2016 Dodge Viper Review
Pros & Cons
- Ludicrous V10 power
- tenacious handling
- excellent infotainment interface
- an unfiltered, unapologetic sports car.
- Stiff ride quality
- poor visibility
- overly firm seats
- difficult entry/egress
- no automatic transmission available.
Edmunds' Expert Review
If you have an insatiable appetite for unbridled power and performance, the 2016 Dodge Viper could very well be the sports car for you. But the drawbacks in terms of comfort, refinement and convenience are significant.
The 2016 Dodge Viper flies in the face of contemporary sports car progress. While most new high-performance coupes benefit from refined interiors, somewhat agreeable ride qualities and a slew of electronic assistants that can help even newbies look like Juan Pablo Montoya circling around a racetrack, the Viper is brash, loud, rough and challenging to drive. For those with a seemingly unending appetite for raw performance, it's delightful. For everyone else, it can be taxing.
At the Viper's core is a humongous 645-horsepower 10-cylinder engine squeezed between comically wide tires under a very long hood. It creates a furious roar when pushed hard, but it sounds more like a delivery truck when loping around town. It has very high handling limits in the hands of gifted drivers, but it can be downright frightening for the uninitiated.
With such a narrow focus on performance, comfort and convenience take significant hits. The Viper isn't particularly comfortable to begin with and for longer trips, it can be rather punishing. Those extremes are further accentuated with the return of the track-tuned ACR (for American Club Racing) model.
It takes a big commitment to own a Viper when you consider that its chief rivals are similarly fast but with far fewer drawbacks. Chief among them is the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, which proudly waves the same American supercar banner. The Ford Shelby GT350 has also been causing a stir and benefits from friendlier driving dynamics and a lower price. The Nissan GT-R and Porsche 911 are also intriguing alternatives, but place technology above brute power. So when it comes to a raw, traditional beast of a sports car, the 2016 Dodge Viper has the market all to itself. The question is, are you up for that kind of a challenge?
2016 Dodge Viper models
The 2016 Dodge Viper is a two-seat sports coupe that is available in five trim levels: SRT, GT, GTC, GTS and the more track-focused ACR.
The base SRT comes with standard features that include 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels with high-performance tires, keyless ignition and entry, manually adjustable seats with faux suede inserts, a tilt-only leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, air-conditioning, an 8.4-inch touchscreen (Dodge's Uconnect infotainment system), a navigation system, SRT performance apps, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system with satellite radio and a USB port.
The Viper GT trim steps things up with a racier hood, upgraded brake rotors, two-mode driver-adjustable dampers, a taller 6th gear ratio, a six-way power driver seat and leather-trimmed seats. The GTC adds a five-mode stability control system, unique gunmetal interior treatments, premium leather upholstery and trim. The GTS goes further with 19-inch front wheels and an 18-speaker premium Harman Kardon audio system.
The ACR does an about-face by reducing some feature content in the name of saving weight. There's less sound insulation, lighter-weight carpeting and less of it, manual adjustable seats and a minimal three-speaker stereo. In return, the ACR gains carbon-fiber aerodynamic elements (with a large dual-element rear wing and a front splitter with a removable extension), more aggressive summer tires, six-piston brake calipers, carbon ceramic brake rotors, a stiffer suspension with 10 manually adjustable damper settings for compression and rebound, and manually adjustable spring rates.
Some premium features are available on lower trimmed models at additional cost. Other options include numerous carbon-fiber exterior and interior treatments and the Extreme Aero package for GTC and ACR trims that adds an adjustable rear wing, a carbon rear diffuser and even more aggressive aerodynamic tweaks.
Performance & mpg
Powering all 2016 Dodge Viper models is a massive 8.4-liter V10 that produces 645 hp and 600 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual, which is the only available transmission. In Edmunds testing, a Viper GT accelerated to 60 mph in only 3.6 seconds.
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 15 mpg combined (12 city/21 highway), which is poor, even for this class of high-performance cars. Drive the Viper as it was intended (aggressively) and single-digit mpg figures are likely.
Standard safety features for all 2016 Vipers include antilock brakes, stability control, side door-mounted airbags and a rearview camera. In Edmunds testing, the Viper came to a stop from 60 mph in103 feet, which is a few feet longer than other ultrahigh-performance coupes but still far shorter than the average sports car.
The 2016 Dodge Viper is about as raw and unrefined as cars get these days, and that's actually one of its stronger selling points. In an age where computers are supplanting good old-fashioned driver skill, the Viper relies on gifted and brave pilots to keep it on the road. It's unapologetic in its approach to performance and has a certain cool factor that just can't be measured.
