Full 2014 Dodge SRT Viper Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the SRT Viper gets a special edition, the track-tuned TA package option. The multimode stability control system also gains a new Rain mode.
As each year passes, exotic sports cars become more well-mannered and technologically advanced. Myriad electronic controls, all-wheel drive and other assistants have made it so that even a novice driver can feel like a hero behind the wheel. The 2014 SRT Viper benefits from some of these new traits. But at its core, it's still a fire-breathing beast that demands your respect.
As it stands, the Viper represents the supercar in its raw form. Most of this can be attributed to the massive 8.4-liter V10 under the stretched hood. With 640 horsepower on tap, even the best of drivers need to be on top of their game. And while the current SRT Viper is significantly more accommodating than its Dodge Viper predecessors, it's still loud, raucous, hard to see out of, stiff-riding and tricky at its handling limit.
Yes, it's absolutely a Viper, good and bad. In a recent track shootout, the Viper's lap times stood victorious over the likes of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, 2014 Nissan GT-R and 2014 Porsche 911. In all honesty, though, those results would probably have been different without an expert driver behind the wheel. In the end, the 2014 SRT Viper is still very much an old-school supercar that requires a high level of heroism to get the most out of it. If that sounds appealing to you, there's nothing better.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 SRT Viper is a two-seat supercar coupe available in base Viper or upgraded GTS trim. Standard features include 18-inch front wheels, 19-inch rear wheels, summer tires, automatic bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, keyless ignition/entry, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-only leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto-dimming mirrors and automatic climate control. Electronic features include an 8.4-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a nine-speaker sound system with satellite radio, auxiliary input, a USB interface and an SD card reader.
To the base Viper, a buyer may opt for the Grand Touring package that includes a cupholder insert and floor mats, a rearview camera, voice-controlled navigation and HD radio.
Opting for the Viper GTS nets the contents of the Grand Touring package plus unique exterior and interior treatments including a specific hood, wheel design and leather upholstery with contrasting stitching on the dash, door panels and center console. The seats get trimmed in leather with faux suede inserts, and the driver seat gains power adjustment. Audio is upgraded to a more powerful Harman Kardon system with 12 speakers. An even more high-end 18-speaker Harman Kardon system with Logic 7 surround-sound is a stand-alone option for either model.
In terms of mechanical upgrades, the GTS includes dual-mode driver-selectable Bilstein dampers, upgraded two-piece lightweight brake rotors and a multi-stage electronic stability and traction control system.
To either the base Viper or GTS, buyers may add an Interior or Exterior Carbon-Fiber package (or both) and an Advanced Aerodynamics package. Ultra-lightweight wheels and softer-compound tires are also offered. Only the GTS is available with the optional Laguna Interior package (black or sepia) that includes a simulated suede headliner and unique premium leather surfaces.
New for 2014 is a TA (for Time Attack) special-edition package that is only offered on the base SRT trim. Included are the Advanced Aerodynamics package, lightweight wheels and softer tires and unique exterior and interior trim. Specific racetrack-focused suspension tuning and special Brembo brakes are also part of the package.
As before, a slew of wheels, exterior colors and stem-to-stern stripes are available from which to choose and customize.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 SRT Viper is powered by an 8.4-liter V10 that generates 640 hp and 600 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.
As you would expect, performance is phenomenal. Zero to 60 mph takes just 3.7 seconds. Of course, you'd also likely expect fuel economy to suffer, and the Viper obliges here as well: The car returns an EPA-estimated 15 mpg combined (12 mpg city/19 mpg highway).
Standard safety features on all 2014 SRT Vipers include antilock disc brakes and stability and traction control. The Uconnect system can further link drivers to emergency services and roadside assistance. Side curtain and side airbags are not available, however. A rearview camera is optional on the base Viper and standard on the GTS.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Viper GTS with the optional lightweight wheels and stickier tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 101 feet, which is excellent for a sports car. With the standard wheels and tires, the stopping distance was a still respectable 110 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
With a narrower focus on performance than just about any car on the road, the 2014 SRT Viper understandably surrenders some creature comforts. Taller drivers will physically fit, but they'll typically have to recline the seatback so far back that visibility can be a concern. Even for the averaged-sized driver, the view outward is a bit like peeking through a mail slot, thanks to the unusually low roof line.
The seats are on the narrow and firm side, with extra-large side bolsters to keep you secure while pulling massive lateral g-loads. As if you needed any further indication that the Viper was meant for the track, anchors for six-point racing harnesses are already provided. The cockpit is otherwise thoughtfully padded in the right places with high-quality stitching and has a dashboard that is highly legible and functional with a configurable digital instrument cluster. The center stack controls are logical, and we particularly like the large central display screen and its easy-to-use virtual buttons and menus.
Interior storage is limited, but the team at SRT installed as many small bins and pockets as they could. On the other hand, the trunk is surprisingly spacious, measuring just over 14 cubic feet.
The 2014 SRT Viper is one of those cars that demands respect. Even for the most talented of racecar drivers, it's a handful. As with any purpose-built car with racing aspirations, the Viper forces some compromises in terms of everyday drivability. There's a heft to all driver controls, from steering effort to running the shifter through the gates. These details add to the experience for the enthusiast but will likely grow tiresome for anyone who isn't fully committed to the Viper lifestyle. In addition, those generous seat bolsters sometimes interfere with the driver's elbows, while the pedals are closely positioned to each other, requiring a very deliberate driver's touch. Finally, extra care must be taken around the side-pipe exhaust routing when getting in and out, as it can get hot enough to burn flesh. There's even a warning label on the door sills.
Around town, the ride quality is stiff and you'll feel every bump and pebble. The Race setting for the suspension is downright punishing and makes the car feel nervous unless you're on a very smooth racetrack. Of course, the main attraction is the Viper's massive V10 engine and the ceremony that surrounds it. Even at idle, it emits a sinister warble, which grows to a fierce roar when the pedal is pushed with any aggression.
Wisely, new Viper owners are eligible for a one-day SRT Track Experience that helps familiarize you with the car's capabilities. Considering how incredibly powerful the Viper is, and how easy it is to reach its limits (and how tricky it can be once you get there), this track time could be the most useful standard feature -- not to mention a whole lot of fun.