As mentioned yesterday, Dodge is killing off the bulk of its V8s after 2023, but what will serve as the next chapter in Dodge’s performance ambitions? The performance brand has given us a glimpse of this future with the all-new 2023 Dodge Hornet, which is supposed to shake up the way we think about SUVs and Dodge as a whole.
Tonale Underpinnings With Unique Hornet DNA
As we suspected, the Hornet is a reskinned version of the Alfa Romeo Tonale. But unlike other reskin jobs we have seen, the Hornet’s is more than a mere copy and paste job and manages to exude its own distinct personality. The front fascia features styling that’s a tasteful blend of Charger and Durango traits, and a pair of hood vents give it a more muscular look. The rear lightbar has been reworked to accommodate the “Rhombi” logo in the center, but we do like how the rear bumper does a better job of hiding the rear exhaust tips in certain models. The badging is also cool, with the motif featuring a hornet ready to sting its adversary.
The interior is also largely sourced from the Tonale and while some of the core elements have been retained, a new set of air vents has a hive-like look to them, while the instrument cluster and graphics feature Hornet-exclusive touches. The engine start/stop button has been moved from the steering wheel to the center stack, and Hornet will also offer model-exclusive interior colors and other materials. All of this is not necessarily a bad thing, and with the Tonale already being a very nice place to spend time in, it’s only natural for the Hornet to build and enhance these solid fundamentals.
Hornet Brings More Power To CUV Buyers
Look under the hood of the 2023 Hornet and it’s more of the same, however, with Dodge being all about performance, the brand’s habit of adding more performance to their models carried through to the Hornet, with the CUV making more power than its Alfa twin. The GT is the entry-level member of the family, and it gets its motivation from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that’s good for 268 hp and is mated to a standard all-wheel-drive system. A nine-speed automatic is standard, and it all allows the GT to make the sprint to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds.
Meanwhile, the uplevel R/T gets the 1.3-liter turbo four which is mated with a plug-in hybrid system that incorporates a rear-mounted 90 kWh electric motor. While the combination’s 288 hp is only a slight gain from the GT, Dodge claims that the R/T’s PowerShot feature (aka overboost) will be able to make up the slack with the mode allowing the engine to briefly make 25 extra hp which allows the R/T to make the dash to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. A key tradeoff, though, is that the system requires a 15-second cooldown period after each use, so buyers will have to pick the right time and place to let this mode shine at its fullest. Fixed four-piston front and rear Brembo brake calipers are standard, and the R/T (along with the GT) have Koni sourced frequency selective dampening shocks, with Dodge offering optional electronically adjustable units.
GLH Makes Surprise Comeback
While all of this standard performance kit is impressive, Dodge is also committed to helping owners modify and enhance their Hornets and the company previewed the first of these efforts with the Hornet GLH (Goes Like Hell) package. Exclusive to the GT, the package adds 20-inch wheels, a cat back exhaust, blackened cladding, and a graphics pack that’s supposed to pay homage to the original 1980s model. The brand also confirmed that other packages are in development, and all of them will be made available through the Mopar Direct Connection program. Dodge wasn’t ready to discuss horsepower just yet in regards to the GLH, but we wouldn’t;t be surprised if engineers managed to free a few extra ponies from the stable.
When Can I Buy One?
Dodge revealed that value and accessibility will be key pillars for the Hornet, with the base GT model starting at $29,995. The R/T model will start at a noticeably higher $39,995, but that’s before any green tax credits are factored in. While these figures may seem on the higher side of the pricing scale, the Hornet’s strong suite of standard equipment makes up for it. In addition to tech like the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and the 10.25-inch infotainment system, Hornet will also get Wireless NAdorid Auto and Apple CarPlay with the system even allowing two phones to be paired with the system at once.
Safety is also a core piece of the hive, with all models getting Automatic Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, parking sensors, and more. This impressive roster of equipment already allows the Hornet to be among the segment’s best, with the dual pairing feature for the infotainment system being a segment first. Dodge will open the order books for the GT on August 17th, with the R/T being available shortly after. The first GTs will begin making their way to dealerships this December, with the R/T following suit this coming spring.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.