Dodge may deliver some of the world’s fastest muscle cars, but the brand itself doesn’t move very fast when it comes to changing its line-up. At least it hasn’t for quite some time. But things are about to get busy. The familiar Charger and Challenger models are about to end their long runs, with the brand working up all-electric replacements.
The Stellantis-owned brand, meanwhile, is just now rolling out its first completely new model line in a decade, the Dodge Hornet. If the name seems familiar, it was last used by the marque for a chunky concept vehicle introduced in 2006. But it never made production due to the Great Recession and the bankruptcy of what was then the Chrysler Corp.
Now, Hornet is back, but in a very different, much sleeker form. The new model shares the same underpinnings as the Alfa Romeo Tonale and will be offered in two forms: the conventional, gas-powered Hornet GT, which is a 2023 model, and the R/T which marks the first time Dodge has offered a plug-in hybrid. The R/T is a 2024 model.
Getting into the compact crossover segment should be a no-brainer for Dodge. It is, after all, one of the U.S. market’s fastest-growing product segments. The question was how to get there. The muscle car brand tried it once before, with a rebadged version of the Jeep Compass dubbed the Caliber. But the Dodge Caliber simply didn’t fit a brand that put the emphasis on performance.
(Check out our review of the new 2023 Dodge Hornet GT by Clicking Here.)
The Hornet is another matter entirely. It’s sleek shape stands in sharp contrast to the boxy Caliber and the performance numbers are far more in line with what you’d expect from Dodge, delivering 0-60 times of as little as 5.6 seconds. But Hornet also serves as a first step into electrification for Dodge, the R/T version becoming the brand’s first model powered by a plug-in hybrid. It can deliver up to 30 miles range in all-electric mode.
There’s been plenty of buzz about the Hornet since Dodge pulled off the wraps last year — though not all positive. Some critics contend it’s a bit too similar to the new Alfa Romeo Tonale. But Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis dismisses such skeptics, insisting “We took an awesome platform and made it a true Dodge.”
The differences are most obvious up front, where Hornet adopts what it calls a “racoon mask,” a narrow upper grille framed by slit headlamps. Directly below, a narrow “mail slot” and a larger, lower grille provides cooling air to the engine compartment. Functional extractors are mounted into a sculpted hood.
The side profile is more clearly carried over from Alfa, with its crisp character line coursing through muscular rear haunches, and a coupe-like roofline. Four wheel options, up to 20 inches, are available.
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.
The steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters can both be depressed simultaneously, the driver also flooring the throttle, to kick the R/T into its “Power Shot” mode.
One downside of the Hornet is storage space, a mere 27 cubic feet unless you fold down the back seat. That’s barely sedan territory.
The 2024 Dodge Hornet will deliver plenty of sting, whichever version you buy. But performance fans are likely to focus on the new R/T package. Ironically, so will green-minded buyers who want a muscle “car” that’s more energy efficient.
With the Hornet R/T, Dodge launches the shift towards battery power as the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, Dodge planning to introduce an all-electric replacement for the aging Charger/Challenger muscle cars in barely two years.
The R/T pairs a 1.3-liter turbo-4 gas engine with a 44-horsepower belt starter-generator up front, and a 90-kilowatt electric motor on the rear. Both motors draw power from a 15.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The internal combustion engine and starter-generator are paired with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The drivetrain puts power to all four wheels, the internal combustion engine pushing up to 199 pound-feet of torque to the front axle, the e-motor adding another 184 to the rear.
In combination, they deliver a peak output of 288 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. But put an asterisk here. To get the maximum numbers, you need to engage that PowerShot mode which delivers a 30-hp boost that lasts 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.
Hornet R/T can launch from 0-60 in just 5.6 seconds using PowerShot mode. That’s about 0.9 seconds faster than the GT. (And, without engaging that boost, R/T’s launch times are closer to the 7 second mark.) Where the gas model tops out at 140 mph, the plug-in hits the ceiling at 128.
With the R/T arriving in showrooms after the conventionally powered Hornet GT, its final fuel economy numbers have yet to be released. But Dodge says the plug-in hybrid will deliver up to 30 miles range in all-electric mode.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to plug into a public quick charger, but it should take just a few hours to get a full pack using a commonplace Level 2 240-volt charging system.
