Unfortunate Fail: The 2023 Dodge Hornet Throws Every Warning Light Possible on the TFL Slip Test

Here's what happened

2023 Dodge Hornet GT slip test - initial fail
(Image: TFL Studios)

We wanted to put the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT on the TFL slip test, but…we had some issues.

If you’ve followed the team for a little while, you’ll know one of the standard tests we put new crossovers through is a diagonal slip test. The idea is to test a car’s ability to handle loss-of-traction situations, be it on two wheels or even three, and how it shuffles power around to keep you safe in slippery conditions. This video features the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT on the classic TFL slip test, though things didn’t exactly go as planned…

Before that, here’s a quick primer on what the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT is. This small crossover is the latest addition to Dodge’s lineup — giving the brand a much-needed segment rival to so many other CUVs on the market — and a more powerful option to those wanting a bit of gusto with their daily driver. Underneath, the new Hornet shares its platform with the forthcoming Alfa Romeo Tonale, and even comes from the same plant near Naples, Italy. This car has a different look, personality and market approach to the Alfa, however, and the GT specifically offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that the Tonale won’t get in North America.

With 265 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque on tap, the new Dodge Hornet GT is seriously quick. Performance is a key element of the brand as of late, so it gets a check in that department, at least on paper.

Here are the problems we hit testing its performance

Trouble is, Tommy ran into problems going through the three-wheel slip test. For those who haven’t seen it yet, that test brings all wheels but the front-left wheel onto the rollers, forcing the car to shift as much power to the one on the ground as effectively as it can. And that’s where things went wrong for the Hornet, as it suddenly threw a host of warning lights and disabled the all-wheel drive system to protect the car from any mechanical damage.

The lights included a check engine light, a service ABS warning, an ESC (Electronic Stability Control) fault, a service AWD system light, a transmission failure light and a few others. You can check out the full scope of what happened in Tommy’s slip test video below.

To be clear, we contacted Dodge asking for some explanation as to what happened, as we had a hunch it was the ECU freaking out and the problem was entirely electronic, rather than the car suffering a mechanical failure.

We were right, as this was the response we quickly got back from a Dodge spokesperson:

“We are aware of this issue in our pre-production vehicles, which is strictly an electronic issue and requires a quick reflash which does not affect drivability. We’ll review the vehicle and would like to get back to the TFL team as soon as possible for a retesting.”

What happened after the test?

Tommy disconnected the battery to try and reboot the ECU in hopes of clearing the warning lights, to no avail. However, as we were pretty confident it was an electronic fault, he drove the car for a few minutes and hey presto: most of the lights disappeared. The all-wheel drive system came back as did the anti-lock brakes and power steering — only the check engine light remained on.

Apart from the ECU’s own electronic interference with the systems, there is no mechanical damage to the vehicle. Still, this is definitely a new one for us on the slip test, and we promptly handed the car back over to our local press fleet manager to try and get the ECU reflashed.

So, while today’s effort is an overall failure, we will give the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT another shot when we get the car back. Keep in mind the “pre-production” part of Dodge’s statement is a crucial detail, as this problem hopefully won’t translate to the production units you guys can actually buy. Nonetheless, we did experience this issue and want to make folks aware of what happened, in the event they experience a similar issue.

We’ll obviously provide more updates as we’re able, so stay tuned for more info on the Hornet coming up soon.