Skip to main content

Kia UVO: Mainstream Infotainment In The 2012 Soul

Meet Kia's 2012 Soul Exclaim With Premium UVO

Kia Motors is one of the oldest automotive manufacturers from South Korea, preceding Hyundai Motor Company by more than 20 years. Perhaps you remember the first time you heard of Kia, when it introduced the first-generation 1994 model-year Sephia. But the presence of Kia-built vehicles in North America goes back even further than that to Ford's 1987 Festiva. Ford owned an interest in Kia and outsourced production of the Mazda-designed Festiva for export to the United States and Canada.

This lead to a joint-development between Ford and Kia for the second-generation Ford Festiva, sold in the U.S. as Ford's Aspire. It was a mediocre hatchback that sent droves of domestic buyers into imported compact cars. Kia itself didn’t fare too well in the '90s, and was forced into bankruptcy late in the decade. Hyundai swooped in to purchase 51 percent of the company. Kia is now stronger than ever, with yearly sales and revenue growth from a model line-up that targets drivers looking for European styling and comfort at a more value-oriented price.

As we mentioned in SYNC With MyFord Touch: Automotive Infotainment For All, we're primarily interested in the infotainment and technological features of the cars we drive. While Ford has its SYNC system, Kia has UVO, short for “Your Voice,” which is an infotainment solution available across most of its line-up.

The Kia Soul

We acquired a 2012 Kia Soul in the Exclaim trim package, equipped with Kia’s UVO system. This particular version of UVO includes USB media storage and device connectivity, auxiliary audio input, on-board music storage, HD Radio, and a backup camera. Our car does not have the Premium package, which swaps out UVO for Navigation with SiriusXM Traffic and push-button start. Really, the UVO system in Kia's Soul Exclaim is just about the music.

The Kia Soul was refreshed for the 2012 model year with revised trim packages, updated motors, and new lighting niceties, which we'll cover shortly. The car is a tall hatchback that was, interestingly, designed in California. As you may have guessed from the company's hamster-driven ads, the Soul targets a younger demographic. Don’t call it a sub-compact, though, because the Rio fills that spot. Think of Kia's Soul as a side-step from the traditional sub-compact, and for a different type of buyer. It's a funky little hatch for the party-rocking crowd.

As an interesting side-note, Kia's Soul shares much of its platform and powertrain combinations with the previous-generation Rio, developed as the successor to the Avella (Kia’s re-badge of the Ford Aspire in its home market).

  • 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