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The 2023 Dodge Hornet stands out in a sea of subcompact SUVs. It stands out because the Hornet isn’t only meant to provide a ho-hum ride to and from work and around town for errands, it’s meant to excite you. After all, the Dodge Hornet comes from the same stable of cars that includes cars like the Challenger SRT Demon, which has over 800 hp.

The Hornet doesn’t have 800 hp, but it is high-strung in its own way. I have found this out during my time with it so far. Here are my initial impressions of the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT Plus.

The 2023 Dodge Hornet GT Plus instills excitement of a different caliber

The rear of the 2023 Dodge Hornet
2023 Dodge Hornet | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Most car enthusiasts likely won’t remember the Dodge Caliber SRT-4, produced from 2007 to 2012. It was a small, four-door wagon powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produced 285 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. That was enough power to rocket the little wagon to 60 mph from a stop in around 5.9 seconds.

Needless to say, it was quick and fun to drive, but it felt coarse in its operation. There were cheap plastics on the dash and door panels, and while the powerful engine made it scream like a bat out of hell, the cabin rattled as it got up to speed.

I remember driving the Caliber SRT4 in 2009 and being impressed with its power. As I rowed through the gears of the manual transmission, I smiled at the gobs of torque that made going in a straight line uber-fun. But alas, the car’s lack of interior refinement, torque steer, and choppy suspension made it a chore to drive.

That’s kind of how the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT Plus feels. I have to stress “kind of” because this model feels far more refined than its SRT4 cousin from the past. The Hornet’s interior is blessed with Alcantara suede, and there are hard plastics, but it’s nothing like the Caliber that came before it.

The fit and finish of the cabin feel tight and of good quality, but it would be nice to see more soft-touch materials. As for the drive, the Hornet GT gives me a similar thrill as the old Caliber SRT4, but it’s a lot nicer.

The little SUV is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that pushes 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. It’s just as quick as the Caliber SRT4, but much smoother in its operation.

The power comes on with a large jolt when the turbos kick in. However, there is some lag when accelerating from a stop. The engine is high-strung, but the power is manageable.

The Dodge Hornet is comfortable for its size

The hood vents on the 2023 Dodge Hornet
2023 Dodge Hornet | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Dodge Hornet Has 1 Huge Advantage Over the Alfa Romeo Tonale

Regarding the Dodge Hornet’s size, it’s a small SUV equivalent to the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4. However, it does feel spacious inside. My 5-foot, 8-inch frame fits well in both rows, and I imagine someone six feet tall would fit just fine. Unfortunately, all of my friends are just as short as I am.

There’s plenty of cargo space as well. Dodge says there is 27 cubic feet of space, which should be enough for a couple of carry-on suitcases or golf club sets.

The Hornet’s tech-savvy features are an added plus

The Dodge Hornet GT Plus I’m driving has all the driver-assist features you need, including lane assist and adaptive cruise control. They work well! I also appreciate the additional tech features like the remote start and 10.25 infotainment system that features Uconnect5 software.

The infotainment system is easy to navigate and use. There are also other handy features like a driver attention warning and an alert for upcoming traffic cameras.

Ultimately, the 2023 Dodge Hornet is high-strung compared to its rivals but has its own exciting personality. It has definitely come a long way from the Caliber SRT4 that came before it.