What is Kia UVO?

Beverly Braga | Jun 16, 2020

Kia UVO is the South Korean automaker’s in-vehicle communications and entertainment system, and it is available on all late-model Kia vehicles. An abbreviation of “Your Voice,” the multimedia technology made its global debut at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show. 

Kia UVO Infotainment System Main Screen

Co-developed with Microsoft and based on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform, the first iteration of UVO provided hands-free voice operation of audio commands and phone communications. Its vehicle debut was at the Los Angeles auto show later that year in an ultra-compact, all-electric, made-for-the-city concept car called the POP. Although the POP never materialized beyond its cutesy take on urban living, UVO did makes its way into select Kia models, including the then all-new 2011 Optima, Sorento, and Sportage.

The second-generation UVO moved to a Google-based operating system and seamlessly integrated Google Maps and Google Places. Introduced in the 2014 Kia Sorento, another significant update to UVO was its eServices voice-activated telematics, which offered a number of features like infotainment, navigation, vehicle location services, maintenance, and emergency assistance functions.

UVO Play, UVO Link, and UVO Link with Navigation - Find the best Kia deals!

The current version of Kia UVO was last updated in 2018, first rolling out in the refreshed 2019 Optima. Additions included UVO Play, UVO Link, and UVO Link with navigation. 

With Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, UVO Play tethers a compatible smartphone to the infotainment system via a USB cable. Drivers can then use voice recognition to operate their phones for navigation, calls, messages, and music just as they would the embedded infotainment technology.

UVO Link, standard on higher trim levels, utilizes an embedded modem to add more in terms of connected-car security and convenience features. In addition to the functionality of UVO Play, UVO Link includes on-demand vehicle diagnostics, maintenance alerts, security features, rear seat reminders, enhanced roadside assistance, and emergency contact services. For Kia plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and electric vehicle (EV) owners, UVO Link adds a vehicle charging schedule, charging stats, low battery alerts, and a charging station finder.

UVO Link with navigation adds My POIs (points of interest) and Map Care. The former allows owners to send a Google Maps destination from any device to their smartphone that in turn will transfer to the UVO system once the phone is connected to the vehicle. The latter offers two free map updates per year.

Kia Access Smartphone App for UVO - Find the best Kia deals!

When linked to the Kia Access app, Kia UVO lets owners remotely access data and functions right from their smartphone. Owners can see vehicle trip histories and activate remote services that manage vehicle systems like remote engine starting, power seat presets, the climate control system, operation of door locks and lights, a vehicle location finder, and home-to-car commands. Via the maintenance dashboard, owners can see a monthly vehicle health report, automatic trouble code diagnostics, service alerts, and schedule dealership service appointments.

Also, for peace of mind when there are multiple drivers using a Kia, security features include alerts related to valet use, as well as safe teen driving functions related to geo-fencing, vehicle speed, and curfew times. The app also has an alarm notification and a panic button. All alerts can be sent to the primary driver via email or text. 

Kia UVO Lite, Car, Plus, and Ultimate Subscription Plans - Find the best Kia deals!

A subscription-based system, all new Kia lease and vehicle purchases include a one-year complimentary subscription to UVO Link Ultimate. This package is the most robust and includes all of the connectivity features that are available for the vehicle. 

After the free trial year has expired, owners have the option of selecting from different subscription plans, which in addition to Ultimate also include Lite, Care, and Plus. Subscriptions are available at a monthly or annual rate, which may be discounted immediately following the first-year trial.

If an owner decides not to continue with a UVO Link subscription, the Lite package will remain accessible and complimentary for an additional four years. Lite includes trip history, emergency services, maintenance reminders, and EV charging status. However, remote services, vehicle diagnostics, and safety and security alerts are reserved for higher-tiered packages. 

Nevertheless, the extended use of UVO Link Lite means new Kia owners actually receive a five-year, zero-cost trial of UVO Link. Additionally, the Kia Access app, which includes useful features like user manuals and a dealer appointment scheduler, remains free to use.

Kia UVO is Ever Evolving - Find the best Kia deals!

As with other in-vehicle infotainment and telematics systems, Kia UVO is ever evolving to further enhance the owner experience. Kia Live, for example, offers real-time information on traffic, weather, speed cameras, and road warnings. E-mobility features offer PHEV and EV owners additional vehicle data like energy usage so they can make informed decisions on battery-dependent functions like climate control.

While such technology can seem initially confusing, once you’ve determined what UVO features your Kia has and how to use them, you’ll appreciate the convenience if not the price after the free trial period expires.

The information in this article is from Kia. It was accurate on June 16, 2020 but may have changed since that date. Be sure to confirm plans and programs directly with Kia.

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