Kia’s newest infotainment unit, revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show, packs all of the expected features, but takes a budget approach by downsizing some of the hardware. Called UVO, the system supports Bluetooth, USB connectivity, and high-definition radio, but uses a relatively tiny 4.3-inch touch screen and one gigabyte hard drive for music storage. UVO will first arrive in the 2011 Kia Sorento in mid 2010. Kia hasn’t released pricing yet.
;Kia says UVO is a shortening of “your voice” as a reflection of how important voice commands are to operating the system. There’s no navigation—that’s a separate system—but the 4.3-inch screen is paired with a backup camera. A five-disc CD changer is standard, as is the USB port, but high-definition radio is optional. UVO’s best trick might be the ability to display text messages on the screen, read them aloud, and then allow a reply via voice recognition.
Like Ford, Kia has partnered with Microsoft to develop the new technology and an observant eye will quickly notice similarities in the user interfaces. In addition to UVO, the Korean automaker displayed a haptic control dial on the steering wheel that alters the tactile feedback it provides based on the task that’s being performed. The company also announced that it plans to offer TV programming in cars in the next couple years. Rather than the existing satellite systems, though, Kia intends to pick up local broadcast channels.