2023 Dodge Hornet Kicks Off Electrified Era with a $30K Price Tag, Torquey PHEV

The automaker calls this a "gateway to Dodge muscle"

(Images: Dodge)
  • The 2023 Dodge Hornet brings the brand into the ferociously competitive small SUV segment.
  • Available in turbocharged (GT) or PHEV (R/T) forms, Dodge’s new crossover goes into production later this year.
  • Dodge claims the Hornet is the “quickest, fastest, most powerful utility vehicle under $30,000”.
  • Pricing for the entry-level 2023 Dodge Hornet GT starts at $29,995.

Dodge is jumping back into the compact crossover fray with the new Hornet.

After signaling the end for the current Charger and Challenger, the 2023 Dodge Hornet bridges the gap from the present into the brand’s electrified future. If you see this small crossover and have flashbacks to, say, the mundane Caliber or even the midsize Journey, this time around Dodge aims to sell this car around performance. In fact, Stellantis full on calls this car a “‘gateway’ for enthusiasts to enter the Brotherhood of Muscle.” The company then goes on hyping the Hornet, touting this as the “quickest, fastest, most powerful compact crossover under $30,000.”

So, what does the 2023 Dodge Hornet bring to the equation to back those statements up? As you may have guessed over the past months, this car shares its platform and underpinnings with the Alfa Romeo Tonale.

Apart from the different body, you do actually get a bit more power here, whether you opt for the 2.0-liter turbocharged “Hurricane” four-cylinder or the 1.3-liter-backed Hornet R/T plug-in hybrid.

The base, non-hybrid GT model manages at least 265 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. All-wheel drive comes standard across the lineup, while the 2.0-liter models mate up to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Dodge says this car brings in torque-vectoring capability and that the system “acts as an electronic limited-slip differential” when put in Sport mode. The upshot: a 0-60 sprint is possible in 6.5 seconds, and the Hornet GT’s top speed caps out at 140 mph.

Plug-in hybrid capability substantially boosts torque

While a 1.3-liter engine sounds piffling for a “performance” model, the 2023 Dodge Hornet R/T uses an electric motor mounted on the rear axle to add quite a bit more grunt. Combined, the PHEV system puts out at least 285 horsepower (per Dodge’s current statement — the final numbers could change) and 383 lb-ft of torque. Again, that’s slightly more than the equivalent Tonale, but that’s not all the R/T brings to the table.

The 2023 Dodge Hornet R/T also adds an overboost feature called “PowerShot” to add additional power for a limited time. When you pull the paddles and activate the overboost through the kickdown switch, PowerShot adds 25 horsepower for up to 15 seconds at a time. That makes the PHEV capable of 0-60 in 6.1 seconds given the proper conditions, while Dodge pegs its top speed at 128 mph.

Up to 30 miles of all-electric driving

Unlike the 2.0-liter turbo, the R/T’s hybrid configuration mates up to a 6-speed Aisin transmission, and a 15.5-kWh battery feeds the starter-generator motor at the front and the rear power unit. Pure-electric driving is possible for up to 30 miles, while Dodge claims you can recharge that battery using a Level 2 (7.4-kW) charging cable in about 2-1/2 hours.

Other performance features on the 2023 Dodge Hornet include Koni frequency selective damping shocks, Brembo four-piston fixed front calipers (as standard on the R/T), a brake-by-wire system on the R/T, and an optional Track Pack with dual-stage-valve suspension, 20-inch “Abyss” wheels and racier Alcantara seats over your standard cloth.

2023 Dodge Hornet interior and tech

While the “mail slot” grille opening, heat extractors on the hood and full-width taillights distinguish the Hornet from the outside, the new Hornet also brings in quite a few features throughout its interior. You get a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch infotainment display as standard on both GT and R/T models. The infotainment system, as you’d expect, is rocking Android-based Uconnect 5, and brings in wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and simultaneous dual phone connection support. If you do spring for the R/T plug-in hybrid, you also get an “EV Pages” feature to see what’s going on with the powertrain at any given moment.

