2023 Dodge Hornet totally misses the point of being a compact CUV

Compact crossovers are usually not considered enthusiast products. They are the standard, the product people imagine today when the phrase ‘everyday transportation’ comes up. But Dodge totally missed this memo, as the first thing it brags about when discussing the 2023 Hornet compact CUV is the fact that it’s the “fastest, fastest and most powerful compact commercial vehicle under $30,000.” Oh, and it’s electrified too.

Let’s do like Dodge and start with the powertrain, because interesting things are happening. The base Hornet GT is also the one Dodge describes with the quote above, complete with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a nine-speed automatic transmission. It has a generous 265 horsepower (198 kilowatts) and 295 pound-feet (400 newton-meters) of torque, which is enough to soar to 60 in a solid 6.5 seconds. That’s as fast as a Mini Cooper S. And yes, it starts at less than $30,000, although Dodge doesn’t share much pricing information beyond that.

Perhaps the more forward-looking iteration of the two is the Hornet R/T, which is only the second plug-in hybrid to come out of Auburn Hills in a decade. The front axle spins via a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder plucked from the Jeep Renegade/Fiat 500X line, while a 90-kilowatt electric motor sits atop the rear axle. Between the two is a 15.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, which takes just 2.5 hours to charge via a 7.4-kilowatt charging module and contains enough electrons to travel 35 miles when fully squeezed. .

2023 Dodge Hornet side view
2023 Dodge Hornet Taillight

The gas-electric combo works through a six-speed automatic transmission and features an integrated starter generator for better low-speed response. Stretch the legs of the Hornet R/T and you’ll find 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, thanks to the combined 285 horsepower (213 kW) and 383 lb-ft (519 Nm) of the powertrain. But you only do that if you use PowerShot.

Dodge claims that, activated by pulling both the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and the accelerator pedal, the system delivers 25 seconds of extra 25 horsepower from the engine and delivers instant torque (although that’s kind of the case with electric motors, so it’s hard to know exactly what Dodge means here – we’ll try to get to the bottom of it). Engaged, PowerShot cuts a second off the flight to 60 mph. Both Hornet models also feature dynamic torque vectoring, although it’s unclear whether it’s braking-based or something more advanced.

2023 Dodge Hornet Dash

Powering a vehicle with no suspension and brakes to support it is so 1968, so Dodge also retrofits all Hornet R/Ts with Koni FSD dampers, fully independent suspension at both ends and a Brembo brake package with ventilated discs and four – piston calipers front. Black calipers are standard, although there is a Track Package available for both R/T and GT that adds a red paint job (and is the only way to score Brembos on the gas-only model). And because the Hornet is closely related to the Alfa Romeo Tonale, Dodge claims best-in-class body rigidity with excellent weight distribution.

Dodge is also rethinking the in-cab experience, offering an industry-leading 22.6-inch screen real estate as standard. The breakdown sees a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel instead of physical gauges, as well as a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Uconnect 5. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and with wireless connectivity. Truly, the Hornet fulfills the basic requirements of a modern, successful infotainment suite. There are even different themes for the digital cluster.

While Dodge will open orders for the Hornet 2023, above its $30,000 target, it has not released pricing information as of publication. We’re also in the dark about fuel economy for both engines. But while those question marks loom large, the hardware regarding how the Hornet will ride seems incredibly impressive. Dodge hasn’t had a compact crossover for a long time, but it looks like this revival is designed to make a splash in a typically staid segment.

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