2014 SRT Viper

Pros: Explosive acceleration; razor-sharp handling with virtually nonexistent body lean in turns; surprisingly high-end interior trimmings; unmistakable, head-turning styling

Cons: Engine’s high-volume growl can grow tiring on longer trips; it’s (not surprisingly) a gas guzzler; cramped cabin with poor rear visibility; punishing, buckboard-stiff ride, even in “Comfort” mode

CG Says: For 2014, the SRT Viper gets a racetrack-oriented TA (Time Attack) Special Edition Package, a Grand Touring package, a “rain mode” for the electronic stability control system, and additional exterior colors and trim options. This new generation of Viper sends a mixed message. On the one hand, it remains a performance machine of the highest order, with racetrack credentials few cars can match. But on the other hand, it has veered from its raw heritage with a gussied-up interior and the latest electronic gadgets with the aim of becoming more “civilized.” That sounds like a great combination, and to some, it may be. But the Viper is really too brutal to be a comfortable Grand Touring car — leather-trimmed luxury notwithstanding — so to others, that only serves to blur the focus. It also adds cost: The Viper starts at close to 100 grand (120 for the GTS), which positions it far north of the base Corvette ($51,000) and even the Porsche 911 ($85,000), though higher trim levels of the 911 reach and exceed Viper levels. Make no mistake about it: The Viper is a performance car of the highest degree. But it certainly wouldn’t be our choice for a cross-country trip.

2014 SRT Viper TA