By on October 20, 2007

b000nmkhw6_update-1-lg.jpgGiven the changing pace of technology, the price of factory-fitted satellite navigation and the itinerant traveler's tendency to rent their chariot, a portable GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) navigation system is the ideal solution. When choosing an electronic pathfinder, map quality makes all the difference. Magellan (like Garmin) uses the premier map data supplier Navteq. The Magellan Maestro Series offers three models with a "just right" screen size (4.3"). The 4000 ($399) is the base model. The 4040 ($499) adds Canada (the maps, not the country) and Bluetooth, which lets you access addresses lurking inside your phone/palmtop. Although you can upgrade the 4040 to real-time traffic data for another hundred bucks, that same Franklin buys you the 4050 ($599) with a built-in traffic jam info receiver. On the road, the Magellan's 4040's geek fabulous 20-channel sirfsStarIII chipset instantly locked onto a GPS signal and updated quickly. The maps are pellucid, the voice prompts clear and the touch screen ergonomically sound. On the downside, the map disappears during recalculation and full-on sunlight is still a bugbear (a built-in visor would help). While RV-ing seniors might appreciate the AAA's TourBook info and roadside assistance (trip A members only), it would be nice to be able to choose a more (ahem) upmarket guide. Overall, the 4040 is a decent but not outstanding GPS device– at $499. But Costco's got 'em for $349 (in store price, call ahead). For that money, you're good to go.

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23 Comments on “Magellan Maestro 4040 GPS Review...”

  • avatar

    Why this particular brand/model? What about the ones in the $200 range?

  • avatar


    Just because the word exists doesn’t mean you have to use it in a mini review of a portable GPS.

  • avatar

    Not all Navteq data are created equal — I have been on secondary roads in central Colorado that were more than 1/10 mile mislocated, although the nearby US highways were spot on. I don’t know where the discrepancies originated, but they were replicated on 2 Garmin units and my Volvo’s built-in GPS. The roads were all there on the display, just not under the car. I think they may have included some old USGS maps or other data without reconciling horizontal datums between various sources. That can make discrepancies of the size observed.

  • avatar

    I’ve been tempted by the plummeting prices on the Garmins so I can’t wait to see why you are recommending these more expensive units. My birthday is in a few weeks and wife wants to get me one of these (for us) as a birthday present, but I’ll hold off for some more “Truth” on the matter.

    Amazon has the
    4040 for $352 including shipping and the 4050 for $409.99 including shipping, if you’re careful and make sure you are buying from Amazon itself.

  • avatar

    Hello! Last year I bought a Garmin Zumo550, $1050 list, for $629(online) which included a supplementary 3-year extended warranty. A motorcycle unit, it works well in a car, You name it, it has it all in a vibration and waterproof package.
    Fot the wife I went with a Garmin Streetpilot 330.Inexpensive, easy to learn and operate, couldnt be happier with both units.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    In any review of these units, I think you need to make clear who would be best suited for the unit. There are people who travel for a living, geeks who love all the latest and greatest tweaks, and people who want a nice easy to use basic unit. There may be other categories, but my point is that any unit needs to be judged against the group who would most likely be using it.

  • avatar

    Part of the fun, at least for our Garmin (We named “her” Suzie) is to get her to say “Recalculating” in her condescending tone of voice. Sometimes Suzie even scolds us in an insistent voice “There is a better route”.
    Suzie always know where the next Eatery or Walmart is. I would never buy built in GPS, we take ours everywhere, rental cars, bicycles, canoes (ok, maybe not canoes, but we thought about it).

  • avatar

    Dear Readers, We are ramping-up a discreet product review section for TTAC, lead by Mr. Posner. It's a learning curve. Your suggestions on this and any other aspect of this new section are MOST welcome.

  • avatar

    Used to have a Magellan GPS, had problems with it and the customer service was horrible. Now have a Garmin and very happy with it.

    In a vehicle that will see even moderately rough use, like motorcycles and light off road travel even if occasional, it is much better to have a GPS unit with a flash drive then one with a hard drive.

  • avatar

    Magellan GPS at Costco: $349.
    Rand McNally large-scale US road atlas: $20.

    The truth about navigation systems? They’re overpriced toys.

  • avatar

    I had a Magellan. It was junk. I then got a Garmin and I haven’t looked back. Seems like everyone now is jumping on the bandwagon. Even Panasonic is now making a GPS. They all seem to want to compare themselves to either Tom Tom or a Garmin unit. It’s like any other item in the electronic industry, If you go with the leader, you should come out in good shape.

  • avatar

    Robert, you wanted suggestions – any chance of international pricing and availability ?

