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The last time Dodge debuted a new vehicle was the Dart back in 2013. Is that any way to run a car company? Now, Dodge is poised to begin deliveries of the Hornet in the first quarter of 2023. It’s the first new Dodge vehicle in almost a decade.

Hornet will be based on Alfa Romeo’s Tonale crossover

2023 Dodge Hornet
2023 Dodge Hornet hybrid logo | Stellantis

What you might not expect is that the Hornet will be based on Alfa Romeo’s Tonale crossover. The Tonale is itself based on the Jeep Compass architecture. Two years ago a Tonale concept was unveiled.

The Italian site Passione Auto Italiane was first with Hornet news. It mentioned in a post that the Tonale would share production lines at the Alfa plant in Pomigliano D’Arco, Italy. Both will feature the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder currently found in the Wrangler. 

Hornet is the first new Dodge SUV since the 2011 Durango

Alfa Romeo Tonale crossover in red
Alfa Romeo Tonale crossover | Stellantis

Not only is the Hornet the first new Dodge since the 2013 Dart, but it is the first new Dodge SUV since the 2011 Durango. Dodge produced the Dart between 2013 and 2016. The Tonale began production earlier this year, but the Hornet didn’t see production until recently. Deliveries won’t begin until the first part of 2023.

Originally, Alfa delayed the Tonale’s introduction. This happened because the head of Alfa Romeo found that Tonale’s PHEV engine did not deliver on performance. So its engineers went back to increase the power one expects from the Alfa Romeo brand. However, there won’t be a Hellcat version of the Hornet. 

The Hornet name actually goes back to Hudson vehicles of the 1950s. A Hornet was a high-performance sedan featuring a two-carb straight-six engine. Hornet ruled NASCAR stock car racing in the early 1950s. By 1957 both the Hornet and Hudson Motor Company were history. 

Does the Hornet name mean something?

2023 Dodge Hornet
2023 Dodge Hornet hybrid | Stellantis

Hudson became part of a larger American Motors Corporation with the merger of it, Packard, Studebaker, and Nash. This happened in 1954. The Hornet trademark was passed on to Chrysler when American Motors was purchased by Chrysler in 1986. That purchase included the Jeep brand. 

Dodge has been soldiering on with only the Charger, Challenger, and Durango SUV. It is one of the last American manufacturers to offer cars as opposed to SUVs. Mostly, Ford and GM produce SUVs and crossovers, having killed off their three-box cars last year. Dodge has held headlines in the last few years with ever-increasing horsepower versions of Hellcat performance offerings. 

With the merger of the French Peugeot Group and Fiat Chrysler which created Stellantis, pundits were curious if the Dodge brand might be dropped. But the head of Stellantis recently stated he was giving each brand under the Stellantis umbrella 10 years to prove their worth.  

Updated: 12/1/2022


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