4. One - year review
It is now almost one year of ownership, so here is a slightly longer-term review. Instead of repeating a lot of the facts, figures or opinions that others have already written about, I though I'd list the "quirks and features" - with a hat tip to a certain YouTube personality.
The following applies to the first (2020) model year. Since then some variants / features have been added, for example the anniversary edition, but the main offering remains pretty much unchanged.
Note: If you look at the numbers for all sub 4m cars, and sub-4m SUVs, the dimensions are all +/- few cms or mms in each dimension - so each model has a slightly different compromise. Take a ruler and look at the difference if you don't believe me - even 100mm seems like a small difference. What the different designs do within these dimensions makes a difference. Incidentally, the official classification of this car (as per the registration documents) is "Body Style: Station Wagon". I wonder what the official classification is for other cars that are otherwise called SUVs, MPVs, etc.
1. I went for the top model with DCT and 1.0 Turbo engine.
There is lots of power when needed, thrifty and economical the rest of the time. I use ECO/Normal mode 90% of the time and am getting 14kmpl in city doing mostly grocery runs on weekends.
2. It comes with Drive modes that are actually very useful. Difference between Normal and ECO is not much - me being a very sedate driver to begin with. If you put it in Sport mode, the ECU seems to chug a glass of red bull and ask “how fast?” It's a lot of power for my needs - even with a fully loaded car.
3. The quirk here is that each press of the mode switch advances the mode from from Normal (no mode, default) to Sport to Eco. So if you delay the second button press you get a bit of an unexpected surge as the car enters Sport mode. This jump was *very* pronounced and then there was a firmware update for the DCT in early 2021 which seems to have increased the mode delay.
4. This car does not have paddle shifters, the newer Sonet has them. I never drive so aggressively that I need paddle shifters - and only *once* have I needed to force a downshift on a long climb on the highway, which I did with the stick without any issues at all. I test drove the iMT (Sonet) and AMT (Nexon) and it took me just a few minutes to really get used to each. Personally (and this may be a very unpopular opinion) I feel that AMT in Manual mode, iMT, or even TC will perform comparably in “normal” driving situations for me.
5. There are also 3 traction modes - snow, mud and sand. Living in Karnataka I have never needed to use snow; but mud and sand seem to do the same thing - basically dulling the throttle response so that you don’t end up spinning out. I would have expected that these modes are closed-loop - i.e. sensing the wheel speed (at least front) and accelerator position, and then modulating the throttle accordingly. But they seems to just modify the throttle response.
6. The Gauge Cluster is just fantastic. Everything you need quickly is big, front and center: digital speed, revs on the left, fuel and temp on the right. Clean and simple. The MID is good too - during navigation it shows the upcoming turns as well. All the usual stuff like TPMS, fuel economy etc is all there. There is also a provision to show you wiper and light setting when you move the stalk. The (new) Nexon gauge cluster sucks big time in comparison - it is hard to read and too cluttered IMO.
Interestingly there is only one trip counter - no trip1/trip2 like in many other cars, but this is not really a big issue.
One funny thing is that there is no warning light for washer fluid empty. I think all the card I drove in US had it.
7. Ventilated seats are awesome on a hot day. Ive said this before in the early comments and I'll say it again - makes a big difference in comfort.
8. When folding the rear seat, there are two notches/sockets in which one can put the seatbelt buckes so they don't catch on the seatback. The seat is single (not 60:40 split like in most other cars) and does not fold flat. There is about 3 or 4 inch difference between the boot floor and folded seat back. However the seat bottom does not have to be lifted up to fold the back down (like for the Nexon) so some space is available between the front seat and rear seat as well. Not a major issue either way. There is a nice flap at the bottom of the back seat that does help maintain a nice look whether the rear seat is up or down. As I mentioned earlier, I would have really liked the option of a split rear seat to accommodate luggage, passengers and a dog. :(
8. The rear seat latches are a little finicky. When putting the rear bench back up; it takes a few tries to make sure the latches engage properly and the seat back "locks" in the up position.
9. The boot is quite large - marginally larger than all competitors. The user manual says “luggage must be secured to prevent it being thrown about in a collision” but there are no hooks in the boot - and no way to put a cargo net. Eliminating cargo hooks in the back seems an odd place to cut corners. Also the light in the boot is exactly as pathetic as all the other cars I have seen.
10. Front and rear parking sensors and rear camera are absolutely great. Backup camera and sensors should be mandatory in all cars I think. A nice feature is that the rear view camera and parking sensors stay on even after you shift out of reverse until you cross 30kmh. The funny thing is that the seat belt warning chime comes on sooner at 20kmh.
11. Key and locks
It is possible to enable or disable the honk-on-lock/unlock (long press lock and unlock on the key for 5s). I find the honk extremely annoying.
The real surprise was that the salesperson knew this and disabled the sound during delivery of the vehicle.
12. Keyless entry is a huge convenience - works on the driver door as well as boot.
If you walk up to the boot with the key on you and press the boot release - only the boot unlocks; you close the boot and the boot locks again.
Walk up to the door with key in pocket, press the request button - all doors unlock. The only missing thing is a feature I had on my previous car - the option to unlock only driver door or all doors when unlock is pressed. The range of the key is great - works almost 75m away Line of sight.
