Used 2013 Dodge SRT Viper
- Massive power from normally aspirated V10 engine
- outlandish cornering grip
- excellent touchscreen display and electronics interface
- still a raw sports car at its core.
- No automated-manual transmission available
- too stiffly sprung for many road surfaces
- firm seats can limit long-distance comfort.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The all-new 2013 SRT Viper sheds its Dodge name and about a hundred pounds, but gains a new look, a new interior, more power and more poise.
After a two-year hiatus, the Viper returns with a new look, a new interior, added sophistication and, yes, a new brand. No longer a Dodge product, the SRT-branded Viper maintains its reputation as a device capable of instilling abject terror unto its occupants. But now that terror has been tempered via now-standard traction and stability control systems that are only a small part of the supercar's overhaul.
As iconic as ever, the 2013 SRT Viper charges back with the same 10-cylinder power plant, familiar over-the-top styling and racetrack-ready chassis it's had since its inception, but all have been evolved and upgraded. As a result of careful engineering, engine output has climbed by 40 horsepower and 40 pound-feet of torque. For the first time in its high-g-loaded history, the chassis benefits from available two-mode dampers and a multistage stability control system that can be tailored from novice to expert with reduced amounts of electronic intervention. And, yes, it now has launch control.
Oftentimes, aerodynamicists and stylists work in concert to sculpt a car's body, and so it was with the 2013 SRT Viper. Smoother in shape yet still containing more air ducts than an HVAC contractor's van, the new Viper retains the familiar shape but it is now formed with a host of weight-saving carbon-fiber body panels giving it a new attitude and a fresh look all its own. Modern, new lighting all around helps set the mood as well. Optional exterior treatments and a wide array of colors for both interior and exterior allow the ample customization that Viper customers will demand.
Inside, the historically lacking and even hostile interior accommodations have been thoroughly upgraded and enlarged for added craftsmanship, comfort and function. A new multifunction steering wheel now does more than just point the car down the road. There's even a cruise control button. The instrument panel features a customizable backlit digital display, while the center stack features Chrysler's excellent 8.4-inch touchscreen with the UConnect electronics interface.
All this talk of sophisticated electronics perhaps would have you thinking the Viper has become dynamically distant, dulled by ghost-in-the-machine layers between the driver and the car, but you'd be wrong. The engine is still as violent as it ever was, and you can still turn off the safety systems if you want to relive the glory days of Viper hooliganism. But overall, the added refinement of the 2013 Viper has made it a much more livable choice for a supercar, thereby elevating it into the ranks of other worthy choices such as the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, 2013 Nissan GT-R and 2013 Porsche 911.
Trim levels & features
The 2013 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 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, while the Uconnect media center is augmented to include a rearview camera, voice-controlled navigation with real-time traffic and SiriusXM travel information.
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 and a multistage 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. The SRT Track Package includes upgraded two-piece lightweight brake rotors, ultra-lightweight wheels and softer-compound tires.
Only the GTS is available with the optional Laguna Interior package (black or sepia) that includes a faux suede headliner and unique premium leather surfaces.
The serialized GTS Launch Edition package adds the classic Viper GTS color combination of blue paint with white stripes, special wheels, the Track Pack's upgraded brakes, a unique steering-wheel badge, a dust cover, the Laguna Interior package, the 18-speaker Harman Kardon audio upgrade and a numbered dash plaque.
As before, a slew of wheels, exterior colors and stem-to-stern stripes are available from which to choose and customize.
Performance & mpg
The 2013 SRT Viper packs an 8.4-liter V10 that generates a peak output of 640 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.
As one would expect, performance is phenomenal. Zero to 60 mph takes just 3.7 seconds. Of course, you'd likely expect fuel economy to suffer as well. It does, but not as much as previous Vipers. The new car returns an SRT-estimated 13 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined.
Every 2013 SRT Viper gets standard 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 Viper and standard on the GTS.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Viper GTS with the optional Track Pack came to a stop from 60 mph in 101 feet, which is excellent for a sports car.
With the stated goal of providing the driving experience of a "640-hp Miata," the engineers had their work cut out for them. While we would never characterize the 2013 Viper as such, we will say that it is at once a more potent and less threatening car than it once was. Our test-driver said, "The old Viper too often drove you; the new Viper you drive."
