Around the summer, Kia will start shipping a new stereo option on their existing 2010 model line. This new stereo will be powered by Microsoft’s Automotive division – the same thing that powers Ford Sync, only Kia has made some improvements.
The unit is being called “UVO” and is labeled as an in-car infotainment system. The first thing you’ll notice is the big bright screen that is fully touch enabled. This makes it very easy for displaying prompts and interacting with the unit and displaying images from the rear view camera. What you won’t notice right away are the tweaks that have been done to make pairing with your cell phone that much easier. It’s now a 1-step process and you’re up and running. Of course it supports external MP3 players, iPods, and Microsoft’s Zune (the first in car unit that fully supports the Zune – to my knowledge).
You will also find support for HD and Sirius Radio and something called MP3 Copy / Virtual CD. With this feature, you can insert a CD into the player and then tell it to make a copy of the CD on the internal memory. There’s a limited amount of memory to store music, and if you want to create a large library it would be recommended to use an external media player, like the Zune. However, you can store a handful of CDs in the memory of the unit for quick access.
Keep your eye’s on the road when driving – Kia has taken this principle and made it that much easier to do while interacting with your new UVO entertainment system thanks to a new Haptic button on the steering wheel. The haptic button will be located on the steering wheel close to the thumb of the driver allowing for easy operating. It features 7 modes of reactive vibration – which translates to controlling 7 different functions of the car’s heating/air conditioning to the UVO stereo. This eliminates the need to install multiple buttons on the steering wheel, each with their own unique function.
As is typical with these kinds of announcements, there was no information provided on the price or the exact date that it would become available. If you’re planning on buying a new Kia, I would think about holding off for a couple more months and see if you can’t get one of these units in that new car.