There’s a new member joining the Dodge hive. While it hasn’t exactly been the best-kept secret in Detroit, the Stellantis muscle car brand has confirmed the new Dodge Hornet will roll into the line-up for 2023, with the first of the compact SUVs set to reach showrooms by late this year.
The 2023 Dodge Hornet will have plenty of sting, with even the base GT model delivering “265-plus” horsepower. The Hornet R/T, meanwhile, will take that up a notch by introducing the brand’s first “electrified” drivetrain — complete with the new “PowerShot” mode. While the plug-in hybrid will put the emphasis on performance, it also will offer up to 30 miles of range in all-electric mode.
While Dodge may be best known for muscle cars like the Charger and Challenger — both set to go out of production next year — the launch of the Hornet, the brand’s second SUV, simply reflects market realities. The challenge was making sure it retains the “brand DNA,” said Tim Kuniskis, the head of Dodge. And that, he added, will help it “disrupt” the largely staid compact crossover segment.
Familiarity breeds … buyers?
If you get a sense of déjà vu checking out the 2023 Hornet that’s no surprise. It’s based on the same platform as the Alfa Romeo Tonale that was introduced earlier this year. They’ll both roll down the same assembly line in Naples, Italy.
While the overall shape of the two utility vehicles is similar, the Hornet boasts a unique front and rear, with a more classic Dodge shape to the grille and headlights. It also gets a pair of heat extractors on the hood, as well as a distinctive lightbar stretching the width of the tailgate.
The Dodge crossover also gets unique twin exhaust finishers. Though the doors are shared by both models, Hornet adds unique cladding — painted on the R/T model.
The Hornet badge itself actually has deep roots. Motorsports fans are likely to recall the old Hudson Hornet that was a familiar sight on the NASCAR and AAA stock car series back in the 1950s. Dodge picked up the name for a popular 2006 concept vehicle. And, for animation fans, the Hudson Hornet was a major character in Pixar’s “Cars” franchise.
Two versions of the 2023 Dodge Hornet will be available.
The “base” Hornet GT uses a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder version of the Stellantis Hurricane engine. Final specs have yet to be locked down but the turbocharged package is expected to make “265-plus” horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It’s expected to launch from 0 to 60 in about 6.5 seconds.
We’ll have to wait for a number of other details, including not only fuel economy but the transmission package. In Europe, the comparable Tonale uses a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.
With both the GT and the R/T, all-wheel drive comes standard.
Goes Like Hell
A key element of the Dodge DNA is the ability to customize products, enhancing both looks and performance. And the automaker on Tuesday night showed off some of what could be done using parts from its internal aftermarket operation, Direct Connection.
The letters, GLH, should have significance to longtime Dodge fans, serving as the designation for a high-performance version of the brand’s ‘80s-era Omni model.
The new Hornet GLH concept boasts twice the power-to-weight ratio of the most extreme version of that era, the 1986 Shelby Omni GLH-S.
Starting out with a stock Hornet GT, the show car adds:
- Stage kit offers stackable performance upgrades for the GT model
- Suspension lowering kit dropping the Hornet more than an inch, creating a lower center of gravity and enhancing cornering dynamics
- Unrestricted dual exhaust with black chrome tips provide a throaty performance note
- Exclusive Direction Connection GLH 20-inch painted and machine-faced wheels
- Exclusive Direct Connection GLH graphics, including stripes and logos
- Black-painted lower trim with exhaust cutout rear fascia
Plugging in with the Hornet R/T
With even extreme performance brands like Aston Martin and Ferrari going electric, it was only a matter of time before Dodge plugged in. It’s already confirmed plans for an all-electric muscle car in 2024, but the Hornet R/T launches the shift towards battery power as the brand’s first plug-in hybrid.
It pairs a 1.3-liter turbo-4 gas engine with a 90-kilowatt electric motor, the combination delivering an output of “285-plus” hp and 383 lb-ft of torque.
Put an asterisk by those numbers because a driver will get a 25 hp boost — along with an as yet-unspecified torque dump — simply by pressing the “PowerShot” button on the instrument panel. Similar to what’s showing up in a number of race series, the system provides that extra boost for up to 15 seconds. You then have to let the electric drive system briefly cool down but you can use PowerShot over and over again until the is battery drained.
(Expect to see PowerShot return on all future electrified Dodge products, according to Kuniskis, including the 2024 all-electric muscle car.)
The lithium-ion pack has a 15.5 kilowatt-hour capacity and can deliver up to 30 miles of range in all-electric mode. Meanwhile, it will recharge in as little as 2.5 hours using a Level 2 240-volt charger.
The R/T uses a 6-speed automatic gearbox but, as with the GT, this Hornet pushes power to all four wheels.
The sportier of the Hornet packages also features an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential, Koni frequency-selective dampers and front and rear Brembo brakes. A dual-stage suspension is available.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts
Inside, both Hornet models feature twin LCD displays, including a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 12.3-inch LCD gauge cluster. Considering the younger buyers Dodge is targeting, there’s plenty of technology onboard, including the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the Uconnect 5 infotainment system and an array of advanced driver assistance systems.
But gearheads will appreciate things like the near-rectangular steering wheels and, on the R/T, touches such as the sport seats, red stitching and dark headliner.
Dodge officials anticipate at least a little pushback from critics who contend the 2023 Dodge Hornet is a bit too similar to the new Alfa Romeo Tonale. But Kuniskis dismisses such skeptics, insisting “We took an awesome platform and made it a true Dodge.”
We’ll soon learn how buyers react. The automaker is now taking orders for the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT, with deliveries expected to begin late this year. It will cover a price range of $29,995 to $34,995 — plus delivery fees. The Hornet R/T won’t go into production until early next year, likely arriving in the U.S. by spring of 2023. It start at $39,995, with a fully loaded version at $44,995.