Not A Muscle Automotive, So What Is It?

The brand new Dodge Hornet is misplaced. In a showroom of burly muscle automobiles (and one SUV) all providing that satisfying energy and angle of a cast-iron, pushrod Hemi V8 engine, the Italian-built Hornet stands to supply half the cylinder depend, and is the form of an indignant jelly bean in distinction to its broad-shouldered full-sized stablemates, additionally indignant. It’s a salad at a Texas BBQ meals truck. However, as is the aim of the common-or-garden salad, each model wants an excellent palette cleanser to go together with the savory brisket. And there’s been pent up demand for one, too.

When the brand new Dodge Hornet was formally revealed in August 2022, it put sellers in a frenzy. In a single day, the Hornet racked up over 14,000 orders from Dodge franchisees. An indication of simply how buyer crucial this product is. Actually, it’s Dodge’s first all-new product because the Journey, which ended manufacturing in 2020. That midsize SUV first got here out in 2009. The present-generation Charger, Challenger and Durango have all advanced from one thing born even earlier. Talking of crucial: in the event you recall the intense phrases of Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares from 2021, every model has 10 years to show viability to the automotive conglomerate, or be minimize from the crew. And the clock is ticking.

2023 2024 Dodge Hornet RT R/T Hybrid SUV
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T in Sizzling Tamale

With a way of urgency, the brand new Hornet is the Dodge model diving into the deepest water it may discover: the compact SUV section. And with much more gusto than the bygone Dart, Caliber and Avenger. All examples of entry merchandise gone flawed. With the Hornet, we truly discover class-leading efficiency specs, and a far-from-basic inside.

“This section is so massive. There are such a lot of buyers which can be within the compact (SUV) area, so for us to go in and take a fair proportion of that was an enormous alternative for Dodge,” stated Chris Wincek, Senior Supervisor, Dodge UV Product to MC&T throughout the Hornet drive program in Asheville, North Carolina. “We’re going after the guts of the market. For $30-grand, you’re getting best-in-class efficiency. Not solely horsepower/torque and 0-60, but additionally a driving factor that frankly isn’t at present within the section.”

2023 2024 Dodge Hornet RT GLH Concept
Picture by way of Dodge

Why Take into account The Dodge Hornet?

Above all: what does the Dodge Hornet have to supply on this massive, fickle market area? Merely put: Efficiency. Distilled down to easily that, it’s a Dodge by way of and thru. Within the case of the 2023 Dodge Hornet R/T, you get 288 horsepower and a Hemi-rivaling 383 lb-ft of torque courtesy of a 1.3L turbocharged engine, mixed with a 15.5-kWh battery pack that can also be anticipated to ship greater than 30 miles of all-electric vary on a full cost. 0-60 of the Hornet R/T is simply 5.6 seconds.

Once more, it doesn’t have a Hemi. It doesn’t also have a V6. And that’s possible going to provide The Brotherhood of Muscle – the cult following of present Dodge muscle automobile lovers on the core of the model’s id – an allergic response. However the Hornet isn’t essentially for the Scat Pack buyer. However perhaps someone who’s used to, say, a Volkswagen Golf GTi, Honda Civic Si, or the bygone Focus ST, or a Hyundai Veloster N, would discover its deluxe scorching hatch proportions and efficiency as one thing price a take a look at drive.

2023 2024 Dodge Hornet RT SUV Hybrid New
Picture by way of Dodge.

The massive danger? It’s mainly an Alfa Romeo. And in the event you take a look at the standard research, it’s not precisely the golden normal in reliability. And reliability (together with a screamin’ deal) stays paramount on this ocean of compact utility automobiles. Furthermore, as a result of it’s obtained premium Italian genes (keep in mind: it’s even made in Italy), the Dodge Hornet isn’t precisely the most cost effective date. Actually, the Hornet R/T hybrid we examined begins at $44,995 USD. That’s for a small SUV. This comes at a time the place prospects want an reasonably priced choice greater than ever.

That stated, Dodge is thought for favorable worth. At the very least in terms of efficiency. Delivering extra horsepower for the cash than anyone else on the market, in nearly any form or type, is how the model captured one of many youngest purchaser demographics within the business. On this sense, Dodge nonetheless delivers. The Hornet R/T is the quickest and strongest SUV for the cash.

Furthermore, Dodge will lean into the personalization and efficiency tuning traits which can be well-liked amongst scorching hatch prospects with its Direct Connection program. We noticed it first with the Hornet GLH idea, and a followup with the Hornet R/T GLH idea, which is an upgraded tackle the hybrid model. DC help is a singular providing that’s going to be above and past what everyone else is doing, and exhibits that Dodge will proceed to lean into efficiency, regardless of the form, section, or cylinder depend.

