You may fear that GPS technology is devaluing our map-reading skills, but your argument may be in vain. By combining navigational skills with various road statistics, TomTom's latest affordable smart satnavs could be the final nail in the coffin for those squiggly lines and symbols we once depended on to get our bearings.
TomTom's XL range now comes with the IQ Routes feature previously available only on its high-end Go models. By measuring your fastest route based on actual road speeds at any time of day rather than their restrictions, you should get to your destination on time and without sitting in traffic or wasting fuel.
We tasked the TomTom XL IQ Routes Edition to take us on a journey we already knew well, to which there are two very similar routes. Off-peak, the motorway is quickest but, come 5pm, this ‘fast' route is jammed with motorists unaware of the peaceful carriageway running parallel. Did the TomTom XL IQ Routes Edition know this? Of course it did.
Also new to the TomTom XL IQ Routes Edition is a revamped user interface, European maps of 42 countries and Advanced Lane Guidance, a feature that provides a 3D visual representation to make sure you're exactly where you should be at complicated junctions.
Fixed safety camera alerts are preinstalled on the TomTom XL IQ Routes Edition, and there's a three-month trial of the paid-for service to keep your device up to date. We were given plenty of warning - around 240 yards - before approaching cameras with a gentle beep, thus allowing us ample time to check our speed at a safe and convenient moment.
Build quality is good, and the shiny black TomTom XL IQ Routes Edition simply twists in and out of its EasyPort cradle. This can be angled forward as far as you need so the screen is clearly visible to the driver. If we had to find a fault, it'd concern the device's omission of a stylus to aid chubby-finger input.
TomTom has added the ability to direct you to the nearest petrol station, mechanic or police station. It's reassuring to know that the Locate Me button can also be used to enable others to find you.
On the down side, the TomTom XL IQ Routes Edition doesn't feature Bluetooth for handsfree calls, any multimedia features or a built-in TMC receiver (a £48 optional extra). The latter is perhaps the greatest shame, since combining real-time data with average road speeds could take IQ Routes to another level.
The TomTom XL IQ Routes Edition is a great buy for the frequent traveller who needs to get where they’re going without having to worry about having chosen the wrong route or the wrong lane. Note that as per usual TomTom practice, no mains charger is included in the box.