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REVIEW
From Edmunds.com
2017 Dodge  Viper Picture
PROS
  • Massive V10 engine produces a ludicrous amount of power
  • Handles like a purpose-built race car
  • Infotainment interface is easy to use and connect your smartphone with
  • It's arguably the last unfiltered and unapologetic sports car left
CONS
  • Ride quality is very stiff
  • Outward visibility is poor
  • Firm seats can be uncomfortable after time
  • Entry/exit is extremely difficult for drivers and passengers
  • No automatic transmission is available
  • Poor fuel economy, even for a high-performance sports car

With a massive 8.4-liter V10 engine, a cockpit that wouldn't be out of place in a race car and all the civility of a hungry bear, the 2017 Dodge Viper is a lot more than just your basic sports car. Driving one is a raw, visceral and aggressive experience like no other. Its trim level lineup ranges from stripped-out and bare-bones to a truly one-of-a-kind car capable of dominating at any racetrack. It also turns heads as much as exotics costing three times as much.

So what's wrong with all this brutal, in-your-face, unapologetic sports car stuff? Nothing, if that's what you're looking for. But if you're also hoping for some civility and practicality, the Viper isn't your car. It's not particularly comfortable, for starters. It's oppressively noisy on the highway, its seats offer minimal support and the ride quality is very stiff ride, even for a sports car of this caliber. But wait, there's more! People getting in or out of the Viper risks singeing their legs on the hot doorsills (thanks to the side-mounted exhaust pipes), outward visibility is poor, and cargo capacity is comparable to what you'll get in a jetliner's overhead bin.

Granted, people have been slamming the Viper for all these reasons going back to its debut in 1992, so it's not exactly news. But it's also true that the latest batch of 2017 sports cars can also bring the heat but without all the bombast. The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is one of the Viper's strongest and most direct rivals. It has a more livable interior, a better ride and similar power. Consider the high-revving Ford Mustang GT350 as well, which is objectively slower in a straight line but excellent on a racetrack and much less expensive. A few more luxurious choices include the Porsche 911 and the Jaguar F-Type, both of which we highly recommend.

Logically, it makes no sense to buy this car. But 2017 is also the Viper's last year before Dodge puts it out to pasture. If you want sample of the most intense automotive experiences while it's still around, we won't blame you.

WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017

The 2017 Dodge Viper is largely unchanged. A few special-edition models debut to commemorate the Viper's final year.

2017 Dodge  Viper Picture

TRIMS & EQUIPMENT

The 2017 Dodge Viper is a two-seat sports car that comes in five trim levels: SRT, GTC, GTS and the more track-focused ACR.

Standard equipment on the base SRT includes 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels with high-performance tires, keyless ignition and remote entry, manually adjustable seats, a tilt-only leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, automatic air-conditioning, an 8.4-inch touchscreen (Dodge's Uconnect infotainment system), a navigation system, SRT performance apps, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system with satellite radio and a USB port.

Move up the ladder to the GTC and you'll get a racier hood, Brembo brakes, a five-mode stability control system, a taller sixth-gear ratio, driver-adjustable dampers, a six-way power driver seat and leather seats with simulated suede inserts. The GTS goes further with upgraded leather upholstery and interior trim and an 18-speaker premium Harman Kardon audio system.

Then there's the race-focused ACR Viper. It gets lighter wheels (19-inch wheels in front), less sound insulation, lighter-weight carpeting and less of it, manual adjustable seats, a minimal three-speaker stereo, carbon-fiber aerodynamic elements, more aggressive summer tires, six-piston brake calipers, carbon-ceramic brake rotors, a stiffer suspension with 10 manually adjustable damper settings for compression and rebound, and manually adjustable spring rates.

Many of the premium and ACR features are available on lower trim levels for an extra cost. Other options include numerous carbon-fiber exterior and interior treatments. The TA 1.0 and TA 2.0 packages (with specially tuned suspension) and the Extreme Aero package for the GTC and ACR trims add a large, dual-element rear wing and a front splitter with a removable extension, a carbon-fiber rear diffuser and even more aggressive aerodynamic tweaks.

