2023 Dodge Hornet GT Plus AWD: Review

It’s been over a decade since Dodge has had a compact SUV in its lineup. The Dodge Nitro left showrooms in 2012, leaving a hole in the smol-SUV segment. Dodge is part of Stellantis, which means they have access to the FCA Small Wide LWB 4×4 platform. It has been the basis for the Jeep Commander (2022+), Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X, Alfa Romeo Tonale, and even the Brazilian Ram Rampage and Fiat Toro small trucks. Well, the Dodge Hornet is now available and I spent a week in a top-spec 2023 GT Plus AWD to see what’s what.

2023 Dodge Hornet Overview

Another bit of Dodge trivia, the Hornet is the first new Dodge since the Charger and Challenger debuted a decade or so ago. For the 2023 model year, you could initially only get the GT and GT Plus versions of the Hornet. Later in the model year, the more powerful R/T and R/T Plus debuted, but we’re going to focus on the GT spec for this review. Prices start at a reasonable $30,735 for 2023 GT models and another five grand for the GT Plus version.

Our tester had a bunch of packages added as well. Pretty much all of them actually.

Blacktop package ($1,995)

  • Black-painted wheels and exterior trim

Tech Pack ($2,245)

  • Enhanced adaptive cruise control system
  • Lane keeping system
  • Surround-view camera system
  • Front parking sensors

Track Pack ($2,995)

  • 20-inch black-painted wheels
  • Red-painted brake calipers
  • Synthetic suede seat upholstery
  • Adjustable suspension dampers
  • Sport-style steering wheel

Out the door, including the $595 for Acapulco Gold paint, you’re looking at just over $42,800. Let’s see if it’s worthy of its MSRP.

2023 Dodge Hornet GT Plus AWD Inside & Out

I’m always intrigued by the first impression a new vehicle makes, and the Hornet made a pretty good one. I like the compact shape, the strong lines, and the bright paint. As a new Stelvio Quadrifoglio owner, it feels like a slightly smaller version of my car. I guess that makes sense since it is so close to the Alfa Romeo Tonale. The Hornet looks at home amongst other Dodge vehicles for the most part, with an aggressive front end and big grille. I considered adding some yellow splitter guards via Photoshop but figured that wasn’t fair.

I was pretty impressed with the interior as well, it’s a fun mix of sportiness and practicality. It’s well-equipped as well, even the standard GT gets a cool 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a Uconnect infotainment system with a 10.25-inch touchscreen. The Plus gets a handful of interior upgrades like a sunroof, leather upholstery, power front seats that are heated and ventilated, a heated wheel, wireless phone charging, a 14-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, and navigation.

It all works pretty well. I like that the wireless charging pad is angled towards the driver, and I was able to keep the phone in place fairly well. I also had an easy time setting up the connection to wireless CarPlay. I dig the digital driver’s screen as well, the integrated map between the speedometer and tachometer looks like it came right off of an Audi virtual cockpit setup. There is no volume knob, but you can press up or down on the steering wheel or use a little roller button to the right of the shifter.

The infotainment system isn’t quite as good as some of the ones I’ve tested in other Dodge and Jeep vehicles, but it wasn’t bad. The heated seat controls are, at first glance, buried in the comfort menu, versus being accessible via an actual button. However, I eventually found a virtual quick access button up at the top of the screen with the seat and wheel heat options.

The Hornet is compact, but it’s pretty practical as a daily driver. You’ll get 27 cubic feet of cargo space in the back and a very reasonable 38 inches of legroom in the back seat. I don’t have a photo of a trip to hockey practice, but the bag fit pretty well, while the stick had to take up some space in the back seat.

Out on the road, the Hornet feels pretty quick. It also makes a good noise from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which is good for 268 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The nine-speed automatic shifts pretty quickly and with standard all-wheel drive the powertrain should hit 60 mph in around 6.5 seconds. The more powerful plug-in hybrid R/T has 288 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque and hits 60 in about a second less.

Out on the road, the Hornet rides well even with the larger 20-inch wheels from the Track Pack. That may be helped along by the adaptive dampers, but I wouldn’t be able to tell for sure without driving the base model. I didn’t come across any on-road annoyances, save for the shifter, which is very easy to knock into manual mode. You don’t really notice until the car doesn’t shift when you expect it will.


I like it. That’s not the whole summary, but it would be funny. The Hornet looks more interesting than most small crossovers, has more power, and delivers a little bit of that Dodge attitude. Add in a ton of standard features, even in the base model, and it should be an exciting option for small SUV buyers. I’m excited to check out the more powerful R/T soon, which should add more of a good thing.

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One response to “2023 Dodge Hornet GT Plus AWD: Review”

  1. Sjornet Avatar

    Funny how the one “track pack”-feature that makes sense with that name are the adjustable suspension dampers. Can we expect this one to be around for a decade+, too?