2024 Dodge Hornet Review: Packs a punch, but you'll be packing light

2024 Dodge Hornet Review: Packs a punch, but you'll be packing light

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Pros: Powerful for the segment; available plug-in hybrid; sporty driving experience; good tech

Cons: Priced like a compact SUV, but has the interior space of a subcompact; GT's relatively low mpg

If you’re seeking the performance and driving experience of a compact luxury SUV with a mainstream brand’s price tag, the 2024 Dodge Hornet should fit the bill nicely. Most mainstream compact SUVs don’t even bother offering engine upgrades with the sort of power the Hornet GT produces as standard, while the Hornet R/T plug-in hybrid can rocket to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. In addition to straight-line performance, the Hornet provides more responsive handling and overall refinement than the mainstream norm thanks to effectively being the Dodge-badged version of the Alfa Romeo Tonale. It’s even built in Italy.


If all of this sounds great, you’re not wrong. There is an awful lot to like about the Hornet, but you just know there’s a “but” coming. That would be the fact that the Hornet may be priced and equipped like one of those mainstream compact SUVs, but it is considerably smaller. The back seat is cramped, and the cargo area is less useful than almost every subcompact SUV we've tested. Even the Mazda CX-5, which also sacrifices some utility for style and driving verve, is considerably more practical. Similarly, the R/T suffers the same, poor size-to-price ratio in comparison to other plug-in hybrids, such as the Kia Sportage PHEV and Toyota RAV4 Prime.

We’re pretty sure more people buy compact SUVs for their overall utility – why else would they have gotten so much bigger over the years? While the Hornet provides an interesting alternative, it is just that: an alternative choice for those, likely without children, who prioritize performance over utility and are willing to pay more for that tradeoff.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it's like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What's new for 2024?

The Hornet was technically all-new last year, but wasn’t actually on sale for much of it. This will therefore be its first full year, which sees the official introduction of the R/T plug-in hybrid. It features 32 miles of all-electric range, which is a bit less than rival PHEV SUVs, but it’s also more performance-focused, and with its PowerShot mode, can hit 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. That’s how a hybrid ends up with Dodge’s performance-oriented R/T badge. Elsewhere in the lineup, the two Plus trim levels gain a hands-free power liftgate.

What are the Hornet interior and in-car technology like?

Overall interior quality is high, with a few Alfa Romeo pieces of switchgear thrown in for good measure – most notably the grippy steering wheel and R/T’s enormous paddle shifters. It’s a generally sporty, premium look, but then that’s not unusual these days for compact SUVs. The bar is much higher than it used to be, and to Dodge’s credit, the Hornet clears it.

The 10.25-inch touchscreen you see here is standard on every Hornet and features the latest Uconnect5 touchscreen interface, complete with a widescreen layout. Like past versions of Uconnect, this one is easy to use and features crisp, colorful graphics. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, and we appreciate that the Uconnect menu buttons remain on the screen, making it easy to go between the Dodge and Apple/Android interfaces. All trim levels also get a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster, though the layout and design can’t be changed much.

How big is the Hornet?

While the Hornet is priced and equipped like a compact SUV (think a Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-50), it is sized more like a subcompact one. The back seat is cramped – longer-legged drivers won’t leave much room for those in back, and you’ll struggle to fit a rear-facing child seat inside without moving the front passenger seat up to a near-useless position. Kids in front-facing child seats are also bound to be kicking the seat (you’re right, you could ask them to stop; let us know how that goes).

The cargo area is undersized for the price point by an even greater degree. The GT has 27 cubic-feet of space behind its raised back seat, which is less than every compact SUV. The plug-in-hybrid R/T has only 22.9 cubic-feet, which would put it midpack among subcompact models on paper, but in our cargo area luggage test, it was actually less useful than nearly all subcompacts we've tested.

What are the Hornet fuel economy, electric range and performance specs?

The Hornet may be small for its price tag, but the tradeoff is a lot more standard power. The Hornet GT features a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that produces 268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It has a nine-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. Few compact SUVs (let alone subcompact ones) offer gas-only powertrains with this sort of oomph – only the Mazda CX-5 and CX-50, plus most luxury models. Not surprisingly, though, you pay for this performance at the pump. EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. Admittedly, that’s the same as the Mazdas, but also 4 to 5 mpg combined worse than the CR-V and others.

If you’re seeking fuel economy, though, the 2024 Hornet R/T is a plug-in hybrid. It can travel 32 miles on electricity alone, and achieves a miles-per-gallon-equivalent rating of 77 mpg-e. That’s considerably lower than the RAV4 Prime and other plug-in hybrids, but then, they don’t pump out the power like the Hornet can. Its electric motors combine with a 1.3-liter turbocharged inline-four to produce a total of 288 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. It has a six-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive, though the rear wheels are powered by their own electric motor rather than the mechanical connection of the GT’s system. The estimated 0-60-mph time is 5.6 seconds when using the special PowerShot function (which unleashes its full power for 15 seconds at a time) – the GT is good for a still-quick 6.5 seconds.