Garmin Real Directions in Real Life

CraigW's picture

Many new Garmin On The Road GPS devices now offer Real Directions when using navigational voices that speak Garmin Real Directions™. In addition to navigating with spoken directions including street names, Real Directions now adds comments including terms like stop sign, traffic light, and at the end of the road. It also sometimes includes landmarks seen as you approach a turn. A great example of these features is available on YouTube where the Turn left before the Performing Arts Center is an example of a landmark and Turn right at the traffic light is another example of Real Directions.

The YouTube video gives a great example of a route with Real Directions in a perfect world but what can you expect to hear as you travel a route using a nuvi with Real Directions?

  • Very common occurrences of Real Directions: Upcoming turns include phrases with stop sign, traffic light, end of the road, and instructions like be in either of the two left lanes, etc.
  • Less common occurrences: Upcoming turns include a reference to landmarks such as Performing Arts Center, Carl's Jr., Starbucks, etc.

In researching when landmark notifications can be expected, I've learned several things as noted below* thanks to the effort of The Factory user charlesd45 who contacted Garmin:

  • Currently, landmarks are often available only in large cities.
  • Some businesses are more often offered as landmarks than others.
  • Landmarks mentioned by name that offer Real Directions are built into the map file and therefore future City Navigator North America NT map updates may include new landmarks not heard in earlier map updates.

If you live in an area that currently does not offer landmark navigational advice, you can experience landmark announcements by putting your GPS into GPS Simulator Mode, then setting your location at the intersection below in Las Vegas, NV with a destination of the Convention Center suggested by The Factory's user Box Car:

Box Car wrote:

Driving south on Las Vegas Blvd from Fremont to the convention center you will be told to "Turn left before the Carl's Jr."

That's a great test of Real Directions because it includes a Carl's Jr., Starbucks, and a new instruction I've not heard before: "Make a slight right turn at the traffic light." (I'd never heard the word "slight" stated before.)

Using this route offered by Box Car, I tested landmark announcements with all seven English language voices that offer Real Directions and found that all seven offer the identical landmark annoucements.

It is not known which cities and how many landmarks are offered with the current map. I did find that in February of 2013, the New York Times published an article stating that 52 cities in the United States offered landmark navigation. Here's a second link if the NYT's link has expired:

*Our charlesd45 received from Garmin in part, regarding landmarks:

It does not work at every landmark. It is only for what is preloaded on the mapping software. Just as junction view files do not display at every junction.

The way the Garmin Real directions will work, if the landmark data is included in the software, it will give you Real directions if you hear the examples you provided, such as when it says Bank of America, and Crackle [sic] Barrel, and traffic light, and yes it does use certain companies, unfortunately, we do not have a list of those companies.

It will be in more of a more metropolitan area, or heavily populated areas. We also do not have a list of the heavily populated areas. I hope this answered your questions.


I am happy to assist you. The Real Direction and Real Voice is still very young, and like the junction view as time goes and more updates to the mapping are done more landmarks will be added. It will not have everything in the device as of yet. As long as you keep up with the mapping update, which it does appear that you are they will continue adding to the database.

Garmin has a FAQ listing which models and which navigational voices offer Real Directions.

If you wish to suggest additions or revisions to this faq, please post a reply to this thread on this site regarding Real Directions.

Change History

  • CraigW - Jan 4, 2016
    Added Garmin link and a frequently heard Real Directions phrase