2024 Dodge Hornet R/T
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

Consumer Guide Automotive 2024 Hornet R/T Track Pack EAWD

Class: Compact Crossover

Passenger capacity: 5

Color: 8 Ball

CG Report Card
Room and Comfort B+
Power and Performance A
Fit and Finish B+
Fuel Economy A
Value B
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big Guy B-
Tall Guy B-
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.
Drivetrain
Engine Specs 302-horsepower, 2.5-liter
Engine Type 4-cylinder, plug-in hybrid
Transmission CVT Automatic
Drive Wheels AWD

Miles driven: 137

Real-world fuel economy: 30.9 mpg

Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 77 MPGe/29 mpg (city/highway combined)

EPA-estimated EV range: 33 miles

Fuel type: Regular gasoline recommended

Base price: $41,400 (not including $1595 destination charge)

Options:  Track Pack ($2595)

Price as tested: $45,590

 

Quick Hits

The great: Impressive power, efficient operation

The good: Plenty of power, classy cabin, simple infotainment-control system

The not so good: Firm ride, crude drivetrain operation

 

Tom Appel:

Dodge dropped the aging but capable Journey from its lineup back in 2020. Powered by a 173-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, the compact 3-row crossover was popular with family shoppers, but out of step with Dodge’s sporty core mission.

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

Without the Journey, the Dodge lineup was a little thin, consisting of just the Durango midsize crossover, and the performance-oriented Challenger and Charger cars. And while–thanks to an endless parade of special editions–Dodge was able to move a significant number of the cars, the Durango was and remains a relatively slow seller.

So, when Dodge rolled out the Hornet small crossover for 2023, it would seem logical that the vehicle would be a little sporty, and a lot family friendly, this to drive sales volume, and compete more or less directly with hot-sellers like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. But, that’s not really happened…

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2024 Dodge Hornet R/T
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

Starting at $34,000, the Hornet’s base price is nearly $10,000 higher than that of the Journey, and with at least 266 horsepower under the hood, the newest Dodge was anything but pedestrian. Also, the Journey’s 3rd-row seat was gone, as was any pretense of economical motoring.

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2024 Dodge Hornet R/T
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

Indeed, the Hornet was an entirely different animal. Though certainly practical enough for small-family conveyance, the new “entry” Dodge was everything the Journey was not: Sporty, stylish, and even a little luxurious.

Mechanically related to the recently introduced Alfa Romeo Tonale, the Hornet is built alongside that vehicle at the Stellantis Giambattista Vico assembly facility in Naples, Italy. Interestingly, the two crossovers are so similar, that Wikipedia has a combined single page for the vehicles.

For 2024, the Hornet is offered with two drivetrains which define the trim levels. Hornet GT and GT Plus models are powered by a 266-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylindet engine which mates to a 9-speed automatic transmission. The Hornet R/T (also available in base and Plus trim levels) is a plug-in hybrid which mates a turbocharged 1.3-liter engine, electric motors, a CVT-automatic transmission, and a 15.5-kWh battery. Fully charged, the R/T will travel an EPA-estimated 33 miles before the gasoline engine kicks in. Both the GT and R/T come only with AWD.

A while back Consumer Guide spent some time with a Hornet GT Plus, you can read that review here. More recently, we spent a week with the plug-in hybrid R/T in 8-Ball (black), and equipped with the $2595 Track Pack option group. All told, our test car came to $45,590, including the destination charge.

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2024 Dodge Hornet R/T
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

Hornet plays on the small side of the compact-crossover segment, and while that makes for a sportier, more tossable vehicle, it does take a toll on rear-seat passenger space. Up front, there’s plenty of room for even larger and taller occupants, and entry and exiting are simple enough. The seats are firm and comfortable, and supportive enough for long trips. Also, outward visibility is good in every direction.

The cabin presents well for a $45,000 small crossover. Materials are generally high grade and soft touch, and the contrasting red stitching in our test vehicle lent the proceedings a sporty character.

Hornet makes use of the Stellantis Uconnect 5 digital interface, and the systems is refreshingly simple to use and glitch free. The dashtop touchscreen is easy to read, even in bright light—and the icons are bright and recognizable. During the test period our Bluetooth connection remained intact, something we’ve not been able to say about other recently tested Uconnect systems.

On the move the Hornet R/T is a mixed bag, and its sporty character inconsistent as the vehicle moves between electric drive and hybrid operation. In pure EV mode, Hornet is smooth, quiet, and quick. Like most EVs, the power delivery is silky smooth, and throttle response immediate and satisfying. Unfortunately, once that charge depletes, the Hornet’s small and stressed engine takes over, churning out nearly as much noise as power.

Now, fully depress the throttle and the drivetrain serves up plenty of passing and merging muscle. However, around down operation is erratic, with power delivery often delayed, complicating quick moves into traffic and around slower-moving vehicles. That said, the hybrid drivetrain delivers excellent fuel economy. Fully charged just once over our week-long evaluation, the Hornet averaged almost 31 mpg, impressive for a nearly 300-horsepower AWD crossover.

The Hornet handles well, however, with great steering feel (for a small crossover) and athletic cornering. Ride quality is generally good, though the suspension is subject to a certain amount of pounding over larger road imperfections, and the vehicle never quite settles in on less then perfectly surfaced highways. Note that the Track Pack upgrades the standard 18-inch wheels and tires to 20-inch units, firming up the ride a bit. If you’re interested in the Hornet, be sure to test drive an example with the same wheel-and-tire package as the vehicle you intend to purchase.

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2024 Dodge Hornet R/T
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

While we admire—and even appreciated the Hornet R/T’s moxie, we find the plug-in hybrid powertrain—despite the power—inconsistent with this Dodge crossover’s sporty mission. We much prefer the Hornet GT’s more satisfying 2.0-liter turbo engine, which delivers better throttle response, and more readily available power in routine driving. And, we remind shoppers that the Hornet is really more sporty than family friendly, a fact which will suit the select audience this vehicle should appeal to just fine.

Note that the similar Alfa Romeo Tonale is offered only with the plug-in hybrid drivetrain. If you find the Hornet R/T appealing, but are drawn to the near-exotic nature of the Alfa Romeo brand, be sure and test drive a Tonale as well.

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2024 Dodge Hornet R/T
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

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Test Drive: 2023 Dodge Hornet GT Plus

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