This is a review of various navigation systems I used on a recent trip to Germany and northern Austria earlier this month. Background - I've owned a Garmin Nuvi with European maps for several years and I updated the maps to the 2019 set before the trip. I've never wanted to waste data using Google Maps in the past so I have Maps.Me loaded on my IOS and Android devices and I downloaded all the regional/local maps for my trip before leaving. I did not anticipate getting a nav system equipped rental but I did - a 2019 Ford Kuga (Escape) with Ford SYNC. I used/spot-checked all for a Munich-Salzburg-Innsbruck-Dinkelsbuhl-Trier-Koblenz-Frankfurt road trip and here is the good and bad.
Google Maps- While really good for in-town lookup of addresses and attractions, it's not so great for longer distance navigation in Europe (IMHO). The AI used to route between Point A and Point B is highly biased and may not match what you want to do - especially if you're vacationing. It was also easy to confuse using German street addresses and performed much better if you knew the map coordinates of your destination. While people have uploaded their own maps of the custom maps Romantic Road, they are for reference only. A great new feature would be to search for and navigate via a country's special (scenic) roads like the German Romantische Strasse.
The Garmin, like Google Maps, was easily confused by German street addresses and was often in error. Searching on map coordinates was a little better but you still had to be on your toes. When using the Garmin, we usually just input the city. Also, the Garmin's mastery of waypoints leaves a lot to be desired so going from point A to point B to Point C to Point D was better done one step at a time. If Garmin is listening - a great new feature would be to search for and navigate via a country's special (scenic) roads like the German Romantische Strasse.
Maps.Me - Great offline navigation tool as long as you download all the maps you'll need before hand. It did just as good of a job as the Garmin and Google Maps and it seemed to have better/more up to date points of interest than the Garmin. I did a lot of navigating with my phone's data connection turned off using Maps.Me and it seemed to perform somewhere between the Ford SYNC's Nav and the Garmin in terms of accuracy and timeliness.
Once I figured out the interface (the Ford's owners' manual was in German) and adapted to the English translation of a German product interface, the SYNC's nav system out performed all the above. Was it enough better justify paying some ridiculous daily fee charged by a rental car firm? No... Had this feature been locked out, I wouldn't have missed it given that I had my Garmin AND relatively cheap cellular data to power Google.
I also had a complimentary HertzConnect WIFI Hot-spot (cellphone based) which had a navigation module but I didn't use the nav at all. I did, however, use the WIFI from this hot-spot throughout the trip - even on the move. It came in really handy to keep my cellular data usage low and when hotel WIFI wasn't up to the task. Would I pay a daily fee for this device? Not at €24 a day as my roaming data from Goggle Fi was only $10 a GB.