Wednesday, May 29, 2024
First Reviews2023 Dodge Hornet GT First Drive Review: Performance Buzz

2023 Dodge Hornet GT First Drive Review: Performance Buzz

Not a cookie-cutter crossover.


  • The 2023 Dodge Hornet GT starts at $31,590 in the USA and at $40,090 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included.

  • Good performance and handling, sporty looks with the Blacktop or Track packages, decent interior fit and finish.

  • No stripped-down trim level for budget-minded shoppers, fuel economy could be better, some ergonomic flaws.


The 2023 Dodge Hornet is the brand’s first all-new model in 10 years. How did it manage to survive all this time and keep sales afloat without a constant stream of new products? Well, it took a very unconventional approach to car sales by promoting horsepower, tire smoke, adrenaline, and wild paint colours.

Despite all that, it’s time for something new. By the way, that last new Dodge product launched 10 years ago isn’t even on the market anymore. It was the Dodge Dart compact sedan, introduced as a 2013 model and ditched after the 2016 model year. While not a bad vehicle, it was uncompetitive and unloved.

This time, parent company Stellantis has an interesting product that not only stays true to the performance brand by delivering, um, performance, but it will eventually benefit from a somewhat environmentally friendly powertrain. That would be the 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T plug-in hybrid, which should arrive this summer. In the meantime, let’s check out the new 2023 Dodge Hornet GT, which is now arriving in dealerships.

The latter is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four that develops 268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It’s managed by a nine-speed automatic transmission, and AWD is fitted as standard. According to the automaker, the GT can scramble from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 96 km/h) in 6.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 140 mph or 225 km/h. Its powertrain feels more refined than the Hornet R/T’s plug-in hybrid setup, which uses a slightly noisier turbo 1.3L four-cylinder engine.

Although Dodge is hinting that its new crossover competes in the compact segment, the Hornet’s exterior dimensions are more in line with subcompact utility vehicles such as the Toyota Corolla Cross, the Mazda CX-30, the Honda HR-V, the Hyundai Kona, the MINI Countryman, the Volkswagen Taos, the Kia Seltos, the Chevrolet Trailblazer, and many more. Of that group, only a few offer powertrains that can measure up to the Hornet GT’s: the Mazda CX-30 and its optional turbo 2.5L four (250 hp), the Hyundai Kona N (276 hp) and the John Cooper Works Countryman (301 hp). The latter two are quicker off the line than the Dodge.

On the other hand, the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT is more comfortable for the daily drive than the sportiest Hyundai and MINI variants, which are equipped with stiff suspensions and very low-profile tires. Aside from the straight-line acceleration, the Hornet also delivers on its promise with good driving dynamics—for a high-riding crossover. As a matter of fact, the GT’s ground clearance is 8.0 inches or 203 mm, among the highest in the segment. We appreciated its good steering feel and restrained body roll, although it’s obviously no match for a Porsche Macan.

It’s worth noting that the Sport drive mode firms up the steering, remaps the transmission’s shift points and accentuates throttle response. Well, that’s what Dodge tells us, because in reality, there’s not much difference between the default mode and the Sport mode. When the vehicle is equipped with the optional Track pack, which adds 20-inch alloy wheels, a dual-stage adjustable suspension, Brembo front brake callipers, Alcantara sport seats and aluminum interior accents, the Sport mode also stiffens the shock absorbers.

Alas, the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT is the least fuel-efficient subcompact crossover, not all that surprising given its performance potential. Official city/highway/combined ratings are set at 21/29/24 mpg in the U.S., and at 11.2/8.2/9.9 L/100 km in Canada. During our brief drive, we observed an average of 27 mpg, which is actually pretty decent. Obviously, the Hornet R/T plug-in hybrid can do much better than that, whether we count the EV-only driving range or not. The CX-30 Turbo has a combined rating of 25 mpg or 9.3 L/100 km. Meanwhile, the Kona N has a combined rating of 23 mpg or 10.4 L/100 km, while the JCW Countryman’s rating is 26 mpg or 9.0 L/100 km, and both require premium fuel. The Dodge can run on regular gasoline like the Mazda, although output will drop slightly and the folks at Stellantis weren’t at the liberty of saying by how much, but we can imagine it’s similar to the CX-30’s engine which loses 23 hp when fuelled with regular unleaded instead of the premium stuff.

