It looks a bit like a Dodge, but there’s something more … something European. The 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T Plus doesn’t burn rubber like so many of its siblings, but it’s certainly what fans of the brand can expect for future.
The people at Dodge have me conditioned to expect anything wearing their signature twin red diagonals to be capable of laying down a pair of parallel black stripes on any pavement I choose. Well, that’s changed. Let’s just say the 2024 Hornet R/T Plus is a Dodge of a different stripe.
Where its ancestors traditionally relied upon brute force in the form of overachieving V8 engines — both normally aspirated and supercharged — this resurrection of the Hornet nameplate leans heavily on finesse to get the job done.
To wit; the plug-in hybrid 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T Plus with which I recently spent a week was powered by a 1.3-liter turbocharged inline 4, supplemented by an electric motor. The resulting output was 288 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque.
Those of you with long memories may recall many a thrilling Dodge was powered by a 383 cubic inch V8 in the days of yore. We’ve no word from the folks at Dodge as to whether that’s a coincidence. Meanwhile, a 6-speed automatic transmission bridges the gap between the powerplant and the all-wheel drive system.
But wait, it gets even better; pulling both paddle shifters forward activates “PowerShot” mode, which temporarily unleashes an additional 30 horses. In so doing, I saw the Hornet consistently run to 60 from rest in just over five seconds. And yes, it’s a safe bet this is the first of what will be many more high performing plug-in hybrid powertrains from Dodge.
Equal parts American and Italian
Introduced for the 2023 model year, this new Hornet shares much with its Alfa Romeo Tonale cousin from Italy. So, while the front end’s tight-eyed glare is definitely Dodge, the voluptuous curves trailing it are strictly Italian in origin.
Frankly, I ain’t mad at that. The Hornet has a seductive profile with curves in all the right places and a tidy size. In other words, it’s classic Alfa Romeo.
Inside, Hornet offers spacious accommodations, good ergonomics and cutting edge tech housed in a low-key minimalist design. Standard features include wireless handset charging, along with wireless CarPlay and Android compatibility. You’ll find adaptive cruise control, road sign detection and lane keep assist too.
“My” Hornet R/T Plus also featured Intelligent Speed Assist, Active Driving Assist, a surround view camera system, drowsiness detection and park assist. All of which was punctuated by optional red leather seating.
Walkin’ the walk
And, right about now you’re probably saying, “Yeah, uh huh, that’s nice. Does this thing go like a Dodge is supposed to go?”
Well, it’s certainly quick, especially when you activate the PowerShot mode, but you won’t be laying down those twin stripes of burnt rubber. On the other hand, the Hornet does reward skillful drivers with commendable agility, adroit turn-in and strong braking performance. What’s more, it does all of this while providing laudable comfort and a supple ride.
Here again, Hornet is more Alfa than the Dodge we’ve come to know. That said, all signs point to the fact that this format is likely to be the ICE-powered Dodge of the foreseeable future.
Future is now
So, what’s the verdict on this new, more tactful offering from Dodge? All in all, it’s certainly a contender in the small SUV class. Hornet is good looking, well equipped, comfortable and agile. However, I must say, I was a bit surprised when I saw the price.
All in all, I do like the Hornet, I just don’t know it’d be my first choice, given the spend involved to bring one home.
For 2024, Dodge Hornet R/T Plus pricing starts at $44,495.
Price as tested was an eye-opening $50,805.