This post is sponsored by Kia.
I’ve had my eye on the Kia Optima for a while now. Let me tell you why. I’m a 32 year old guy, and I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m starting to think about changing priorities. Well, I’m not so much thinking about it consciously as I’m realizing it’s happening. Yeah… the life of parties and sports cars just doesn’t have quite the same appeal it once did. And so the time has come to look for a vehicle more appropriate for me. That’s where the Optima comes in.
For one, that car’s a looker. The lines are strong, flowing, elegant and balanced, and I noticed it on the road before I even started doing any research on it. And once I did start digging, I was pleased. Take the engine for example: it comes in 200hp and 274hp configurations, which is plenty. I’m not going to lie, changing priorities doesn’t mean I don’t want to have some fun now and then! And the other thing that stood out to me, being a gadget geek, was the UVO infotainment system. This is what I want to take some time to talk to you guys about.
The system is powered by Microsoft, which means it’s got a solid, bug-free foundation around which all the features can thrive. Better yet, there’s a voice control feature that lets you access everything with natural language. And what’s “everything”? There’s the media features, to start. In particular, I was impressed with the “Virtual CD Changer”. Unlike some cars that feature a mechanical carousel that physically rotates the CDs you insert, the UVO will rip your store-bought CD to its hard drive and let you access it at the touch of a button. It can store up to 5 CDs this way, although CD is not the only way to get music blaring. It’ll also stream music wirelessly through Bluetooth, or read MP3s from a USB drive or a home-made MP3 CD. You can also copy these files to the Jukebox and play them back even when you didn’t think of bringing your drive with you. You have access to HDRadio, as well as Sirius sat radio.
Aside from media functions, you can pair a smartphone with the system and then access your contacts, your text messages, as well as place and receive calls. The screen will display a dial pad so you don’t have to touch your cell to make a call, which is a boon for those living in areas where the law forbids touching your phone in the car.
All in all, the UVO does a solid job of keeping you connected and entertained on the road, while making it very easy to control. But while this all sounds good, the better news is that a UVO 2.0 is on the horizon, which Kia is calling UVO eServices. It’ll initially be available on the 2014 Sorento and Forte, though I expect the Optima will eventually get it as well. With this system, you retain the same features but add on a slew of new ones. There’s going to be full integration with iPhone or Android devices, for one. This means you’ll be able to be sitting at home, looking up a destination on Google Maps, then once you enter your car, have that destination automatically sent to UVO!
There’s also going to be a Parking Minder feature, which will help you find your car if you’re the type of person who forgets easily. And a 911 Connect feature that calls emergency services automatically if airbags are deployed. Finally, you’ll have access to car diagnostics as well as service reminders.
So in conclusion, the UVO is an infotainment system that any gadget geek would be happy to interact with. It’s an essential element to an otherwise great car. Between its looks, robust engine, respectable consumption and well rounded technology package, the Kia Optima is pretty attractive, and may just take up a spot in my driveway sometime soon.