J. Muckle/Studio D
The summer road trip can be a blissful escape, until Someone makes a wrong turn. Then Someone Else accuses her of always getting lost. Whereupon Someone retorts that no, it's his fault for never asking directions. Fortunately, we now have GPS to head off these arguments at the pass....
Plot your getaway.
With dozens of touch-screen units to choose from, Garmin is the king of GPS manufacturers, and its new partnership with MapQuest lets you plan your entire trip on your computer and send the directions to your GPS. Garmin's Nüvi 350 ($351) is stocked with high-end extras (including an MP3 player). For still more perks, spring for the Nüvi 880 ($1,071). Its speech-recognition powers mean you'll never have to take your hands off the wheel; better yet, if you grab it and go after you park, it will remember where you left the car.
Beat the traffic.
Most GPS makers provide real-time traffic reports, but only Dash Navigation's devices actually talk to each other, trading warnings about gridlock and suggesting alternate routes. The Dash Express ($400) also has Web-search abilities; for instance, you can type in "gas" and sort the nearest stations by price.
Virtually all GPS devices can tell you where to find the closest Starbucks. TomTom goes one step further, allowing users to update their database Wikipedia-style. You can ask the TomTom One 130S ($250) for a local's take on, say, the best pizza place in town—and you'll know exactly how to get there.