Which GPS Systems Have Lane Assist?

By Fred Decker

Lane Assist or similar technology makes it easier to navigate unfamiliar interchanges.
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Many sections of street or highway aren't friendly to the uninitiated. Even if you use a GPS device to plot out your route's twists and turns, you might easily find yourself in the wrong lane, watching helplessly as you pass the correct turn. Instead of making a time-consuming detour to get back to the right spot or making a difficult or dangerous last-minute lane change, many modern GPS units provide guidance to steer you into the correct lane. Lane Assist is Garmin's name for this feature.

Lane Assist 101

In the upper left corner of your Garmin, you'll see an icon resembling a road sign, with arrows indicating turn lanes. Normally, touching that icon shows you your next turn. On models with Lane Assist, it changes your screen from the conventional map view to a graphical representation of the upcoming turn, with a brightly colored arrow showing your correct path through the lanes. Once you've successfully navigated the difficult stretch, touch the Lane Assist icon once more to return to your normal map view.

Model Selection

The Lane Assist feature is available on a number of Garmin's mid- and upper-range GPS devices. Although the actual models will vary over time, in November 2012 there were a total of 50 models supporting Lane Assist. These included the Nuvi Prestige series and Advanced series, with model numbers in the 2400 and 3400 series and 2500 and 3500 series, as well as the Nuvi 30, 40, 50 and many others. Some trucker-oriented Dezl and Nuvi models also include the feature, which can be a great help to drivers who frequently haul loads to unfamiliar destinations.

Upgrade Path

Unfortunately, Lane Assist isn't a feature that can be added to existing models. If your current Garmin doesn't support it, the only way to add Lane Assist is by upgrading to a newer model. If you aren't going to keep your older GPS for another vehicle, it can be sold or -- in some cases -- traded in to offset part of the upgrade cost. Garmin's outlet store in Chicago accepts trade-ins, and so do some electronics retailers such as Radio Shack. Any maps you've purchased from Garmin already include the Lane Assist data, so you won't have to buy new ones after you upgrade.

Competitive Products

Lane Assist is Garmin's approach to lane-changing guidance, but other manufacturers offer similar technology. For example, rival GPS maker TomTom offers a competitive feature called Advanced Lane Guidance. ALG works automatically, switching to the lane-changing view automatically when you're getting close to your turn. Magellan calls its version of the technology Highway Lane Assist, and most other manufacturers offer variations on the theme. If lane-changing assistance sounds like a make-or-break feature for your next GPS, search the manufacturers' websites for that feature or ask the staff at your favorite electronics store.