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The Dodge Hornet and Alfa Romeo Tonale are two new compact SUVs with much in common. They’re both on the sportier side of their segments and share much of the same architecture. However, there’s a bit more to the story than simple rebadging. Let’s examine why the Alfa Romeo Tonale is so much more expensive than the mechanically similar Dodge Hornet.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale has a standard plug-in hybrid powertrain

A 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale plug-in hybrid compact SUV model driving on a scenic highway near seaside towns
2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale | FCA

The main reason the 2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale has a starting price 39% higher than the 2024 Dodge Hornet is under the hood. With a base MSRP of $42,995, the Tonale comes standard with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, which is optional in the Hornet. When you compare the price of the Tonale to the hybrid Hornet R/T, which starts at $40,935, the Alfa is only 5% more expensive in its base trim.

The hybrid powertrain in the Tonale and Hornet R/T trim is a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor. In the Tonale, it has a total output of 285 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque. Meanwhile, the sport-oriented Hornet R/T makes 288 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. Despite the torque disparity, both SUVs have an estimated 0-to-60-mph time of 5.6 seconds. They both also come with an eAWD system.

What’s the difference between the Tonale and the Hornet R/T?

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

The front end is the most apparent difference between the Alfa Romeo Tonale and the Dodge Hornet R/T. The Alfa Romeo has a sleek body that speaks the design language of the Italian brand. It has characteristic design cues like a V-shaped grille and distinct “five-hole” wheel designs. It’s also available with an exclusive paint option not available on the Dodge: Verde Fangio Metallic.

The front end of the Hornet looks a bit more like the recently discontinued Dodge muscle cars. It has a horizontally oriented grille and heat extractors on the hood, hinting at its sporty performance. As for the rest of the bodies of these SUVs, they’re quite similar. Even the rear light bar looks pretty much the same across models.

Like their exteriors, the interiors of these two SUVs have much in common. The Uconnect infotainment system, steering wheel, shifter, and many controls are pretty much the same in these two SUVs. However, the Tonale uses more premium materials than the Hornet.

Also, the Alfa has fancier-looking graphics in the digital gauge cluster, round air vents, and a textured metallic trim piece across the dash, giving it a more premium vibe. We’re also big fans of the Tonale’s raspier exhaust note, reminding the ears that this SUV is an Alfa Romeo.

So, which SUV is better?

The SUV that’s right for you depends on personal preference. For starters, if you don’t care about the plug-in hybrid powertrain, you’ll appreciate the more affordable 2024 Dodge Hornet GT with a starting price of $30,735.

However, if you want the hybrid, the Alfa Romeo Tonale and Dodge Hornet R/T are similar SUVs with different personalities. The Alfa is obviously a luxury SUV, and the Dodge has more muscle car DNA. You can’t go wrong with either, so pick the one that suits your taste and budget.