Dodge Hornet GT or R/T? I Chose One…And It’s Not the One You Expect

Honestly, it was a pretty straightforward decision for me...

The Dodge Hornet GT is the entry model, but it still has a kick-ass powertrain.

The Dodge Hornet GT and R/T are the first new Dodge products in years, and they are aimed at a massive cross-section of small and compact crossovers. Everything from the Toyota Corolla Cross, Honda HR-V and Volkswagen Taos to the Mazda CX-30 are in the Hornet’s sights. In many ways, both Hornets are competitive. However, they went gangbusters with the power, and blow everyone away, for a price.

The new Dodge Hornet GT kicks off at $31,590, while the R/T can easily surpass the $50,000 mark. Still, you get a lot of performance for the money. While not many will find the RT a performance bargain, the Dodge Hornet GT is absolutely a killer bang-for-your-buck winner. Consider, for a moment, that it’s closest on-paper competitor, the Mazda CX-30 Turbo, costs at least $35,075. On top of that, it’s flat-out my favorite of the two options.

In this brief review (the video dives deeper), I am concentrating on the Dodge Hornet GT.

Yep, despite the horsepower disparity between the GT and RT, it’s the overall weight savings and playfulness that makes the GT so compelling, to me. I know what you’re thinking, “how dare you like the less powerful version!” Indeed, I am guilty, but hear me out. The Dodge Hornet GT comes with the turbocharged 2.0-liter “Hurricane” engine that makes 268 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission, gear shifts are quick and smooth.

There’s a 50/50 split under stress between the front and rear axle on the GT. When driven normally, the all-wheel drive system can decouple the front axle for slightly better fuel mileage. It’s a very different setup than the R/T plug-in hybrid’s electric rear axle, but feels seamless in its operation. The Hornet GT can get 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, which is near the back of the pack. That’s just how it goes when you lean toward power over efficiency in this class.

It feels like a tall, older Subaru WRX to me…and that’s no bad thing. Even with the smaller, admittedly uglier wheels wrapped in less aggressive rubber, the Hornet GT has remarkable grip. If you grab the Black Top package, you get 18-by-7.5-inch aluminum wheels with 225/55-R18 all-season tires. Then, the car’s handling is right up there for the best-in-class crown.

I like the steering feel, which might be a tad too synthetic to some. It’s on par with European vehicles costing much more, but there is better. I dare say, for some reason – the overall performance of the Dodge Hornet GT reminds me of a European car. I wonder why?

Dodge Hornet interior

Jumping inside the new Dodge Hornet

Both Hornets have sporty-ish interiors, but I’m not a huge fan of the materials on display. If you get the higher-end Hornets, space is okay in the back seat, but cargo space is on the higher end of the class. I think it would be a fairly easy vehicle to live with, as a daily driver.

All in all, I think the Dodge Hornet is a fun car. It likes to dance and take off like a shot. I care a lot about cars that are fun, because they are in short supply. I mean, it’s stupid-fast, handles well and can easily make passengers nauseous in the canyons. At the same time, it’s utilitarian, gets mediocre gas mileage and has all-wheel drive. Did I mention how much fun it is?

Honestly, there is only one thing standing in the way of making the Dodge Hornet GT my favorite: the Mazda CX-30. In my book, the Mazda is simply better in all but one way – brute power. If you get the turbocharged CX30, you will get a more luxurious vehicle, with comparable handling, in a more pleasing package.

Still, I think the Hornet GT is more fun. That’s got to count for something.

Check out more on the Dodge Hornet GT (and the R/T) below!