Monday, May 27, 2024
First Reviews2024 Dodge Hornet R/T First Drive Review: Mild Sting

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T First Drive Review: Mild Sting

Plugging in comes at a price.


  • The 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T starts at $41,590 in the U.S. and at $52,590 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included.

  • Good looks, great expected fuel economy, interesting performance.

  • Price on the high side, gasoline engine feels strained at times, some minor ergonomic issues.


The Dodge brand has kept on rolling over the years with minimal changes to its lineup. Yes, some models have come and gone, but the focus on no-holds-barred performance has helped Stellantis—and FCA before it—rake in profits with a trio of mature (read: cheap to build) vehicles. Nonetheless, in these changing times, new products have to join the lineup, including the new 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T crossover.

The Hornet comes in two flavours. There’s the base GT, which is really not a base vehicle given its price, performance and feature content, that’s now arriving in dealerships as a 2023 model-year vehicle. Later this summer, the 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T will appear, boasting a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The R/T’s setup consists of a turbocharged 1.3L inline-four engine that develops 177 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque, a rear-mounted electric motor that develops 121 horsepower and 184 pound-feet, along with a front-mounted electric starter/generator motor that develops 44 hp. Combined output is rated at 288 horsepower and 383 pound-feet, while a temporary overboost function called PowerShot adds a burst of 30 ponies for clearing the 0-to-60 mph (0-96 km/h) dash in 5.6 seconds. Without PowerShot, the Hornet R/T can scoot to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. Top speed is pegged at 128 mph or 206 km/h. An Aisin six-speed automatic manages the gasoline engine, while electronic all-wheel drive is standard.

Meanwhile, the Hornet GT is equipped with a turbo 2.0L four that develops 268 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque, good for 0-60 mph runs of 6.5 seconds.

On the road, the Hornet R/T feels pretty speedy, as promised. However, the 1.3L engine doesn’t sound quite as refined as the GT’s 2.0L lump, and feels like it’s straining itself more to get the crossover up to speed. To activate the PowerShot boost, the Sport mode has to be chosen, and then we must hold down the two paddle shifters simultaneously to pre-load said boost. A little turbine icon lights up on the instrument cluster, and we’re ready to rumble by mashing the throttle. The 30 extra horsepower are available for 15 seconds, and PowerShot can only be used if the battery pack has a 60% charge or higher. Cool in theory, not very practical in real life.

There are three other drive modes. The self-explanatory Hybrid setting is the default one, while Electric shuts off the gasoline engine for EV-only driving, which makes do with the 121-hp motor on the rear wheels. In that mode, acceleration is surprisingly adequate. The E-Save mode relies on the gasoline alone while conserving the battery level, or even increasing it.

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

So the 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T is quicker than the GT, but slightly slower than other performance-infused subcompact crossovers such as the 276-hp Hyundai Kona N and 301-hp MINI John Cooper Works Countryman. And some luxury-brand hot rods such as the 302-hp Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 and Mercedes-AMG GLB 35. Wait, we’re comparing a Dodge to a couple of Mercedes-Benz models? More on that in a minute.

The Hornet R/T is also equipped with a 15.5 kWh battery pack, providing a yet-to-be-certified EV-only driving range of about 30 miles or 50 kilometres on a single charge. The 7.4 kW on-board charger can replenish the battery in as little as 2.5 hours. No fuel economy numbers yet, but during our very brief drive, the trip computer showed an average rising above 60 mpg or 4.7 L/100 km. The Hornet PHEV could be quite efficient—even more so than the frugal Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid, and the reasonably efficient MINI Cooper SE Countryman plug-in hybrid. We’ll know soon enough what the EPA and NRCan think of it when they release their fuel economy ratings.

The rather big battery results in a curb weight that’s noticeably higher in the R/T—more than 400 pounds compared to the GT. This extra heft can be felt on the road, as the plug-in Hornet isn’t as tossable, but fortunately, Dodge lowered its ground clearance from 8.0 to 6.1 inches (203 to 156 mm), bringing its centre of gravity down a little for less body roll. Nevertheless, both Hornet variants are engaging to drive.

