by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on May 27, 2016
All good things must come to an end, and so goes my time with our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper. I knew it wouldn't be around forever, but that doesn't make me any less sorry. I've really enjoyed every curve, every shift and every time the rear starts to slip when you flat foot in through first, second and third.
by Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief on May 10, 2016
Yes, that's a picture of a 21-year old me in the very first Dodge Viper ever built. And yes that's Carroll Shelby driving. Yes, the Carroll Shelby.
We were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway back in 1991 for the 500. Ol Shel', less than a year after his first heart transplant, was pacing the race in Dodge's soon to be supercar (sales were still about a year away) and I was fresh out of college and working at my first gig, mopping floors at Mopar Action magazine.
Originally the Dodge Stealth was to be the pace car that year, but when middle America realized the twin-turbo all-wheel drive super coupe was built in Japan by Mitsubishi (it was a twin to the Mitsubishi 3000GT) and would be the first pace car not built on American soil, the backlash was loud enough to put Chrysler's PR machine into swift action. Under the supervision of Bob Lutz himself the Stealth was replaced with a pre-production Viper dressed up to look production ready and then they put a "America's Enzo Ferrari" behind the wheel.
Everyone was happy. And then, they invited members of the automotive press to the track the Friday before the race to get rides in the car around the track with Shelby driving. Which is where I came in.
I've driven many Vipers over the years, but every time I drive our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper GT I think back to that day. I can't help it. I was just a kid. A kid in the presence of greatness: the man, the car and the track. It's hard to believe it was 25 years ago.
A few days later, after the race, I wrote an article about the experience, which was published in the October 1991 issue of Mopar Action. I dug it out last week and included it here in its entirety. I think it still holds up, what do you think?
"Exiting turn two, Carroll Shelby — Ol Shel' — shifts fifth gear and really puts his foot in it. Without hesitation, the Viper digs in and accelerates down Indy's back straight. "Sixth gear is for Uncle Sam," yells Shelby over the exhaust gurgle and wind noise. "We don't need it."
The five-point seat belt holds me tight to the leather seat. My muscles are tense. I'm scared. I make a bid to check the speedometer, but the safety restraints won't let me. The smaller console mounted gauges are easily visible. The Viper is running strong. The white face tach holds at 3800 rpm.
"Even at one forty, steady as a rock," Shelby yells looking over with a schoolboy grin. Reality sets in. My mind fills with the number — one hundred forty miles an hour. That's fast in anyone's book.
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on May 6, 2016
I believe I've made my feelings about our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper quite clear by now. I'm not going to bore you by repeating myself. Suffice to say that I grab the key whenever the opportunity presents itself.
The last time the Viper was in my possession, I attached my GoPro to the side and headed down a short stretch of Angeles Crest Highway, one of my favorite roads in Southern California. The audio was trash, so I decided to speed the whole thing up and present it that way.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on March 28, 2016
Our 2015 Dodge Viper has received its fair share of criticism as a daily driver. Editor Frio was "not sold" on its cargo-carrying ability and Editor Riswick memorably wasn't sold on anything. I can't really disagree, but at the same time, I developed some genuine affection for the Viper while running errands over the past few days.
In fact, I'm here to tell you that there's no current long-termer I'd rather drive to the drycleaner.
by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor on March 24, 2016
I've been pretty hard on our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper and I feel bad about it.
I've nitpicked about the stereo (twice), complained about the panel gaps, criticized the non-telescoping wheel, bemoaned the lack of parking sensors, whined about the poor visibility, groaned about the super-wide rear tires, protested the presence of skip-shift in a 645-hp supercar and lamented its inconsistent ability to start after being washed.
Don't get me wrong, I stand next to those critiques, but I feel bad about saying mostly negative things about this car. And every time I drive it, I'm reminded of the one ultra-redeeming factor: It's fast. Really, really fast.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on February 9, 2016
Man, our 2015 Dodge Viper pings. I noticed the occasional crack of engine knock earlier during its stay with us, way back when I took it on a cross-country road trip. Since then, I really haven't driven it.
The other night I took the Viper and when I had the opportunity to lay into the throttle, memories of the road trip came flooding back. And I was reminded of the pinginess.
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on January 11, 2016
I'd previously written about my weekend with our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper and how long I'd waited to get behind the wheel. I came away supremely impressed and, despite some flaws, I wanted the keys back in my possession.
