Dodge begins electrified with compact hybrid Hornet SUV: see the photos
DETROIT — The 2023 Dodge Hornet doesn’t have a Hellcat under the hood, but Tim KuCEO niskis said the Hornet will build its own niche of power in a place with a lot of growth potential.
The five-seat Hornet will put Dodge, a brand quickly touting its muscle car credentials, on a new playing field in the compact SUV segment, with a first for the brand, a plug-in hybrid electric variant.
Kuniskis called compact SUVs the hottest segment in the auto industry.
“This thing is exploding, so we really, really want to be in this segment,” Kuniskis told reporters last week at Stellantis’ US headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
“This seemed like… the perfect little politically correct segment for us to go in, spice it up and disrupt that segment. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going in there with something that no one else is looking for in that segment,”
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Unveiled Tuesday as Dodge’s “gateway” vehicle during three days of brand announcements, the Hornet is expected to provide an entry point for new customers by adding a small SUV to the Dodge range, which currently consists of the larger Durango SUV and the Charger and Challenger muscle cars.
The reveal has been labeled as “future muscle.” The Detroit Free Press, part of the Nybreaking, previously reported that an electric Dodge concept car is expected this week.
The Hornet, which shares the same architecture as the Alfa Romeo Tonale, will be built at the Giambattista Vico Stellantis factory at Pomigliano D’Arco in Naples, Italy.
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Hornet ‘PowerShot’ adds 25 horsepower for 15 second burst
The name offers a connection to the 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 is also a GT that runs only on gas – will push the brand into the electrified future.
The R/T promises more than 285 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque with an electrical range of more than 30 miles, thanks to a 15.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo PHEV is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The R/T also has a nifty feature called PowerShot that can add an extra 25 horsepower for 15 seconds, which is repeatable after a 15-second cooldown. It will cut the 0-60 mph time by a second to 6.1, which the company says is faster than the GT’s 6.5.
The gasoline-powered GT comes with Stellantis’ new Hurricane4 engine, a 2-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder (matched to a nine-speed automatic), which “debuts as the most powerful gas engine in the segment with over 265 horsepower and 295 pound-feet couple,” the company said.
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Fuel economy ratings have not been released. The price isn’t either, though the GT should start at less than $30,000. Dodge also showcased a GLH (Goes-Like-Hell) Concept to showcase what the brand’s Direct Connection performance parts can do.
Four-wheel drive is standard on both versions. Driver Attention Assist, 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 car’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 features a ‘mailslot’-style grille. opening that is sculpted into the dashboard. Plus, there’s a Hornet badge on the fender.
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A play to hit ‘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 is in dire need of 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. “Pricing from around $30,000, the Hornet should capture drivers who want something sportier than a Chevrolet Equinox or Ford Escape, but can’t afford the entry-level BMW and Audi models.”
Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com, said he believes the Hornet shows Dodge will evolve under Stellantis, which also owns the Jeep, Ram, Dodge, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Peugeot brands.
Dodge “has been reduced to just a few models with clear performance intentions in recent years. Now it’s launching a practical commercial vehicle with an electrified powertrain. That doesn’t mean Dodge won’t continue to offer high-performance vehicles, but I don’t think its role within Stellantis will allow such a narrow product focus.”
Brauer said other performance brands have done well with SUVs, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“Dodge, like any brand, ultimately needs to be profitable and viable for the long term, and SUVs are a great way to increase sales and revenue,” he said.
Orders for the Hornet GT will be taken from Wednesday for arrival at dealers later this year. The R/T should arrive in the spring, according to the company.