Exactly twenty-four hours before revealing specific details about its electrified performance future, Dodge took a small step and unveiled the all-new 2023 Dodge Hornet Compact SUV. Available in GT or R/T versions, the Plug-In Hybrid R/T version is Dodge’s first electric performance vehicle.
Where previous efforts to fill this space, i.e. the unloved revival of Caliber and star-crossed Dart, faded before they could reach their maximum potential, the Hornet comes out of the gate with either a 265-hp turbocharged inline four-cylinder or a 285 hp plug-in hybrid powertrain, both with standard four-wheel drive.
It is based on a modified version of the Stellantis small 4×4 platform that underlies the Jeep Compass. If that sounds less than encouraging, we point out to the Americans that the upcoming and somewhat mysterious Alfa Romeo Tonale also uses the platform, but uses different materials and drivetrains, achieving an almost 50/50 weight distribution.
In terms of overall size, the Hornet measures 178 inches long with a 103.8-inch wheelbase; Dodge claims a 52/48 weight distribution. For scale, consider that the Compass is 173.4 inches long and has a very telling 103.8-inch wheelbase. Outside of the Stellantis family, the Audi Q3 is 176.6 inches long with a 105.5 inch wheelbase, while Mazda’s CX-30 measures 173 and 104.4 inches. The Hornet fits right into the competitive segment and promises more excitement than recent debuts like the 2023 Honda HR-V. So far we know there will be three versions.
Dodge Hornet GT: 140-MPH, sub-$30K base price
Considered Dodge’s entry-level model, the Hornet GT model is powered by a turbocharged, direct-injection 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder called the Hurricane4. With 265 horsepower and a solid 295 pound-feet of torque, power sends to all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. A Sport mode delivers sharper throttle response, optimized shifting, firmer steering feel and—when equipped with the available two-stage valve shocks—firmer damper settings. Dodge claims a zero to 60 time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph (electronically limited).
Dodge Hornet R/T plug-in hybrid: 285 hp, 30-mile EV range
The Dodge Hornet R/T Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) uses a 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 90 kW electric motor that drives the rear wheels. A starter generator adds a bit of power through the engine belt (often referred to as a “mild-hybrid” setup) for extra growl. The combined power is 285 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, the gasoline engine delivers 199 horsepower to the front wheels, while the electric motor sends 184 horsepower to the rear wheels. A six-speed automatic transmission takes care of gear changes.
The battery pack consists of a 15.5 kWh lithium-ion unit with an independent cooling unit that keeps it running at an ideal temperature. Dodge claims more than 30 miles of EV-only range is possible. Plug-in charging is done via a 7.4 kW charging module; a full charge on a level 2 charger takes approximately 2.5 hours. As expected, the R/T also uses regenerative braking and coasting to maximize efficiency. Top speed is limited to 128 mph.
Dodge Hornet R/T PowerShot
The Hornet R/T has a secret weapon in its PowerShot function. Like some other PHEVs and electrical appliances, it offers a boost of 25 horsepower and optimizes the system to deliver instantaneous torque drawn from the battery and electric motor.
Dodge says it’s enough to shave one second off the R/T’s normal 7.1-second zero-to-60mph times, cutting it down to a 6.1-second sprint. In the name of system safety – and no doubt to avoid chaos in warranty claims – the PowerShot system checks battery charge and temperature levels before running the PowerShot function, only gives a 15-second boost per use and sets a 15-second “cool down” ” mode between activations.
If the tires don’t melt, drivers can choose from three different driving modes. Hybrid minimizes fuel consumption by utilizing the combined efficiency of the conventional engine and e-motor; Electric is an all-electric, zero-emission mode that automatically switches to hybrid when the battery runs out or when the driver requests extra power by pressing the accelerator pedal, and E-Save Prioritizes the conventional engine to conserve battery life , with a passive option to maintain the charge and an active option to recharge the battery.
2023 Dodge Hornet suspension and chassis
Sometimes it pays to go straight to the source. Dodge apparently agrees, calling on longtime suspension specialist Koni to supply the dampers as standard equipment on both finishes for the Hornet’s fully independent front and rear setup. Brembo supplies the front brakes with four-piston fixed calipers as standard on the R/T, but they are also available on GT. Standard brake-based torque vectoring sharpens turn-in and performs an axle-like limited slip function in Sport mode. Right out of the box, the Hornet delivers lateral g-force numbers of 0.90 for the R/T model and 0.87 for the GT.
An available Track Pack package is available for both R/T and GT and upgrades to 20-inch Abyss wheels, opens the door to ordering the active suspension and includes some additional performance and interior features.
Direct connection aftermarket
Like the Dodge way, business power broker Direct Connection is already on board with performance mods for the new Hornet GT and Hornet R/T. To demonstrate, they came up with the Hornet GT GLH concept, a reference to the Omni “Goes Like Hell” Turbo from the 80s. This souped-up Hornet features a one-inch suspension lowering kit, unrestricted dual exhaust with black chrome plated ends, GLH 20-inch painted and machine-oriented wheels, and a podium kit that offers stackable performance upgrades to the GT model and more.
Exterior Style Dodge Hornet
Standard rolling stock consists of 17-inch Silver Alloy Wheels for the GT and 18-inch Graphite Gray Alloy Wheels for the R/T. The hood and front do their best to represent the elements of the “Dodge Family Muscle” with a grille opening in the post slot and heat extractors integrated into the hood. The matte black lower trim adds an “I mean it” vibe, while the R/T gets a painted lower trim and rear valance with integrated dual exhaust ports. A signature full-width taillight element includes an illuminated Dodge Rhombi logo in the center. A sunroof is available.
A required blackout treatment appears on both the Blacktop package, including 18-inch Abyss alloy wheels, gloss black badging and mirror caps, and gloss black painted day moldings around the windows.
Seven exterior colors, each named with the enthusiasm for which Dodge is known, will be offered at launch: Acapulco Gold, Blu Bayou, Blue Steele – undoubtedly licensed from Derek Zoolander – Gray Cray, Hot Tamale, Q Ball and 8 Ball.
The overall interior design is driver-oriented, with center console controls, displays and more all oriented slightly towards the driver. A standard 12.3-inch digital cockpit cluster screen and a 10.25-inch Uconnect 5 infotainment system central display meet most infotainment needs. Combined, the Hornet offers 22.5 inches of in-vehicle screen space.
Performance controls, such as Sport and Standard driving modes for the GT and Hybrid driving modes for the R/T, are located on the flat-bottomed handlebars. Red stitching accents are standard throughout the black interior; faux suede is standard on the GT, but leather is standard on the R/T and GT Plus. Extroverts may want to check out the available all-red leather seat option.
A 465-watt, 14-speaker Harman-Kardon sound system is standard on the GT Plus and R/T Plus, while wireless charging, passive access and rain-sensing wipers are standard on the GT and R/T plus. Heated seats and steering wheel are available.
2023 Dodge Hornet Prices and Sale Date
The 2023 Dodge Hornet will be built at the Giambattista Vico Stellantis plant in Pomigliano d’Arco, Naples, Italy, alongside the Alfa Romeo Tonale and (not sold in the US) Fiat Panda. Ordering for the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT is now open, with samples arriving in dealer showrooms in late 2022. The Dodge Hornet R/T is expected to hit showrooms in the spring of 2023. Specific pricing, in addition to the announced “sub-$30,000” figure for the base model, will be revealed this fall.