Sometimes it feels like the world has just run out of ideas, and instead of new ones, tries to repackage, remanufacture, and rebrand an idea that we’ve all seen a decade or three ago as something brand new. Top Gun Maverick ignited the box office with essentially the same movie as its 1984 predecessor, while Hulu has recently tried to remake the Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson classic White Men Can’t Jump and failed rather miserably. So, if the name Dodge Hornet sounds a little familiar, that’s because it should. The original Horney was a rather aesthetically unappealing car made by Chrysler’s now-defunct AMC division from 1970-1977. The new Dodge Hornet, introduced in 2023 is now going into its sophomore year of production and thankfully, has improved quite a bit from the original.

While the original Hornet was a station wagon, the new version is more of a crossover SUV in line with the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-50, and Kia Sportage. Chrysler having Alfa Romeo under its umbrella also allows the cheaper Hornet some very fancy hand-me-downs from the Tonale in a package that carries less cachet, but a nearly equal driving experience.

There are two main trims available for the Dodge Hornet, the GT, and R/T. The base GT car gets power from a DOHC 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine that makes a very respectable 268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. That power is then funneled through a smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission on its way to all four wheels to provide maximum traction.

The upgraded Dodge Hornet R/T offers a unique hybrid powertrain that is taken almost directly from the Alfa Romeo Tonale. The gas motor portion of the setup is a turbocharged and intercooled SOHC 1.3-liter inline-four that on its own makes 177 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. Add to that one electric motor that makes 44 hp and 39 lb-ft of torque and another that makes 121 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. For those of you trying to do the math, we’ve got you. The total combined output for the hybrid Hornet is 288 hp and a whopping 383 pound-feet of torque. Depending on where the power is coming from, the gas motors gets a six-speed transmission, while the electric motors get a single-speed unit. Power for the electric comes by way of a 12.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack as well as a 7.4-kW onboard charger. The Hornet also features a temporary power booster they call PowerShot, which is engaged by yanking both shifter handles at once, opening up an extra 30 horsepower for a limited amount of time.

Calling the cabin of the Hornet a ‘nest’ seems a little misleading in the modern lexicon, but trust us, we mean it in a good way. Offering up ample room for both front and rear passengers, the Hornet makes the best use of available space. Black upholstery replete with subtle red stitching comes standard, while black leather and even a red leather option package are both available as upgrades. The center console houses an average-sized 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen while the driver gets a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster front and center. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and even Amazon Alexa are all standard issue thanks to Chrysler’s Uconnect 5 system. Optional interior upgrades include a wireless smartphone charging pad and a sweet-sounding 14-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo system.

As with most cars/trucks/crossovers, the Dodge Hornet comes flush with driver assistance and safety features. Blind-spot monitoring and parking sensors, automated emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist. The optional Tech package can be added to also include lane-centering and adaptive cruise control among other extras.

In terms of performance, the Dodge Hornet is quicker than a lot of its competitors. 0-60 mph takes just 5.6 seconds in the hybrid R/T version, with a quarter-mile pass of just 14.3 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph. It also has an EV range of 30 miles, while posting an impressive 60 MPGe.

The Dodge Hornet
The Dodge Hornet features a vehicle-width taillamp with a center illuminated Dodge Rhombi logo — a first for a Dodge vehicle.

The new-again Dodge Hornet can be had for a base price of just $31,590 for the GT, while the hybrid R/T starts exactly ten grand higher. With a fun, and almost exciting exterior, modern, updated functional interior, and reasonable buy-in price, maybe resurrecting something can actually be better than starting from scratch. After all, Top Gun Maverick made three-quarters of a billion dollars in theaters, so maybe the Dodge Hornet can take off with the same kind of success even though we’ve seen this one before too.

Photos: Dodge

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