Comparing a minivan to a Ferrari is surely absurd to some. Who cares? Those people never got girls in high school. Their idea of kooky, crazy fun is a red Prius. Tell them to have another soy milk latte and stick to reading www.lactoseintolerant.org, the Web site for the lactose-intolerant.
There's a real question to be answered here: How far has the automobile progressed in 23 years? Can a new minivan outrun a two-decade-old supercar?
Sure it's stupid, but that's the point.
Dollars and Sense
To get the show on the road we called Kia and borrowed this Sedona. We chose the Kia because it was the quickest accelerating of the group in our 2006 Minivan Comparison Test. It also had the fastest slalom speed, produced the third best lateral acceleration and was the least expensive. So, as minivans go, it's an outright performance bargain.
Now we needed an outdated, crusty old exotic. Enter our long-term 1984 Ferrari 308 GTSi. Magnum, P.I.'s car. The car entire movies were made for. The car that delivered a naked Christie Brinkley to Clark W. Griswold, for crying out loud. It's got a shrieking, midmounted Italian V8 powered by pure testosterone. It's got a body by Pininfarina. It's Rosso Corsa red. And most importantly, it's nothing like a minivan.
But it does cost the same as one.
This Kia Sedona costs $31,995. Opt out of the $2,400 Luxury Package and $1,700 Premium Entertainment Package, however, and its price dips below the $28,000 we paid for the Ferrari. And you still get to keep the $1,000 Power Package that gives you power-sliding doors and a power liftgate.
Dimensionally, there aren't two more different automobiles. With a wheelbase more than 2 feet longer than the Ferrari's (118.9 inches vs. 92.1), the Sedona is, quite simply, large. It's about 3 feet longer, 2 feet taller and 10 inches wider than the Ferrari. Then there's the matter of its additional 1,500 pounds of curb weight (4,686 pounds vs. 3,186).
Ironically, their engines make similar power (or at least they did when the Ferrari was new). The Sedona's 3.8-liter V6 is rated at 250 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. The Ferrari's 3.0-liter (actually 2.9) V8 is rated at 230 hp and 188 lb-ft of torque. Our Ferrari is a Quattrovalvole GTSi model, which means it's got the four-valve engine and uses Bosch fuel injection. It's hardly new. In fact, during this test, it ticked over 49,000 miles.
Kia gave the Sedona a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift abilities. It puts power down through the front wheels. The Ferrari's five-speed manual transaxle has a ZF limited-slip differential and delivers power to the rear wheels.
And the minivan wears the larger rubber. Its Michelins measure 235/60R17. The Ferrari wears Goodyears. Why? Because Mr. Ferrari wanted it that way. But they're an inch smaller in diameter than the Kia's tires, and quite a bit narrower (205/55ZR16 front and 225/50ZR16 rear).
As we headed for the track, staff predictions leaned in favor of the Sedona. Many who had driven the Ferrari were convinced the Kia was going to walk away with the acceleration tests. Some even extended the van's dominance to the braking tests where, they claimed, its modern ABS would laugh in the face of the Ferrari's dated, non-ABS equipped stoppers.
In reality, the Ferrari kicked the minivan's ass in every test. Twenty-three years is a long time and, yes, the van benefits supremely from modern advances, but it still ain't no Ferrari on the track. In 1984, this 308 really must have been something.
The biggest ass-kickin' came in the handling tests, where the Ferrari proved its pedigree by slithering through the slalom at 68.6 mph, almost 1 mph faster than the 2008 Subaru WRX and far better than any minivan we've ever tested. The story was similar around the skid pad, where the Ferrari's modern Goodyear Eagle F1 tires yanked it around at 0.91g. The Sedona squealed its way to 0.72g.
In a straight line it wasn't much closer. Seriously, did you ever see Magnum get outrun by a soccer mom? The Ferrari hit 60 mph in only 7.3 seconds — a number we likely could have improved if we were more willing to abuse its aging clutch. The Sedona managed the same milestone in 9.0 seconds. By the end of the quarter-mile, the gap was 1.3 seconds, with the Ferrari breaking the traps in 15.4 seconds at 92.1 mph and the Sedona finishing in 16.7 seconds at 84.6 mph.
Even the braking contest, where ABS is invaluable, fell in the Ferrari's favor. A solid, easily modulated pedal allowed the Ferrari to stop from 60 mph in just 123 feet, 5 feet shorter than the Sedona.
