Full 2010 Dodge Viper Review
What's New for 2010
A few 2010 performance upgrades arrive in the form of a shorter 5th gear ratio and a lighter clutch assembly. The ACR package gains a short-throw shifter and revised rear wing. Otherwise, most of the changes are cosmetic and include limited-edition paint schemes and a tan interior and soft-top package.
The 2010 model year marks the end of the line for the second-generation Dodge Viper, and quite possibly the end of the Viper altogether. Since the original concept car debuted in 1989, the Viper has embodied the brash American spirit of excess. It captured the imagination of automotive enthusiasts and still manages to turn heads today. The Viper is, as it has always been, an untamed road-going beast that's as tricky to drive as it is gratifying.
With Dodge now falling under the Fiat automotive empire's control, it's likely that this is the final year for the Viper. We'll mourn the loss, mostly because of the Viper's unapologetic nature. The styling reeks of testosterone-fueled rage. It's powered by a massive 10-cylinder engine that roars with an unbridled rawness. It even lacks the kind of electronic driver aids that now permeate the modern sports car market -- no stability control here to save your bacon when you run out of talent on a racetrack.
If this is indeed goodbye and the 2010 Dodge Viper's back-to-basics, hard-core persona appeals to you, then you'd better get one while you still can. Even a fellow American classic like the Corvette can't quite match what it's like to drive the manic Viper. If the old snake does return, though, we can't wait to see what madness the next iteration brings.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Dodge Viper SRT-10 is offered as either a two-seat coupe or a soft-top roadster. Massive forged-aluminum wheels are standard with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires measuring 275/35R18 in front and 345/30R19 in back. Inside, the Viper comes with race-inspired seats, power-adjustable pedals, a tilting steering wheel, air-conditioning, full power accessories, six-point harness pre-fabrication, leather and Alcantara upholstery, keyless entry and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player.
Satellite radio and a navigation system are packaged together as options. An aerodynamic enhancement option that includes a front and rear spoiler is available, along with the Premium Tan package. No, this package doesn't impart a "Jersey Shore" spray-on tan to your skin, it adds tan napa seats, a tan roadster convertible top and matching interior trim. There are also numerous color, trim and wheel options as well.
The big performance-enhancing option for the Viper is the American Club Racer (ACR) package, which is only available for the coupe variant. Though street-legal, the ACR is clearly intended for track use with lighter wheels shod with stickier tires (both slightly wider out back), lighter brake rotors, a stiffer suspension with 14-way-adjustable shocks, a short-throw shifter, deleted foglamps and a reduction of 46 pounds from the standard coupe. The package also adds carbon-fiber aerodynamic devices, including a massive wing mounted high above the tail, a front splitter, fender-mounted dive planes and additional underbody treatments. All of this aero work results in a claimed 1,000 pounds of downforce at 150 mph.
In the spirit of "you can never go too far," the ACR package can be further enhanced with the Hard Core package. Generally, one expects additional performance to cost more, but the Hard Core option is free -- primarily because the package removes options that are not track-essential. Deletions include the radio, speakers, amplifier, trunk upholstery, hood pad and tire inflator. Weight savings amounts to an additional 42 pounds -- not a whole lot, but every ounce counts on the track. An ACR-X model is new for 2010, but is intended for racetrack use only.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2010 Dodge Viper is a completely bonkers 8.4-liter V10 engine that thunders out 600 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. This massive motor launches the Viper from zero to 60 mph in only 3.7 seconds, with the quarter-mile flashing by in a mere 11.6 seconds at 125.7 mph. Despite its lesser weight, we've found the ACR to be no quicker. Top speed is a claimed 200 mph. Power is directed to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, which is the only transmission available.
Fuel economy -- though obviously an afterthought for exotic sports cars -- registers an EPA-estimated 13 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined.
The best safety equipment for the 2010 Dodge Viper isn't included with the car. It's a driver with great skill, preferably with a racing pedigree. What is included, however, are antilock brakes with huge 14-inch rotors that can stop the Viper from 60 mph in an eye-bulging 104 feet. Conspicuously absent are side airbags, traction control and stability control -- making the skills of the aforementioned driver even more critical.
Interior Design and Special Features
Gaining access to the driver seat can be a challenge for some. Because of the trademark side exhaust, the side sills can get hot enough to singe your calves, and taller drivers will find that the smallish door opening hampers entry and exit. Those with wider-than-average bottoms may also find the snug seats a bit uncomfortable.
The overall design of the Viper's interior is rather drab, though it can be livened up a bit with optional two-tone color schemes and dash panel inserts. The black-on-white-faced gauges are easy to read and well-placed. The large tachometer is mounted centrally in the instrument pod, beside the 220-mph-max speedometer. The center console accommodates additional gauges, the audio system with CD player, climate controls and a racy red starter button to fire up the V10. We'd avoid the optional navigation system, as it's an older design featuring a tiny screen and fussy, unintuitive controls.
The 2010 Dodge Viper is rough, raw, loud and unrefined when compared to other sports cars, and therein lies much of its appeal. As with previous generations, when you nail the gas pedal, you'll be pinned to the seatback. Jam on the brakes and you can feel your internal organs slam against your rib cage. Novices can appreciate the Viper's straight-line power and fury, but only advanced drivers should explore its cornering limits.
Steering is precise and offers enough feedback to toss the Viper deep into turns, while judicious amounts of throttle from a deft right foot can direct its nose with smart-bomb accuracy. However, sniperlike accuracy can be achieved with sharper, lighter performers like the Corvette Z06 or range-topping Porsches. Get it right in a Viper and the payoff is immediate and plentiful. Get it wrong and you'll be relying on every car-control skill you've ever learned. Barring impact or damage, either outcome is wildly entertaining and rewarding.
Read our Dodge Viper SRT-10 Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test