13. The key fob has remote start too - great for cooling the cabin if needed. I have almost never needed it but in colder climates I imagine this would be very useful. (I used to need remote start a lot in midwestern winters).
14. The Autodimming IRVM is such a relief! Folks in Dharwad seem to drive with full high beams or no lights at all.
15. A lot of settings are configurable- the lane-change turn signal can be set to 3-5-7 blinks; wiper/headlamp setting; autolock/unlock setting, etc. There is a nice automatic fuel economy calculator also, but I rarely use it - I just use an app that tracks mileage between full tanks.
16. Something funny happens if you turn off the car without putting it in park. It keeps chiming an error and the only way around it is to put it in park, start the car and shut it off again.
17. Auto lights and DRLs are very convenient but it became a problem in one specific case - I was going stargazing and needed to move the car a little. The others didnt appreciate the bright lights (temporarily) spoiling their night-vision.
18. The fog lamps don’t come on unless the headlamps are on. I've only had this experience once - when there was quite dense fog - having the headlights on caused reflection from the fog :(
19. The Sonet does not have cornering lights. The Venue does and they are absolutely brilliantly designed.
20. Rear view monitor is extremely useful - and more importantly it takes a single physical button press to activate
21. Rear wash and wipe is extremely useful - I seem to get the rear glass quite dusty and muddy on most outings.
22. AC and Climate Control:
All the vents (in the dash and for the rear seat) can be "turned off" by moving them to the lowermost position, which is handy. The air purifier has an inbuilt fragrance dispenser but Kia doesn't have spare perfume cartridges available to buy - so thats a disappointment.
Also, between the fan speed button and air intake button there is a "blank" space with cutouts/vents on it. I wonder what it is - maybe the cabin temperature sensor.
23. Center console storage is annoyingly small - barely fits a wallet. The center cupholders have a dedicated slot for a phone which is nice though.
24. This model has wireless charging but no wireless android auto. Very few phones support wireless charging (I don't have one) and so is of limited use. My experience with Android Auto is not vey good (and I blame Google, not automakers for this). This deserves a separate rant
25. The colored mood lighting is just a gimmick - doesn't do much for me as the driver. Perhaps as a passenger it would be a cool effect.
26. The roof rails are non funcional! (same for the nexon - there are only a few cars with functional roof rails).
27. The native infotainment system is quite good. There are dedicated buttons for Map, Nav etc which are very useful. (Tactile buttons would have been nicer, but its better than nothing) Also the screen supports split screen mode which is a huge deal - I can use half the screen for Youtube Music and the rest of the screen for navigation at the same time!
28. One complaint is that the steering does not have a dedicated play/pause button. There's a mute button which is absoutely necessary, but play/pause would have been nice. A strange thing is that when playing audio over Android Auto, mute does just mute. But when playing the same app over bluetooth Mute will actually pause. I guess this is because the bluetooth audio standard does not support a mute command. The steering has a configurable button - it would be nice if Kia puts out a firmware update to let it be used as play/pause.
29. The inbuilt system has voice recognition proudly branded Houndify
. it is the WORST system I have used - I have not got it to do anything even once. Most of the time it returns "no data received from server" which means the upstream server has issues; but even if recognition is successful it has very few useful commands. For example if "Home" location is saved one might expect "Navigate home" to work; but no such luck. Voice recognition on my '07 Camry worked better! #Fail.
Fortunately the steering voice recognition button works for both UVO (single press) and Google assistant (long press).
30. The inbuilt nav system is great - it has live traffic info when online but works offline too (in forests, ghats, etc)
It fails exactly where one would expect it to fail - the quality of maps. The maps are most likely from MapMyIndia and are often outdated (at least in Hubli Dharwad), don’t have most businesses included; and certainly don’t have things like one-ways mapped correctly. Maybe the maps are better in larger metro cities. Ironically MapMyIndia sources data from Open Street maps which is Open Source and more up to date. The saving grace is real roads are missing from the map - not roads on map missing on the ground.
31. UVO and This “connected car” tech: This stuff is only for serious nerds. Honestly, it is a little tricky to set up and use. Even the salesperson could not have it ready and set up at delivery - and it took me two days talking to the dealer and call center to get it working. The usual features are all there: locate the car, live tracking, remotely lock/unlock the car; remote start, geofencing, trip history etc. There are even alerts - say you walk away without locking the car? Notification on your phone that prompts you to lock. Very useful. Other stuff is not so useful. For example, you can't share a location from Google Maps directly to the car - because Google now has their funky plus codes that UVO does not recognise. (By the way Google Maps will also not show the *full* plus code - it only shows the first 6 characters - so other apps can't get the latlong easily. Again - plus codes and WhatThreeWords deserve a rant of their own, so I'll leave it at that).
You can of course plug in the lat/long values but Google Maps doesn't give you those very easily in your mobile app either. Anyway I mostly use OpenStreet Maps with Android Auto (beta program) so I get all the benefits of OSM & offline nav and have everything on screen as well.
32. Many things could be done in UVO that are missing - eg. remotely roll up windows or warn when some windows are open at the time of locking the car, etc.