2009 Dodge Viper SRT Review

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Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
April 8, 2009

Though by no means a pick for daily driving, the 2009 Dodge Viper is a fantastic-looking sportscar with winning performance.

TheCarConnection.com has researched all the latest road tests and reviews of the 2009 Dodge Viper to bring the most useful excerpts. Plus, experts from TheCarConnection.com have driven the Viper and bring you their expert opinions right here, so you can make a smart car-buying decision.

The 2009 Dodge Viper has a lot to offer sportscar fanatics. With harsher CO2 and fuel economy regulations coming into play, as well as uncertain corporate futures, however, it may not be long for this world.

The Viper has always been more of a morale-booster than a practical ride—it’s been the stuff of dreams for countless teenagers over the years. Its long, curvy hood and bubble-shaped roofline still look the part. Changes to the Viper's outward appearance are minor overall, as the vehicle continues to benefit from a slight redesign in 2008. At that time, it got a larger hood scoop for better induction and aggressive-looking louvers for improved cooling.

Just last year, for 2008, the Viper’s V-10 engine was pushed out to a super-sized 8.4 liters, for 600 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque; it trimmed the 0-60-mph time to well under 4 seconds. For 2009, the Dana rear axle of the Dodge Viper picks up a new speed-sensing, limited-slip differential for better traction. To match the engine, the 2009 Dodge Viper has a new six-speed manual with a wider range of ratios, improved synchros, and reduced shift-knob travel.

Review continues below

Thanks to Brembo dual opposing-piston calipers front and back, the 2009 Dodge Viper can now brake from 60 mph to a stop in less than 100 feet, and go from zero to 100 and back to zero in just over 12 seconds.

While those numbers are all amazing, the Viper isn’t as much of a thrill to drive in traffic on the daily commute. The gearbox, which feels just right on the track, comes across as stiff and somewhat clunky on the street; the ratios of the gearbox are also tall, meaning that when you're driving around your neighborhood, you'll probably be in second gear as opposed to trolling streets in fourth as you might in more mundane cars. The big V-10, which smoothes out and develops an off-beat growl on hard acceleration, is lumpy at partial throttle, adding to the rough experience when moving slowly with traffic. On the street, the Viper's suspension feels stiff and bouncy, but at the track, these settings enable the chassis to put all of the Viper's power to the pavement. Catch the theme? Drive the 2009 Dodge Viper daily and you’ll need a chiropractor, but it sure is fun for track day.

The Dodge Viper offers more finishes and customization options than it did just a few years ago. Previously, Vipers came in little more than basic black inside, with a kit-car feel brought on by parts-bin components and non-matching surfaces.

Assembly continues at the Chrysler Group's Conner Avenue assembly plant, appropriately located in the heart of Detroit. The plant builds three versions of the 2009 Dodge Viper SRT10: a convertible roadster, a coupe, and a fully track-ready ACR Coupe edition that is race prepared.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT

Styling

The 2009 Dodge Viper is tops for styling in its class.

Cars.com sums it up nicely: "Look at this thing. It's not exactly unobtrusive." Edmunds is more practical, noting that "the 2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10 is available as either a two-seat coupe or a soft-top roadster." On the regular Dodge Viper 2009 coupe and convertible, Cars.com notes that "some observers dismiss the Viper's styling as the stuff of grade-school boys' daydreams," but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com agree that the styling is perfectly suited to the Dodge Viper. Kelley Blue Book points out that the 2009 Dodge Viper's "more angular front end is highlighted by a large, functional air-intake scoop," and "on the hood are a half-dozen vents that let air out of the engine compartment." Cars.com observes that the air box is "little more than a forward-facing mouth with a filter that's in plain sight if you open the hood and crouch at the front bumper."

The 2009 Dodge Viper ACR adds "a number of aero elements" that "have been designed for the ACR in an effort to maximize downforce," according to Motor Trend. The reviewer notes that these aero elements include "front 'dive planes' on either side of the front fascia, a variable geometry 'fanged' front spoiler," and an "adjustable rear wing." Motor Trend adds that the SRT team's engineers "have taken the already super snake up another notch in the form of the 2009 Viper SRT10 ACR (American Club Racer)."

In past years, Vipers came in little more than basic black inside, with a kit-car feel brought on by parts-bin components and non-matching surfaces. These days, however, there are more than a few interior choices.

Some reviewers find fault with the interior design layout of the 2009 Dodge Viper, though. Kelley Blue Book points out that "the oil-pressure, oil-temperature and water-temperature gauges are hidden behind the steering wheel." ConsumerGuide notes that "the speedometer and fuel gauge can suffer sunlight reflections, rendering them hard to read," while Kelley Blue Book thinks that "SRT overdid its self-proclaimed race-inspired image with the 2009 SRT10's large, center-mounted tachometer." On the positive side, reviewers at The Detroit News feel that the Dodge Viper's interior is "much cleaner and better made than the previous model," and "it's more refined."

