Read the 2015 Dodge Viper's introduction to our long-term fleet.
See all of the 2015 Dodge Viper's long term updates.
What We Got
Throwbacks like the Dodge Viper have the kind of alive-or-dead ambiguity normally associated with Abe Vigoda. As of this writing, Dodge executives have left the door barely cracked open to the notion of another Viper after current production ends in 2017. With this in mind, we count ourselves as lucky to have experienced this beast of a sports car before its likely discontinuation.
It just so happens that the probable reason for the Viper's extinction is also why so many people (including some of us) love it. It's primitive compared to alternatives that have evolved over generations. The Viper has a massive 8.4-liter V10 engine that makes 645 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque, while other sports cars have migrated to smaller engines with fewer cylinders and turbochargers. You also have to contort yourself over a massive side sill that is usually searing hot from the side exhaust, and the ride quality is as unyielding as a butcher block.
Our 2015 Viper GT had leather and alcantara seats, a GTS-style hood, upgraded two-piece Brembo brakes, a more sophisticated traction/stability control system and adjustable dampers that go from really stiff to way too stiff. Add in special blue paint, super sexy Sidewinder wheels, 18-speaker Harman Kardon audio and $2,100 for the gas-guzzler tax, and our as-tested price shot up to $103,785. That puts it in a league price-wise with cars like the Audi R8, Jaguar F-Type and Porsche 911.
That's a tough pill to swallow but we had one year and 20,000 miles to digest it. Here's what we learned.
"It's no secret the Viper isn't the easy or safe choice. There is no such thing as casually driving one. It's loud, hot, stiff, and has poor visibility. The things this car excels at are, in my opinion, worth it. Speed is intoxicating and in our current long-term fleet, nothing satisfies more than the Viper." — Reese Counts
"I left the experience with a more complete appreciation of the Viper. I stand by my belief that most of its contemporaries are easier to drive, but I now understand Viper sympathizers. It's a wildly capable track car that makes you earn it. And that's a trait I can also appreciate." — Josh Jacquot
"It's raw, with an ungodly amount of power and it should scare you. This latest Viper is a bit easier to drive, but I contend it's one of the more difficult to find its limits without endangering yourself." — Mark Takahashi
"Expecting good fuel economy from an 8.4-liter V10 when it's used as a daily driver is, well, dumb. And our 2015 Dodge Viper is doing absolutely nothing to change anyone's expectations there." — Kurt Niebuhr
"The Viper spent some quality time circling Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at the hands of Josh Jacquot. In two fills noted "track" on the fuel log, he achieved a 6.4 mpg and an 8.4 mpg result. Oddly enough, Josh also managed to eke out a 27.2 mpg tank on the way up to Monterey, beating the previous 25.1 mpg high score. Impressive results on both sides of the spectrum." — Mark Takahashi
"None of my complaints have much to do with how it drives out on some mountain road where its abundant power and grip would reveal the Viper to be a thrilling driving machine. That's because, for me, it is completely irrelevant. I would never be able to stand being in it for long enough to get to that mountain road. It actually made me angry." — James Riswick
"I get that it's a Viper and it's not supposed to be pleasant, but I keep feeling like Chrysler products are penalizing me because one of their seat engineers has a back that doesn't match mine. After 15 hours behind the wheel in only a few days, I was beat. I got back home, kicked off my shoes and lay down on the floor without moving for about an hour." — Mike Magrath
"The Viper has a lot of problems with comfort and visibility, but I find it difficult to fault the seats. The bucket may look weird with the high, mandatory lumbar, but it works perfectly to keep me planted. When combined with the supportive but not too aggressive side bolsters, I never feel like I might slide or fall out of my seat. This is especially important in a car that can move through corners as quickly as this one." — Reese Counts
"You spend day one acclimating to the Viper's interior. Remember the saying about trying to fit a square peg through a circular hole? If the hammer's big enough, you can do it. I make way toward Arizona being pressed into the form required by the offset pedals and aggressive seats. The engine drone and road and tire noise muffle the stereo and Bluetooth phone calls. I use it as an excuse to practice meditation." — Carlos Lago
"Actually, I was pretty surprised and impressed that the Viper could handle this Labor Day BBQ-prep run as well as it did. I was certain that some of these items would be riding shotgun, but no. After a few re-shuffles, it all managed to fit quite snugly in the rear cargo well. There was even room remaining on the cargo shelf, which would've been useful if I'd had longer, flat items." — Dan Frio
"So our Viper can handle a little cargo when necessary, which is good. No one expects a car like this to be easy to live with, but this Viper is more accommodating than you might think." — Ed Hellwig
