The 2023 Dodge Hornet GT is on a muddled mission

The 2023 Dodge Hornet GT is on a muddled mission

Car companies do their best not to air the dirty laundry behind the development of any given car, but sometimes it’s easy to see where internal disagreements lie. In the case of the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT, engineers clearly wanted a hot hatch modeled after the Volkswagen GTI, while product planning decision-makers wanted a non-offensive mainstream crossover that would sell one unit per year. The final product ended up somewhere in between, an affordable crossover with a pulse but no clarity of purpose. The Hornet GT is similar Choose your own adventure Book it on wheels – you can throw on some aftermarket parts and join the tuner crowd or leave it alone as a modest tall wagon that hits 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. This is what is known here as a “sleeper”.

In fact, the 268-hp Hornet GT duplicates the performance of the Hornet R/T in basically every measure — and in 2024, the R/T will be $10,000 more expensive. The two cars share a 5.5-second 60-mph time, a 100-mph time (15.4 seconds), and a 30-50 mph top-gear time (3.4 seconds). Quarter-mile acceleration is nearly identical, with the R/T running the lights in 14.2 seconds at 96 mph and the GT nearly at 14.3 seconds at 96 mph. The two wasps generate the same weight of 0.87 grams as the skateboard. The R/T marginally bests the GT from 70 mph and 164 feet to 169 feet, perhaps thanks to the hybrid hardware that gives it a more balanced front-to-rear weight distribution. The GT has a higher top speed because the electric side of the R/T cruises in the triple digits — we pushed the R/T to 118 mph, but the GT topped out at 130 mph, which required 33.7 seconds, and will continue to 140 mph; Dodge claims.

The Hornet GT tops out at 100 mph, essentially equaling the R/T’s performance (and that of its Italian cousin, the Alfa Romeo Tonale), which tracks given their similarities on paper. The hybrid model has the power advantage, with 288 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque compared to the GT’s 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, but the conventionally powered GT has 350 fewer lb-ft to move around. The GT’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is also mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission (the PHEV gets six) and its standard all-wheel-drive setup is quick to eliminate wheel spin.

Highs: Match the R/T’s performance, the Track Pack is available on the base model, and the interior looks sharp.

In everyday driving, the GT feels quicker than the R/T, for the obvious reason that the R/T only opens peak output for 15 seconds at a time, when its PowerShot mode is activated. The GT may produce less nominal horsepower, but its ponies are available at all times. If the R/T has a clear advantage, it’s in fuel economy, where the PHEV’s 24 mpg overall is much better than the truck-like 18 mpg that it averages with the GT. A less advanced crowd might approach the GT’s EPA ratings of 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, and in a 75 mph highway fuel economy test, it averaged ​​Hornet gets 28 mpg.

Our Hornet included the $2,995 Track Package, which brings driver-adjustable dual-mode dampers, black and red Alcantara upholstered seats, four-piston Brembo fixed front brake calipers, and 20-inch Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 tires. Pressing the Sport button on the steering wheel sharpens throttle response and tightens the dampers, although the Hornet feels a little too long and uncomfortable for true back-road racing. There’s a brake-based torque vectoring system, but the AWD system typically operates with a front-axle bias, so an angrily driven Hornet will periodically bark a front tire off the line and remind you that this isn’t exactly a performance-first platform.

Lows: Goofy long position, 18 mpg observed, options can inflate the price to a meaningless state.

However, the interior does play its part in convincing the driver that this is the latest heir to the SRT-4 lineage (let’s say Neon rather than Caliber), with those well-bolstered seats, flat-bottomed steering wheel and center position. Corner stack towards the driver. It’s a nice cabin, which may come as a surprise to anyone who has Dodge’s latest small frame of reference from the Caliber or Nitro range.

