2015 Dodge Viper GT Long-Term Road Test - Introduction

2015 Dodge Viper GT Long-Term Road Test

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2015 Dodge Viper GT Long-Term Road Test: Introduction

June 26, 2015

What We Got
"The last of the muscle cars!" "The end of the V8!" "We'll never see anything this good again." We've heard these proclamations repeated and retracted more times than we can count, and knowing that, we're confident in saying the Dodge Viper is certainly the last of the truly bonkers muscle cars.

At least that's what we said five years ago when we introduced a 2009 Dodge Viper into our test fleet.

Fortunately, we were mistaken. The Dodge Viper is very much alive and kicking.

The current Viper, which debuted in 2012, is a more complete car. It's still designed to go extremely fast, but Dodge has crafted a car that allows you to get where you're going in relative comfort. Its Sabelt racing seats are offered with Napa leather and Alcantara trim. It has an infotainment system that comes standard with navigation and Bluetooth. The tall gearing in the six-speed manual means you can get halfway decent fuel economy from the 8.4-liter V10.

Some things haven't changed as much. This is the same naturally aspirated V10 that has been in the Viper since 1992, although displacement is up from 8.0 liters. Variable valve timing and a higher compression ratio have boosted output to 645 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Both of those numbers are up substantially over the previous-generation car (+45 hp, +40 lb-ft of torque) and an astounding 245 hp and 135 lb-ft up on the original 1992 Viper. Oh, and it's still a six-speed manual or nothing. No fancy paddle-shifted automatics here.

What Options Does It Have?
The 2015 Dodge Viper comes in three trim levels: SRT, GT and GTS. A base Viper SRT coupe starts at $84,995. It comes equipped with a plethora of standard features that consumers have come to expect on high-end sports cars, features never considered on the original Viper. These include things like antilock brakes, navigation, satellite radio, a back-up camera and keyless entry.

Our car is a Viper GT, the midlevel model that starts at $94,995. The GT adds six-way adjustable Napa leather and Alcantara-trimmed seats, the hood from the top-level GTS model and body-colored fascias. On the performance side, the GT coupe gets Brembo two-piece performance brakes with red calipers, dual-mode adjustable dampers for street and track, five-mode electronic stability control and all-speed traction control.

On top of that, we added a $1,995 Harman Kardon 18-speaker audio system, $1,700 six-lug Sidewinder II Hyper Black wheels and $1,000 optional GTS-R Blue Pearl paint, a new color for the Viper.

Tack on the $2,100 gas-guzzler tax and a $1,995 destination charge and you arrive at $103,785. That puts it in the same league as our long-term Jaguar F-Type R coupe, which stickered at $360 less.

Why We Got It
The Viper still has a reputation as a widowmaker despite its increased level of sophistication. Our last long-termer proved that it has moved beyond that reputation. Your mother could have driven our last Viper if she was good with a clutch.

This time around we want to see if Dodge has taken it a step further with the latest redesign or merely smoothed a few of its last remaining rough edges. Do the adjustable dampers really work? Are those leather-wrapped race seats still suitable for a track day? And is that giant screen in the dash an unnecessary distraction compared to the puny screen in our last Viper?

The fact is, we think the Viper gets pigeon-holed far too often. Other media outlets say it's only good for one thing and only able to do one thing — go very fast on a racetrack. The rest of the time it's just an expensive garage queen that sits under a cover. Meanwhile, its peers are heralded as "everyday supercars" just because they have better cupholders and automatic transmissions.

We don't think that's the case. You don't have to be a lunatic to drive a Viper every day, you just have to be an enthusiast who loves to drive. And we aim to prove it by driving this Viper day in and day out like it's a Corolla. Sure, we'll do some track days and light up the tires now and then, but we'll also pick up the kids (OK, a kid) from school, toss some groceries in the trunk and maybe even drive it across the country. Then we'll know if it deserves its place as one of the best sports cars in the world. Follow along on our Long-Term Road Test page to try and keep up with this one.

Best MPG: 11.3
Worst MPG: 8.1
Average MPG: 9.9
Current Odometer: 551

The manufacturer provided Edmunds with this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.

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