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  • Writer's pictureCory Fourniquet

2024 Dodge Hornet GT: First Drive

Dodge has not given us a truly new vehicle since the introduction of the 2013 Dart. Just over a decade later, the replacement looks to take the compact utility market by swarm with its new Hornet. The Hornet is claimed to be the quickest and fastest CUV in its segment, and today we get some time behind the wheel to see what all the buzz is about.

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The Dodge brand has spent the better part of the last decade resting on the laurels of their big, V8-powered sedan, coupe, and SUVs. The Charger, Challenger, and Durango, respectively, date back to a time when the company was aligned with Daimler. While they have all received updates over the years, the bones of their respective platforms are aging in a market that is leaning heavily into modern, fuel-efficient crossovers. That has not stopped Dodge from gaining market share with Charger and Challenger, however. As other makers ditch the traditional sedan and coupe from their lineups, Dodge has been there to scoop up the sales left in the wake of the demise of such nameplates as Taurus, Crown Victoria, Malibu, Impala, and the like.

Now, with the brand’s first compact crossover, Dodge leans across the pond to collaborate with sister company Alfa Romeo to help with the development process. Riding on a shared platform, and sharing quite a bit of DNA with the recently unveiled Alfa Romeo Tonale, Hornet could be seen as a value proposition to the more expensive luxury marque.

The Hornet is a first for the Dodge brand in a couple of ways, not only is it the first compact crossover, but it is the first electrified product from the automaker. Offered with either the base 2.0L turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, dubbed the Hurricane4, or the R/T’s performance-minded hybrid powertrain in the smaller 1.3-liter turbocharged all-aluminum engine paired with a 90-kW electric motor and a 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery.

Both powertrain choices pack a punch. Our GT model’s 2.0L makes 268 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and is the segment’s most powerful gasoline engine. The GT also offers Sport Mode with sharper throttle response, optimized upshifts, tighter steering, and an electronic limited-slip differential. The R/T makes 288 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque making it the segment’s most powerful vehicle. GT models can run 0-60 mph in a strong 6.5 seconds, while the R/T can do the same in 5.6 seconds thanks to the “PowerShot” feature that can be activated by the driver.

PowerShot uses the electric motor and its instantaneous torque to make the R/T the quicker accelerating of the two. Providing 30 extra horsepower in 15-second increments, PowerShot makes the most of the hybrid powertrain of the R/T and really is the Dodge way of making a hybrid. The R/T also offers more than 30 miles of all-electric range via a 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery and has three hybrid driving modes: Hybrid, Electric, and E-Save.

Both models come with standard all-wheel drive.

The Hornet comes with best-in-class and class-exclusive dynamic driving features such as Koni shocks, Brembo four-piston brake calipers, dynamic torque vectoring, and more to optimize suspension, braking, steering, and handling performance. Direct Connection factory-backed performance parts from Dodge are also available through Dodge Power Brokers dealers to further boost the Hornet's power.

The Dodge Hornet's design language is unmistakably Dodge, with characteristic styling cues such as a hood with integrated (and functional) heat extractors, a 'mail slot'-style grille opening, and vehicle-width taillights with a center illuminated Dodge Rhombi logo, another first for a Dodge vehicle. As with their other models, the marketing team has a lot of fun names for the colors on the Hornet. Our GT came in 8 Ball (black) but other options are Q Ball, Hot Tamale, Gray Cray, Blue Steele, Blu Bayou, and Acapulco Gold.

The interior is also driver-centric, with center stack controls, display screens, and HVAC vents angled towards the driver for easy access and a cockpit-like feel. The Hornet also comes with a technologically advanced, Dodge driver-centric user experience, including a 12.3-inch digital cockpit cluster screen and a 10.25-inch central display, both standard on R/T and GT. I particularly like the instrument cluster’s round dial-like design that gives the modern screen a more retro feel. The Android-based, easy-to-use Uconnect 5 infotainment system is standard on both models and features home screens that can be personalized, dual connected phone profile support, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, access to vehicle settings, including EV pages for R/T, and Amazon Alexa. In our short time with the Hornet, we really did not play with the Uconnect system but have found it a favorable system in other vehicles we have sampled it in.

The Hornet offers Intelligent Speed Assist with Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Attention Assist, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, and more, to assist drivers on the road.

The Hornet GT is open for orders, with the Hornet GT reaching dealers in early spring and the Hornet R/T arriving in late spring 2023. The Hornet's starting price is under $30,000, making it an affordable option for performance and style enthusiasts.

2024 Dodge Hornet Specs:

  • 2.0L Turbocharged Inline 4-Cylinder Hurricane4 Engine

    • 268 Horsepower

    • 295 lb-ft of Torque

    • 9-Speed Automatic Transmission

    • 0-60 mph in 6.5 Seconds (per Dodge)

  • R/T: 1.3L Turbocharged All-aluminum 4-cylinder Engine

    • 90-kW Electric Motor and a 15.5-kWh Lithium-ion Battery

    • 288 Horsepower

    • 383 lb-ft of Torque

    • 6-Speed Automatic Transmission

    • 0-60 mph in 5.6 Seconds (per Dodge)

    • Up to 30 miles of All-electric Driving Range

  • Standard AWD

  • KONI Frequency Selective Damping Suspension

  • Independent MacPherson Front Suspension

  • Chapman Rear Suspension

  • Blacktop Package

    • 18-inch Abyss Alloy Wheels

    • Gloss Black Badging

  • 225/55 R18 Goodyear Eagle Sport Tires

  • 12.3-inch Digital Instrument Cluster

  • 10.25-inch Color Infotainment with Uconnect5 and Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

  • Cloth Seats

  • EPA Fuel Economy 21/29/24 (city/hwy/combined)

  • Starting Price: $29,995

  • Price as tested: $31,990

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