“Plus” models are available on top of both the GT and R/T trims. For an extra $5,000 beyond the base trim levels, the GT Plus and R/T Plus add in heated/ventilated seats, a sunroof, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system and a power liftgate.

A Tech Pack is also available for the 2023 Dodge Hornet, adding on features beyond the standard automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and blind spot detection. With the package, you’ll also get “Intelligent Speed Assist”, driver attention assist, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and more Level 2 semi-autonomous driver aids.

A bit more on styling

The 2023 Dodge Hornet comes in seven available exterior colors. The GT is shown above in Steele Blue, while you’re also able to get Acapulco Gold, Blu Bayou, Gray Cray, Hot Tamale, Q Ball and 8 Balll.

GT models come stock with 17-inch wheels, while the R/T gets slightly larger 18-inch alloys. Adding the Track Pack to either model ups the size once more to 20-inch wheels. Other exterior options include the Blacktop Package (again, shown above on the GT), a familiar option for Dodge buyers. That adds in 18-inch “Abyss” wheels, gloss black badging and mirror caps, and gloss black painted molding around the windows.

The Dodge Hornet has one more trick up its sleeve: Meet the GLH Concept

Finally, there’s another take on the 2023 Dodge Hornet, in this GT-based GLH concept. And yes, for those of you familiar with the old Omni hatchback, Dodge did indeed revive the “Goes Like Hell” name for this Hornet. The concept still packs a 2.0-liter turbo, albeit it brings some aesthetic and performance upgrades by way of the brand’s Direct Connection catalog. “Direct Connection” is an expanded OEM parts catalog, available through Dodge “Power Broker” dealers.

Eventually, Dodge should offer the GLH as another performance package, though the brand’s focus is launching the standard Hornet GT later this year first.

For the Hornet GLH, the automaker added in a “stage kit” offering stackable performance upgrades — a promising revelation for pushing that four-pot beyond the stock 265-ish horsepower. Dodge also lowered the suspension, added in an upgraded dual exhaust with black chrome tips, and brought in bespoke 20-inch wheels. Finally, the Hornet GLH changes up the rear fascia and adds in special red graphics.

When is the 2023 Dodge Hornet coming and how much will it cost?

According to the company’s official statement, the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT is coming first, in December 2022. Order books for that model open tomorrow (August 17), with prices starting from $29,995. Go for the GT Plus package, and that price increases to $34,995.

The Hornet R/T, with its plug-in hybrid system and more performance features, kicks off at $39,995. The R/T Plus tops out at $44,995. Mind you, those numbers could shift in the coming months. At least with current trends in the industry concerning inflation and supply chain constraints, take any pricing this far out with a grain of salt.

What about a break for the PHEV?

Then there’s the thorny issue of the $7,500 EV tax credit. Under the system we’re familiar with, the PHEV would be eligible for up to that full amount. However, as President Biden signed the $739 billion Inflation Reduction Act into law Wednesday, that may well disqualify the Hornet R/T for that credit. As it passed through the U.S. Congress, the bill has a stipulation on parts content and final assembly in North America to qualify for the renewed $7,500 credit.

At present, that condition does not apply to the Italian-built Hornet, which is assembled in Pomigliano d’Arco near Naples, alongside the Alfa Romeo Tonale. As it does not meet the domestic production requirement, it is not (as far as we know right now) eligible for the tax credit. That said, please check into available guidance through the Department of Treasury as you shop for an EV, and we will come back and update this information if we’re wrong on that. As of August 16, when the bill is enacted, that domestic production requirement comes into play, meaning you won’t necessarily qualify for the tax credit unless you already completed a purchase order on an EV with foreign components prior to August 16, 2022.

Check out more on the 2023 Dodge Hornet in our news video below!