Welcome to our new blog series "Inside The Cab". This will be the first blog in a series pertaining to anything inside or on the cab that may help improve life on the road. We will cover everything from electronics to the best way we found to keep your windshield bug free. We would appreciate your feedback and ideas. You can submit your ideas by clicking here on Inside The Cab Submission Form
This is a GPS review blog. Cobra 7750 Platinum (Currently priced at around $400 VS. TomTom XL Currently priced at around $140. This will not be a sophisticated or technical review. This is just one teams opinion after testing them side by side for two years. We started out using just a TomTom and checked the route against a Road Truck Atlas and/or online maps.
The TomTom, paired with these other mapping methods, works very well. Even when we've relied only on the TomTom, we've gotten into very few tight spots and nothing we couldn't get out of easily. The fact is that this is not a truck oriented GPS. It still requires some due diligence and common sense. However, most driving in a Big Rig does. Before driving into an unknown location, we would always cross check the Atlas and/or online maps to determine the best route suitable for a tractor trailer. This unit tends to try and take you on the shortest route which may mean back roads and alley ways. So, mapping ahead of time is essential when using this GPS if you are traveling into places you have never been. The TomTom is relatively cheap and easy to use right out of the box.
We have heard the trucking GPS units were not too reliable. So rather than laying out five hundred dollars cash we saved up the equivalent in reward points from Flying J Pilot to obtain our Cobra GPS unit. We'll start with the positive aspects of the Cobra because there are not many. It can find truck stops and rest areas very easily in your current route. This is extremely helpful when you need to shut down due to hours of service regulations and if you are not familiar with the route. It can also find Walmart locations and other points of interest along the way. It even notifies you of state borders and weight stations. These are convenient but not the sole purpose of the device.
This brings us to our dislikes. Our number one complaint is, that it does not properly navigate a truck when you really need it to. If we had to solely rely on this unit we would be in a lot of trouble. For example, driving into some areas of New Jersey, it can't find a way in or out. Even if you switch it from five axle to three axle and even further we've tried setting it on car mode. It still couldn't find it's way in or out. This is not an isolated incident. This was the first real test we gave it and we could never fully trust it again. Just to make sure we did test it in other heavily populated areas and it usually failed one way or another.
Often times it will warn you that the road your on is truck restricted but it is not. Other times, you know you've ended up on a restricted road and it does not know. The graphics are disappointing for a unit in it's price range that has a seven inch screen. Due to the size of the screen, you can't seem to get it dim enough for night driving. We usually end up throwing a hat over it during the night. When you turn it on at night it comes on in day light mode even though you left in night mode. This is a nuisance because it won't dim into night mode until after it "boots up". During that minute, you're temporarily blinded by the brightness if you are driving at night.
Overall, we are most comfortable with our TomTom GPS if we had to choose one for navigating purposes only. Though, we would miss most the ability to find truck stops, rest areas and other places along our route quickly. We've heard other drivers speak highly of their Truck GPS devices such as the ones made by Rand McNally. If you have had a good experience, we'd love to hear about it.