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2023 Dodge Hornet Packs Class-Leading Power for Under $30K

The Hornet R/T has a plug-in-hybrid powertrain with more than 285 horsepower.

Front 3/4 view of a 2023 Dodge Hornet GT in motion
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Dodge

Dodge on Tuesday unveiled its first new car in about a decade, and it revives a great vintage name and gives the brand its first entry into a fiercely competitive segment. The 2023 Dodge Hornet is a compact crossover that's essentially a rebadged Alfa Romeo Tonale, and Dodge boasts that it's the most performance-oriented SUV in the segment. It's also Dodge's first car to be available with a plug-in-hybrid powertrain, a step on the way toward full electrification.

The base Hornet GT uses Stellanti's Hurricane engine, a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 with more than 265 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque (slightly more hp than the Tonale). A nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard, and Dodge says the Hornet GT will hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, making it the quickest crossover under $30,000. Standard equipment on the GT includes Koni shocks, dynamic torque vectoring, and fully independent suspension with a MacPherson setup out front. Brembo brakes are available, too.

The lit-up logo will probably be found on more future Dodge products.

Dodge

Dodge calls the PHEV Hornet R/T model the "head of hive." The Hornet R/T is powered by a turbocharged 1.3-liter inline-4 that's paired with a six-speed automatic, an electric motor on the rear axle and a 15.5-kilowatt-hour battery pack. That adds up to over 285 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, with the Hornet R/T able to hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. The R/T features a PowerShot button that provides an on-demand boost of 25 hp for up to 15 seconds, a feature that will be found on all of Dodge's PHEVs and EVs. Dodge says the Hornet R/T will have more than 30 miles of electric range, and it can be recharged in two and a half hours on a Level 2 charger.

Both versions of the Hornet are offered with a Track package that adds dual-stage-valve adaptive dampers, 20-inch wheels, Alcantara seats with red accents and other styling tweaks. Dodge also debuted a Hornet GLH concept that previews upgrades that could become available through Dodge's official Direct Connection catalog, including lowered suspension, a louder exhaust system, an engine performance upgrade stage kit and cool styling elements.

Styling changes compared to the Tonale are fairly minimal, but a totally new front bumper does make the Hornet look like a part of the Dodge family. It has a slot-like grille with Dodge's Rhombi logo in the center, a large lower air intake with slim inlets flanking it, and different headlight signatures. The hood has functional heat extractors, which is pretty awesome to see on such an affordable crossover. The full-width light bar also features a lit-up Rhombi, and there's a rad Hornet badge on the front fender. Seven different colors will be available, including one named Hot Tamale, and a Blacktop package blacks out most of the exterior trim.

The Hornet's interior looks pretty good.

Dodge

Aside from different air vent designs and a modified upper dash pad, the Hornet's interior is pretty much the same as the Tonale's too. The dashboard, 12.3-inch central touchscreen and climate control buttons are canted toward the driver, and the start button is found on the raised center console. A 10.3-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, as is that center screen, and the Hornet uses Stellantis' new Android-based Uconnect 5 system. It can be connected to two phones at the same time, and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are wireless. The Hornet also has built-in Amazon Alexa connectivity, which can do things like remotely start the car from inside your house.

Automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist with steering assist and rear parking sensors are all standard, and a Tech package adds adaptive cruise control, a driver attention monitor, lane centering and traffic sign recognition. Other standard features include passive entry, rain-sensing wipers, a rear-seat reminder and wireless phone charging. A 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is available, as are a hands-free tailgate, a heated steering wheel and heated leather seats. 

The Hornet will be produced at the same factory as the Tonale in Naples, Italy. First to hit dealerships in late 2022 will be the Hornet GT, with the Hornet R/T to follow in spring 2023. Full pricing hasn't been announced yet, but the GT will start at under $30,000 and the R/T should top out at around $45,000. Order books open on Aug. 17.