A handful of special editions are also available for 2017, including the Viper 1:28 Edition ACR, Viper GTS-R Commemorative Edition, Viper Snakeskin Edition, Viper VooDoo II Edition and Viper Dodge Dealer Edition. Each has a specific permutation of features and/or special paint and interior and exterior trim details.

2017 Dodge  Viper Picture

INTERIOR & SAFETY

Though it's a far cry from the bare-bones Vipers of the past, this third-generation Viper still trails behind other similarly priced sports cars in many aspects. You'll find several soft-touch surfaces and quality materials throughout the cabin, but similarly priced competitors do much better. Essentially, the Viper's pricing puts it up against some seriously upscale sports cars, and the interior doesn't reflect that. One bright spot is the the Uconnect infotainment interface, which is one of the better systems available for ease of use and responsiveness.

Getting in and out of the Viper is, at the very least, less than graceful. Depending on your height, there's a clumsy drop into the seats or a two-handed climb required to get out of them. The Viper's cabin is cramped, so taller occupants (over 6 feet, for instance) might have fitment problems. Lateral space is also at a premium since the wide transmission tunnel keeps things very tight. Drivers and passengers that decide on shorts or a dress will have to be cautious too, as the Viper's side exhaust pipes get extremely hot and stepping over them is required to get out of the car.

Visibility is limited, with the combination of a very low roof line and a high beltline (the bottom of the windows) that makes you feel as though you're peeking through a mail slot to see out of the car. Side visibility is compromised by wide roof pillars. Looking back isn't easy either, and the tiny hatch forces heavy reliance on the rearview camera. On paper, the 14.7-cubic-foot trunk capacity is generous, but that's only if you pile your cargo to the roof. The usable space is really limited to a narrow well behind a massive hump. In the passenger compartment, storage is also light, with a few small pockets and bins. Our best advice is to pack light.

Standard safety features for all 2017 Vipers include antilock brakes, stability control, side-door-mounted airbags and a rearview camera. At the Edmunds test track, in a simulated panic stop, the Viper went from 60 mph to a complete stop in 103 feet. That's a few feet longer than other ultra-high-performance coupes but still far shorter than the average sports car.

2017 Dodge  Viper Picture

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING

Every 2017 Dodge Viper is powered by an 8.4-liter V10 that produces 645 hp and 600 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual, which is the only available transmission. At the Edmunds test track, a Viper GT went from zero to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds.

EPA estimated fuel economy for the 2017 Dodge Viper is 14 mpg combined (12 city/19 highway), which is poor, even for this class of high-performance cars. During our yearlong test of a Dodge Viper GT, we found that it can easily clear its city/highway estimates if you use a light foot, but if you can't resist the urge to engage the loud pedal, you'll easily get single-digit mileage.

Plenty of sports cars are fast, but very few are as savage and raw as the 2017 Dodge Viper. Power is delivered with a brutish grunt, and the comically wide rear tires struggle for traction every time you mash the throttle. Rather than a computer-controlled precision machine, the Viper feels more like a hammer. It's a blunt tool with a singular goal: speed.

High-speed corners can be thrilling, but the Viper is long and wide, with a particularly claustrophobic cabin, making it feel unyielding on the road. There's still plenty of fun to be had, with lots of grip and more power than you can responsibly use on open roads, but it takes a lot of skill to control this V10-powered beast. For drivers interested in the full race-car experience, the ACR trim makes the Viper an even more capable machine, with stickier tires and aero enhancements.    

If, for some reason, you're interested in having a Viper as your daily driver, you might want to think again. It's livable, but only just. Every bump, crack and imperfection in the pavement makes it into the cabin. On the highway, the loud V10 drones on, which can get especially tiresome on road trips. And at slow speeds, the Viper's heavy steering makes it extremely difficult to maneuver.

VERDICT

A massive V10 engine, a tiny uncomfortable cabin and more attitude than almost anything else on the road all combine to make the 2017 Dodge Viper a unique and fantastic car. It's mean, raw, unforgiving and sometimes terrifying, and that's all part of its strange appeal. If you're willing to give up comfort and convenience for thrills and raucous performance, a Viper might be just right.

Copyright Edmunds.com, Inc. All rights reserved. First published on www.edmunds.com and reprinted with permission. Edmunds and the Edmunds.com car logo are registered trademarks of Edmunds.com, Inc.
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