It's certainly not the sharpest-handling sports car out there, but it makes up for it with its massively wide tires and an overabundance of power. Even for seasoned high-performance drivers, the Viper can be a challenge to take to its limits. It's thrilling and terrifying in a way that few cars are or ever have been. Interestingly, the ACR's aero and tire enhancements make the Viper both more capable and more stable — and therefore more confidence-inspiring — on a racetrack.
But away from the track and on public roads, the Viper is less appealing. On the street you feel every bump and rut in the pavement and after a short amount of time, it becomes tiring. The same can be said of the V10's loud, droning engine note at highway speeds.
This third-generation Viper represents a huge leap forward in regard to interior design and quality, but it still trails behind other similarly priced sports cars in many aspects. Materials quality is good compared to the average consumer car, but not for one that costs more than $100,000 when new. On the plus side, the Uconnect infotainment interface is one of the better systems for ease of use and responsiveness.
Just getting in and out of the Viper exposes one of its most significant drawbacks. The wide and tall side sill requires an inelegant shimmy to clear, followed by a clumsy drop into the seats. It's especially challenging to larger occupants or those wearing dresses, as the hot side exhaust pipes have a tendency to singe unprotected legs. Once seated, there's not a lot of space to move around, either. There's just enough room for a 6-footer, but perhaps not enough if they are wearing a helmet. Lateral space is also at a premium since the wide transmission tunnel keeps things very tight.
Visibility is also limited, with a very low roof line that makes you feel as though you're peeking through a mail slot. Side visibility is compromised by wide rear roof pillars, and the small rear hatch forces heavy reliance on the rearview camera. On paper, the 14.7-cubic-foot trunk capacity is generous, but that's only if you pile your cargo to the roof. The usable space is really limited to a narrow well behind a massive hump. In the passenger compartment, storage is also light, with a few small pockets and bins. Our best advice is to pack light.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
The fastest, wildest Dodge Viper yet is a specialized machine aimed at satisfying the most hard-core enthusiasts. Though street-legal, the Viper ACR's extremely stiff suspension and barren interior is focused solely on lapping racetracks as fast as possible. If that sounds like an ideal weekend pastime to you, then this car will satisfy like few other vehicles on the market.
What Is It?
If you wanted to make the ultimate, track-ready Viper, it would look like the 2016 Viper ACR. Those letters stand for American Club Racer, and the designation means this is a turn-key track car that offers the performance, adjustability and durability one would hope for from a near racecar transformation.
Beyond its considerable suspension upgrades, the ACR also receives large carbon-ceramic brakes and the largest overall tire footprint you'll find on a new car. The rear wing that comes as part of the optional aerodynamic package is also sized to the extreme, as it stretches more than 6 feet wide.
Where other track-oriented cars have automatic transmissions and electronically controlled hardware, the ACR package is refreshing in its simplicity. Antilock brakes and a five-mode stability control system are the only electronic driver aids.
What's Different Under the Hood?
Nothing. The 8.4-liter V10 and six-speed manual transmission in the ACR is the same setup used in all Vipers. There's a reason it was left unchanged: It already makes 645 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. And while its displacement and two-valve pushrod architecture might make you think this is a low-revving truck engine, it actually produces peak torque at a lofty 5,000 rpm.
What's New for the Chassis?
The Viper ACR is singularly focused on track performance, so there were no compromises made for street comfort. Case in point, the spring stiffness is tripled front and rear versus the standard model, while the wheels take on significantly more negative camber (inward tilt of the tire versus the road) to aid cornering.
Atop the new Bilstein coil-overs are twistable rings that offer 10 settings for bound (how much the damper resists spring compression) and rebound (how quickly the damper lets the spring expand), allowing you to tune the ride to varying track surfaces. Adjustable spring perches also let owners adjust the ACR's ride height as much as 3 inches. This also permits corner balancing, which controls how much of the vehicle (and driver) weight pushes on each wheel.
The Brembo-supplied carbon-ceramic brakes offer stronger and more consistent stopping power, but require a few changes. An additional cooling duct helps the 15.4-inch rotors and six-piston calipers up front dissipate heat, while the sheer size of the rotor itself necessitates larger, 19-inch front wheels.
Those forged aluminum wheels are wrapped in Kumho Ecsta V720 tires specifically designed for the ACR. In fact, they wear the ACR logo right on the sidewall. The 295/25 front and 355/30 rear tires, when combined, offer the widest tire footprint of any street-legal car available today. Their large tread blocks and sticky compound make for excellent grip, yet Dodge claims they'll last for extended lapping sessions.
How Does the Aerodynamic Package Work?
