2023 Dodge Hornet Up Close: Italian Beef, American Seasoning | news

Check out the new 2023 Dodge Hornet, the first compact SUV from the Dodge brand since the defunct and unloved Caliber left showrooms a decade ago. If that sounds familiar, that’s because you may have already seen the new 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale, a compact SUV from Dodge’s sister brand under the big Stellantis umbrella shown to the world a few months ago.

Related: 2023 Dodge Hornet: Small performance-oriented SUV comes in under $30,000

The Hornet is loosely based on the Tonale and is even made in the same Italian factory, according to Dodge brand chief Tim Kuniskis, who spoke to the media at a private presentation of the Hornet before it was shown at public “We started with what was already a very good car and injected it with Dodge DNA,” he said. “Why reinvent something or add cost and complexity just to add something like a fold to the sheet metal to make it look different?”

The Hornet is loosely based on the Tonale and is even made in the same Italian factory, according to Dodge brand chief Tim Kuniskis, who spoke to the media at a private presentation of the Hornet before it was shown at public “We started with what was already a very good car and injected it with Dodge DNA,” he said. “Why reinvent something or add cost and complexity just to add something like a fold to the sheet metal to make it look different?”

Dodge is looking to go into areas of the super-hot, overcrowded compact crossover class that aren’t currently being played by competing brands. Dodge executives lamented that the top three customer wants for this segment according to their research are apparently “value,” “reliability” and “sale price”; “Fun to drive” is 15th on this list, and “power and acceleration” was ranked 38th.

But Dodge doesn’t make boring or ordinary: this is the brand that makes cars and SUVs with more than 700 horsepower.

“We’re not a ‘need’ brand,” Kuniskis said, “we’re a ‘need’ brand.” no one needs a Dodge: we are our customers’ brand to want“. Recognizing that they had to get around to playing with something different (perhaps taking some lessons learned from the Dart’s short-lived revival), Dodge made a hot-hatch crossover that’s meant to be fun to drive from the base model to the most modified. -out version that your mind can prepare through the company’s direct connection online parts seller.

Whether or not you think the new Hornet is different enough from the Alfa Romeo to warrant it will probably be a matter of personal preference. It shares much of its sheetmetal with the Tonale, from the doors to the roof to the window openings, but the front end, hood and taillights are unique to Dodge. The brand will also offer Blackout packages and Track Packs with larger black-painted wheels as an option that align the Hornet more with Dodge’s styling rather than Alfa’s. Whether its badge says Tonale or Hornet, the little crossover is still an attractive little runabout, but its styling isn’t likely to win over new buyers.

The boldest standard compact crossover you can buy

What may win over buyers who are cool with the idea of ​​a crossover but don’t want something boring or slow might be the standard equipment that comes with the Hornet GT for about $30,000: a 2.0-liter turbo engine that produces a minimum of 265. horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque (Dodge is trying to squeeze in a bit more before launch), standard all-wheel drive, Koni shocks, a fully independent suspension at all four corners (no cheap swing-beam axles at the rear) and an electronic limited slip differential. At this price, it matches a Honda CR-V or a Toyota RAV4 AWD, but easily beats both in the power department.

It just goes up from there. The most powerful plug-in hybrid powertrain available in the R/T will produce more than 285 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, which are V-8 levels of power and torque while providing what Dodge says is 30 miles of all- electric range The R/T PHEV will match up well with a RAV4 Prime in terms of price, and while it falls a bit behind the RAV4’s power rating and all-electric range, it offers considerably more torque. It will also carry two-stage shock absorber suspension, four-piston Brembo front calipers and the PowerShot feature that boosts power by 25bhp for 15 seconds, knocking a full second off the standard 0-60mph time.

The new Hornet looks to be the enthusiast’s choice in the compact crossover class, the go-to when family needs call for four doors and cargo space, but mom and dad don’t want to give up the thrill of driving something funny Many of its equipment and powertrain details are shared with the Tonale, but you’ll have to spend thousands more on the Alfa to get the same level of equipment. Dodge is not wrong to call it unique in the segment: to get truly sporty, fast and capable crossovers, buyers tend to go to luxury brands such as Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Jaguar or Mercedes-Benz. Mass-market brands like Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Nissan and Toyota simply don’t do anything truly “fun to drive” in this category – the Hyundai Kona N is the exception, not the rule.

Compact is the right word

One area where the Hornet could have some challenges is in interior space: it seems to be on the small side for the category, with a tight environment in both the first and second row of seats. There’s not a lot of width for front-seat occupants, and the steering wheel isn’t centered on the driver—it’s across an inch or two, enough to be noticeable. The second row is tight for legroom, especially when compared to some competitors like the Nissan Rogue or Volkswagen Tiguan, which have comparably roomy rear-seat legroom.

What the Hornet does have, even in the first prototypes I sat in, are quality materials, a smart design that combines real buttons and touchscreen controls, an upgrade to the latest Uconnect multimedia system which guarantees its status as a reference system. and stylish details like colored stitching even on basic models. The interior also differs slightly from the Tonale, perhaps more so than the exterior, but the layout remains the same, including the position and style of the media screen that seems to be placed in the middle of the dash as an afterthought.

More from Cars.com:

A worthy experiment

So will the Hornet work? Will a cheaper mass-market crossover, based on Alfa Romeo and with a very specific mission, find buyers in such a crowded field? I’d say it stands a good chance: Dodge knows its customers pretty well and tailors its offerings to appeal to them to excellent effect. This comes after years of trying to be a major player in established fields with mainstream products that never caught on, no matter how good they might have been. It’s definitely worth trying to aim for the white space where there are no established players involved.

On paper and on the face of it, the Hornet looks like it has the enthusiast stuff, but we’ll have to see how it drives to judge whether it’s worth putting on a consideration list.

The Cars.com Editorial Department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In accordance with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers do not accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.