October 13, 2010
Last night I was on my way out to (quietly) celebrateanother year of my life on this planet. Just as I was about to load my bags into one of the more pedestrian vehicles in our fleet, one of my esteemed colleagues happened to comment, "What, no birthday Viper?"
Well, no. I'd figured I might need to street-park whatever I was driving, and since we don't normally do thatwith our Viper, I'd picked out a less interesting car. I stood there for a minute, weighing my options, then got back in the elevator and came back down, Viper keys in hand.
It was the right choice. What better car to drive on your birthday that one that reminds you that time is short (you could be out of production before you know it, and perhapsfind yourself reincarnated with two pedals instead of three), so you'd better live it up tonight.
Also, I always like driving the Viper on cool(ish) fall nights in Southern California. Put the windows down and enjoy the breeze, because the 8.4-liter V10 and the Tremec transmission provide for all the cabin heating you'll need.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor
September 01, 2010
Let me be clear -- I'm not one of those "lumbar guys" who complains that every seat in the butt-sitting world "needs more lumbar." It's generally a non-issue for me. However, this squooshy pad really worked for me in our longterm 2009 Dodge Viper during my long roadtrip a couple months ago.
During that trip, I learned that the Viper's seats have some great aspects and some areas that don't suit long distance travel. The long thigh cushion and lateral support get high marks. The big holein lieu of alumbar support, not so much.
The biggest surprise was that the seat's shoulder wings really bugged me after several hours in the saddle -- they force my shoulders to rotate forward, which gave me all kinds of trouble in my left shoulder for days afterward. It's something I never even noticed during my prior short trips in the Viper.
Also, see thosepseudo-suede insertsat the butt and lower back?Theydo more than feel nice to the touch; they're functional -- the fabric acts like velcro when placed in shear so you stay in place during hard cornering.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
August 26, 2010
I've taken our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 to San Diego. I'm here to drive a minivan (first letteris "h," last letter is "y"), so the comparison is apt, no?
Actually, I know some minivans with better off-the-line torque response than our Viper, but I digress. The Viper is not an ideal heavy-traffic car, but you knew that, and as expected, it bucked over the expansion joints and rain grooves that define LA's freeways. Once we hit South Orange County, though, the pavement smoothed out and the Viper mellowed out in the ride quality department.
It's also a relaxed cruiser in its tall 6th gear. Once you're up to your65-70-75-80-mph pace (take your pick), the fact that you can't really accelerate in-gear doesn't matter. But I went down to 5th and often 4th whenever I wanted to pass, or when traffic slowed, or when I just wanted to remind myself that I was in the most fun car on the road. Heel-and-toe downshifts aren't that fun to execute with the Viper's six-speed, but the resulting exhaust sounds of asmooth shift downare a decent reward.
It was a hot day, but the air-conditioning kept my hands icy while engine heat permeated the firewall and made my feet sweat. Yum, eh? Also, the not-quite-Z06-toasty transmission tunnel kept my tall coffee (secured in its cozyin the half-holder) warm for the duration of the drinking experience.
The traffic and the constant A/C use relieved the car of fuel at a rapid rate, but there's a still quarter of a tank in case the valets at my hotel want to do burnouts tonight.
After the jump, spotted on I-5: the most unusual Prius I've ever laid eyes on... and undoubtedly a kindred spirit to the Dodge Viper.
July 22, 2010
Few things are more aggravating to me than a twisted seat belt -- at least in the automotive realm (don't get me started on stamped, unmailed letters...). This personal pet peeve weighed on me every time I drove our Long-Term 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10. The driver's seat belt was twisted, and not in the "well, just flip it over" way but in the "looks like someone at the factoryscrewed up the seat belt installation" way.
After more than 10,000 miles ofmanaging the"twist" every time we buckled up (so it didn't fall across the middle of our collectivechests) I decided it was time to fix it.
The fix seemed simple enough. Just pull the bolt attaching the seat belt to the Viper's frame and flip it around. As Jeremy Clarkson might say, "How hard could it be?"
July 15, 2010
I picked up Ryan at LAX in the mid-afternoon. The drive had us plodding the Viper up I-15 through the shame of our nation, Las Vegas, ending with dinner and sleep in a Mesquite, NV, casino. There's really nothing to see on this leg. Our goal for this day's drive was to get some miles in the bag so that we might be able to do a bit of exploring on the next day's drive.
The shot above was taken during a side jaunt on Highway 118 near Monroe, UT.
Road and wind noise isn't too bad. It's there, but not obnoxiously so. Strangely, when you get it into sixth gear at about 80 -- since that gear is utterly worthless at speeds less than this -- the moan of the lugging engine plus the wind noise at the A-pillar make it sound like you're in a Cessna. This is the surely one of the most unimpressive-sounding engines today, even when you wood it.
But, man, when you need to blast by a row of crawlers on the freeway, a downshift to third or even second gear is all it takes to make everyone warp backwards.
Also, the floor gets hot. Not Corvette-hot, more like an electric blanket-hot. The aircon's quite effective, though, so it's no problem when you're moving, even in summer-desert-at-midday conditions. If you park for lunch, the car feels like an oven when you return to it, though.
Also, the seatbelts havea half-twist in them. Both sides. Odd.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 11,701 miles.