In other words, our Ferrari goes and stops as well as a V6 Toyota RAV4, which means the car has come damn far in the last 23 years. Just not quite as far as we had thought. A 2008 Ferrari F430 would, of course, run circles around our 308.
With our theory validated, or invalidated, depending on your degree of cynicism, we took this ridiculous exercise a step further. That's right. We made it a full-blown comparison test with scoring and everything.
Don't laugh. After driving both cars for a week it became clear that the Kia had a real shot. It's by far the easier of the two to live with every day. Take the four cupholders within reach of the driver, for example. Between them they've got more liquid capacity than the Ferrari's entire cooling system. And they're better at keeping things cool, too. The 308 has exactly zero cupholders, by the way. It also has zero airbags (the Sedona has six), zero power steering and practically zero air-conditioning.
Then there's the cargo capacity issue. The Ferrari has zero. Well, not exactly zero. Between its trunk and a bit of space behind the seats, the 308 has the cargo room of a large Gucci diaper bag. And it's even less practical. Don't put anything in the trunk you don't want cooked. We actually baked some Betty Crocker cookies back there during our track test. This isn't a problem in the Sedona. We packed lots of Girl Scout Cookies in our long-term Sedona earlier this year. They didn't even get warm.
Then there's the expected wear that comes with any 23-year-old car. The Ferrari's ventilation controls are worn and awkward and the ignition and door lock cylinders are sticky and require patience. And good luck getting in or out without some sort of yoga training.
On the Road
With a surprisingly comfortable ride, the 308 is actually a joy on a long drive, provided it's not more than 80 degrees outside. But it has its moments of glory. Find yourself on a winding road on a cool evening and even the 308's dead-on-center steering has some redeeming value. It's easy to get lost in the Italian's burble-come-shriek exhaust note while rowing through the gears in the right conditions.
The only way the Sedona could offer this much manly satisfaction is if it were loaded with five naked members of the Hawaiian Tropic bikini team and driven over a series of speed bumps. Repeatedly.
But the Sedona's road manners are respectable. An impromptu mountain road face-off against the 308 proved it a worthy contender — for a few minutes. Shifting its automatic transmission manually allows better control than in most minivans and it's admirably quick. It held its own until the flames coming off its front brake calipers forced us to surrender to the slippery Italian.
Fuel mileage was a contest won by the boxy Sedona, although its 16.7 mpg average isn't exactly going to impress the Sierra Club. The Ferrari averaged 14.9 mpg during the week, but it would crack 16 mpg on the highway.
The End of This Ridiculous Story
In the end, it comes down to the modern convenience and usability of the Sedona versus the passionate pull of the Ferrari.
It's the choice every man faces come midlife crisis. The family is getting bigger, the old sedan just won't cut it anymore and the need for a minivan looms large on the horizon. Enter the hulking, stigma-ridden reality of the 2007 Kia Sedona. The price is right, the warranty is incredible and it's got good reviews.
But with the rational need for more space, stain-resistant surfaces and self-closing doors comes the undeniable urge for something svelte, red, mid-engined and...Italian.
We've already bought our Ferrari. Which would you choose?
Kia provided Edmunds the Sedona for the purposes of evaluation. We own the Ferrari.
Inside Line Editor in Chief Scott Oldham says:
So the Kia Sedona didn't exactly have the beans to run with our 23-year-old Ferrari. Honestly, we thought the track testing results were going to be closer than they were.
Had we chosen a Toyota RAV4 with a V6, things would have been much closer, but Ferrari vs. Minivan is a much better title than Ferrari vs. Small Ridiculously Overpowered Crossover SUV.
A real study in the automobile's progression over the last 23 years would have been Ferrari vs. Mazdaspeed 3.
Fact is, the front-wheel-drive Mazda, our favorite hot hatch, will leave the old Italian in the dust. Not only is it quicker, but it stops better and snakes through our slalom at a higher speed than the Ferrari. It also costs about the same, seats four, carries more than a lunch box and gets much better fuel economy.
Another interesting study would be 1984 Ferrari 308 vs. 2007 Ferrari F430. Of course their performance wouldn't be close; the F430 would dance around the 308 like Michael Flatley, but it would demonstrate just how far things have come. And not only in terms of performance, but in safety, comfort and daily livability.
Personally, I prefer the simplistic beauty of the 308 over the grotesque form of the F430, but there's no arguing with progress. The Kia's day will come. In fact, I'll make the prediction right here, right now; the 2012 Kia Sedona will outperform a 1984 Ferrari 308. Remember where you heard it.