The GT Plus we tested includes as standard the $495 Cold Weather Group package (heated seats, steering wheel, and remote start) that’s optional on the GT, meaning the Plus offers a fairly well-equipped Hornet at an entry-level $37,330 price. Our car had all the fixings, including the aforementioned Track Package, the Blacktop Package (black trim, mostly), the Tech Pack (driver assistance systems and 360-degree cameras), and the Acapulco Gold paint, bringing the total to $44,160. Still solidly in the $30,000 range, the Hornet is an interesting proposition, one that will beat the Volkswagen GTI to 60 mph and bring all-wheel drive and winter-weather amenities. But the Hornet GT, which costs about as much as a high-end Toyota GR Corolla, a Honda Civic Type R or two Chevy Traxes, is a much less compelling vehicle. We’re sure Dodge would love to sell a few $45,000 Hornets while ramping up production of the next Charger, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy one.

Still, sticking to the base price, there’s a lot to like: speed, interior style, and plenty of standard equipment, including adaptive cruise control. There are some fairly silly touches appropriate for a Dodge, such as functional hood vents. The exterior design is a generally goofy tinge, thanks to a clear mandate that requires the Hornet to masquerade as an SUV — its ride height looks like someone installed a 2-inch suspension lift and then forgot to complete the Safari build.

A solution to these aesthetic problems may be forthcoming from the Hornet-as-hot-Hatch factions within the company. At the Hornet’s media launch last year, Dodge showed off a pair of cars equipped with aftermarket parts from the Direct Connection factory – both lowered, with bold “GLH” graphics that reference the “Goes Like Hell” turbocharged Omni of the 1980s. We’re still waiting for those parts to make it into the Direct Connect catalogue, which in its latest incarnation seems mostly intended for creating 800-horsepower competitors. Which is good, you know, but Dodge doesn’t make Challengers anymore. Eventually, Dodge may realize that its next performance vehicle is already in the lineup, waiting for a push in the right direction.

Verdict: A hot hatch trapped inside a flagship crossover.

The arrow is pointing down

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2023 Dodge Hornet GT Plus
Vehicle type: Front engine, 4 wheel drive, 5 passengers, 4 doors

Base/as tested: $37,330/$44,160

Options: GT Blacktop Package and Track Pack (Gloss Black painted mirror caps, dark badges, Gloss Black side mirror moldings, leather steering wheel, bright pedals, steel door sills, adaptive suspension, Brembo brake calipers, Abyss 20-inch aluminum wheels and all-season tires) $3,990; Technology Package (Intelligent Speed ​​Assist, Active Driving Assist, Park Assist, Drowsy Driver Detection), $2,245; Acapulco gold paint, $595

Turbocharged and intercooled, DOHC, 16-valve, 2.0L, in-line 4-cylinder, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 122 in31995 cm3
Power: 268 hp at 5000 rpm
Torque: 295 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm

moving in
9 speed automatic

the structure
Suspension, F/R: Struts/Stents
Brakes, F/R: 13.5″ ventilated disc/12.0″ disc
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4
235/40ZR-20 (96Y) M+S

Wheelbase: 103.8 inches
Height: 178.3 inches
Width: 72.5 inches
Height: 63.8 inches
Passenger Size, F/R: 52/46 ft3
Load size behind F/R: 55/27 feet3
Net Weight: 3855 lbs

grandfather Test results
60 mph: 5.5 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.3 seconds at 96 mph
100 mph: 15.4 seconds
130 mph: 33.7 seconds

The above results remove a 1-foot subtraction for 0.3 seconds.
Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
Top Gear, 30-50 mph: 3.4 seconds
Top Gear, 50-70 mph: 4.4 seconds
Top speed (MFR claim): 140 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 169 ft
Road Grip, 300′ Ski Pad: 0.87g

grandfather Fuel economy
Note: 18 mpg
Highway driving at 75 mph: 28 mpg
75 mph highway range: 370 miles

EPA fuel economy.
Combined/city/highway: 24/21/29 mpg

grandfather Test explained

Snapshot of Ezra Dyer

Ezra Dyer A Car and driver Senior editor and columnist. He now resides in North Carolina but still remembers how to turn right. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and once drove it at 206 mph. These facts are mutually exclusive.

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