Your humble car reviewer has been on a roll lately with fast cars. Back-to-back, I have spent a week with the Dodge Charger Hellcat, the V-10 Audi R8, and this week the 2015 Dodge Viper. The Viper probably invoked the most conversations and people snapping pictures and taking videos, but it also holds the distinction of being the least enjoyable to drive of the speedy trio. More on that later.
The first Viper was made in 1991, production was stopped in 2010, and resumed in 2013 as the SRT Viper, without the Dodge name attached to it. In 2015, the Viper underwent some nice changes, including a $15,000 price reduction, a return to the Dodge name, much needed stability control, and a more refined product than in previous versions. It picked up 5 additional horses, and shed 75 pounds.
When you flip the hood open, you have to be in awe of what you see, which is an 8.4-liter V-10 engine that puts out 645-horses, without the help of a turbocharger or a supercharger, which you almost always find once you pass the 550-horse mark. To look at this engine, you just get the feeling it is a work of art. For a moment, you stand in amazement, knowing this car is hand-built. The beast-of-an-engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Top speed on the Viper is 206-miles per hour. Although I did not test that fact, I have no reason to doubt it.
My review vehicle was the top-of-the-line GTS, a new model for 2015. It comes nicely equipped with dual-mode street and track suspension, which makes a huge difference in the ride and handling, and you get launch mode, which is pretty awesome. Also standard are keyless entry, pushbutton start, backup camera, navigation system, power seat, leather interior, and a cool SRT steering wheel with controls.
Also included in the $109,990 base price is Chrysler’s wonderful Uconnect system that operates on an 8.4” color monitor. I still find this system to be the best of any I have ever tested. It gives you Bluetooth, voice activation, a suite of apps for real-time weather, traffic, sports scores, movie listings, and fuel prices. I particularly like the SRT track pages, which lets you time yourself on 0-to-60 times, see how many G-forces you are pulling, and lots of other data. Uconnect will even turn the inside of the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot. This package also sports Brembo brakes with red calipers.
This car is Blue Pearl, a beautiful color of very dark blue and that sets you back $1000. For $5100, you get the exterior carbon fiber package, which is not all that noticeable on this dark car, but cool once you see it nonetheless.
It also has an upgraded interior call the Laguna Premium Interior package, which is $2500 and includes leather door panels, a large leather center stack, leather emergency brake handle and gearshift knob, and stitching on the leather steering wheel. For $500, this car comes with a Mopar car cover, and it has an $1100 upgrade for Venom Hyper Black wheels, which are 18” x 10.5” in the front, and 19” x 13” in the rear. The wheels look fantastic, but prevent the Viper from running through automatic car washes. To wrap up the extra charge items, add $2100 for the government’s gas-guzzler taxation and $1995 in destination charges. That brings the total to $122,290.
With stability control now, the Viper is much easier to handle and control the rear end from constantly cutting loose. That was one of the big things I hated about the last Viper I reviewed. The hood on the Viper is very long, and that big V-10 sits back a good distance, and that gives the car a low center of gravity and aids in stability.
One surprise with this car is that it doesn’t really give you the burst of acceleration you would expect until you hit 4000 RPM. It is not that it is sluggish really, you just don’t get that “pin you to the seat” feeling upon acceleration. Once you get to about 4000 RPM, it really comes alive. This took some getting used to, as did the 16-gallon gas tank which required me filling up way more than I wanted to.
Now I’ll tell you why this is a car I have tremendous respect for, but would not consider owning. The first issue is getting in and out of it. There is a very high and wide step-in to enter and exit the car. To make matters worse, the seats sit low, making you climb in head first, get one leg in, then sort of fall into the seat. There is nothing you can do to make this pleasant. Once you master this technique and catch a breath, it is actually comfortable.
Issue #2 is a horrendous blind spot as you glance over your right shoulder. You tense up every time you make a right lane change, not having any confidence there is not a car there. If there was ever a car that needed the blind spot monitoring system, it is this one.
Last problem is the price. I just cannot help but compare this car to the more comfortable Corvette Z06, which has 650-horses and a base price of $78,995. I just can’t justify the price of the Viper, and I sure wouldn’t consider it for a daily driver.
What I liked most: The engine, and the sleek exterior.
What I would change: An easier way to get in and out!
MSRP: Base price $107,995. As equipped $122,290.
Fuel Economy: 12 City/21 highway/15 combined, not getting even close.
Odometer reading when tested: 700 miles.
Weight: 3431 Pounds.
Length-Width-Height: 175.7” long/76.4” wide/49.1” High.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 16 gallons
Towing Capacity: N/A
2015 Dodge Viper in a few words: Heck of an engine, but it is not a car for me.
Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain coverage with 5 years of roadside assistance.
Car Pro Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars.
Dealers: We have great Dodge dealers in Austin, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Grand Rapids, Houston, Los Angeles, Lubbock, Phoenix, and Sacramento.
Manufacturers website: Dodge Viper