The word “cute” is rarely applied to the mighty Dodge brand. But here it is, the most darling little compact SUV on your block, and a worthy contender for similarly-priced rivals. My tester was white, too, the least edgy color in the spectrum. Here’s black, with the GT trim:
Lookswise, the Hornet is ever-so Italian with its “rounded” visage, no surprise since it shares its shares its platform with Ala Romeo’s Tonale. Your headlights are skinny and your upper grille is narrow whilst the larger grille at the bumper’s base is sinister-looking. But still cute. Base price is $30,735.
Spring for another $495 on the $31,000 base price and you can get Hot Tamale paint. Go for the Track Pack ($2,995) and you’ll receive 20-inch wheels, red brake calipers, and plush Alcantara seats.
It’s a lot more racing-inspired than other little SUVs, with features such as the substantial metal trim on your steering wheel. The Hornet shares this steering wheel with Alfa Romeo – Dodge badge in its center, natch. The leather stretching across the dash and onto the door panels is a nice touch for a vehicle in this price range.
It’s reasonably spacious inside, less so in the rear. Fine upholstery with red stitching comes standard, but order the GT Plus trim and you’ll get leather. An optional Track package offers faux-suede. A very lovely red leather interior option is available, too.
You’ve got a 268-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive, mated to a nine-speed automatic shift. A 2024 PHEV version is available now.*
*Note: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced an urgent recall for the PHEV versions of the Dodge Hornet and Italian counterpart Alfa Romeo Tonale for fire risks that could occur even when the vehicle is parked. The issue stems from loose 12-volt battery positive cable nuts and/or high-voltage connectors. This review is for the 2023 gas-powered Hornet and so the recall does not affect it.
The Hornet comes equipped with the most advanced tech equipment in Dodge’s lineup. Standard features include a digital gauge display, a Uconnect 5 infotainment software, and automated emergency braking with pedestrian-and-cyclist detection. The climate/sound system worked well, and Dodge’s Bluetooth tech connected me to my phone in less than 30 seconds. Bravo, Dodge.
Every model arrives with a 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital gauge display. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features, and Alexa is there if you want/need her. If you go for the GT Plus, you’ll get a 14-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system and a wireless smartphone charging pad.
It’s best foot forward is around town, although the highway provides a reasonably cushy experience, too. You’ll go from 0-60 in about 6.5 seconds. There’s the bit of play upon startoff in forward and reverse which takes getting used to. Brakes and handling are all satisfactory as was visibility. Despite the Dodge moniker, this is not a sports car and if you don’t expect it to behave so, you’ll get along fine.
Depending on your right foot, you’ll get about 21 mpg city and 29 mpg on the highway.
There’s no getting around it, the rear is small, smaller than others in this segment. The turbocharged GT has 27 cubic-feet of cargo space and the R/T plug-in hybrid has even less, at 22.9. That’s hatchback storage, not SUV. If you’re in the trades and looking to haul your stuff, this probably isn’t your vehicle. Family with one kid or two? Good. More? Not so good.
The 2023 Dodge Hornet arrives in four trims: GT, GT Plus, R/T and R/T Plus, with prices rising as you go up the chain and add more goodies/options.
Key safety features include:
Available adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering feature
Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection
Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
A Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles, a powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles, and there’s no complimentary scheduled service.
Conclusion: Dodge is smart to try and capture some of the currently super-hot ultra-compact SUV market, and they’ve done a great job of providing a vehicle that A) Doesn’t look like anyone else’s and B) is fun to drive. And cute.