With the arrival of the 2023 Dodge Hornet, Stellantis’ muscle car performance marque enters the hotly contested compact utility vehicle segment with a new entry wearing an old nameplate, albeit one not from the Dodge archives.
The name initiated with American automaker Hudson, and its Hornet was noted not only for its unibody design but also its powerful supercharged six, which dominated NASCAR’s early years. It was revived in 1969 by American Motors, created out of the 1954 merger of Hudson and Nash, its name slapped on a compact. Chrysler bought AMC in 1987.
In some ways, the newest Hornet seems to meld the first Hornet’s performance and the second Hornet’s practicality.
In reality, the 2023 Dodge Hornet is little more than an Alfa Romeo Tonale with a different front-end clip, additional cladding, revised lighting, badges and trim. Offered in GT and R/T trim, the Dodge Hornet’s upper-level R/T trim even shares the Tonale’s hybrid driveline. It’s even built in the same plant in Naples, Italy.
But the Dodge comes with a crucial difference, aside from its American performance attitude. It comes with a driveline not offered in the Tonale: a base 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine not offered on the Tonale, but standard on the GT.
Opting for the base GT means saving $10,000 versus the R/T, and $5,495 versus the GT Plus. Yet there’s not much to give up. In fact, Dodge executives expect most buyers to opt for one of the GTs, not the R/T. Let’s see why.
(Check out the review of the 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T by Clicking Here.)
The Dodge Hornet’s overall shape doesn’t bring to mind any of Dodge’s muscle cars in the least, nor the Durango, as it shares much of its sheetmetal with the Alfa Romeo Tonale. The styling differences do lend it a Dodge identity, mostly through its hood scoops, grille and lighting and for most buyers that will suffice, as it adds a squirt of American sportiness.
Recent Dodge vehicles have rarely possessed particularly distinctive interior trim. Serviceable about covers it. But the 2023 Dodge Hornet brings with it a bit more style than the usual Dodge cabin. Dodge’s infotainment screen covers those functions with a user interface that stack’s the screen’s primary function buttons vertically on the left side of the screen, making it easy to use.
Interior space is par for the class; roomy up front and adequate in back, changing to roomy with some kindness from front seat passengers. The seats themselves are covered in a ballistic material, although GT Plus models come with black leather seats with ventilation, something not offered in base GT trim.
In fact, GT Plus models add an auto-dimming rearview mirror, eight-way power front seats, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and remote start, although the heated goodies are available on base GTs in the Cold Weather Group.
The Hornet GT is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine through a 9-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. The powertrain generates 268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, enough to deliver a Dodge-like 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds. That’s 0.9 second slower than the Hornet R/T plug-in hybrid, but still acceptably quick. Is less than a second worth anywhere from $5,000-$10,000? For some Dodge fans, the answer is no.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2023 Dodge Hornet.
Standard safety gear includes Automatic Emergency Braking, Brake Assist, Hill-Start Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Torque Vectoring, Electronic Stability Control, and Lane Departure Warning with Lane-Keep Assist. Opting for the Tech Pack adds a number of truly helpful safety systems, including Active Driving Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Assist, Drowsy Driver Detection, 360 Surround-View Camera, Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist, and one nicety: a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
When it comes to tech, the base GT trim comes with a 10.25-inch infotainment display with a customizable home screen, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual smartphone connectivity, SiriusXM Radio, Bluetooth, streaming audio and a USB-A and USB-C port. Opting for the tonier GT Plus trim adds TomTom navigation.
While Dodge is to be applauded for equipping the Hornet with standard wireless charging, the pad is vertical. So there’s nothing to hold the phone securely in place while driving aggressively. As a result, it slides back and forth, causing a message to pop up that obliterates everything else on the infotainment screen at the expense of a single sentence. This isn’t helpful while using navigation.
Seats are fairly comfortable, although some may wish for stronger bolstering, in which case, opt for the GT Plus. Controls are easy to see, reach and operate. The starter button is easy to see and reach, something some automotive designers seem to have forgotten.
While neither driveline is a paragon of refinement, the edge goes to the GT, if only for its predictability. The pricier R/T’s combination of a turbocharged 1.3-liter engines, electric motor, automatic transmission possesses a nervous manner and turbo lag that are not harmonious and in need of more refinement. Yes, the R/T is faster than the GT, but the GT’s conventional driveline, while also suffering from turbo lag, seems far more predictable in its demeanor. Both drivelines seem fairly vibratory at idle.
But the Hornet makes up for it all once it’s moving. Drive it like most motorists and you’ll find it to be more than powerful enough for the task at hand. Once accustomed to the turbo lag, you’ll find the driveline to be fairly smooth and you’ll be able to tap its power, which is more than a base BMW X1, while costing noticeably less. That said, the steering is fairly light, and there’s some play in the steering while cornering. This seems to be the case regardless of whether you opt for the GT or R/T. In fact, the difference in performance between the two trims didn’t seem to warrant ponying up the extra Washingtons for the R/T.
2023 Dodge Hornet GT Specifications
|Dimension||L: 178 inches/W: 63.8 inches/H: 82 inches/Wheelbase: 103.8 inches|
|Powertrain||2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 9-speed automatic transmission and AWD|
|Fuel Economy||21 mpg city/29 mpg highway/24 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $31,590, including $1,595 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Despite its quirks, the Hornet GT is a competitive entry in the crowded compact utility vehicle field. It’s a different flavor, to be sure. How different its performance is from its identical cousin remains to be seen. It certainly isn’t a muscle trucklet by any stretch of the imagination. But for those who need a dose of Dodge style in their compact UV, look no further, at least if you want the GT.
If you want the R/T, you’ll have to wait a little longer.
2023 Dodge Hornet GT — Frequently Asked Questions
What is the 0-to-60 time for a 2023 Dodge Hornet GT?
It takes 6.5 seconds thanks to the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT’s turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder produces 268 horsepower.
When can I buy the 2023 Dodge Hornet?
The 2023 Dodge Hornet GT has been available to order since Aug. 17, 2022. It’s slated to arrive in dealer showrooms in early spring 2023.
Is 0 to 60 in 9 seconds slow?
While that was considered quick a couple decades ago, that would now be considered a fairly slow car.