This newfound confidence is due in part to the sophisticated traction and stability control systems, but the way the lighter car responds to just about every other driver request is improved. That said, this is a car that requires a firm hand on both the steering wheel and the shifter to make it do what you want. And finding its limits remains tricky. It doesn't feel like it wants to kill you anymore, but its limits continue to demand respect.
Our GTS test car rode acceptably in everyday driving, but compared to, say, the Corvette ZR1, the 2013 SRT Viper still comes up short in ultimate comfort and control. The Street setting will likely be plenty firm for nearly every occasion, and the Race mode will prove to be harsh and tends to make the car nervous-feeling on any surface other than a billiard-table-smooth racetrack.
As before, the monumental engine sets the tone for the overall driving experience, with its signature V10 warble and tidal wave of torque. The shifter is remarkably light and precise and now sits lower than it once did, offering more comfortable use. Steering feel and feedback are definitely better than they once were, yet limited visibility still makes the car difficult to place with confidence on tight, curvy roads.
The Viper's all-new interior marks the most important improvement to this iconic two-seater. Thanks to added interior space, revised seats and adjustable pedals, the new Viper will fit nearly anybody. Incidentally, anchors for three- or six-point racing harnesses are standard for those who are so inclined. Regardless of trim, the racing-sourced shell-type seats are firm but supportive.
Unlike the car it replaces, the cockpit is thoughtfully padded in the right places, features high-quality stitching where it can be seen and felt, 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.
Storage is limited, but as many flocked bins and cubbies as would fit are a vast improvement over the previous car's utter lack of interior storage. The trunk is surprisingly spacious, measuring just over 14 cubic feet.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
If there's one thing the SRT engineering team wants you to know it's that the 2013 SRT Viper — like all Vipers before it — is still capable of brutally ripping off your face and pummeling you into little bits. This, no doubt, it could do with ease.
With 640 horsepower strapped to 3,297 pounds of steel and carbon fiber, the Viper has the potential to turn into a coffin of fiery death faster than you can say "federally mandated stability control." But this matters little.
Because it's not going to.
The new 2013 SRT Viper is both controllable and communicative and is finally a car we enjoy driving on a racetrack.
Welcome to 2013, Viper
Driving an old Viper in anger was a task best practiced with the same caution one might use handling depleted uranium. Or a Ziploc bag full of the Ebola virus.
Its ruthless character made it a machine to be reckoned with, an Everest of the automotive world, a meaningless measure of manhood. But that car's dirty little secret — one overshadowed by the hubris of nearly everyone who drove it — was that plenty of Viper owners feared it.
SRT aimed to fix this problem in the 2013 model. And fix it it has.
So much better is the 2013 SRT Viper at the task of going comfortably fast that we found ourselves choosing to exceed its limits rather than fearfully avoiding them. This is a car that has been refined to the extent that dancing over its grip limit is an almost welcome endeavor. As Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of SRT Brand, eloquently put it: "I wanted a 640-horsepower Miata."
Not a Toy
The idea that the Viper's limits could ever be as approachable as a Miata's is funny but not an altogether bad one. The reward, consequences and gravity of driving a Viper are a level of magnitude beyond most anything else on the road. Still, Gilles is on to something with this strategy.
We established this clearly on Gingerman Raceway near South Haven, Michigan, last week when SRT gave us the opportunity to drive both Vipers — old and new — back to back. According to Manager of SRT Dynamics Engineering Erich Heuschele, the new car is 1.0 second per mile quicker around a road course — at least when driven by product development engineers. That gap widens considerably when driven by mortals, however.
Trustworthy communication goes a long way in building confidence in this car. And when it's backed by a solid safety net of technology there's no reason to not explore the limits. Every interface of the new Viper offers improvement over the old car. Steering feel and feedback are better. Midcorner bumps are handled more confidently. Body motions are better controlled. As a result, every bit of feedback from car to driver sends a message of trust that was previously absent.
Rear-drive supercars, like toddlers and home remodeling, will drive you if you're not driving them. And when they're unrefined and unbridled by safety nets all hope is lost. The old Viper, too often, drove you. The new Viper you drive.
Perhaps the most profound philosophical change for 2013 — and the one that provides the safety net — is the addition of properly executed traction and stability control. Heuschele knew that the Viper's reputation as a device capable of producing abject terror needed to remain intact. Accordingly, he's preserved that character by calibrating the system to allow significant slip angles in its default setting. In other words, the net is there when you need it and largely absent when you don't.
