Off-roading with Navman Drive Duo SUV

In the world of vehicle mapping technologies, aftermarket suppliers such as Navman are operating in a very competitive market, not only competing against GPS units fitted as standard in many new vehicles, but also now against smartphone GPS applications.

Finding a unique position in the competitive marketplace is key, and the Navman Drive Duo SUV does that by combining a navigation tool and in-car dash-cam in one.

The Drive Duo SUV is a 6.0-inch unit that combines city and country road maps with over 123,000km of light off-road tracks such as forestry trails and dirt roads through National Parks.

It offers light off-roaders and families the opportunity to get off the beaten track to a range of picnic and camping spots. These tracks are not hardcore 4WDriving tracks, but more manageable roads suitable for SUV owners who may only venture out of suburbia once or twice a year.

The maps are sourced from HEMA, Hardie Grant (Explore Australia), Outback Travellers and others and include over 14,250 points of interest.

The mapping technology also allows users to input crucial data on their load – whether they are towing a boat or caravan or even have a bike on the roof – the unit will calculate the best route for you travel to avoid low bridges or difficult roads for trailers and larger loads.

It also provides live traffic updates, Bluetooth connectivity, Planet travel guide and Zomato Restaurant Guide providing a comprehensive list of things to do in any area you visit.

In addition to the mapping technology which uses several sources to build maps for the user, the unit features an articulated adjustable in-car dash-cam that can be positioned to provide a clear view ahead no matter where on the windscreen the unit is located.

It records 2K full high-definition in a continuous loop via a micro SD card with another slot for additional maps if required. In the event of an accident, a 3-Axis G-Shock Sensor will allow you to know which direction any impact comes from and how it happened.

You can also connect to the Navman MiVUE software and print out information such as speed, GPS co-ordinates and direction of travel which could be invaluable in proving who is at fault in an accident. You can also purchase an optional rear facing camera for $139.

We used the unit on a drive from the Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains down to a small secluded campground along a 10km track to the Ingar Camping Area. The beauty of GPS units like this is they do not need mobile service to navigate, unlike your smartphone - unless you've downloaded maps to your phone ahead of time, that is.

Operating the unit is very intuitive and it has a quick operation that kept up with the inputs we were making. The unit is still a single-touch operation with no swiping, however, but I suspect this is more of a safety feature than an oversight.

The menus are easy to work through, with a neat feature to capture an image of a location using the dash-cam that will also keep the GPS coordinates for future reference. The unit also includes lane departure and collision warning, which worked to some degree, but neither is up to the standard of a new vehicle's integrated system from factory.

The lane departure seemed very accurate, but the collision warning on one occasion seemed to go off a little late, in my opinion, to avoid a collision. The battery life is also limited, as with many of these types of navigation units. The Navman technician on the day suggested an unplugged battery life of around 40 minutes.

It's a great unit, though, for families looking for an easy way to expand their touring capabilities while at the same time offering some safety via the dash-cam. The unit comes with a 16GB micro SD card and two years’ warranty as well as free monthly map updates. It retails for around $479.

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