2017 Dodge Viper
The fire-breathing Dodge Viper has entered its final model year, and it doesn't sound like a replacement is coming anytime soon.
Dodge is sending off the Viper with six limited-edition models called 1:28 Edition ACR, GTS-R Commemorative Edition ACR, Snakeskin Edition GTC, Snakeskin Edition ACR, VoooDoo II Edition ACR, and Dodge Dealer Edition ACR, respectively.
This Snake Packs Venom
Under the Viper's long hood is the hand-built, all-aluminum 8.4-liter V10 that Viper owners have come to know, love and fear in their SRT-powered snakes. In its latest form it delivers 645 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque, giving it the most torque of any naturally aspirated production car engine in the world. Improvements to make those numbers possible include a new, ultra-high flow and lightweight composite intake manifold, high-strength forged pistons, sodium-filled exhaust valves, new catalysts to reduce back pressure and an aluminum flywheel that reduces reciprocating losses.
Despite all of the upgrades to the engine, Dodge engineers actually managed to shed over 25 lbs of weight - just from the engine. In terms of the entire vehicle, roughly 100 lbs have been dropped, partially due to the all-new aluminum and carbon fiber body. Returning to the powertrain, the 8.4-liter V10 is mated to a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission with an improved short-throw shifter and final gear ratios that have been tightened from 3.07 to 3.55.
For the tiny minority of potential Viper buyers who care about fuel economy, the snake return 13 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway - not bad for a 645-horsepower sports car.
Dodge stiffened the structure and chassis of the latest Viper by 50 percent, much of which was adapted from the previous GTS-R race cars. Some of that strength comes from a new aluminum "X" brace under the hood that connects the front suspension to the magnesium cowl super casting.
In the rear of the car, Dodge's engineers developed a new setup that locates the toe link forward of the axle for better tow control and dynamic stability. Thanks to federal law changes, the latest Viper also comes standard with electronic stability control and traction control, both of which are fully defeatable for truly brave drivers. There is also a steering wheel-mounted launch control switch for optimal acceleration runs.
Power is transferred to the ground via Pirelli P Zero, Z-rated tires that Dodge promises to deliver substantially improved overall performance, cold weather performance, enhanced overall grip and steering response.
Bringing this snake to a stop are four-piston Brembo brakes with fixed-aluminum calipers and 355mm vented rotors on all four corners. Opt for the Track Package and those brakes will be swapped out for lighter slotted two-piece rotors from StopTech.
More Luxurious Interior
Getting with the changing times, the latest Viper boasts a significantly more comfortable, stylized and attractive interior. But don't think Dodge went too soft on the interior: they also made a point of creating a very driver-focused cockpit-style layout to help drivers extract the most out of their car with minimal distraction.
All major interior surfaces are sewn and wrapped with additional padding applied in comfort areas, while triple-paint-finished Gun Metal appliques can be found on the cluster bezel, HVAC outlets, window switch bezels, shifter base, park brake bezel and the integrated passenger grab handle on the center console.
Relaying vital information is a seven-inch, customizable instrument cluster display with a full-time analog tachometer readout in the center to confirm the performance driving feedback philosophy of the Viper. Drivers have a wide range of custom and personal options such as an additional digital speedometer readout just below the tachometer.
The center stack houses Chrysler Group's Uconnect Access infotainment system. Generally regarded as one of the more user-friendly infotainment setups on the market, Uconnect Access integrates most of the snake's audio, navigation and climate control functions into one unit. An 8.4-inch touchscreen mounted on the dashboard is the central component of the system, but redundant buttons and knobs for climate and audio volume and tuning are also included.
Uconnect Access features a voice command system that allows the driver to place phone calls, use the sound system, input navigation destinations and more without taking his or her hands off the wheel. Other notable aspects of the system include the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot over a 3G network - for an additional monthly fee - and downloadable applications such as Bing search.
Despite its more luxurious trappings and high-tech features, the Viper's cabin still has one major flaw - seats that many drivers regard as seriously uncomfortable. Built by Italian company Sabalt, they look sleek and purposeful, but are quite firm and lacking in necessary upper-body support.
The misshapen thrones - along with an extremely stiff suspension - mean the Viper is best left in the garage when the time comes for a long road trip.
Trim Level Breakdown
The base Dodge Viper is offered in four trim levels: Base, GT and GTS.
The base model comes standard with power mirrors, a rear-view camera, a vinyl-wrapped center console, a push-button ignition, an integrated garage door opener, a twelve-speaker stereo, a configurable instrument cluster, power-adjustable pedals, vinyl-upholstered seats, manually-adjustable seats, piano black trim on the steering wheel, a six-speed manual with a 0.63 6th gear, 18-inch wheels and a three-mode stability control system.
GT models add a leather-wrapped instrument panel, leather seats, a power-adjustable driver's seat, a 0.50 6th gear, a two-mode suspension, a five-mode stability control system and red seat belts.
Finally, the GTS model features a leather-wrapped center console, Nappa leather on the door panels, an eighteen-speaker stereo, a power-adjustable passenger seat, Gunmetal trim on the steering wheel and red brake calipers.
ACR stands for "American Club Racing," and it's safe to say that the Viper ACR is about as close as one can get to buying a street-legal race car.
Unlike the Corvette Z06, which is built around a substantial powertrain upgrade, the Viper ACR's upgrades are centered around track performance and durability. Equipment upgrades include carbon ceramic brakes, Kumho Ecsta V720 tires with unique front and rear tread patterns, double-adjustable Bilstein shocks and 3" of ride height adjustment. The Viper ACR's springs are more than twice as stiff as the Viper TA's.
Further upgrades include added aero features, including an extra-wide and adjustable rear wing.
If that's not enough, an Extreme Aero package adds an even wider (and still adjustable) rear wing, a rear carbon diffuser, a unique hood with removable louvers, and removable front splitter and dive plane extensions.
With this extensive adjustability available from the factory, it should come as no surprise that the Viper ACR holds numerous lap records at tracks both in America and abroad.
Appearance and Option Packages
The Viper is available with numerous appearance and option packages including the Interior Carbon Fiber Accents Package, the Exterior Carbon Fiber Package, the Advanced Aerodynamics Package and the Laguna Interior Package.
GTS buyers can select the Ceramic Blue Special Edition package that adds carbon fiber brake ducts, Satin Black trim on the rear bumper, Gunmetal door bezels, carbon fiber trim on the dashboard and the door panels, black wheels, a Ceramic Blue paint job and orange brake calipers.
The base Viper is offered with a performance-focused package called Time Attack (TA) 2.0. Intended to be the maximum expression of the Viper's race course prowess, the TA 2.0 adds firmed-up versions of the GTS trim's adjustable Bilstein dampers in addition to carbon fiber aerodynamic add-ons on both ends. The suspension also receives additional modifications in the form of track-optimized springs and anti-roll bars, while the TA comes standard with Pirelli P Zero soft compound tires.
The TA model is available in Y'Orange, Bright White or Venom Black.
All Dodge Viper models come standard with front airbags in addition to traction control and federally-mandated stability control. However, side and side-curtain airbags, which are standard fare on nearly every other new car on the market, are not available.
Those looking for a high-performance ride with loads of curbside appeal should consider Viper alternatives such as the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Audi R8.