2023 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T
The cost port of the Hornet R/T. Picture by way of Dodge.

What’s The Dodge Hornet Like To Drive?

Throughout our time with the Dodge Hornet, it was largely behind the wheel of the go-faster R/T hybrid mannequin. It’s the vary topper, with probably the most energy and most gas economic system of the lineup. And there are hot-hatch echoes in the best way this busy bee is keen to bob and weave by way of pristine Appalachian mountain roads, largely due to the tire alternative. The Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 (out there with the non-compulsory Monitor Pack) is completely overkill in the event you’re evaluating the Hornet to the brand new Chevy Trax (which wears the a lot much less athletic Goodyear Assurance), or the Ford Escape (the blasé Bridgestone Ecopia). Even the Mazda CX-5, the bullseye for the Dodge Hornet, wears the not-so-enviable Bridestone Turanza EL440. All of this may sound esoteric, however tires are the most important method to make a fast distinction on how a car rides and handles. A lot in order that automakers engineer total automobiles round them. And Dodge selecting a extra performance-oriented tire to get probably the most noticeable dealing with edge above the competitors is the simplest approach to take action.

Simply speaking up the tires wouldn’t inform the entire story, although. The brand new Dodge Hornet additionally gives what they’re calling Twin-Stage Valve Suspension. Relying on the drive setting, the dampers will stiffen to reduce physique roll (Sport Mode), or maintain issues good and supple in Regular Mode. The steering can also be past expectation. It’s hot-hatch ranges of sharp, and never a lot the numb, disengaged really feel that’s in any other case rife within the compact SUV area.

2023 2024 Dodge Hornet GT R/T
The wheels, tires and brakes on the Dodge Hornet Monitor Pack.

The one factor that basically journeys me up is the gimmicky “PowerShot” characteristic within the 2023 Dodge Hornet R/T. You must pull again on each paddle shifters to activate it, and in doing so sends saved power within the battery for an additional shot of energy to (all of) the wheels when below acceleration. 25 horsepower for 15 seconds, to be actual. I’d quite simply have all of that energy out there once I put my foot to the floorpan, however engineers on the media drive program talked about that PowerShot helps alleviate stress on the Hornet’s battery hybrid system, quite than consistently dispersing its saved power at such a fast charge in perpetuity.

In the end, what are you paying for? You’re paying to have the best-handling SUV south of an Alfa Romeo Stevlio. Which, hey, can also be a Stellantis product (however not the one the Hornet relies off of, that’s the Alfa Tonale).

Nevertheless, in the event you search the athleticism and (nonetheless not official) hybrid gas economic system of the brand new Dodge Hornet R/T, you’ll have to attend till summer time 2023. In showrooms at present is simply the bottom mannequin, the Hornet GT. It’s loads of efficiency for the cash, however the R/T is the extra spectacular of the 2.

Dodge Hornet GLH Concept
Picture by way of Dodge

A Efficiency Parlay

It doesn’t take a lot to grasp that Dodge is in a bizarre place proper now. The model simply revealed probably the most highly effective, quickest, quickest mass-produced automobile on this planet within the form of the Challenger SRT Demon 170. And after this yr, it’s gone. As an alternative can be a manufacturing model of the all-electric Dodge Charger SRT Daytona Banshee Idea. An electron-powered alternative to what’s arguably the best muscle automobile duo the world has ever seen, and the rabid following that they’ve created. To parlay the branding and ethos created by the LX Charger and Challenger right into a C-segment SUV and an electrical coupe appears not possible. And due to this, a new-to-Dodge purchaser is the first goal of the Hornet.

Paddle shifters for the Dodge Hornet R/T.

“That is an all new part for us available in the market,” stated Wincek. “This can be a new gateway for us that may herald a brand new buyer, a youthful buyer, that we’re very excited to become involved with Dodge… we’re all about ‘how can we get the Dodge muscle automobile expertise into the fingers of extra prospects?’ And with the compact UV area being the biggest, quickest rising section, it simply makes whole sense.”

The Hornet may additionally make for an incredible storage mate. A extra agile and on a regular basis companion relative to a shouty Scat Pack or a cumbersome Durango that may be parked within the steady subsequent to it.

“We all know we have now Dodge followers, and so they’re very loyal to us… we’re now increasing to a brand new viewers.”

Simply don’t name it a Dart.

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