reversing monitor.

Recreational four-wheel drivers and caravanning families are catered to in the same package with a whole list of navigation features dedicated to the explorer. The sat-nav features pre-installed travel guides and scenic routes for city travelling and 4WD'ing from Lonely Planet (including scenic tours and travel guides), with 4WD routes supplied from HEMA 4WD Tracks.
The simple menu can be customised on a PC.

Bluetooth phone connectivity cleverly integrates with in-built safety features for roadside assist, where insurer and emergency details can be punched in ahead of time and contacted at a push of a button in an emergency. From here, the built-in speaker is easily loud and clear enough to manage hands-free calls. It also houses a smart Bluetooth internet tethering function that allows users to Google search by latching onto a connected phone's internet connection. But with the extensive point-of-interest list with contact details in tow along with Lonely Planet and HEMA 4WD track guides, there's not much of a need for it.

Everything else is quite fast and responsive, even browsing maps. No pinch to zoom or intuitive gestures of the sort, though simple dragging across maps works fine. There are also 3D landmarks that make navigating that little bit easier. On the fly route changing like adding waypoints, skipping waypoints, taking detours or zooming all come up with a tap of the screen. It's very simple, especially if you're already familiar with any previous Navman.

There are cheaper GPS units out there that up the ante with a capacitive touch screen (like that of your smartphone or tablet) with a cheaper price tag, but the MyEscape offers unique features for the unique driver. The resistive touch screen is very responsive still, and suits its rugged environment more than a capacitive touch screen anyway. If you drive a truck and want something tailored to you, this is not to be overlooked. If you're an adventurous driver who wants to get the most out of their 4WD and have money to splurge on an above-average GPS without the perk of compactness, then you're also in luck.

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Pros & Cons

Pros:

Simple user interface with all the crucial keys in convenient place; large, responsive screen; full of features for 4WDs and truck drivers

Cons:

Screen glare is a slight issue when not straight on and in brightly lit environments; slow to boot-up; chunky unit with heavy mount makes it very top-heavy