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The Mazda CX-50 and Dodge Hornet are two of the newest additions to the crowded compact SUV segment. But they aren’t just family haulers — both provide exciting performance. However, which fun-to-drive compact SUV is better? Here’s everything you need to know in this 2024 Mazda CX-50 vs. 2024 Dodge Hornet comparison.

2024 Mazda CX-502024 Dodge Hornet
Starting MSRP$30,300$30,735
Base Engine2.5-liter 4-cylinder2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower/Torque187 hp/186 lb-ft of torque268 hp/295 lb-ft of torque
Transmission/Drivetrain6-speed automatic, AWD9-speed automatic, AWD
0–60 Acceleration/Top Speed7.5 seconds/127 mph6.5 seconds/140 mph
Fuel Efficiency 24/30 mpg city/highway21/29 mpg city/highway
Cargo Capacity31.4 cubic feet behind the rear row/56.3 cubic feet with rear seats folded27 cubic feet behind the rear row/54.7 cubic feet with rear seats folded

The CX-50 and Hornet at a glance

A 2024 Mazda CX-50 on display by a lake.
2024 Mazda CX-50 | Mazda

The Mazda CX-50 debuted stateside for the 2023 model year. This compact crossover starts at $30,300 MSRP and comes standard with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. The base powerplant makes 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard for this crossover on all trim levels, and the power is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Hornet is also a compact SUV with a performance-first ethos. Built on the same platform as the Alfa Romeo Tonale, Dodge’s crossover packs a standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission, sending power to all four wheels. This engine harnesses 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The base model starts at $30,735 MSRP.

2024 Mazda CX-50 vs. 2024 Dodge Hornet: Driving and performance

A 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T compact SUV model, from the Dodge SRT lineup of performance products.
2024 Dodge Hornet R/T | Stellantis

The Hornet has the edge in performance. The CX-50 might be a few hundred dollars less than the Hornet, but the Dodge SUV offers some of the best performance specs in its class. The 2024 Hornet with the base engine can reach 60 mph in only 6.5 seconds. Meanwhile, the base CX-50 clocked a 7.5-second split.

Of course, we would be remiss not to mention that the CX-50 offers an optional 2.5-liter turbocharged engine. It produces 256 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. Car and Driver testers took it from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. Unfortunately, the turbo model starts at $38,000 — nearly $8,000 more than the Hornet to make around the same power.

However, the brand-new Hornet R/T plug-in hybrid model can launch to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds. This 288-hp PHEV also has a 30-mile all-electric range. The R/T trim starts at $40,935, just north of a CX-50 Turbo.

So, when it comes to straight-line performance, Dodge is hard to beat. However, the CX-50 boasts a more refined driving experience and Mazda’s signature athletic handling.

2024 Mazda CX-50 vs. 2024 Dodge Hornet: Interior and tech

Luxurious features in cars include memory seats, like the driver's seat in the 2024 Mazda CX-50
2024 Mazda CX-50 | Mazda North American Operations

When it comes to interior and technology, we have to give the nod to the CX-50. The Hornet’s interior isn’t bad — far from it. It has many shared interior components with the Alfa Romeo Tonale, giving it splashes of luxury. But the Mazda brand has become synonymous with luxury at a bargain price, and the CX-50 is no different.

The 2024 Mazda CX-50 has a 10.25-inch color infotainment display controlled using a central rotary dial, knobs, and buttons (no touchscreen). It also includes wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, Bluetooth, two USB ports, a Wi-Fi hotspot, keyless entry, and push-button start. The upholstery features contrasting color stitching, punching well above its class in comfort and style.

Meanwhile, the Dodge Hornet has a 10.25-inch color infotainment display with touchscreen controls. Whether the touchscreen beats knobs and buttons depends on your preferences. Otherwise, the CX-50 has a superior interior.

2024 Mazda CX-50 vs. 2024 Dodge Hornet: Trim levels and features

A 2024 Mazda CX-50 on display by a lake.
2024 Mazda CX-50 | Mazda

The Mazda CX-50 and the Dodge Hornet have entirely different philosophies regarding trim levels and features. The Hornet has simplified its trims to four. The GT is the base model, and the GT Plus is the high-end trim with all the features. Then there are the R/T and R/T Plus PHEVs.

Meanwhile, the 2024 CX-50 offers eight trims, starting with the S base model. The levels progress with the S Preferred, S Premium, and S Premium Plus. Then there are four trims with the turbocharged engine: Turbo, Turbo Meridian Edition, Turbo Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus.

With more options available, drivers have a better chance to build their ideal car, making the CX-50 the more customizable choice. However, only the Hornet offers plug-in hybrid variations.

Which fun-to-drive compact SUV is better?

The 2024 Mazda CX-50 is superior to the 2024 Dodge Hornet in nearly every way. If you’re looking for a fun-to-drive compact SUV, the CX-50 is hard to beat. Its price is lower, its comfort and tech features are better, and its driving experience is more refined.

If you want an SUV for power alone, the Hornet checks that box, especially if you’re in the market for a PHEV. But if you want an all-around solid crossover for everyday use, consider the CX-50.