2023 Dodge Hornet: Controversial Styling, Potent Hybrid Powertrain & Lots of New Tech Features

The 2023 Dodge Hornet is the brand’s first-ever electrified vehicle with an available plug-in-hybrid powertrain. Dodge also calls it the “gateway to enter the Brotherhood of Muscle” as the segment’s most potent and quickest compact crossover. The Hornet nameplate harks back to 1951 with the Hudson Hornet, a full-size car by the Detroit-based Hudson Motor Car Company. It also brings to mind 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 that will see the Charger and Challenger bowing out in 2023 and the debut of an all-electric Dodge muscle car in early 2024.

“The Dodge brand’s electrified transformation has left the starting line, with the all-new Dodge Hornet R/T representing the first electrified performance vehicle from Dodge,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge brand CEO – Stellantis. “The Dodge Hornet is poised to jolt the mainstream compact utility vehicle segment with looks, feel, and performance that are unmistakably Dodge.”

Setting The Stage

The 2023 Dodge Hornet is riding 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 since the Hornet shares most of its exterior and interior bits with Alfa’s compact SUV, something the Italian automaker is not happy about, according to some industry sources. Some industry insiders say the new Hornet is a “compliance car” to raise the brand’s CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) scores since Dodge only makes thirsty muscle cars and SUVs.

No matter the case, the latest iteration of the Hornet is a taste of what’s to come from Dodge’s electric future, particularly the hybrid-powered Hornet R/T.

Dodge Hornet R/T: Head of Hive

The most badass Dodge Hornet is the plug-in hybrid R/T with a turbocharged 1.3-liter four-banger, an electric motor, and a 15.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Dodge claims 285-plus horsepower and up to 383 lb-ft. of torque while offering 30 miles of all-electric range. The standard all-wheel drivetrain has a six-speed automatic gearbox. Interestingly, the Alfa Romeo Tonale is available with a similar PHEV powertrain that delivers 30 miles of all-electric range but with fewer horses than the Hornet R/T.

Moreover, the Dodge Hornet R/T has a PowerShot feature that we first heard of with the announcement of the Charger Daytona SRT concept. Activating PowerShot supplies 25 more horsepower from the electrified powertrain for 15 seconds, enough to push the Hornet R/T from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. The system features a 7.4 kW charging module and high-power inverter to recharge the battery pack in only 2.5 hours using a Level 2 charger.

2023 Dodge Hornet
2023 Dodge Hornet. Photo: Stellantis.

Dodge Hornet GT

The Head of Hive may get the most attention, but the base Dodge Hornet GT still packs a mean sting. It has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine with 265 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque thanks to direct fuel injection. It has a standard all-wheel drivetrain and a nine-speed automatic gearbox. The engine also has stop-start technology to bolster fuel efficiency while spewing fewer emissions. With the Sport Mode button on the steering wheel, the Hornet GT rushes from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds.

Performance-Minded Components

The 2023 Dodge Hornet is a compact family crossover with the DNA of a muscle car. Proof of this is the long list of class-exclusive, high-performance features like Koni frequency selective damping shock absorbers, Brembo four-piston front fixed calipers, and dynamic torque vectoring – all standard for the Hornet GT and R/T. Meanwhile, the R/T also has brake-by-wire anchors, intelligent braking, and 18-inch wheels (the GT comes standard with 17-inch rollers). The Blacktop package adds 18-inch black wheels, black badges, and black mirror caps, while the Track Pack package adds 20-inch alloys.

2023 Dodge Hornet interior layout.
2023 Dodge Hornet interior layout. Photo: Stellantis.

Updated In-Cabin Technology

The new Dodge Hornet has a standard 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch Uconnect5 infotainment touchscreen with wireless Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa connectivity. The Hornet GT and R/T receive 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 vibe, but it’s hard to deny it closely mimics the Alfa Romeo Tonale’s Italian-inspired interior layout.

Safety-wise, the 2023 Dodge Hornet has an impressive suite of advanced driving aids like blind spot detection, rear cross path alert, lane support system, 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 assist, to mention a few.

2023 Dodge Hornet: Pricing & Availability

Dodge is currently accepting orders for the Hornet GT. Pricing and other related information remain forthcoming, but Dodge promises a $30,000 base price for the Hornet GT, which the automaker adds will start arriving at dealerships in December 2022. On the other hand, the Hornet R/T PHEV will become available by spring 2023 with an estimated $36,000 MSRP.

Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.

Photos & Source: Stellantis.