At its core, Kia’s UVO infotainment system hits all the right buttons. Literally. Because there are buttons. And knobs. And steering-wheel controls and a touchscreen.
Main functions are all accessed via shortcut buttons, and there is a tuning knob and volume knob within easy reach for both driver and passenger. The quickest way to tune stations is with a knob, that’s why I like them.
This is one reason the Kia system ranks in our top five infotainment systems.
Redundant buttons make these systems so much easier and it’s great to see Kia understand that more than just the driver uses the car audio/nav, people want to scan through multiple stations/menus with pace, and that not everyone controls their screens the same way.
This is not a luddite though. Central to the whole unit is a touchscreen, they all are these days. What sets some touchscreens apart and makes others utterly infuriating to use is the world’s most simple concept: a ledge. A small, tiny protrusion of plastic that allows you to anchor your hand before you go prodding at the screen.
It’s the omission of this that makes some touchscreens (I’m looking at you Honda) so infuriating to use when you’re in motion. “Okay, my finger is lined up… aaannndd….”
“Oh look, now I’m getting directions to Mexico.”
A ledge to brace your hand to a fixed position takes that frustration away. The Sorento has well-sized icons for most features too, and we’ll drill down on those below.
Audio, navigation and more can all be seen and partially controlled in the instrument cluster display using the steering-wheel controls.
UVO’s greatest trick is playback recording for SiriusXM channels, and in this way UVO outperforms even UConnect. See, UVO automatically records and stores the songs played on your six top favourite stations from the moment the car is started.
You know that moment when you tune to a station just in time to hear the last 5 seconds of Snow’s Informer? Isn’t that frustrating? With UVO, you hear that, hit the “back” icon in the touchscreen and BOOM! You’re magically transported to the beginning of the song. “In-fooormer….”
Tuning is not as easy as UConnect’s back-of-the-wheel buttons, and there is no setting to alter what the steering wheel tuning buttons do as there is in the Volkswagen products, but if you like tuning through presets the buttons are perfect. If you like running through all the stations like I do, the tuning knob is easy to reach and spins quickly through stations when you want it to.
The ability to direct tune to a channel is handy too, and you can do it (or your passenger can) even when the car is moving. All this is positive.
Negatives? The channel list only shows channel titles, not current song information, which many other systems do.
The XM antenna is a bit soft and cuts out frequently when downtown, moreso than any other car I’ve been in recently.
Lastly, the only way to get to the audio setup for balance, fade, bass, treble, etc. is via the Setup menu. You can’t get there through the audio menu.
When streaming audio via Bluetooth, UVO will pick up the track information from your phone, which is something not every system does well.