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While electrification has been all the rage for a while, some automakers are just now rolling their first hybrids and EVs onto dealer lots. Dodge’s Hornet will be the first PHEV to bear the brand name.

However, despite its electric powertrain, it still includes major elements from the Alfa Romeo Tonale. While many might opt for the more prestigious Alfa Romeo brand, the 2023 Hornet does have one major advantage over the Tonale.

A silver 2023 Dodge Hornet on display.
2023 Dodge Hornet | Stellantis

The Alfa Romeo Tonale and Dodge Hornet, compared

The Tonale is a well-crafted compact SUV designed to outclass the competition. Built on the same platform that supports the Jeep Compass, the Tonale offers U.S. consumers two powertrain choices.

The conventional powertrain pairs nine-speed automatic transmission, AWD, and a 256-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Unlike other Alfa Romeos, the Tonale also sports a hybrid powertrain option. You can get a PHEV version that pairs a turbocharged 1.3-liter engine with a 121-hp electric motor and generates 180 hp.

If you examine the new Dodge Hornet, you’ll find it shares a lot in common with the Tonale. It uses the same platform and sports a 268-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, along with the nine-speed automatic and AWD. And while the conventional powertrain is the only one available for the 2023 Hornet, Dodge plans to offer a PHEV version for 2024.

Both vehicles offer a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, and the brand’s well-designed Uconnect5 auto application software. Both also have several advanced safety systems, including blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance. But the Hornet beats the Tonale in one key area that could easily draw consumers to it over the Tonale.

The 2023 Dodge Hornet’s starting price is much more affordable

When it comes to starting price, the Alfa Romeo has an MSRP of $42,995. But the Dodge Hornet’s MSRP is only $30,735. That’s a big difference between two cars from the same automaker that are so similar.

In fact, the difference is a source of internal tension at the parent company Stellantis. Per Car Scoops, Alfa Romeo had been struggling to sell two other models, the Giulia and Stelvio, despite solid reviews from critics.

However, Dodge used Alfa Romeo’s blueprint to create the Hornet because they needed to increase their CAFE numbers. CAFE, which stands for Corporate Average Fuel Economy, is a federal standard that determines the mileage cars must travel on a single gallon of fuel.

Because the Tonale is fairly fuel-efficient, Dodge utilized its design to improve the Hornet’s CAFE numbers which caused some consternation. And because the Hornet was manufactured under the Dodge imprint and with a strikingly similar interior to the Alfa Romeo, you really can get the Tonale’s value for roughly $12,000 less.

Does the Alfa Romeo Tonale have any advantages over Dodge’s new SUV?

Now, with such a huge gap in price between the Hornet and the Tonale, it seems like the Hornet would be the obvious choice. Most people wouldn’t shell out an extra $12,000 for specific badging. But the Tonale has a couple of tricks that make it worth a second look.

The first is the hybrid powertrain. The Tonale might make sense if you’re in the market for a hybrid compact SUV now (as opposed to next year). Another difference is the standard warranty. Neither vehicle has class-beating coverage, but the Tonale’s is better than the Hornet’s.

The Hornet offers a limited warranty (three years/36,000 miles), a powertrain warranty (five years/60,000 miles), and no complimentary scheduled maintenance. On the other hand, the Tonale offers a limited (four years/50,000 miles) and powertrain warranty (four years/50,000 miles) as well as complimentary scheduled maintenance (one year/10,000 miles).

Car and Driver also notes that the Tonale is about a second quicker out of the starting gate than the Hornet. But that’s largely where the Tonale’s superiority over the Hornet ends.


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