Safety and Technology
Dodge is lining up with the rest of the auto industry in the seemingly inevitable push to go electric. We’ve already seen a prototype replacement for the brand’s familiar muscle cars, the Dodge Charger Daytona R/T. But the 2024 Hornet R/T will be its first electrified model — in this case, a PHEV that can deliver up to 30 miles in all-electric mode. While final EPA numbers aren’t available, the R/T is expected to be both the fastest and most fuel-efficient of the two Hornet packages.
As is becoming the norm in the industry these days, both Hornet models will offer an array of advanced driver assistance technologies, such as forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. In all, the brand claims “69 safety features,” though it plays loose with the count.
A 12.3-inch reconfigurable TFT screen handles gauge duties and you can set it up in a variety of different layouts. A 10.25-inch touchscreen operates the latest-generation Uconnect infotainment system and, with just a few gripes, it’s one of the better ones on the market. I’d like to see a few functions, notably seat and steering wheel heaters, switched back to conventional controls.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are part of the R/T package, as is a wireless Qi smartphone charger.
With its new plug-in hybrid drivetrain, Dodge is positioning the R/T as the sportier option for Hornet buyers, even while playing up the potential environmental benefits. And switching to all-electric mode did give the crossover a very distinctive personality that many customers might like when dealing with heavy traffic or driving on local roads.
But the question is whether the Hornet R/T really is the better option for performance fans. On paper, it lives up to expectations, cutting launch times to nearly a second below those of the gas-only GT model. My gripe is the Power Shot system. Not the technology itself. But you have to dance a quirky choreography, using both paddle-shifters, as well as the throttle, to engage it. And I found it simply didn’t kick in several times. I’d much rather see a simple “Boost” button, as is used on some all-electric models like the Kia EV6 GT.
The R/T, meanwhile, comes in at about 400 pounds over the mass of the GT, and that became quite obvious as I wandered through the rolling hillsides surrounding Asheville, North Carolina.
An electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential, Koni frequency-selective dampers and front and rear Brembo brakes do help give the 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T more poise. (And for those who want to maximize handling, a dual-stage suspension is available as part of the optional Track Pack.)
On the whole, despite its flaws, the Hornet R/T proved plenty of fun to flog around mountain roads, with a distinct Alfa nature to its ride and handling. It’s certainly not up to what we’d have expected had Dodge opted for a version of, say, the Alfa Romeo Giulia, but considering that crossovers dominate today’s market, it’s a good compromise.
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T Specifications
|Dimension||L: 178 inches/W: 63 inches/H: 82 inches/Wheelbase: 103.8 inches|
|Powertrain||1.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine w/two electric motors, 6-speed automatic transmission and AWD|
|Performance Specs||288 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $41,590, including $1,595 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Hornet will be not only the newest Dodge offering but it’s least expensive, the GT starting at just $31,590, including delivery fees.
If you’ve read TheDetroitBureau’s review you may noticed that the base car is being marketed as a 2023 model. It will be reaching showrooms in the coming weeks. The Hornet R/T, however, won’t get there until later in the year and will be designated a 2024. It also will carry a $10,000 starting price, at $41,590.
Is it worth it? Several factors need be considered, including the quicker launch — once you master Power Shot mode — and the ability to travel 30 miles in all-electric mode. Once upon a time, those might have seemed incongruous characteristics. But, as we’ve been seeing, many new EV buyers are drawn in by the significant performance of electric drivetrains.
Beyond that, some might be put off by the badge engineered elements of the Hornet, as a whole — or consider simply opting for the Alfa Romeo Tonale. But the 2024 Dodge Hornet, on the whole, is a solid option for those considering a sporty compact crossover.
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T — Frequently Asked Questions
How many miles per gallon does the 2024 Dodge Hornet get?
There are two versions of the 2024 Dodge Hornet. The GT model, with its 2.0-liter gas engine, gets 21 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway and 24 combined, according to the EPA. The numbers for the plug-in hybrid have not been finalized, but will be higher. The R/T also will deliver 30 miles range in all-electric mode.
How fast is the Dodge Hornet R/T?
The 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T will launch from 0-60 in 5.6 seconds, according to the automaker. Top speed is 128 mph. The GT takes 6.1 seconds to hit 60, but top speed jumps to 140 mph.
Is the Dodge Hornet an Alfa Romeo?
The Dodge Hornet is based on the same platform as the new Alfa Romeo Tonale.