New Dodge Hornet GT

The original compact hatchback is back and causing quite a buzz. Could the new Dodge Hornet GT be the best new performance hot hatch crossover? Let's find out!
 
Hornet History
The first car with the Hornet nameplate was the Hudson Hornet back in 1951, famous for winning stock car races from coast to coast. American Motors retained the name in the late 1950s and it was passed on to Chrysler when it purchased AMC back in 1987.
 
Originally a compact hatchback, the AMC Hornet was a best seller that debuted in 1970. In 1973 there was even a swingin' Levi's jeans version that featured blue jean material for the upholstery. We're not kidding. The little hatchback was phased out in 1977 when it was transformed into a luxury compact known as the Concord.
 
Fast forward to today when Dodge has reintroduced the Hornet for 2023 in a platform shared with the Alfa Romeo Tonale. In fact, the two cars come off the same assembly line and look quite similar.
 
The New Dodge Hornet
Dodge did its homework to discover that today's auto buyers are looking for a compact crossover SUV that provides excellent value, reliability, and performance at an affordable price. With all that in mind, the company created the new Hornet.
 
There are five trim levels to choose from. The base SXT trim, the GT performance model that's we're testing here, the R/T Plug-in Hybrid that will debut in mid-2023 as well as the GT Plus, and the top-of-the-line Citadel trim.
 
We don't know who is in charge of naming the various color schemes that the Hornet is available in but check these out. You can choose between Q Ball white, 8 Ball black, Hot Tamale red, Blue Steel, or Acapulco Gold. What, no Guacamole green or Tequila Sunrise orange?
 
And there's no traditional Dodge logo anywhere to be seen on this car, just these two red slashes in the middle of the front grille. That's it. We wonder how much Dodge paid for this design. Did they pay per slash?
 
The GT version comes with 17-inch wheels -- 18-inch wheels are optional, and the GLH Track Package adds 20-inch wheels. The GT gets standard all-wheel drive, Koni shocks, four-piston Brembo brakes, dynamic torque vectoring, and an electronic limited slip differential. By the way, GLH stands for Goes Like Hell.
 
Under the Hood
In GT trim the Hornet comes with a turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 265-horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque married to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Zero to 60 happens in 6.5 seconds. It is currently the most powerful and fastest compact crossover in its class. Here is a compact, fun to drive crossover that brings hot hatch thrills and performance to eager drivers.
 
Design
As we mentioned, the Hornet is built on the same platform as the excellent Alfa Romero Tonale. The interior of the Hornet offers ample room up front and a new infotainment system that is aimed slightly toward the driver. Black upholstery with red stitching is standard but the GT adds leather upholstery, and the Track Package comes with suede sports seats.
 
It is a bit cramped in the back seat but then this compact crossover is aimed more at performance so you might expect that. It's worth checking to see if your head brushes the roof back there when sitting in the rear seats.
 
The new Hornet is high on style with its sleek looks and wraparound rear lights. Since it doesn't say "Dodge" anywhere on the vehicle, people may not know what you're driving. The front end has an aggressive muscle car look that fits in with the Dodge Charger and Challenger. The side profile is a whole lot like the Alpha Romeo Tonale and that's a good thing. In fact, this sporty Dodge is built in Italy right alongside the Tonale.
 
Infotainment and Driver Assist
All versions of the new Hornet come with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen that makes use of Dodge's first rate Uconnect 5 software system. Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and Android Auto are standard. An upgraded 14-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo is included with the GT Plus and R/T Plus versions which also include a smartphone charging pad.
 
As for driver assist technology, the Hornet comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning with lane keep assist, and parking sensors. Adaptive cruise control with lane centering is an available option.
 
What's it like to drive? Let's find out.
 
On the Road
The Hornet's quick steering ratio delivers wonderfully sharp responses to make it feel more like a hot hatch than a compact crossover. There's very little understeer and it grips corners like a crouching tiger. Traversing sweep curves is a pleasure in the Hornet. It's a crossover but it amps up the fun factor to ten!
 
The suspension is firm yet comfortable and the front-end response is crisp and compliant offering a confident and composed ride. Overall, it's a charismatic little beastie that is fully capable of darting about effortlessly as its name implies.
 
The Wrap Up
The new Hornet offers incredible value for the dollar. Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for the GT is $29,995 not counting freight charges.
 
In a world where many automakers are producing compact crossovers, the new performance-oriented Hornet is playing an entirely new game and adding some much-needed sting. We like it a lot. It is truly one hot hatchback! Look for a Lithia Motors Road Test of the new R/T Hybrid model when it becomes available in Spring of 2023.