Will the Dodge Hornet’s Alfa Romeo Underpinnings Scare Away Customers?
Dodge is shaking up its sparse lineup and the small SUV segment with the Hornet. However, although this compact crossover is all new for the American market, it’s not new in the purest sense of the word. Here’s a look at the 2023 Dodge Hornet and whether its Alfa Romeo underpinnings will turn off U.S. consumers.
The 2023 Dodge Hornet is strikingly similar to the Alfa Romeo Tonale
Car and Driver recently test-drove the Hornet, and the new Dodge SUV is fast. But its impressive performance was expected — the Hornet is almost identical to its Italian cousin, the Alfa Romeo Tonale. That’s because Stellantis owns both Alfa Romeo and Dodge. And that’s why the American automaker was able to produce a car with few differences from the Tonale and slap a Dodge badge on it.
The two SUVs have a similar exterior design and similarities under the hood. Their gas-powered engine options differ, but both vehicles offer nearly identical optional PHEV powertrains. For example, both PHEV powertrains have a battery allowing them to drive about 30 miles in electric-only mode. In addition, the Hornet, like the Tonale, is built in Italy.
Some consumers are excited about the 2023 Dodge Hornet, but some aren’t
The 2023 Dodge Hornet’s standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Dodge claims it can zip from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and top out at 140 mph. But an even more powerful version is slated for the 2024 model year.
It’s a plug-in hybrid producing 288 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The PHEV will come with a new feature, PowerShot, allowing the SUV to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, Dodge says. These specs have some car enthusiasts excited.
One Car and Driver reader writes, “Dodge was smart to focus on the non-practical aspects of automobile ownership.”
However, others are wary about the Hornet being the same SUV as the Tonale. One commenter writes, “It’s really an Alfa Romeo. So, yes, the performance will be real. But the quality? That may not be so good.”
Other C/D readers express similar sentiments, and many commenters joke about the Hornet’s potential reliability issues because it was built in Italy and is almost identical to the Tonale.
Time will tell if the new Dodge SUV entices U.S. buyers
Despite those misgivings, Alfa Romeo cars are relatively uncommon and unknown in the United States. As a result, the average American consumer likely isn’t familiar with the brand and its history of issues and, thus, won’t have those concerns.
However, the Hornet doesn’t target the average buyer. As that one Car and Driver commenter noted, Dodge is focusing on compact SUV shoppers who want enhanced performance. Those drivers are more aware of high-performance cars and might be more familiar with Alfa Romeo.
As a result, it’s too soon to say whether the Hornet’s similarities to the Tonale will affect Dodge’s sales. However, if the Hornet exhibits reliability problems, that’ll undoubtedly affect consumer perception and sales.