MOTORTREND Got It WRONG!!!
We examine why we think the 2024 MotorTrend SUV of the Year award went to the wrong vehicle.
Sporty and Affordable
First, let me introduce you to the Dodge Hornet, a $30,000 compact utility vehicle done the Dodge way… No, there is no Hellcat V8 under the hood, but we do have an impressively powerful Hurricane turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes this, as Dodge says, “Industry’s fastest and most powerful gas-powered compact utility vehicle.”
Dodge claims an impressive 6.5 second time thanks to the standard AWD traction, along with nearly 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. I’m old enough to remember when those were muscle car numbers…
No, EVs like the Blazer “RS” also have AWD and the supposed advantage of instantaneous torque for blistering fast acceleration, it’s kind of their thing… but after sampling the AWD Blazer EV RS with its lackluster 288 horsepower and 333 lb-ft of torque…
The Problem with EVs
That big EV only has 20 more horsepower and 38 lb-ft more torque than this Hornet but they have to carry around 2-3 THOUSAND more pounds. Those ponies are just overworked!
And because of all that weight, when it comes to the twisties… the lighter Hornet is definitely more fun!!! If an EV ain’t fast off the line, it doesn’t have much else going for it in the “driving fun” category, they are generally a one-trick-pony in that regard. They are just too heavy to toss around like this $30,000 crossover from Dodge.
I bring up the price again because I’m astounded at the performance per dollar in this Hornet. Its base powertrain is this one! You can pay more for better looks and better wheel/tire combinations, but the powertrain is the same in all GT models. We have the track package with larger wheels and brakes with Michelin Pilot Sport All-Season tires that really work. I highly recommend the track package.
Then there is the interior. The Blazer EV is in a different size class, it’s bigger and roomier by nature, But this Hornet can hold the same number of people, as long as they aren’t giants. And the tech in here is more of what people want. While yes the 10.25” infotainment screen looks like an original iPhone compared to the new 15 Pro Max, but at least Dodge gives you Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
And don’t get me started on how quick and easy it is to add range…
Is the Hornet Eligible?
Now, those of you in the know, I can hear you typing now, “But Cory, the Hornet is a 2023 model and it’s ineligible for the 2024 SUV of the Year Award!” Well, yes. This GT model is, but for 2024 Dodge introduced their more powerful R/T with a feature they call “PowerShot”
The R/T is a plug-in hybrid with a 1.3L turbo and an electric motor. Power shot gives you a boost of 30 horsepower for when you need a little speed. Dodge claims the 0-60 in the R/T is nearly an entire second faster at 5.6 seconds, and that sounds like fun!
Now, I’ve only ridden in an R/T, but that was on a track…in a crossover. It’s fun, but I still want time behind the wheel. You know the editors at Motor Trend drove it, hard, and I’m looking forward to my chance behind the wheel. The R/T starts at $41,000 which still undercuts the Blazer EV by $20,000 in a market ravaged by inflation where every penny counts.
Oh ya, it also has the whole “green” thing going for it because it’s a plug-in hybrid…
Dodge is really shaking up the crossover game with the Hornet. It’s fun and affordable, severely undercutting its only real rival in the Mazda CX-5 in price while overdelivering in power. All other in the segment are ho-hum slow boxes that cost about the same.
In a world of greyscale, boring crossovers, be an Acapulco Gold Dodge Hornet.
My Pick for SUV of the Year
Ok, ok. I know the Hornet isn’t for everyone, and I’m glad. We don’t need to see this image right on our bumpers in our rearview everywhere we turn. And this video isn’t meant to hate on Chevy, I’ve owned 4, including my daily that I’ve had for 11 years. No, this is to serve as an alternative to MotorTrend’s biased award that has no bearing in reality.
There is another crossover I feel deserved the award of SUV of the year in this, the 2024 Chevy Trax.
For this vehicle, Chevy wanted to give consumers all the things they are asking for in a vehicle that won’t break the bank. Ranging in price from $22,000 to a loaded model just over $27,000, this little crossover has a lot of tech and interior goodies all under $30,000.
Chevy is ditching Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in their EVs which leaves gas-powered vehicles like this immune from that horrible decision. And Chevy delivers big here with a large 11” touchscreen in LT models and up.
You can also get heated front seats and, remote start with keyless entry and start. There is plenty of room in both rows with more space in the back. This really is all the car most people “need” in a package UNDER $30,000. The price blows my mind every time I think about it. Chevy kept it affordable by making it FWD only with a small turbocharged 3-cylinder. It’s not as fun to drive as the Hornet, but I’d put it on par with that disappointment of a Blazer EV “RS”…
And you can actually get these. Sort of. They are selling so quick because they are affordable and check all the right boxes for most people. They aren’t scarce because GM can’t make them like all their broken EV promises… no these are scarce because they are all already purchased and are out driving on the roads. I see at least 2 on the road every day, and that number will only increase as more of these get shipped over from Korea.
The Trax isn’t the SUV of the Year contender we dream about owning, it’s the one we can ACTUALLY own without regretting.
So, MotorTrend, I say you got it wrong. With so many good choices for SUV of the year in 2024 from both the Hornet R/T and any trim of the new Trax, to vehicles I also loved in the Mazda CX-90, Toyota Grand Highlander, and Hyundai Kona… I’m here to tell YOU, don’t believe everything sold to you from the big publications.
2023 Dodge Hornet GT Specs:
2.0L Hurricane4 Turbocharged Inline 4-cylinder Engine
295 lb-ft of Torque
“Industry’s fastest and most powerful gas-powered compact utility vehicle”
9-speed Automatic Transmission
0-60 in 6.5 seconds
3,715 lb curb weight
Starting Price: $30,735
Price As Tested: $43,760
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T Specs
1.3L Turbocharged Inline 4-cylinder Engine
383 lb-ft of Torque
6-speed Automatic Transmission
0-60 in 5.6 seconds
Starting Price: $41,400
2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV RS AWD Specs:
85 kWh Battery
Dual Electric Motor AWD
333 lb-ft of Torque
Minimum 5,000 lb curb weight
Starting Price: $56,200
Price As Tested: $60,710
2024 Chevrolet Trax LT Specs:
1.2L Ecotec Turbocharged 3-cylinder Engine
162 lb-ft of Torque
6-Speed Automatic Transmission
Starting MSRP $22,300 (LT)
Price as tested: $24,785