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“Muscle car” and “plug-in hybrid SUV” are two terms that you probably wouldn’t expect to pair together. However, that’s exactly what Stellantis seeks to accomplish with its all-new Dodge Hornet SUV. If you’re not interested in a PHEV, the Hornet is standard with just the turbo-charged engine for a lower price. Besides its nice powertrain options, there are a few other reasons why we think the Dodge Hornet will excel in the current market.

Subcompact SUV sales are booming

As we can see on GM Authority, many smaller SUVs are experiencing sales increases in 2023. The Subaru Crosstrek is the most popular pick by a large margin, selling over 41,000 units in the first quarter of the year. Nearly 28,000 consumers have bought a Chevy Trailblazer this year, resulting in a 225% annual sales growth. The Jeep Compass, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-30 are also near the top of the sales charts.

Currently, Stellantis’s only entry in this segment is the Fiat 500X. That model currently sits at the bottom of 2023’s Q1 sales, with only 135 units sold this year. That’s a 60% decrease from its performance in Q1 of 2022.

Like the Dodge Hornet, the Fiat 500X offers some unconventional features that you don’t often find in this segment. Each trim has all-wheel drive and a peppy 177-hp turbo-four engine. However, whatever enjoyment you could get from this powertrain is held back by a clunky nine-speed automatic transmission. The steering wheel also doesn’t provide much feedback which, combined with a harsh ride, makes an uncomfortable experience altogether. 

The Fiat 500X also has poor visibility because its rear roof pillars are so thick. Cloth-upholstered seats are your only option inside this SUV, while its most notable competitors offer some kind of leather seats. The 500X’s second row is also quite cramped by segment standards, and its cargo area only provides a maximum of 40 cubic feet.

On top of all that, the Fiat 500X just doesn’t offer enough value. It has some decent tech offerings, including smartphone integration and automatic emergency braking. However, even in the upgraded Sport trim, you have to pay extra for perks like adaptive cruise control and navigation. Its base price is already above average at $29,505, and the Sport model retails for over $32,000.

The Dodge Hornet was engineered for enjoyment

Even the best-selling Chevy Trailblazer looks pretty bland next to the Dodge Hornet. With its most powerful engine, you’re looking at a maximum of 155 hp on tap. It’s also held back by its relatively reserved exterior styling, a flaw shared by both the Honda HR-V and Toyota Corolla Cross.

The Dodge Hornet looks more angular and aggressive, featuring a 268-hp turbo-four engine with AWD. The Dodge Hornet R/T with the PHEV battery still makes an impressive 288 hp, plus has 30 miles of electric range.

Powerboost, which employs an extra acceleration increase at start-up, is only included on these models. Dodge also gave the Hornet some attractive optional features, including a Harmon Kardon stereo system and Alcantara sports seats.

Does standing out from the crowd mean higher sales?

It’s clear from its sales figures on GM Authority that the Subaru Crosstrek’s unique appeal adds more value for buyers. It’s marketed as a suitable companion for off-roading, with standard AWD and approximately 8.7 inches of ground clearance. The Crosstrek Wilderness has over nine inches of lift, plus different terrain drive modes and an off-roading suspension. 

The Dodge Hornet’s main selling angle is its upgraded performance, and it definitely has the exterior looks to match. Given all these factors, we can’t think of a better time for Stellantis to release the Dodge Hornet.

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