As with the GT, the 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T serves up a decent cabin, with average space for a subcompact crossover, in addition to overall decent fit and finish. The seats can be covered in a mix of cloth and leatherette, black or red leather, or even black Alcantara with red backing, depending on the package chosen. Heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a remote engine starter are standard in the Canadian-market Hornet R/T, optional in the U.S.-market variant. Kudos for the physical climate controls on the centre stack instead of relegating them exclusively to the touchscreen. The steering column-mounted paddle shifters are quite big and require us to stretch our fingers to reach the turn signal stalk.

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

Each Hornet also includes a 12.3-inch digital driver instrument cluster as well as a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, presenting the automaker’s latest Uconnect 5 interface. Its ease of operation has decreased slightly due to smaller on-screen button zones, but overall, it’s well thought out and incorporates all the usual features, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa assist, dual phone support and up to five driver profiles.

The 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T is neither the most or the least spacious among subcompact crossovers, although the front centre console widens as it joins the dashboard and rubs our inside knee. Meanwhile, cargo space amounts to 22.9 cubic feet (648 litres) with the rear seatbacks in place, and 50.5 cubic feet (1,430 litres) with the rear seats folded. That’s a little less than in the GT as the battery pack eats up some cargo area depth. There’s just enough room under the floor to store the charge cord.

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

Pricing starts at $41,590 in the United States and at $52,590 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included. For that sum, we get 18-inch alloy wheels, exposed dual exhaust tips that the GT doesn’t get, Brembo front brake callipers, an eight-way power driver’s seat with two-position memory, and a dual-level charging cord. The R/T Plus ($46,590 in the U.S., $58,090 in Canada) adds leather seating, an eight-way power front passenger seat, ventilated front seats, a power sunroof, a power liftgate, navigation, wireless phone charging and a Harman/Kardon 14-speaker sound system.

Options include the Blacktop Package that spruces the Hornet up with black alloy wheels, black mirror caps and window surrounds as well as black badging. The Tech Pack rounds up Highway Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Assist, Drowsy Driver Distraction, front park sonar, a 360-degree camera system, active park assist and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Track Pack includes 20-inch black alloy wheels, a dual-stage adjustable suspension and red-painted brake callipers.

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T Pricing in the United StatesHornet R/THornet R/T Plus
MSRP (including freight)$41,590$46,590
Blacktop package$1,595$1,595
Track Pack$2,995$2,995
Tech Pack$2,245$2,245

 

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T Pricing in CanadaHornet R/THornet R/T Plus
MSRP (including freight)$52,590$58,090
Blacktop package$1,595$1,595
Track Pack$3,495$3,195
Tech Pack$2,495$2,495

 

So, is the 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T worth it? Well, it’s fast, it handles well, it looks good, and chances are it will be very fuel-efficient. The Hornet GT is almost as quick, slightly more agile and costs about $10K less. The choice between the two speaks for itself, but as these lines are being written, the R/T is eligible for a U.S. EV tax rebate of up to $7,500 if we choose a commercial lease. This might change soon and details aren’t exactly clear for every individual, but for now, it’s there.

In Canada, the federal government will hand buyers a before-tax iZEV rebate of up to $5,000, which can be combined with PHEV incentives in select provinces (up to $2,000 in British Columbia, up to $5,000 in Quebec, up to $2,500 in Newfoundland/New Brunswick/PEI, up to $3,000 in Nova Scotia). These rebates help soak up the price difference between the GT and the R/T, and the fuel economy gains will be noticeable.

The R/T might be an easier choice in some areas, such as Quebec, where it will end up costing almost the same as the GT. Otherwise, the plug-in Hornet isn’t very affordable for a subcompact crossover, and not only is it pricier than the Kona N, the JCW Countryman and the Cooper SE Countryman, but EV incentives notwithstanding, it’s only a few thousand dollars away from the aforementioned Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 and GLB 35—which offer more prestige and more overall performance.

The 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T will arrive in dealerships this summer, as production in Italy is scheduled to start in a few weeks. In the meantime, the Hornet GT looks almost as good and arguably performs just as well, for less money. Either way, the Hornet is an interesting addition to the subcompact crossover segment, and one of the most fun to drive.

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