Base trim level Vipers have two modes — on and dead off. GTS models offer two additional intermediate modes: Sport and Track. Sport mode allows increased slip and yaw while Track mode disables traction control altogether during yaw. Call it powerslide mode.
GTS models also get two-mode adjustable Bilstein dampers, which add critical compression damping in Race mode that makes the car both controllable at triple digits and unbearable any other time.
Possibly more significant is the loss of about 100 pounds of power-robbing weight, achieved mostly through a new chassis and carbon-fiber body panels. Optimization of materials and design shed roughly 30 pounds from the chassis, while the addition of a bolt-on underhood cross brace contributes to a 50 percent increase in torsional rigidity. The hood, roof and rear hatch are carbon fiber and the aluminum door shells are feathery, too.
Forty-horsepower increases don't come easy from normally aspirated engines, yet Dick Wilkes, chief engineer of SRT Viper Powertrain, who's worked on the Viper engine since 1989, knew where to find more twist in the big pushrod mill.
A composite intake manifold improves flow and cuts 7 pounds from the top of the engine. Lighter forged pistons reduce weight and improve durability, as does an 11-pound-lighter aluminum flywheel. A revised catalyst manufacturing process coupled with new resonators yields a 20 percent reduction in exhaust backpressure. Peak power now arrives 200 rpm higher at 6,200 rpm while torque, at 600 pound-feet, peaks at 5,000 rpm.
Snap through the Viper's Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual — the only transmission available — and you'll notice sharper shift feel coupled with shorter throws. It's an improvement that matters — even on a road course. Despite a shorter 3.55:1 final drive (up from 3.07), the 2013 Viper will still hit 60 mph in 1st gear — a trait useful to both car testers and unfaithful husbands everywhere. The car's viscous-actuated clutch-type limited-slip differential remains unchanged.
Standard on all 2013 SRT Vipers is launch control, triggered by a steering wheel button and available in any stability control mode, including the default setting. Development isn't yet finalized on this feature, but it appears both easy to use and deadly effective since it utilizes front-wheel speed data to determine how much power to meter rearward.
Also, an optional Track Pack includes R-compound Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber (P Zeros are standard), lighter wheels and two-piece Stoptech brake rotors.
Curiously, carbon-ceramic brakes remain absent from the options list. Graham Henkle, Viper's chief engineer, tells us this is because carbon brakes create a snowball effect of both cost and weight that doesn't align with the car's performance focus. Put simply, the required rotor size would demand 19-inch front wheels (up from 18-inchers), which would negate the weight savings from the rotor material. Plus, the standard steel brakes didn't fade even after repeated pounding around Gingerman, so it's not exactly aching for an upgrade.
Interior space is improved in all Vipers thanks to a rear bulkhead moved 3.5 inches rearward. New shell-type seats also gain 3.5 inches of fore/aft travel and sit 0.8 inch lower. The result, in combination with 1.6 inches of vertical seat adjustment and adjustable pedals, is a Viper that fits just about anyone. Navigation is optional, but a reconfigurable instrument cluster and iPod integration via USB or Bluetooth streaming audio are standard.
GTS models come with additional sound-deadening material and Napa leather — both of which matter little when the car is operated at wide-open throttle with its windows down while you're wearing a helmet. As this was our only means of evaluation and because the cars we drove were engineering mules, we will withhold comment on interior details until we drive it again in November.
Base model SRT Vipers will start at $99,390 and should arrive at dealers by December. GTS trim levels cost about $23,000 more.
This pricing strategy aligns the Viper reasonably well with both Z06 and ZR1 Corvettes, Porsche's 911 Carrera S and Nissan's GT-R. Whether it is as realistically fast as these cars is open for consideration, but the numbers are certainly there.
The only question that remains is this: Will a friendlier, less deadly 2013 SRT Viper compete with the superb supercars that already offer accessible performance? Or will it rip your face off just because it can?
We think it'll be the former.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2013 Dodge SRT Viper Overview
The Used 2013 Dodge SRT Viper is offered in the following submodels: SRT Viper Coupe. Available styles include GTS 2dr Coupe (8.4L 10cyl 6M), and 2dr Coupe (8.4L 10cyl 6M).
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Should I lease or buy a 2013 Dodge SRT Viper?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.