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2024 Dodge Hornet - Close Up Look

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Special to The Auto Channel
By Gary Vasilash
AutoBeat Group

Comscore, a research organization that compiles number about things like box office earnings and the number of people watching programs on TV, also has a comprehensive assessment of the number of people who are engaging with companies of seemingly all types on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

One of those categories is “Automotive—Automobiles & Manufacturers.”

In its recent findings it found that the top five companies or brands in the social space are:

  1. Lamborghini
  2. Porsche
  3. BMW M
  4. Rolls Royce

And. . .

  1. Dodge

That’s right, the brand behind the Brotherhood of Muscle is in the mix with brands that, while they may make some awfully fast vehicles, don’t have the same sort of adrenaline-fueled performance of a Dodge Challenger Black Ghost or a Dodge Charger King Daytona.

People love their Dodges or lust after having one in their garage. (Note that the special edition Black Ghost has an MSRP of $99,315 and the King Daytona $98,420, so there is probably more lusting than affording going on.)

Yes, yes, the Charger and the Challenger are going out of production.

Yes, yes, the Durango is a rather, um, mature vehicle.

Yes, yes, the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept is pointing to the direction of an electric future.

But Dodge is still about standing on the right pedal until there is nothing left.

Performance. That’s been the brand’s ticket to ride for the past decade.


“They’re bringing muscle back the right way and these are my kind of cars.”—Vin Diesel, May 2017


Think about this: some might think that “muscle cars” are retro (consider the quote just above) and because Dodge is a purveyor of muscle cars, those cars must be retro.

But in 2000, when the then-Chrysler Corporation came out with what was an unapologetically retro-styled vehicle, the PT Cruiser, it had a Chrysler badge.

Not Dodge. It isn’t about retro cars. Muscle, yes. The past, no.

Dodge isn’t about looking back.

Well, the rearview mirror, perhaps, but. . . .


While Performance continues to be what Dodge is about, there is a recognition that things have changed and are changing in the market, as in:

  1. The compact utility segment is big and getting bigger.
  2. Electrified powertrains are also growing in popularity (and some might say necessity).

And so Dodge is bringing something new to the scene.

Chris Wincek, senior manager, Dodge UV Product, says that the Performance pillar stands strong. But they are adding a second element: Style.

What’s more, were Dodge just to come out with a compact utility vehicle that was merely competitive, at this stage of the game that would probably be like driving on a drag strip covered with speed bumps. Not the sort of thing that would generate the kind of interest that things like Hellcats do.

So to enter that space they’ve developed the Dodge Hornet compact utility.

There are two variants:

  • Hornet R/T
  • Hornet GT

All vehicles come standard as all-wheel drive.

The R/T is the hybrid There is a 1.3-liter turbocharged engine and, on the rear axle, a 121-hp electric induction motor. The R/T also features a 44-hp belt-starter generator that adds to the torque when getting on the throttle.

It has a 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that provides an all-electric range of >30 miles (although that range is going to be greatly mitigated for those who use another feature we’ll get to momentarily).

But the point of the Hornet R/T is not to be the environmentally sensible choice for compact utilities. Rather, it is one that is meant to perform analogous to its bigger siblings (Durango, Charger and Challenger).

It has a Sport mode. When activated it changes the throttle response and modifies the shift schedule, steering feel and access to the hybrid system. But let’s face it: Lots of compact utilities have a Sport mode, even vehicles that you wouldn’t necessarily think are so calibrated.

So that wouldn’t make the Hornet R/T sufficiently different.

Enter “PowerShot.”

This feature provides a 30-hp boost of power and attendant instant torque that lasts 15 seconds. It is said to cut the 0 to 60 mph time by 1.5 seconds. To 5.6 seconds.

There can be a PowerShot, a 15-second pause for cool down, then another PowerShot.

(Of course, the system has to make sure that the battery power and the temperature levels permit the activation, which is done by pulling back both of the paddle shift levers and then stepping—hard—on the accelerator.)

It is through the use of PowerShot that the R/T achieves the 288 hp (and 383 lb-ft of torque) that is headlined for the car.


The Hornet GT gets its headline from another figure.

Fernando Fernandez, Dodge Hornet Product Brand Manager:

“The most powerful utility vehicle under $30,000.”

The GT has a 268-hp, turbocharged Hurricane4 2.0 liter engine that also produces 295 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

(While it doesn’t have PowerShot, there is a button on the steering wheel that actives “Sport Mode,” which adjusts throttle response, shift points, steering feel and allows a 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds.)


OK. The Hornet is quick.

So that could check the “S” in “SUV.”

But there is that Utility bit.

Does anyone buy a compact utility without at least considering the cargo capacity?

First, the space the vehicle inhabits:

  • Length:                            178 inches
  • Height:                             63.8 GT, 63 R/T inches
  • Width (w/mirrors)         82 inches
  • Wheelbase:                     103.8 inches

The top speed of the GT is 140 mph. It is 128 mph for the R/T.

Odds are, Hornet owners are going to see the parking lot of their local Costco a lot more frequently than speeds anywhere near that.


  • GT cargo volume with seats up: 27 cubic feet
  • GT cargo volume with rear seats folded: 54.7 cubic feet
  • R/T cargo volume with seats up: 22.9 cubic feet
  • R/T cargo volume with seats folded: 50.5 cubic feet

Yes, the packaging for the PHEV equipment reduces the amount of packages the Hornet can carry.


It is no secret that the Dodge Hornet and the Alfa Romeo Tonale are fraternal twins: same DNA. Different execution.

Chris Piscitelli, design manager, Dodge Exterior Design Studio, says that if you look at the front of the Hornet you may be able to discern cues from the Charger and Durango.

Jeff Gale, chief designer, Dodge Interior Design Studio, says the team worked to achieve a “visceral” feeling for the interior of the Hornet.

Neither associated with Italian sportscars.

So to the extent they could—fascias, body panels, materials, colors, stitching, etc.—the two vehicles are differentiated.


But they come from the same place.

The Hornet and the Tonale are built at the Giambattista Vico Stellantis plant in Pomigliano d’Arco. Or more familiarly, Naples. (Only in Italy are you going to find a vehicle manufacturing facility named after an 18th century philosopher.)


“Understanding arises through making.”—Giambattista Vico