  • avatar

    Garmins are unquestionably the best. Magellans are junky, buggy, and love to crash on you. I have a Nuvi 360 that is fantastic, except for a few small issues. At least in my car, the bluetooth phone interface is useless. I can hear them, but the only thing they can hear is my engine. The microphone is crap in that regard. Second, the windshield mount works for a few weeks and then falls off, and unless you have the right kind of dashboard, the sticky disk is worthless. Fortunately Garmin’s “friction mount” works brilliantly. If you’re considering a Nuvi or any other Garmin, spend the extra $25 and get the friction mount as well, otherwise your new toy will fall in to your lap at an inopportune moment. It is fun to rub all of the capabilities of the portables in people’s faces who have $2K factory units.

    “Mine announces street names, not just “turn left ahead”, I can simply type in “Wendys” and it brings up a list of every Wendys in the area, and I can use it in any rental car, even in Europe if I get a map for it. Yours do any of that? No, didnt think so. Oh and it cost me $400″.

    A $20 road atlas is great, provided you have somebody else in the car with you who can actually read it. Try finding some dinky little street in an unfamiliar city, at night, by yourself in the car with your road atlas especially when there’s a lot of traffic and no place to pull over. $20 well spent there.

  • avatar

    Can anyone comment on the utility, or lack thereof, of the semi-3D perspective map view shown in the photo of this unit? And is it possible to turn this off and get a plain view of the map? This feature, which a lot of GPS units promote as though it were useful rather than glitz diminishing the amount of information on the screen, seems to me like a concession to people who can’t read maps well. But perhaps it works well in use?

  • avatar

    I own a Magellan RoadMate , had it, and used it a ton for over 2 years now and never had any issues. The store we purchased from allowed us to test different models to compare them. At the time the Magellan was much faster at almost everything over the Garmin, and because of the hard drive in it, it had many more “points of interest”. Of course this is all 2 years ago, and technology like GPS moves so fast, it is impossible to compare now and then.
    The only issue I have ever had in US or Canada was it wanted to route me around a certain area for no reason at one point. I found out later that the road we were following used to end at a large valley, but now was bridged over. Updated my map data and haven’t had an issue since.

  • avatar


    My Nuvi does both the overhead “Birdseye” view and a conventional 2D view. Personally I like the 3d view better. Rather than less, it actually gives you more information because you can see much farther ahead of you than you can in 2D mode. If you were flying a plane, would you rather look ahead, or straight down at the ground?

  • avatar

    RF – If you keep this up you are going to have to start charging a monthly subscription. This is by far the most comprehensive and unbiased free website available. Plus, it is much more entertaining than Consumer Report.

  • avatar

    Good review, and I think we should have more reviews of automobile related products.

    I don’t know that I’ve ever met the “perfect” GPS, but any recent high end Denso OEM with touch screen or aftermarket Garmin with SiRFstar III seems to do the trick for me. The Garmin Nuvi 650 is particularly nice, and all the Garmins I get from Enterprise (usually they’re Street Pilot e350s I think) seem to be rugged (I assume they’re abused as badly as the cars) and work well, too, they’re just bulkier than the Nuvi.

  • avatar

    I dig the reviews – keep ’em up and see if they stick.

    Here’s a suggestion; tables are relatively easy to build in html and I think the star breakdown at the bottom of the review could look much nicer if you built one. Maybe center it, tighten the leading, etc. Metrics could be reevaluated, but you’re headed in the right direction.

  • avatar

    this is great and your timing is excellent since I am going to purchase one of these gadgets this year for Xmas. I did have a nav system in my 04 Honda which I really did enjoy using, but like others the maps are not always up to date and sometimes you have to know where you want to go or it can take you on a very round about path to your destination. But they are great when you want to find an address you are not sure of.

  • avatar

    excellent idea, these reviews. I rented a Garmin recently and found it very easy to use and I’m now considering buying one. I also was skeptical about the 3d view, but in practice it worked exceptionally well. I especially like the restraint of these things. They give just enough info so you know where you’re going, but you’re not stuck with a hyperactive chatterbox in the car. My best friend in Europe has one of those and it’s annoying even in sexy French.

  • avatar

    i love the idea of auto product reviews. just great.

    any possibility of older car reviews? i’m looking into buying an older collectible (personally thinking of a 73 firebird). i’d really like to hear what you guys think about the car in general, how it stacks up against similarly priced new vehicles and similar models from the 70s, and what commonly needs replacing. any of those reviews in my future?

  • avatar

    This a great idea.

    Keep the reviews coming… I’d love to be able to compare a couple of these in one sitting without going to C-Net, where I’m starting to believe there isn’t a reviewer there that has driven a real car..parking lot full of Segways and Vespas..

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