After Dodge presented its 2023 performance models earlier this week – we were introduced to the Challenger convertible edition, and the returning Durango SRT Hellcat - it was the turn of the American automaker’s first foray into electrification to step into the spotlight. It was no secret, of course, because we’ve known for some time the Hornet SUV was on the way, but here it is.
The Hornet shares its underpinnings with the Alfa Romeo Tonale and sits on a 103.8-inch wheelbase, identical to that of the Jeep Compass. Another fun fact: It's the first new model Dodge has offered in just over 10 years. And that was the Dart, which didn’t exactly set the automotive world on fire.
Ironically, this new model also borrows a name from the past. The last car to use the Hornet name was produced by AMC; some will also remember the 50s-era Hudson Hornet.
The new model is billed as “Dodge's first electrified performance vehicle,” according to the division's CEO, Tim Kuniskis. In fact, the company, in keeping with its image, is touting the performance of its newby rather than its fuel efficiency.
The Hornet will be offered in a plug-in hybrid configuration, but also with solely a turbocharged gasoline engine. And since it shares many of its components with Alfa Romeo's Tonale, such as the independent suspension, Koni shocks and torque vectoring all-wheel drive, that's promising in terms of handling. The plug-in hybrid model will also be equipped with Brembo four-piston front brake calipers, available with the base version of the model.
Each Hornet will also be available to order with the Track Pack, a package that will offer a higher performance chassis and unique styling features, as well as 20-inch wheels.
The base version is the Hornet GT, equipped with a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making 265 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque whilst paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. The car is said to have a 0-97 km/h time of 6.5 seconds.
To get the electrified version, buyers will have to opt for the R/T variant, which comes with a 1.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine serving the front wheels. It works in conjunction with a 121-hp electric motor working on the rear axle. The power is managed by a 6-speed automatic transmission in this case.
In total, we're talking about 285 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, not to mention the PowerStop function that will offer 25 additional horses and instant torque for 15 seconds. Dodge reports a time of 6.1 seconds for the 0-97 km/h trick.
As for the lithium-ion battery, its useful capacity is 15.5 kWh (12 kWh usable). With its on-board charger of 7.2 kW, it is possible to recover the estimated electric range of about 50 km (official figures to come) in 2.5 hours.
Finally, aesthetically, there is of course a direct link to the Tonale, which is not a fault in itself; Alfa Romeo's SUV has very attractive, streamlined proportions. The main difference lies with the hood, the Dodge signature clearly present with heat extractors. We'll let you be the judge about the success or failure of the design.
On board, the dashboard is driver-oriented, and we can spot a flat-bottomed steering wheel as well as paddles on the steering wheel for shifting gears and a button for selecting driving modes. A 10.3-inch screen is the access point for the Uconnect5 multimedia system, and it’s joined by a 12.3-inch unit in front of the driver for the instrument cluster. Note that connection to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is going to be wireless across the lineup.
Option packages and bundles will, of course, give buyers a chance to upgrade the equipment level of their model.
We'll have more details to provide as we get closer to the Hornet's debut and when we've had the opportunity to drive it.
The 2023 Dodge Hornet, which will be assembled in Italy starting in the fourth quarter of this year, is expected to show up at dealerships before the end of the year. The plug-in hybrid variant will follow in the spring of 2023. Canadian pricing has not been confirmed, but the automaker says the offering will launch priced at under $40,000.