John has a 2003 Viper and a 2003 F-150 Lighting among various other cars in his fleet. He’s trying to pair things down and wants to trade the Viper and the truck for a tow vehicle that is also really fast. What car should he buy?
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Here is the scenario:
I have a 2003 viper SRT10, and a 2003 Ford lightning. I want to get rid of both and get one vehicle that tows, really fast! I use the Lightning to tow a 22ft hilo trailer, and i use the viper to toodle around about 1,000 miles per year. I think there’s a vehicle that would be borderline fast, and capable of towing a trailer over Eisenhower pass on I-70 in Colorado. I owned a maserati biturbo, so i’m not afraid of higher maintenance costs than normal. I also have a 4 post lift so I’m moderately capable of tackling repairs.
The car has to [tow] at least 5,000 pounds, but ideally with a sub five-second zero-sixty time when unloaded. I would like the wheelbase to be at least 120 inches, though I can be flexible on that part. The budget is around $85k or whatever I get for the Viper and the Lightning plus ten or fifteen grand.
Budget: $85,000 give or take
Daily Driver: Sort of
Location: Denver, CO
Wants: Fast with towing capacity
Doesn’t want: Something too exotic
John, it sounds like you have good taste in cars. A 2003 Viper and Lightning is a great pair, though I can see your desire to hone down the fleet a bit. My gut reaction is to get you another domestic truck like a TRX or Raptor, but good luck finding any new ones at a reasonable price anytime soon. It also seems like you prefer better tarmac performance over off-road prowess.
To quote former Jalopnik writer, race car driver, and Puffalump superfan Stef Schrader... you need a Parsh. And not just any Porsche, a Cayenne Turbo. Due to some Germanic witchcraft, the engineers in Stuttgart were able to make these big SUVs feel a lot smaller when you drive them angry on a racetrack. Zero-sixty times are somewhere in the four-second range, which is bonkers for a car that weighs almost 5,000 lbs. Towing capacity is up to 7,700 lbs and while the wheelbase of 114 inches is a bit shorter than what you are going for, the big Porsche should be solid on those Colorado mountain passes. At this price point, you are looking at used models. Here is a Turbo S model (with even more power), with a certified warranty that will give you unlimited mile coverage for the next two years.
Since you’re coming from a Viper, it would be tough for me to recommend that you buy an off-road-oriented fast SUV like a Mercedes G-Wagon, or even a fast luxury truck like an Escalade, though they’re both great choices. I think you need something that can handle, and, given the fact that you own two rather over-the-top vehicles — a bright red 380 horsepower V8 muscle truck and the V10 automotive jackhammer that is the Viper — I think you need something a bit... coarse. A bit ostentatious. The vehicle for you is the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
The Trackhawk is perhaps my favorite non-manual automobile. Because if you don’t have a shifter to play with, you really want to make up for that with sheer acceleration. The Trackhawk has plenty of that; it has a Hellcat motor under the hood, and unlike other vehicles with that supercharged 6.2-liter V8, the Jeep can actually put the power to the ground thanks to a stout all-wheel drive system.
As someone who lives in suburban Michigan, where roads are just grids and good handling abilities are wasted, I appreciate a vehicle whose gas pedal I can just shove against the floorboard with impunity, yielding hilariously raucous (but squeal-free) acceleration. You live in Denver, and you’re coming out of a Viper, so handling should also be a consideration, and in that area — for a large SUV — the Trackhawk kicks ass. It may not be Cayenne-good around a track, but it has a 707 horsepower supercharged V8; ’nuff said.
You can tow 7,200 pounds with this beast, but please don’t try towing with the factory tires in an ice storm.
John, I can appreciate your desire to simplify. The problem with integrating two very different tasks like sporty driving and towing is that something has to give. A Viper and a Lightning sounds like a good two-car garage, but I understand that avoiding temptation takes a day-at-a-time approach. If you must part ways with your Lightning, then I’m going to recommend a new Range Rover Sport.
The sporty Rover will tow up to 7,716 pounds, and it starts at around $71,000. Of course, with the kind of performance you’re used to, I think you might be better off in an HSE Dynamic, which gets you a supercharged V8. The thing is, you might have a hard time finding a cheap one because the Dynamic starts just under $90,000.
That steep price buys you about 163 more horsepower though, as the base Range Rover Sport makes 355 HP vs. the 518 HP from the V8. That’s not as much as some of the wilder SUVs out there, but then again, those other SUVs aren’t Rovers. The Germans have racetrack witchcraft and the Americans have ludicrous output, but the British got class. Embrace your inner Bond villain.
Why get rid of both when you can just blend the two? A truck with a Viper engine. That’s the Ram SRT-10. It was a useable monster.
Just look at the numbers: 8.3-liter 500 horsepower Viper derived V10, six-speed manual, 4.8 seconds to sixty. And it can tow. Usually, with sport trucks like this, you give up some capability. But this is still a Ram. It has a 7,500-pound towing capacity. And it won’t break your wallet. As time has gone on they’ve gotten pretty cheap, like this example for just under $28,000.
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