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Kia UVO: Mainstream Infotainment In The 2012 Soul

Nice Little Touches

The Soul Exclaim isn’t a technological marvel. It's no $50 000 luxury sedan, either. But Kia does incorporate a couple of nice touches that give the car a little extra flair, distinguishing it from the competition (including Scion's xB and Nissan's Cube). Again, Kia caters the Soul to a youthful audience using ads starring hip hamsters and top-40 music tracks, which made us want to put the Soul into a giant, transparent ball and drive it around town.

In our last look at automotive technology, the 2012 Ford Focus Titanium included adjustable footwell lighting that did a great job illuminating the carpet without drawing attention to itself. Kia one-ups Ford with the Soul's selectable (red, green, blue, and more) speaker lights that come standard on the Exclaim trim, and are part of the optional Infinity Audio System package on the lower-end Plus trim.

To say the feature is unique puts it lightly. Kia allows the driver to select one of two lighting modes: music or mood lighting. Switch into music mode and the speaker lights pulse to the bass in your music. At low volume levels, the pulsing is pretty dim. But once you start cranking up the sound, the light gets brighter. At full blast, it becomes possible (maybe even desirable?) to rock out with L.M.F.A.O. in a hamster costume.

Of course, if flashing speaker lights and head-bobbing rodents aren't your thing, you can turn the lights off entirely or use the mood setting for a soft, ambient glow.

Steering wheel controls are standard on all Soul models, enabling easy access to standard audio functions like volume, presets, source, and mute settings. Phone answering and hang-up buttons are located separately towards the bottom of the steering wheel, opposite the dedicated UVO button. We find the steering wheel control placement excellent, and we had no problem acclimating to each button's location (without needing to look down).

Exclusive to the Exclaim trim level are LED running lights reminiscent of Audi's most recent offerings. Projector housings for the low-beam headlights complement those LEDs, yielding very clear nighttime visibility with a sharp cut-off from standard halogen bulbs. Unfortunately, Kia does not offer a Xenon-based high-intensity discharge option. The tail lights are also bright LEDs, though this feature is exclusive to the Exclaim trim, too.

  • sp0nger
    This seems super basic to me..

    I see what you did there kia, but as a reader of toms i would be much more interested in you inspecting the tech around more advanced systems in higher end cars
    Reply
  • sp0nger
    On second thought i would love to see your break down of the new GTR those systems are insane, thats worthy of a 10 page read
    Reply
  • tuanies
    Thanks for the input. We're working on bringing coverage of higher end vehicles and have a 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track and Audi Q5 with NVIDIA Tegra and QNX in the pipeline.
    Reply
  • ivyanev
    Isn't it strange that a smartphone can do all theese things(except for multichanel music maybe)
    Reply
  • palladin9479
    9535232 said:
    Thanks for the input. We're working on bringing coverage of higher end vehicles and have a 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track and Audi Q5 with NVIDIA Tegra and QNX in the pipeline.


    Genesis Coupe's are nice.

    Come on ya'll should do a Morning or Matiz. Or heck review a tricked out Daewoo Damas, just for kicks.
    Reply
  • ZakTheEvil
    So the backup camera is there to compensate for the poor "style over function" body design that limits the rear view?
    Reply
  • Parrdacc
    Amazing that car companies like Ford and KIA and others are just now doing this. Meanwhile all us car enthusiasts have had most of these capabilities for years now. I have had hondas with head units like JVC and Alpine that do the same thing. The current JVC I got four years back is running strong with Bluetooth connection to my phone with voice, GPS, Voice navigation and recognition, usb mp3 playback, ipod connection, which I do not use as I find just plugging in a usb to the front of the player just easier than the running a cable to the ipod.

    Well, welcome to the party Ford and KIA.
    Reply
  • Parrdacc
    Oh, on more thing. A 4.3inch display. Really. I got a 7" display thats touchscreen and that was without any custom work done. The KIA appears to have a double din which should be more than capable of using a 7" inch touchscreen, or at least one that is larger than 4.3 inches, so why they went this route I do not know. A buddy of mine has got a Nissan with a factory radio and his display is about 6".
    Reply
  • willard
    Ugh, Kia. I owned a Kia once. Took $5k in engine repairs over three years to keep it on the road. Blew two head gaskets, three thermostats went out, radiator failed once. The front end CV joints are bad about going out on most of their older cars as well (I went through three), and good luck if you need to replace a wheel bearing (which also like to go out on the front end). Need a special Kia service tool to do it, which they don't sell and no mechanic has except Kia dealerships. Enjoy your $400 repairs you could have done yourself for $50 if they just used standard tools.

    Kia costs less up front, but WAY more in maintenance. Buy a Hyundai if you're looking for a quality car on the cheap. They don't fall apart on you like Kias do.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    Picked up a Hyundai for my wife a few years ago and love it (well... for the price anyways... it is no VW). I am now looking for a commuter car for myself and am looking at KIA (which is the cheaper Hyundai brand). I had been wondering about their UVO system because I am thinking about a Rio5 which also has this as an option. It dosn't seem that great, but it is good to know that what is there works solid (other than the texting issues), so perhaps I will spring for it when the time comes to jump on it.

    Can you select a playlist instead of an individual song? or is it too basic for that?
    Reply