My Christmas wish was granted: two full weeks with the Viper to finish out the year.
by Travis Langness, Social Media Editor on December 23, 2015
Originally, I thought our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper was missing a telescoping steering wheel because it was the mid-level GT trim. After a bit of investigation though, I was surprised to learn that the steering wheel on the Viper doesn't telescope at all, regardless of trim level.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on December 8, 2015
Last night a text message popped up on my phone from Editor-in-Chief Scott Oldham: "How's that Viper?" it read. I wasn't sure exactly why he was asking. The question came out of the blue and, to my recollection, the number of times Scott had messaged me during my career here at Edmunds would be, well, zero.
But hey, when the boss asks you a question, you answer. With honesty, I replied: "Getting to like it the more I drive it, actually."
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on November 23, 2015
I'll admit I was a bit apprehensive when I finally pocketed the keys to our 2015 Dodge Viper for an entire weekend.
The Viper's reputation is not something to scoff at and Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt warned me that the tires, the same ones that the car arrived on 14,000 miles ago, were nearing the end of their life. I assured him that I would bring both myself and the car back to the office safe and sound on Monday morning.
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on November 6, 2015
Four months with our 2015 Dodge Viper proves that what was true for the first Viper is also true for this one: this is not a car for the faint of heart.
It is a sports car designed to pummel the road into submission, creature comforts be damned. The low roof and high hood diminish forward visibility. Headroom is limited despite the head bubbles above the driver and passenger seats. Even with the suspension in its comfort-oriented setting, vibration is severe enough to register steps on my pedometer. And I have yet to find a way to climb out of the cabin without burning the hell out of my legs on the searing metal door sill plates.
On the bright side, gearing is tall, so commutes don't require constant shifting. On more than one occasion I've been stopped by onlookers who gush over the Viper's criminally seductive body. And the V10 produces more power here than any sane person could ever use.
But I'm not convinced the positives outweigh the practical considerations I must take into account before choosing to take the Viper home for a day or two.
by Travis Langness, Social Media Editor on November 4, 2015
The typical Monday-morning routine for the editorial staff here at Edmunds almost always includes a car wash. So everything was business as usual when I took our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper to the car wash last week, until I tried to leave.
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on October 28, 2015
The Viper-versus-Corvette argument has raged since Dodge introduced the Viper in 1992. Back then, the Viper made a measly 400 horsepower from its 8.0-liter V10. The best-performing Corvette of the day, the ZR-1, only managed 375 horsepower from its Lotus-designed V8 (bumped to 405 hp in 1993).
Performance bragging rights have swayed over the years. Each new model tries to outrun and outgun the other in every single metric. Our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper and the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 are still within five horsepower of each other. Nearly every other category comes down to tenths or hundredths.
While the cars are faster and more powerful than ever before, the basic formulas haven't changed. Both are rear-wheel drive coupes with a shift-for-yourself transmission. The Viper still has a big V10 under the hood while the Corvette remains V8-powered, though that's now accompanied by a supercharger.
Numbers alone won't do these two machines justice, though they do provide fodder for bench racers.
by Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor on October 27, 2015
That the Corvette Z06's monster motor ever feels soft should surprise you. It surprises us. But with 8.4-liters of piston-pounding hate under its hood, our 2015 Dodge Viper has a way of recalibrating our view on just about everything. Even the Z06.
It's been hot. Really hot. About 100 degrees, in fact, in a Southern California summer that will never end. We've taken our long-term Viper and a short-term Corvette Z06 tester to the mountains to feel out their differences. We're driving hard. But the heat is making the otherwise-stunning Z06 seem surprisingly out of sorts.
by Travis Langness, Social Media Editor on October 23, 2015
I wasn't a fan of the skip-shift feature in our long-term 2014 Chevrolet Corvette. I don't think the feature belongs in any car really, but it felt especially sacrilegious while driving the Corvette. Our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper has a skip-shift feature, too. It feels even more out of place in a V10 Dodge.
The feature, designed to increase fuel economy, locks out second and third gear and forces you to shift from first gear directly to fourth, provided that your throttle position and RPMs are within the correct parameters. Luckily, the Viper's skip-shift is pretty easy to avoid.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on October 21, 2015
A Corvette Z06 with the Z07 package passed through recently, and I took it upon myself to give it a thorough evaluation one weekday morning in the mountains north of Ojai.
A couple days later, I grabbed our 2015 Dodge Viper's key for the weekend faster than you can say, "Personal comparison test!"
by Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor on October 16, 2015
That's the response I got from a close friend when I told him I was bringing Edmunds' long-term Viper to a track day we planned to attend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He's only partially right.
Sure, the thing is the Big Hammer of track cars. Given that most track days are fraught with Miatas, showing up in a Viper is like bringing a small-scale thermonuclear weapon to a slap fight. Think of it: 645 horsepower, 355mm section-width rubber in the back, an engine that sits cleanly between its axles and massive, fade-free brakes. On paper, this is about as good as it gets. And everyone knows it.
But I've driven Viper on racetracks before. And I'm yet to love the experience.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on October 1, 2015
Disclosure: I've been kind of a wuss with our 2015 Dodge Viper.
Part of it is mental. Logically, I know the current generation Viper is far removed from its "bite the hand that feeds it" reputation, but it's an aspect that's nonetheless hard to fully dismiss. But even setting that aside, there's just the car itself: Monster 645-horsepower V10, tires so big they should require yellow "wide load" warning labels on them, and styling to attract an officer's attention right away. Truly testing the car's capabilities on a public road seems like a really good way to risk my license and/or mortality.
What we need for our Viper, I've decided, is track time (which is why the SRT Track Experience program is so cool). Rather conveniently, I got a taste of what it's like to drive a Viper on a racetrack recently, piloting a blue 2015 Dodge Viper ACR with a guy nicknamed "The Crazy Swede," no less.
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on September 23, 2015
Our 2015 Dodge Viper GT is the most powerful long-term vehicle we've ever tested. Its 8.4-liter V10 generates 645 horsepower, 45 more than the 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 we tested a few years back. This is a seriously impressive horsepower number that should lead to more impressive numbers at the track.
While this new Viper might be much better to live with day-to-day, in the end it's still a V10-powered cruise missile at home on a test track or race course.
August 17, 2015
Nobody in their right mind would choose to drive a Viper from North Carolina to California, which explains how we chose our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper for this trip.
August 14, 2015
Our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper GT is a serious car. It's loud inside and out. Its tires are huge. And it's very fast. So what does that make the Dodge Viper ACR? After driving our long-term test car 2,740 miles across the country, I was eager to find out.
As it turns out, our GT isn't serious. It's quiet. Soft, too.
Making a car go faster around a racetrack requires narrowing the car's focus, shaving away non-essential things like street drivability with each step you take down the rabbit hole. And I can't think of a new car from a major manufacturer that's gone further down the hole than the ACR. Only the Porsche 911 GT3 RS shares a similar intent.
The Road Test covers the transformation, but if you take away one thing, it should be how the front splitter and strakes on the rear diffuser are designed to rub the ground and be replaced. That is serious.
July 12, 2015
Well, frustratingly long if you're not me. I loves me a good break-in road trip. I like the long hours behind the wheel. I like that you can't stay at a certain speed for too long. I even like that you can't take full advantage of all the power. It keeps me from even needing the ol' radar detector.
The Viper needed 700 more miles when I got the keys. The loop from Los Angeles to Death Valley to Las Vegas and back is about that far.
July 3, 2015
It was one of those Friday nights. Out for a few drinks and a meal with some co-workers, then an urgent text arrives from my boss. The subject had me dropping cash on the table and grabbing an Uber home as if all of humanity's life depended on it.
The message and ensuing phone call basically said, "I'm sick as a dog and can't make it to the track tomorrow to drive Vipers. Do you want to go?"
There's only one answer.
June 30, 2015
Bring home something like a 2015 Dodge Viper GT and the temptation to show it off, open it up and generally revel in the 645 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque you just bought is irresistible.
But Dodge and SRT don't want you to go hell-bent for leather in the first mile. In fact, they strongly suggest you hold off until 1,500 miles appear on the odometer. During that time the break-in period for SRT-sourced engines is pretty specific, and it consists of four phases that get gradually more permissive. Page 21 of the Viper manual spells it all out.
This is why you don't see any motion blur in the photograph above. Note also that the tachometer is pointing at a piddling 2,000 rpm. I am abiding by Phase I guidelines, which apply between 0 and 100 miles: no extended idling, go easy while braking, accelerate gently to no more than half throttle, shift before 3,500 rpm and never exceed 55 mph.
June 26, 2015
"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.