Disclosure: I received a free loan of this item from Navigon for the purposes of this review. I did not receive any payment and was not required to write a positive review.
In this article I am going to concentrate on the particular features of this unit that might be of interest to motorhomers.
Vehicle Size-Based Routing
Owners of large motorhomes can justifiably get nervous about getting themselves into trouble on roads that are too small. We’ve all seen news stories featuring drivers who followed their sat navs and got stuck and although a bit of common sense is often enough to avoid this problem, there are a growing number of GPS units that will factor in vehicle dimensions to their route planning. This functionality still attracts a premium price, however, as we shall see.
The Navigon 70 Premium Caravan & Truck is one such unit. The 70 Premium is the basis for Navigon’s top of the range offerings and in standard form costs £199.99. The Caravan & Truck model costs £299.99 – an extra hundred pounds – in return for which you are able to configure various additional vehicle types:
- Delivery van
For each of these, you can specify:
- Length, width & height
- No. of trailers
- Total weight and axle weight
- Whether to allow ferries, tolls and ‘restricted zones’ – such as the London Congestion Charging zone
Oddly, despite this model being named ‘Caravan & Truck’, there is not a trailer option if you choose your vehicle type to be car – so you can’t specify a car with a caravan. If you want to use this with a caravan, I would suggest choosing delivery van or motorhome and then adding a trailer with the dimensions of your caravan.
Does It Work?
The important question, of course, is will an extra £100 save you from an embarrassing and possibly costly navigational mistake?
Maybe. This feature works well for mapped restrictions, such as low bridges, signposted width and weight restrictions and so on. The problem is that judging the suitability of a road is not always this simple, as our testing showed.
We tested out this device in the North York Moors and set the vehicle profile to be a motorhome. We chose the dimensions of a typical large coachbuilt – 7m long, 2.3m wide and 2.8m high. The results were mixed.
We decided to set course from Egton Bridge to Goathland (the home of ITV’s Heartbeat). The Navigon’s route started well by following the road signs and staying on the main B road in the area, but it soon went wrong. The Navigon seemed to have decided that we were too big for any of the roads in the vicinity, so it tried to route us back to the main road (A169), from where it would route us back around to Goathland in a long-winded way.
This was inconvenient, but not a big deal – if you didn’t know the area you could either follow the road signs or live with the detour. The real problem was that in a panic-stricken attempt to get us back to the A169, the Navigon routed us down a very narrow single-track road with no real passing places and not much chance to turn around.
The sat nav then continued its mission to get us to take the most direct route possible to the main road by instructing us to take another single-track road, which culminated in a steep ford that is regularly flooded. Fortunately the ford is signposted and we knew that it was flooded and impassable, so we abandoned the route and turned around – something which was easy enough for us but would have been harder in a 7m coachbuilt.
The lesson from this seemed to be that the sat nav didn’t have a pragmatic view of our situation. Had it routed us on the local B road, following the road signs to Goathland, there would have been no problem, although the road was tight. Had I actually followed the route it gave us in a 7m motorhome, we would have had problems, possibly serious, certainly inconvenient.
To be fair to the Navigon, the ford wasn’t marked in our road atlas either, so it appears that it is not marked on most road maps. However, the choice of two unclassified roads rather than a B road does not seem very clever.
Another sat nav feature that is close to many motorhomers hearts is European mapping. As befits a top of the range device, the 70 Premium has lot of European mapping – 44 countries’ worth, to be exact. In an admirable example of honesty, Navigon provides road coverage figures for each country on its website.
All of Western Europe and Scandinavia has 99% coverage, as you would expect. Some Eastern European countries do too, such as Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. Some, however, have much less coverage – 6% in Montenegro and 6% in Ukraine, for example.
Overall, I think the mapping package on this unit is pretty impressive. Some of the countries that are poorly covered are poorly covered by paper maps, too – just try to buy a good road map of Albania (7% coverage) in Waterstones!
A sat nav is not a substitute for common sense or eyesight, and anyone who drives as if it is will deservedly end up in trouble. The Caravan & Truck feature was slightly disappointing in our test but in real life I would never have followed the route in the first place – which would have resulted in the Navigon rerouting us the correct way.
I can see the value of this feature for more wide-ranging use and would consider buying it if I had a large motorhome. It is not uncommon to come across height or weight-restricted bridges in rural driving, often with no warning. Many of these are mapped and using this sat nav should enable you to avoid them without any drama.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Navigon 70 Premium and liked it a lot. All of the main features (see my other review) worked well and it is a smart and stylish piece of kit that feels well made and will fit into even the most elegant of motorhome cabs.