"During my break-in road trip, the temps hovered around 116 with the occasional spike to 118 and the occasional low of 112. For more than 12 hours, the Viper existed in triple-digit temps and, honest-to-god, not once did I complain about the air-conditioning. My feet weren't cooking and my hands weren't frozen. The interior of the car was almost cool." — Mike Magrath
"I got used to the tight pedal box, terrible visibility, claustrophobic cabin and droning exhaust. I accepted that the Viper will never be a sports car that you can use every day like you can a Corvette or 911. There are no hidden surprises; the Viper just is what it is. You might have second thoughts when you take one for a test-drive, but give it another shot later. The Viper will never change, but you just might." — Cameron Rogers
Audio and Technology
"There are two very distinct and frustrating issues with the stereo in our long-term 2015 Dodge Viper. First: the bass is turned up way too high. Second: it doesn't get loud enough. Whether it's the radio, Bluetooth or an iPod plugged in, nothing meets my personal volume standards." — Travis Langness
"Parts one and two of this adventure averaged out to a check in the box, overall. The work was completed. The quality of service at the second location was acceptable. The cost was perhaps the highlight when compared to our R8 and GT-R long-termers. Still, the experience left us wanting more. Service is part of any ownership experience and for a Viper it should be different, even special. But in our experience, it is not. So far, that's the most disappointing part of owning a Viper." — Mike Schmidt
"All said and done, tires and install ran us $1,797. We might've saved a few bucks, but our local shop got things done quickly and correctly, all with free WiFi in the waiting area. And if you own a $100K Viper, you probably aren't going to squabble over just a few shekels on tires." — Travis Langness
"Our 2015 Dodge Viper may be a polarizing vehicle in terms of how it drives, but there's no debate about the styling. Or there shouldn't be, at least. I've driven the thing countless times by now, and I still catch myself admiring the rear three-quarter view like it's a poster in my childhood bedroom." — Josh Sadlier
Maintenance & Repairs
Our long-term Viper's first scheduled maintenance occurred on the return leg of a cross-country trip, just as the odometer struck 6,000 miles. That visit resulted in an oil and filter change as well as a multipoint inspection, all of which was covered by the warranty.
At the 12,000-mile mark we spent $168.14 for a scheduled inspection, oil change and tire rotation. That price certainly seems reasonable for a high-performance vehicle like the Viper, but the experience left us less than satisfied.
We experienced one recall incident that included two items. The first was for the oil management system and a new valve cover assembly listed as the R29 recall. The second was for the R40 campaign that reprogrammed the radio software in order to close a security vulnerability. Both recalls were handled free of charge.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
The EPA estimates fuel economy for the Viper at 15 mpg combined (12 city/21 highway). Over the course of our year-long test, we averaged 13.9 mpg. Our best result was an impressive 27.2 mpg, which contrasts nicely against our worst tank of only 7.0 mpg. We also managed to squeeze 294.3 miles out of a single tank once.
Resale and Depreciation:
Our long-term Viper had an as-tested price of $103,785. After one year and 20,898 miles, our Edmunds TMV® Calculator adjusted the price to $79,495 based on a private-party sale. That amounts to a 23 percent depreciation if we were to try and sell it ourselves.
This car has performance and presence that few cars on the road can match; enough power to scare even the most experienced drivers; handling and grip that matches the power of its engine; an intuitive infotainment system with plenty of features; a reasonably useful cargo area.
Stiff ride that isn't helped by the adjustable suspension; limited outward visibility that can make maneuvering tricky; driving position is compromised by stiff seats and a non-telescoping steering wheel; getting in and out requires an awkward slide over a piping hot door sill.
Yes, you could drive this Viper every day. It has attained that level of refinement and comfort. If you want to truly appreciate this Viper, however, you have to want to drive it just for the sake of driving. It's only then that you would appreciate its unique personality, one that is vastly different from its competitors and unlikely to be replicated ever again.
|Total Body Repair Costs:||None|
|Total Routine Maintenance Costs:||$168.14|
|Additional Maintenance Costs:||$1,797 for four new tires|
|Warranty Repairs:||R29 and R40 recalls|
|Scheduled Dealer Visits:||1|
|Unscheduled Dealer Visits:||2|
|Days Out of Service:||1|
|Breakdowns Stranding Driver:||None|
|Best Fuel Economy:||27.2 mpg|
|Worst Fuel Economy:||7.0 mpg|
|Average Fuel Economy:||13.9 mpg|
|True Market Value at service end:||$79,495 (private-party sale)|
|What it Sold for:||N/A|
|Depreciation:||$24,290 (23% of paid price)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||20,898 miles|
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.