First Electrified Dodge Arrives for 2023 MY

The Hornet, Dodge’s first compact SUV, comes to market with ICE and PHEV powertrains.

The 2023 Hornet GT shown is propelled by a turbocharged 2.0-L 4-cyl., while the R/T variant has a PHEV drivetrain that generates in excess of 285 hp. (Stellantis)

The industry’s red-hot and crowded compact-utility vehicle market gets a newcomer for the 2023 model year with an electrified, top-of-the-line version of the Dodge Hornet. “It’s intentional to enter a segment that’s growing fast with a younger demographic that’s more predisposed to early adoption of electrification,” said Tim Kuniskis, CEO of the Dodge Brand. The vehicle made its global debut on August 16 during Dodge Speed Week at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan.

The Dodge Hornet GT has standard AWD and is claimed to have the fastest 0-60 mph acceleration in the compact-utility vehicle segment. (Stellantis)

SAE Media interviewed Kuniskis and others about the new Hornet. The base-model Hornet GT will be ICE-powered, while the Hornet R/T will reign as the Dodge brand’s first electrified nameplate. “R/T models have always been the performance step-up,” Kuniskis said, noting the plug-in hybrid electric R/T will be the faster, more-powerful variant of the Hornet.

Hornet GT’s Hurricane 2.0-L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder with direct injection is projected to produce more than 265 hp and 295 lb-ft (499 Nm). The Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee SUVs use the engine, and it is the foundation ICE component of the 4xe PHEV propulsion system. The Hurricane has an aluminum block and head, and the Hornet GT’s version is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. The Hurricane I-4 shares some traits — such as common bore and stroke and cylinder spacing — with its sibling, the Hurricane twin-turbo I-6. The I-6 is available in the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs.

Dodge claims the entry-level Hornet GT will have the quickest 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) time in the compact-utility vehicle segment that includes the Ford Escape, Chevrolet Trax, Nissan Rogue and the Toyota RAV4, the perennial bestseller in the U.S. Hornet will be a differentiator in its market segment, said Dodge officials. “Hornet GT is a no-kidding, high-performance vehicle at a price point under $30,000,” said Micky Bly, senior vice president, head of global propulsion systems at Stellantis.

Plug-in performance

The electrified Hornet R/T sports a 1.3-L twin-turbo 4-cylinder with third-generation Multiair technology to adjust valve lift and timing; it’s coupled with a 6-speed Aisin automatic transmission and a 121-hp (90-kW) electric motor powered by a 15.5-kWh, 306-volt lithium-ion battery pack. The Hornet R/T’s combined power output is projected to exceed 285 hp and 383 lb-ft (519 Nm); the ICE powering the front axle provides 199 lb-ft (270 Nm), while the rear e-motor provides 184 lb-ft (249 Nm). Bly noted that the vehicle will have an electric driving range of approximately 30 miles (48 km). “Pending EPA certification, that’s a 70-plus mpg equivalent when driving as an EV and ICE together,” said Bly.

In addition to a sport driving mode, the Hornet R/T has three hybrid driving modes (hybrid, electric and E-save). A full battery charge via the AC/DC inverter and onboard 7.4-kW charging module will take approximately 2.5 hours with a Level 2 charger.

‘Shot’ in the arm

The Hornet’s cabin includes a standard TFT gauge cluster and a 10.25-inch center display. (Stellantis)

The Hornet R/T gets the first application of the Dodge-exclusive PowerShot technology; according to Bly, the effect is similar to the Challenger Hellcat’s launch mode. The PowerShot activation process starts with a button push and pulling the steering wheel paddles. After a system check of the battery’s temperature and state of charge, a gauge cluster indicator shows that the PowerShot is ready. Depressing the accelerator then unleashes a 25-hp battery-power boost. The process can be repeated after a 15-second cool-down. PowerShot improves the 0-60 mph time by a second, Bly said. The Hornet GT in sport mode accelerates 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds and the R/T accelerates 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds.

The 103.8-in (2637-mm) wheelbase the Hornet uses is the same platform as the Alfa Romeo Tonale, Alfa’s smallest SUV. According to Brian Del Pup, engineering senior manager for Dodge, the Hornet has a 1.18-in (30-mm) wider stance than the Tonale. The Hornet’s hood, front and rear fascias, wheels, tires and interior differ from the Tonale, and suspension tuning and steering tuning are also unique. “From a propulsion systems’ perspective, the Hornet is tuned with acceleration and performance in mind,” Del Pup said.

Hornet’s SAE Level 2 driver-assistance features include a lateral control/lane-keeping system, intelligent speed assist with traffic-sign recognition, driver-attention assist and intelligent adaptive cruise control. The entry-level GT’s technology features include all-wheel drive, torque vectoring, an electronic limited-slip differential, a 12.3-in (312-mm) thin-film transistor (TFT) gauge cluster screen, a 10.25-in (260-mm) center display, Uconnect 5 infotainment system and a wireless phone charger. Brembo four-piston, front-fixed calipers (unique to the class) are standard on the Hornet GT and available on the R/T. Both the GT and R/T offer an available Track Pack package with larger tires, upgraded suspension and other items.

The 2023 Hornet GT reaches dealerships in late 2022. Hornet R/T is slated to arrive in dealerships in spring 2023.