2023 Dodge Hornet GT

The Hornet’s interior boasts a sporty design, with bolstered front seats that can be dressed in cloth with leatherette inserts in addition to black or red leather, and Alcantara. The climate controls are easy to use, there’s a fairly big storage bin beneath them with an available wireless charging pad, while every Hornet is equipped with a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. Stellantis’ Uconnect 5 interface is on board, and works well despite smaller on-screen button zones than on the previous Uconnect 4 system.

Front-seat space is adequate, although the centre console widens as it reaches the dashboard, and our knee constantly rubs against it. The rear-seat area is decently spacious, especially for two, although the seatbacks don’t recline for added comfort. In addition, the rear-door window frames stretch outward towards the back, and people who swing the door open quickly without paying attention could smack themselves in the face. The Hornet GT’s cargo area is of average size for a subcompact, while its load floor can be lowered for extra carrying capacity—something that can’t be done in the Hornet R/T because of the battery pack. Volume is set at 27 cubic feet or 765 litres with the rear seats in place, up to 54.7 cubic feet or 1,549 litres with the seatbacks folded.

The 2023 Dodge Hornet GT also has a few head-scratchers. The R/T gets wheel-mounted paddle shifters while the GT doesn’t, but this means that the turn signal and windshield wiper stalks are a far reach for drivers with short fingers. Visually, the GT looks a little bland in base form, with its silver 17-inch alloy wheels and general lack of visual flair. The optional Blacktop package that adds 18-inch black alloy wheels, black mirror caps, black window frames and black badging seems like a must. In addition, the GT gets concealed exhaust outlets while the R/T has chrome tips extruding from the rear bumper. However, the last feature can be added to the GT via the brand’s Direct Connection accessories program. At least in the United States, because the Canadian market doesn’t offer Direct Connection customizing options yet.

There are other options as well, such as the Cold Weather package that’s available on the base 2023 Dodge Hornet GT, but included in the GT Plus trim, adding heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a remote engine starter. Available on GT and GT Plus, the Tech Pack rounds up Highway Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Assist, Drowsy Driver Detection, front park sonar, a 360-degree camera system, parallel and perpendicular park assist, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Standard features include blind spot monitoring and forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, auto high beams, rain-sensing windshield wipers, cloth and leatherette upholstery, leatherette steering wheel trim, dual-zone climate control as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The GT Plus trim receives a power liftgate, a power sunroof, leather seating, 8-way power-adjustable front seats, a Harman/Kardon 14-speaker sound system, navigation and wireless charging.

Pricing starts at $31,590 in the United States and at $40,090 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included. The GT Plus raises the invoice to $36,590 and $46,090, respectively.

2023 Dodge Hornet GT Pricing in the United StatesHornet GTHornet GT Plus
MSRP (including freight)$31,590$36,590
Cold Weather package$495Included
Blacktop package$1,995$1,995
Track Pack$2,995 (Cold Weather package required)$2,995
Tech Pack$2,245 (Cold Weather package required)$2,245

 

2023 Dodge Hornet GT Pricing in CanadaHornet GTHornet GT Plus
MSRP (including freight)$40,090$46,090
Cold Weather package$995Included
Blacktop package$1,995$1,995
Track Pack$3,795 (Cold Weather package required)$3,195
Tech Pack$2,345 (Cold Weather package required)$2,345

 

2023 Dodge Hornet GT

That’s a little stiff for a subcompact crossover, but the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT’s pricing falls in line with the aforementioned performance-oriented rivals, when comparatively equipped. It’s built in Italy alongside the Alfa Romeo Tonale with which it shares its architecture and powertrains, which partly explains why the Hornet arrives in North America with a potent turbo engine as standard.

The Hornet GT and Hornet R/T plug-in hybrid aren’t the cookie-cutter crossovers we’ve come to expect in the subcompact segment. They are versatile without being the most spacious, offer good performance and look pretty good once we tack on the Blacktop package. There are some things to complain about here and there, and the base price might seem shocking, but when we compare the Hornet GT to its true competition, it proves its worthiness.

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