When equipped with the aptly named Extreme Aero package, the Viper ACR gives up straight-line speed in order to boost downforce to increase cornering grip. Where the standard Viper's top speed is 206 mph, the Aero-package-equipped ACR can only attain a measly 177 mph. On the flip side, it's generating well over 1,700 pounds of downforce at that speed.
Yes, that's some serious downforce, so much in fact that the vertical strakes on the rear diffuser will scrape the ground at full push. Fortunately, these parts are designed to be replaced.
The Extreme Aero package consists of a long extension to the front splitter, dive planes on the sides of the fascia, louvers on the hood, a monstrous rear wing and the low-hanging rear diffuser. Most of the components are adjustable and removable, all in the name of giving owners the ability to tailor their car's balance to various racetracks.
What Is It Like To Drive?
Don't confuse the ACR's high levels of performance with a nasty attitude. Its racecar-inspired hardware doesn't come with typical racecar quirks or intimidation. The added downforce, suspension upgrades and sticky tires offer extremely high limits without any loss of tractability. It doesn't feel snappy, and the brakes and tires don't turn on and off due to temperature.
Ultimately, the hardest thing about driving this Viper is acclimating to how fast it can go through corners. We had six laps at Virginia International Raceway's 4.1-mile Grand Course to get a feel for the ACR's potential.
A section of high-speed esses on the first section of the track provided a good demonstration of the cornering forces it can deliver. We approached cautiously on the first lap, holding 90 mph through the section. By the last lap, we had the confidence to go through at 125 mph. The ACR stays settled when it bounces off rumble strips, and its capabilities only grow as speeds increase.
There is immense power at your disposal, but it's easily managed. The steering is quick and precise. The shifter slides into gears in a positive, satisfying motion. A long gas pedal helps dole out power in small increments and it's positioned well for heel-toe downshifting. The huge tires and carbon-ceramic brakes produce immense stopping power, and you can feel the downforce bleed off the car when you're braking from 140 mph.
What's the Interior Like?
Besides the shifter, pedals, steering wheel and seats, the rest of any racecar's interior offers little value on a track. With that in mind, Dodge pulled most of it out in the name of saving weight.
The normal carpeting is gone, there's no sound-deadening material and the stereo was reduced to a minimum. Pop the hatch and you'll see bare plastic and ducting in the trunk. This car is serious about speed and not much else.
It does get a few touches that are unique to the ACR compared to the standard Viper models. An Alcantara-covered steering wheel is one of them, along with ACR badges. There's a choice of red or white stitching, too, for the Alcantara-lined dashboard.
Can I Get It With Leather?
If the idea of getting the most radical Viper ever built appeals to you, but having no radio doesn't, there is one option. Dodge's new "1 of 1" program allows buyers to build a Viper in almost any configuration they want. You think leather seats and a Harman Kardon stereo would make the ACR that much better? They'll build it for you. Same goes for the paint, the wheels and even the stripes.
How Much Does It Cost?
The Viper ACR starts at $122,590 (including a $2,495 destination charge and $2,100 gas-guzzler tax). Adding the Extreme Aero package will set you back another $6,000, while the carbon-fiber package is another $5,100.
What Competing Models Should You Also Consider?
The factory track-day special is a rare offering. On the lower end of the spectrum is the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. It starts at only $83,000, but adding the Z07 aero package and a few other choice options will push its price to nearly $100,000. Its 650-hp supercharged V8 has plenty of punch, although its suspension doesn't offer quite the same level of customer adjustability.
On the high end, there's the $176,895 Porsche 911 GT3 RS. It has several high-tech features like an electronically controlled differential, four-wheel steering and a dual-clutch automatic transmission. It's interesting hardware, but it's not for buyers seeking a less computer-aided approach to going fast around a racetrack.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
The Viper ACR delivers the most extreme track-focused experience of any street car on the market. If tinkering with your chassis and aero settings to find the perfect setup for your home track sounds like fun, you will find nothing better from the factory than the ACR.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
This is more than just a Viper with a big wing on the back; it's a barely street-legal racecar. Although technically capable of functioning as a daily driver, its extreme tuning makes it ill-suited for the street.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2016 Dodge Viper Overview
The Used 2016 Dodge Viper is offered in the following submodels: Viper Coupe. Available styles include GTC 2dr Coupe (8.4L 10cyl 6M), SRT 2dr Coupe (8.4L 10cyl 6M), GT 2dr Coupe (8.4L 10cyl 6M), GTS 2dr Coupe (8.4L 10cyl 6M), and ACR 2dr Coupe (8.4L 10cyl 6M).
What's a good price on a Used 2016 Dodge Viper?
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Should I lease or buy a 2016 Dodge 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.