TomTom XL IQ Routes Edition Europe review
TomTom's original XL was great for anyone wanting a large-screen satnav at a reasonable price. As the name suggests, the IQ Routes edition has the more advanced route planning system, which has been a boon in TomTom's pricier models for a while now.
The unit itself is black rather than the silver of the previous XL, but still has the same 4.3in widescreen LCD. It also has the same slim EasyMount windscreen attachment, which can be folded flat and kept on the satnav when you're not using the device.
IQ Routes uses historical data from millions of TomTom users to calculate routes based on actual road speeds at different times of day. The data also covers speeds during weekdays and weekends, so can plan the optimal route for both cases. IQ Routes won't help you to avoid unforeseen events, such accidents, but it's still great for avoiding traffic hotspots, such as schools and busy shopping streets.
To get traffic information on the XL, your only option is to buy the optional TMC receiver which costs £35 from the same supplier. However, TomTom has just announced the XL Live IQ Routes model, which gives you near real-time traffic information, live fuel pricing and Google local search. However, it's a much more expensive option, costing around £245, plus £8 per month for the subscription to the Live services.
Safety camera locations are preloaded and you get a three-month subscription to Safety Alerts & Fuel Prices. These details are updated each time you connect the XL to your computer, via TomTom's Home application. It's a nice idea, but it isn't as convenient as the Live devices, since the data is only as up to date as the last time you synchronised the satnav with TomTom Home; you'd need to do this almost every day to ensure that you track down the cheapest fuel. A year's subscription to this service costs £35.
As we've come to expect from TomTom, the XL's main driving screen is incredibly easy to understand. Road names are clearly marked, and the latest maps show building outlines and even paths in parks - useful details when you've parked up and need to walk to your destination.
Advanced lane guidance shows an image of upcoming motorway junctions, with flashing green arrows indicating which lane you should be in. In towns, this is limited to smaller arrows in the status bar, but it's still handy to know in advance which lane to get into. Voice prompts are very clear, although the XL IQ Routes Edition can't read out road names as the Go Live models can.
Take a wrong turn, and the unit quickly recalculates a new route, and it can also calculate alternative routes if you want to avoid toll roads, road blocks or motorways, or if you don't like the original route and want to see a different one.
A useful addition to previous models is the pair of pointers that shows the distance and direction of the start and destination of your route when you're browsing the map. However, it's a little disappointing that we were warned of speed cameras that weren't on our route, or that were on the opposite side of the road. It's a minor quibble, but one that we've been asking TomTom to address for several years.
The frills of TomTom's Go range are largely missing - there's no Bluetooth, FM transmitter or voice recognition - but you still get the Help Me! button, which gives you quick access to the location of the nearest emergency services and facilities. Map Share is present, too, which allows you to correct map details with a few taps of the screen. You can download other users' changes through TomTom Home for the latest, most accurate map information.