- Dodge has announced its latest release, a five-seat, compact, hybrid SUV.
- The 2023 Dodge Hornet will offer customers a smaller alternative to Dodge’s current lineup of larger vehicles like the Durango SUV.
- Company representatives say they hope the Hornet will bring new buyers to the Dodge brand.
DETROIT – The 2023 Dodge Hornet won’t have a Hellcat under the hood, but CEO Tim Kuniskis says the Hornet will carve out its own power niche in an area with a lot of growth potential.
The five-seat Hornet will put Dodge, a brand quick to tout its muscle car credentials, into a new playing field, in the compact SUV segment, with a first for the brand, a plug-in hybrid electric variants.
Kuniskis called compact SUVs the hottest segment in the auto industry.
“This thing is exploding so we really want to be in this segment,” Kuniskis told reporters last week at Stellantis’ US headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
“It’s like … the perfect little politically correct segment for us to come in, (rail) it up and disrupt that segment. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going in there with something to buy that no one else in that segment has.”
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The Hornet, unveiled Tuesday as Dodge’s “gateway” vehicle in three days of announcements for the brand, is expected to provide an entry point for new customers by adding a small SUV to the Dodge lineup, consisting of the larger Durango SUV and the Charger and Challenger muscle cars.
The unveiling is labeled “future muscle.” The Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, previously reported that an electric Dodge concept vehicle is expected to be unveiled this week.
The Hornet, which shares architecture with the Alfa Romeo Tonale, will be built at the Giambattista Vico Stellantis plant in Pomigliano D’Arco in Naples, Italy.
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Hornet ‘PowerShot’ adds 25 horsepower for a 15 second burst
Its name offers a connection to its automotive past, dating back to the Hudson Hornets of the 1950s – think Doc Hudson in the movie, “Cars.” The plug-in Hornet R/T – there’s also a gas-only GT – will propel the brand into an electrified future.
The R/T, according to the company, promises 285-plus horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque with more than 30 miles of electric range, thanks to a 15.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The 1.3-liter, four-cylinder turbo PHEV is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The R/T also has a nice feature called PowerShot that can add an extra 25 horsepower for 15 seconds that resets after a 15 second cooldown. That drops the 0-60 mph time by a second to 6.1, which is faster than the GT’s 6.5, according to the company.
The gas-powered GT comes with Stellantis’ new Hurricane4 engine, a 2-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder (coupled to a nine-speed automatic), which “debuted as the segment’s most powerful gas engine at 265 -plus horsepower and 295 pound.-feet of torque,” according to the company.
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Fuel economy ratings have not yet been released. Neither is pricing, though the GT should start under $30,000. Dodge also showed off a GLH (Goes-Like-Hell) Concept to show what the brand’s Direct Connection performance parts can do.
All-wheel drive is standard for both versions. Driver attention helps to detect fatigue, and intelligent adaptive cruise control are some of the advanced driver assistance safety features available. Hornet also gets the Uconnect 5 infotainment system.
The company touts the vehicle’s exterior as one that brings the Dodge attitude to life, noting that “the hood features integrated heat extractors for a performance-oriented look while the front also incorporates a ‘mail slot’-style grille opening sculpted into the fascia.” Additionally, there is a Hornet badge on the fender.
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A play that will hit the ‘younger’ audience
Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions, said the Hornet will hopefully bring new buyers to the Dodge brand, which, he said, desperately needs products to stay relevant.
“Younger buyers don’t need big vehicles like the Charger and Challenger, so introducing them to the brand with a smaller crossover hits them where they live,” he said. “With prices starting around $30,000, the Hornet should appeal to drivers who want something a little sportier than a Chevrolet Equinox or Ford Escape but can’t afford entry-luxury models from BMW and Audi .”
Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com, said he believes the Hornet shows Dodge will thrive under Stellantis, which also owns the Jeep, Ram, Dodge, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Peugeot brands. , among others.
Dodge “has been pared down to just a few models with clear performance intentions over the past few years. Now it’s launching a practical utility vehicle with an electrified drivetrain. That doesn’t mean Dodge isn’t will continue to offer high-performance vehicles, but I think its role within Stellantis will not allow for a narrow product focus.”
Brauer says other performance brands have done well with SUVs, so that’s not a bad thing.
“Dodge, like any brand, ultimately has to prove profitable and viable for the long term, and SUVs are a great path to increasing sales and profits,” he said.
Orders for the Hornet GT will be taken starting Wednesday for arrival at dealerships later this year. The R/T should arrive in the spring, according to the company.
Contact Eric D. Lawrence: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence.