First Look: 2023 Dodge Hornet GT, Hornet R/T, and the Hornet GLH Concept


First Look: 2023 Dodge Hornet GT, Hornet R/T, and the Hornet GLH Concept


The last time Dodge introduced a brand-new model was 2012. The model? The Dodge Dart, a spiritual replacement for the Neon that didn't do well. Okay, that's being a bit tanked. Dodge has rode a tidal wave of horsepower to success with the Charger, Challenger and Durango ever since. The company's mantra has been to give horsepower to any and everyone who wants it. But the winds of change are blowing, and Dodge has rang out the last call for the truly mental Hellcat V8, as well as the Charger and the Challenger. There's also a bit of static in the air as Dodge is beginning to make their transition to electrification, one that is polarizing the brand's loyal followers. How do you make a move from modern-day muscle cars with enough power to rotate the Earth to EVs?

2023 Dodge Hornet logo

Dodge, in usual fashion, isn't going in gingerly. As part of a three-day media blitz of new products during the Woodward Dream Cruise event in Michigan, they unveiled the new Hornet. A small crossover, the Hornet itself has roots to Alfa Romeo's Tonale and a name that has a storied history, starting with Hudson's famous Hornet in the early 1950s, before becoming AMC's longest-running and most widely used vehicle platform. A Dodge Hornet concept was even supposed to have happened for 2010, but was a casualty of both the 2009 financial crisis and a major restructuring that killed off the small, supercharged MINI-fighter.

There is going to be teeth-gnashing at the thought of Dodge making any kind of crossover. But is there hope? Can a small crossover work with Dodge's "performance for everyone" attitude? If nothing else, they're giving it a hell of a shot with the Hornet.

Hornet GT

2023 Dodge Hornet

The first model in the Hornet lineup is the GT. The entry-level Hornet is being touted as "the quickest and most powerful utility vehicle under $30,000." That's a bold statement, and one that will be a strong selling point against other crossovers with higher price points. The GT uses the Hurricane4 engine, a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four shared with Jeep products. It is expected to have at least 265 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and don't be surprised if those numbers grow a little before you start seeing Hornets at dealerships. The Hurricane4 sends power through a nine-speed automatic to all four wheels. In Sport Mode, the GT is expected to make the dash from 0-60 MPH in 6.5 seconds.

While saying "base model" might immediately make you want to keep scrolling, don't. What's available for a GT sounds more like the options list for an upgraded model: Koni selective-damping shocks are standard. Brembo four-piston fixed front calipers are available on the GT (and are standard on the R/T). The suspension is fully independent, using McPherson struts up front and a 3-link Chapman suspension out back. Dynamic torque vectoring that, in Sport Mode, behaves like an electronic limited slip differential, standard on both GT and R/T. And if you opt for the Track Pack, add in dual-stage-valving suspension that is driver-selectable and can be adjusted behind the wheel.

Hornet R/T

Dodge Hornet Brembo brakes

The Hornet R/T breaks ground as the first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) from Dodge. Don't freak out at the thought of "elecric hybrid" and the fabled R/T badge being on the same vehicle just yet. Over 285 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque come from a combination of the 1.3L turbocharged 16-valve T4 inline-four engine that drives the front wheels and a 90-kW electric electric motor that propels the rear wheels. A 15.5-kWh lithum-ion battery pack can be charged in about 2.5 hours using a Level 2 charger. The R/T uses a six-speed automatic transmission. The R/T also has a Sport Mode that sharpens up throttle response and the shift schedule, allows for access to the hybrid system's optimized power/torque levels, and a sharper steering feel. Additionally, the R/T has what Dodge is calling a "PowerShot" system. By pulling both steering wheel-mounted paddles and performing a pedal depression, unleashes 25 additional horsepower and instant torque for up to 15 seconds, reducing 0-60 times by a full second.

2023 Dodge Hornet rear

The R/T has three driving modes to choose from: Hybrid Mode (maximum efficiency), Electric Mode (all-electric until battery depletion or when driver input warrants extra power) and E-Save Mode (electric charge preservation with either a Passive option that will hold the charge at a certain level, or an Active mode that will help recharge the battery). Regenerative braking and an "e-Coasting" function assists in keeping the battery charged. Combined together, the R/T model is expected to deliver a best-in-class lateral G-force number of 0.90. Those are solid, sporting figures from a market of vehicles rarely seen in a sporting light at all.

Hornet GLH Concept

2023 Dodge Hornet GLH Concept

The GT and the R/T are the production items. But let's talk about the third Hornet that was shown off during the announcement. This is the Hornet GLH Concept, and this is where gearheads should take a bit of notice. This is not a production model, though performance fans should start petitioning Dodge to make it one already. Instead, what you are looking at is what Direct Connection can offer in the way of performance and visual upgrades. The GLH name harkens back to one of Dodge's smaller, sleepier and severely underestimated vehicles of the 1980s, the Dodge Omni GLH. Who knew that a five-door hatchback better known as Dodge's economy offering could wind up with a severe attitude issue and enough power to slap around unsuspecting Iroc-Zs and Trans Ams? Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis was a bit cagey with the power figures, which haven't been certified yet, but "twice the power-to-weight of the original GLH" and "more torque than two original GLHs" is certainly eye-raising. "Goes Like Hell", indeed.

2023 Dodge Hornet GLH Concept logo

The Hornet GLH Concept starts life as a basic Hornet GT, which is then upfitted with:

  • Stage kits that offer stackable performance
  • A one-inch suspension lowering kit
  • An unrestricted dual exhaust
  • Exclusive Direct Connection GLH 20-inch painted and machine-faced wheels
  • Exclusive Direct Connection GLH graphics and logos
  • Black-painted lower trim, with exhaust-cutout rear fascia

All of the Direct Connection parts are exclusively available through Dodge Power Brokers dealers, and the Hornet's warranty will be covered if a Power Brokers dealership installs them. Direct Connection will also be offering parts to upgrade the Hornet R/T soon. But if the GLH is as potent as Dodge is hinting at, it deserves to be a production model. Just think about it: all-wheel-drive, turbocharged utility vehicle with a performance bent. The last time that happened, GMC lost their minds and made the Typhoon.

Dodge Hornet GT orders open August 17, 2022 and will arrive in dealerships later in the year. Hornet R/Ts are scheduled to arrive in showrooms in the spring of 2023.


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