Dodge joins the compact crossover market with the Tonale-based Hornet

Think Dodge, and more than likely you’ll think of cars like the Charger, the Challenger, and even the Durango SUV. Sure, they had previous models before like the Journey and the Nitro, but they didn’t exactly evoke the brand’s performance heritage.

With that, both the Journey and Nitro were discontinued and forgotten by the market. However, with Dodge now part of the Stellantis auto group, the company is trying its hand at the crossover market once more. But instead of building one from the ground up, they decided to source from one of their Italian cousins.

Enter the 2023 Dodge Hornet. No, it’s not related to the AMC Hornet from decades ago. This is actually based on the Alfa Romeo Tonale, a compact crossover that’s equally stylish, high-tech, and brimming with character. While Dodge may have just put their badges on the Alfa and called it a day, they actually made some neat changes to the vehicle, both inside and out.

2023 Dodge Hornet is an Alfa Romeo Stelvio with attitude image

Instead of using the signature grille from the Italian automaker, the Hornet comes with Dodge’s unique two-slot grille and wide lower air intake. Dodge even took the time to give the Hornet its own set of LED headlights and faux side intakes. The rear has also been tweaked and features stylish full-width LED taillights that are unmistakably Dodge.

Depending on the variant, the Hornet can come with a wide array of wheel choices. Starting with the entry-level GT, the crossover is equipped with 17-inch silver wheels. Moving to the sportier-looking R/T, it gets 18-inch Graphite Gray wheels. Last but not least, the Track Package version equips the Hornet with massive 20-inch Abyss Black wheels.

A neat easter egg Dodge put on the Hornet is, you guessed it, a Hornet badge. They can be found on the fenders and serve as a throwback to the Hudson Hornet from the 1950s (Doc from the Disney Pixar movie Cars would be proud), as well as the similarly-named concept Dodge revealed back in 2006.

2023 Dodge Hornet is an Alfa Romeo Stelvio with attitude image

Inside the crossover, it features a driver-focused cabin complete with a wide array of amenities. There’s a massive 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment on the center dash that runs on Uconnect5. It comes with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, along with a host of other infotainment features.

Other available features present inside the all-new Hornet include the following; a 14-speaker Harman-Kardon sound system, hands-free power tailgate, a wireless charging pad, push-button start, a heated steering wheel, and leather upholstery.

2023 Dodge Hornet is an Alfa Romeo Stelvio with attitude image

Two engine options are available for the 2023 Dodge Hornet. First is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 268 PS and 400 Nm of torque. It’s then mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and benefits from all-wheel drive. Impressive, but the next engine is more powerful than the already potent 2.0-liter.

The other powertrain is a 1.3-liter turbocharged plug-in hybrid. Despite its small size, it actually produces more power and torque thanks to an electric motor, a 15.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and a starter generator that provides additional torque to the engine belt. It has a total system output of over 286 PS with 519 Nm of torque and allows the Hornet R/T to travel up to 48 km on pure electric power should there be sufficient charge in the lithium-ion battery.

2023 Dodge Hornet is an Alfa Romeo Stelvio with attitude image

Just like the Charger Daytona SRT concept, this one comes with the PowerShot feature that delivers an extra kick of power. This can be activated by pulling both paddle shifters and performing a pedal kick down - resulting in an extra 25 PS for up to 15 seconds.

With the Hornet providing some practicality and zing to the brand’s lineup, will it find success with Dodge customers? And will the automaker actually offer it to other markets? That we’ll have to find out.