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT

Performance

The 2009 Dodge Viper won't disappoint on performance. This is what it is built to do—and it does it with aplomb.

TheCarConnection.com editors are fans of the 2009 Dodge Viper for one big reason: performance. This is a true sportscar by any definition, and it's the fastest street-legal car you're likely to find from a new-car dealership—exotic marques aside.

In 2008, the Dodge Viper netted an "8.4-liter V10 that sends no less than 600 hp to the Viper's steamroller rear tires," according to Edmunds. The same engine is part of the 2009 Dodge Viper. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are unanimously impressed by the strength of the V-10. Cars.com contends, "the added engine power puts the Viper further into motorcycle territory." ConsumerGuide calls the acceleration on the Dodge Viper "explosive, even at part-throttle, and from modest rpm." Car and Driver declares that the coupe they tested is "monstrously fast from a standing start, blasting to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and to 100 mph in 7.6 seconds." The convertible is also amazingly quick, with Car and Driver finding that it "managed 197 in Dodge's testing with the top down, which is pretty impressive." Motor Trend points out that "most of the time, effort, and development dollars have been spent on stuff that makes [the Dodge Viper] go faster."

The 2009 Dodge Viper offers a "six-speed Tremec manual transmission" paired with "a twin-plate clutch" that Car and Driver says is "an industry first." Reviewers are equally impressed with the Dodge Viper 2009's transmission. ConsumerGuide explains that the "clutch and gearshift demand deliberate action but are not taxing," and Cars.com attests that the "much shorter throws and clearly defined gates" make the Dodge Viper "a pleasure to operate."

The Dodge Viper 2009 edition isn't eco-friendly, but it also isn't quite as thirsty as its predecessors. Cars.com concedes that the fuel economy is "not great, but an improvement over the previous generation's 11/19 mpg." The EPA estimates that the big V-10 will get 13 mpg in city driving and an impressive 22 mpg on the highway, when it can cruise along in higher gears with little effort.

The 2009 Dodge Viper is iffy on handling, so drivers should know what they're doing. Cars.com attests that "the Viper has more lift-throttle oversteer than any production car I've driven, which creates a trap into which countless drivers have fallen." Though the new Viper is better than former models, it's still easy to "go sideways at every opportunity, in almost any gear, sometimes even when going straight." Reviewers at The Detroit News appreciate the improvements, finding that "the Viper sticks to the road and handles remarkably better than the 2006 model it replaces," thanks to the "fully independent four-wheel suspension, as well as the new extra wide Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 high-performance tires."

On the 2009 Dodge Viper ACR, Motor Trend states that the "brakes are upgraded as well, with slotted two-piece StopTech 14-inch rotors providing enough stopping power to bring the Viper ACR to a halt from 60 mph in less than 100 feet." The combination of performance tires and "massive four-wheel antilock disc brakes" can stop the car "from 60 mph in just 104 feet," according to Edmunds.

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Dodge Viper is all about performance; comfort is seemingly an afterthought.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 Dodge Viper offers only the basics of comfort and quality—which isn't surprising given the vehicle's focus on performance.

Seating in the 2009 Dodge Viper is relatively comfortable for what Edmunds calls "a small cockpit." Car and Driver describes the bucket seats as "plain annoying, being too heavily bolstered and too long under your thighs," while other reviewers, such as those at The Detroit News, disagree, saying, "you'll feel your body conform to the racing seat" and claiming "its bolsters hold you snugly in a friendly embrace." ConsumerGuide warns that the "cabin is cramped for tall occupants," but Kelley Blue Book appreciates that the Dodge Viper's bubble roof means "even when the driver is wearing a helmet the Coupe still offers plenty of headroom." Comfort apparently varies significantly from person to person depending on body size.

One interesting fact: The Detroit News observes that the doorsill got so hot that "you wondered whether you were going to burn yourself," though the 2009 Dodge Viper is only "toasty warm," as opposed to "grilling temperature." Cars.com points out, "another of the Viper's charms is side sills that get hot enough to burn you, due to the exhaust pipes that run through them." The reviewer cautions, "I'd be careful if wearing shorts" but notes that in a performance-minded car like the 2009 Dodge Viper, "I even respect this aspect."

Cars.com finds that after a week with the Dodge Viper convertible, the reviewer longed for a cup holder, but also notes that the "trunk isn't bad at all; it's large enough for golf clubs." Interior space and overall storage on the 2009 Dodge Viper are decent, and ConsumerGuide rates the cargo room as slightly below the class average. They remark that "a few soft bags fit in the convertible's trunk," but "cabin storage is limited to a small center console and dashboard glovebox."

