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2017 Dodge Viper
New Car Test Drive

Introduction

Over more than 20 years, the V10 Viper has outgrown its reputation as evil, uniquely charismatic, but evil. Today, with much more horsepower than at the beginning, it’s a brute of a different color, balanced. The interior is civilized, the tires grip, and the stability and traction control keep it safe. The shape is beautiful. It’s no Chevy Corvette or Porsche 911, but that’s the point. It doesn’t want to be. It’s a fitting tribute to itself.

The 2017 Viper, the fifth year of this generation, will be the final Viper, after a quarter of a century. To celebrate its retirement, there are six special models. Only a few hundred total of these models were built, and they are all sold out. The standard model may still be available, however.

The Viper 1:28 Edition ACR is named for the current ACR’s lap record of 1:28.64 at Laguna Seca Raceway. It’s black with a different-colored rear wing, red stripes, aero package and carbon-ceramic brakes.

The Viper GTS-R Commemorative Edition ACR carries the pearl white and blue colors of the 1998 Viper GTS-R GT2 Championship Edition. It too features an aero package and carbon-ceramic brakes.

The Viper VoooDoo II Edition ACR is black like the 2010 VooDoo, with a graphite metallic stripe with red outline, plus the aero package and carbon-ceramic brakes.

The Viper Snakeskin Edition GTC is inspired by the 2010 Snakeskin ACR. It’s got green paint with a patterned SRT stripe, black interior, and the aero package.

The Viper Snakeskin ACR Edition comes in Snakeskin Green with a snakeskin pattern stripe, snakeskin badge, the Extreme Aero Package, carbon ceramic brakes, a serialized instrument panel, and Snakeskin Green car cover with the owner’s name over the driver’s door. Since if you bought one it would be used, so it would have someone else’s name over your door.

The Dodge Dealer Edition ACR should be named the Dodge Dealer in Tomball, Texas and Roanoke, Illinois Edition ACR, since those are the only two dealers who sold this model. It’s white with a blue racing stripe, Adrenaline Red driver stripe, carbon-ceramic brakes, and the aero package.

The Viper, which gets about 15 miles per gallon, hasn’t been crash tested.

Model Lineup

With the rest of the 2017 lineup, there are no changes, in the base Viper SRT, GTC, GTS, and the track-ready ACR. The SRT starts at about $90,000, including a $2100 gas guzzler tax and $2495 destination, while the ACR pushes it to about $120,000.

The different models don’t just change trim, they change the handling. The SRT is basic, and firm for the track. The GTC and GTS get adaptive dampers and upgraded electronics to make them gentler for daily driving, plus a backup camera. The ACR features Bilstein coil-over racing shocks, carbon-ceramic brakes, and Kumho Ecsta tires. Available on the ACR is an aero package with carbon-fiber wing, diffuser, louvered hood, and extendable front splitter.

Walkaround

The Viper’s low-slung body isn’t just muscular, it fairly bulges and ripples. Its details are downright threatening, with vents and intakes like scars along its side.

Interior

The menacing exterior is contrasted by the nicest cabin ever put in a Viper, with ladylike touchscreen interfaces and fragrant Ferrari-esque leather seats. The cabin is surprisingly roomy for being so close to the ground. There’s excellent head room and leg room (Dodge says a 6-foot-7-inch tall person will fit nicely inside), the seats are comfortable and broadly adjustable, and the steering wheel and pedals also adjust.

This comfort is welcome because it’s so noisy in the cabin, even at low rpm on a smooth road.

The cargo space is decent, 14.65 cubic feet, about the size of an average trunk; but an odd shape under the hatch effectively restricts luggage to soft bags like duffels.

Driving Impressions

There’s just one Viper engine, a massive 8.4-liter V10 making 645 horsepower and an earth-shaking 600 pound-feet of torque, more than any non-turbocharged sports car alive. A Tremec six-speed gearbox moves the power to the rear wheels.

It can accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour in three seconds, after which brief time your eyeballs will be deep in their sockets. The quarter mile can be finished off in a bit more than 11 seconds, at which time the speed will be nearly 100 miles per hour. With the full aero package, the top speed will double that, plus six miles per hour.

But the Viper isn’t a one-trick pony. It can turn as well as sprint forward. The stability control isn’t so sensitive that it takes the fun out. Even in its full track mode, it allows enough sliding for spirited driving on the track. Totally turned off, you can feel the Viper’s good balance, with massive grip from the tires and surprisingly solid feel through the steering wheel and driver’s seat.

The ride is fair in the SRT, and a bit better in the models with the adjustable dampers. It’s never really objectionable for a sports car.

Summary

Last chance. You can’t get any of the commemorative models, but no matter. Buy a base SRT, keep it until you die, and will it to your children.

 


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