Garmin Zumo 396LMT-S Review

Written by | Garmin Zumo, Motorcycle GPS Reviews

The latest in the popular zumo line of motorcycle GPS, the 396LMT-S supercedes the 395LM and is currently the best selling motorcycle GPS on Amazon. It is the smaller sibling of the zumo 595LM model and yet includes many of the same features in a more compact and affordable package.

It’s closest counterpart from Garmin’s arch rival TomTom, is the TomTom Rider 550. See our review of that product for a comparison of the two devices.

In case you were wondering what “LMT-S” stands for: LM refers to free lifetime map updates, “T” to traffic notifications and the “S” to “smart”, a reference to the fact that the device can be paired with a smartphone via Garmin’s Samrtphone Link app.

The unit has a battery life of up to 4 hours and comes with mounting hardware and a power cable.

A list of notable features includes the following:

  • free live traffic and weather
  • rugged, glove-friendly 4.3″ display
  • adventurous routing
  • service history log
  • hands-free calling
  • smart notifications
  • built-in WiFi
  • micro SD card slot
  • LiveTrack
  • the ability to send GPX files from your phone to the GPS and share them with other riders

Many of the items listed above are standard features of all recent zumo models and as such will be familiar to current and previous owners. They are features that have made the zumo brand a favorite among bikers around the world for the past 15 years. Besides these, however, there are also a few features previously unavailable on entry level devices.

Probably the most anticipated upgrades introduced with the zumo 396LMT-S are those that improve the convenience and practicality of the device. We explore some of these briefly in the following paragraphs.

Built-in WiFi

This much needed upgrade means the device can now be updated wirelessly. When connected to a WiFi network, on-screen notifications will alert you to any available updates. Downloading and installing those updates is as simple as tapping a button.

Smartphone Connectivity

Smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth and Garmin’s Smartlink app opens up a whole range of possibilities. These include receiving live traffic and weather updates as well as call, text and app notifications on your GPS.

Hands-free calling is available by pairing your device to a Bluetooth-enabled helmet or headset and you can listen to your favorite tracks using the Pandora app or Bluetooth audio.

Another useful addition is the LiveTrack feature which allows your position to be tracked in real time when connected to the Smartphone Link app. Friends and family can then be kept up to date with your current location.

Group Route Sharing

While riding is often viewed as a solitary pastime, it can also be enjoyed as a group activity. With that in mind, Garmin have made sharing routes with your riding buddies easier than ever. Download routes onto your smartphone, then upload them to your GPS. You can then share them via Bluetooth or using a micro SD card.

396LMT-S vs 595LM

The main difference between the zumo 396LMT-S and the zumo 595LM is screen size. The zumo 396LMT-S is the smaller of the two with a 4.3″ display, whereas the zumo 595LM has a more spacious 5″ display. The dual orientation display of the zumo 595LM is not just larger, it also has a higher resolution and is more easily readable in sunlit conditions. Additional features include a tire pressure monitoring system and 3D terrain view.

On the other hand, the zumo 396LMT-S has built-in WiFi, which the 595LM lacks. Other features not found on the 595LM include incident detection and notification and the ability to share GPX files. The zumo 396LMT-S is also smaller and lighter as well as significantly cheaper.

Our Ratings
  • Navigation
  • Features
  • User Interface
  • Price
4.4

Conclusion

The Garmin zumo 396LMT-S is a solid performer with a surprising amount of features at an affordable price. Whether you’re a casual weekend rider or hardcore adventurer, this unit will, in all likelihood, be more than adequate to the task.

If having a larger display is important to you, or you do a lot of off-road riding, you might find the Garmin zumo 595LM is better suited to your requirements.

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Last modified: November 3, 2019

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