The 2023 Dodge Hornet is the brand’s first electric vehicle with an available plug-in hybrid powertrain. Dodge also calls it the “gateway to the Brotherhood of Muscle” as the most powerful and fastest compact crossover in the segment. The Hornet’s nameplate dates back to 1951 with the Hudson Hornet, a full-size car from the Detroit-based Hudson Motor Car Company. It’s also reminiscent of the ill-timed Dodge Hornet concept MPV that first appeared in 2006.
The 2023 Dodge Hornet is the smallest vehicle in the American automaker’s updated portfolio, which will see the Charger and Challenger disappear in 2023 and the debut of an all-electric Dodge muscle car in early 2024.
“The electrified transformation of the Dodge brand has left the starting line, with the all-new Dodge Hornet R/T representing Dodge’s first electric performance vehicle,” said Tim Kuniskis, CEO of the Dodge – Stellantis brand. “The Dodge Hornet is poised to shock the mainstream compact van segment with the look, feel and performance that are undeniably Dodge.”
Setting up the stage
The 2023 Dodge Hornet rides on a derivative of Fiat’s 199 SCCS platform that first debuted in 2005 with the Fiat Grande Punto supermini. It shares its small, wide 4×4 underpinnings with the Jeep Commander and the Alfa Romeo Tonale. The latter is especially worth mentioning, as the Hornet shares most of its exterior and interior parts with Alfa’s compact SUV, something the Italian automaker isn’t happy about according to some industry sources. Some industry insiders say the new Hornet is a “compliance car” to boost the brand’s CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) scores, as Dodge only makes thirsty muscle cars and SUVs.
Anyway, the latest version of the Hornet is a taste of what’s to come from Dodge’s electric future, specifically the hybrid-powered Hornet R/T.
Dodge Hornet R/T: Head of Hive
The toughest Dodge Hornet is the plug-in hybrid R/T with a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, electric motor and a 15.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Dodge claims over 285 horsepower and up to 383 lb-ft. torque while offering an all-electric range of 30 miles. The standard four-wheel drive has a six-speed automatic transmission. Interestingly, the Alfa Romeo Tonale is available with a similar PHEV powertrain that delivers 48 kilometers of all-electric range, but with fewer horses than the Hornet R/T.
In addition, the Dodge Hornet R/T has a PowerShot feature that we first heard about when the Charger Daytona SRT concept was announced. Activating PowerShot delivers 25 extra horsepower from the electrified powertrain for 15 seconds, enough to push the Hornet R/T from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. The system has a 7.4 kW charging module and a powerful inverter to recharge the battery pack in just 2.5 hours using a Level 2 charger.
Dodge Hornet GT
The Head of Hive may get the most attention, but the base Dodge Hornet GT still has a wicked sting. It has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine with 265 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. torque thanks to direct fuel injection. It has standard four-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The engine also features stop-start technology to increase fuel consumption while reducing emissions. With the Sport Mode button on the steering wheel, the Hornet GT speeds from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds.
The 2023 Dodge Hornet is a compact family crossover with muscle car DNA. Proof of this is the long list of class-exclusive, high-performance features such as Koni frequency-selective damping shock absorbers, Brembo four-piston front calipers and dynamic torque vectoring – all standard on the Hornet GT and R/T. Meanwhile, the R/T also has brake-by-wire anchors, intelligent brakes and 18-inch wheels (the GT comes standard with 17-inch rollers). The Blacktop package adds 18-inch black wheels, black badging and black mirror caps, while the Track Pack package adds 20-inch alloy wheels.
Updated technology in the cab
The new Dodge Hornet has a standard 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a 10.25-inch Uconnect5 infotainment touchscreen with wireless Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa connectivity. The Hornet GT and R/T get a 465-watt Harman-Kardon audio system with 14 speakers, wireless charging, rain-sensing wipers and a rear seat reminder. The dashboard and cabin have a sporty look, but it’s hard to deny that it closely mimics the Italian-inspired interior layout of the Alfa Romeo Tonale.
In terms of safety, the 2023 Dodge Hornet has an impressive array of advanced driver aids such as blind spot detection, rear side lane warning, lane assist and automatic emergency braking. The Tech Pack unlocks Level 2 autonomy with Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Assist, Traffic Jam Assist and Driver Attention, to name a few.
2023 Dodge Hornet: Pricing and Availability
Dodge is currently accepting orders for the Hornet GT. Pricing and other related information are not forthcoming, but Dodge is promising a $30,000 base price for the Hornet GT, which the automaker says will arrive at dealerships in December 2022. On the other hand, the Hornet R/T PHEV will be available in the spring of 2023. with an estimated MSRP of $36,000.
Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog columnist and an expert on sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aviation and accountancy in his early years and is still very attached to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music and herbal medicine.
Photos and source: Stellantis.