Of materials and general quality, Cars.com comments, "This is no luxury cruiser, but I was surprised by how livable the Viper's ride quality was." Materials and assembly quality on the Dodge Viper 2009 remain below average, but improved over previous versions. Reviewers at The Detroit News claim that although the interior is "more refined," there's "still room for improvement." Edmunds says that the "cockpit is still rather blasé for a car whose price comes very close to $90K." ConsumerGuide adds that the Dodge Viper features "rich upholstery," but the "cabin's only relief from hard matte plastic and textured vinyl are some metal trim pieces."

Another major drawback (or positive feature, depending on your point of view) to the 2009 Dodge Viper is that it makes for an incredibly noisy ride. Car and Driver says that the Dodge Viper's "trails those of Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Z06s in aural excitement." ConsumerGuide observes that "wind and road noise are always present," and "even mild throttle application triggers an intrusive roar from the side exhaust outlets."

Kelley Blue Book reports—contrary to other several other reviewers—that the Dodge Viper now has acceptable ride quality. "Engineers have notably improved ride comfort," the reviewer says, and while "still harsher than an average sedan, the Viper's ride is now comparable with the Corvette Z06."

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT

Safety

The 2009 Dodge Viper hasn't been crash-tested, and it doesn't offer much in the way of safety features.

If you're shopping for a car based mainly on safety concerns, TheCarConnection.com recommends that you not head for the 2009 Dodge Viper. Safety features are heavy—and they're hardly in abundance here. Crash-test results are not available.

In the absence of hard crash-test data, prospective Dodge Viper buyers will have to rely on the race-inspired engineering of the 2009 Dodge Viper to keep them safe in the event of an accident. Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)—the two main crash-test authorities in the United States—have had an opportunity to test the 2009 Dodge Viper due to its high price tag and limited production run.

The 2009 Dodge Viper is not for everyone. Safety features are slim, and its performance capabilities make it unsuitable for garden-variety drivers. Car and Driver reports that the owner's manual advises that drivers "complete a high-performance driving school prior to operating this vehicle." Cars.com declares, "the Viper SRT10 is the least driver-friendly car we've evaluated in the sense that a racecar set loose on a city street can be very unfriendly if you don't leave the Big Gulp and cell phone behind." The reviewer warns, "Known what you're doing, and pay close attention at all times. The word 'coddle' isn't in the Viper's vocabulary."

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the Dodge Viper makes available very little in the way of safety tech. ConsumerGuide does add that "dual front airbags" come standard, but Edmunds notes that "no stability control or side airbags" are included. Cars.com summarizes the safety amenities on the Dodge Viper 2009 by pointing out that "available safety features include all-disc antilock Brembo brakes and adjustable pedals"—covering all the safety features in one sentence. In most other vehicles that don't offer crash-test ratings, the list of safety features provides some degree of comfort, but that's not the case in the Dodge Viper 2009 edition.

Visibility in the 2009 Dodge Viper is only so-so. The poor visibility is one of the reasons that many reviewers, such as those at Edmunds, find that the Viper is "not comfortable enough to be used as a daily driver." Cars.com says visibility is hindered by the fact that "the trunklid, head restraints and roll bars are pretty high" in the convertible, "so it's tough to see behind you by turning your head," but reviewers there find it is "workable through prodigious use of the rearview mirrors."

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT

Features

Don’t expect to see many modern conveniences inside the 2009 Dodge Viper.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com note that the 2009 Dodge Viper doesn't place a premium on features. Apparently, the view of the designers is that features add needless weight—so you won't find many of them here.

The 2009 Dodge Viper comes with few standard features. Edmunds lists "power-adjustable pedals, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel, keyless entry and a seven-speaker, 300-watt audio system with a six-disc CD changer." The 2009 Dodge Viper ACR offers similar standard features. This certainly isn't much—but Cars.com reviewers feel that the Dodge Viper 2009 "seems to say, 'if you disapprove, buy something else.'" Edmunds finds that the 2009 Dodge Viper "makes no apologies for its lack of key luxury and safety features." The Cars.com reviewer also confesses, "I'll admit that after a week I longed for a cupholder, but I respect Dodge's exclusion of one."

The options list is minimal on the Dodge Viper 2009. Standard 2009 Dodge Vipers feature the option of "a navigation system combined with SIRIUS Satellite Radio," according to Kelley Blue Book. In the case of the 2009 Dodge Viper ACR, drivers can even choose to strip some features. Motor Trend reports that "40 pounds can be removed by opting for the 'Hard Core' package, which deletes the audio system" and "underhood silencer pad, trunk carpet, and tire inflator" on the Dodge Viper ACR, making for an even quicker and more formidable racer. One downer is noted by Cars.com: "I'm a little disappointed by the lack of cruise control...I find cruise control helps me keep from inadvertently creeping above the speed limit...cruise would add little cost and practically no weight."

ConsumerGuide says that the 2009 Dodge Viper offers various trims and color packages, including a $3,000 Dual Stripes option. For 2009, four new colors are available. A six-spoke wheel design is optional.

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7.2
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 10.0
Performance 10.0
Comfort & Quality 4.0
Safety 6.0
Features 6.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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