Skip to main content

Dodge is back in the business of compact, sporty SUVs with the brand-new Dodge Hornet. The Dodge Hornet was initially released with only one model available, the Dodge Hornet GT. This model, along with the feature-filled GT Plus, came with a sporty turbocharged engine. Now, the Dodge Hornet comes with an optional R/T plug-in hybrid model, giving this Hornet an electrified performance powertrain. However, is this just a repeat of the Dodge Caliber from 2007? Here is everything you need to know about the Dodge Caliber and why the Hornet will leave the Caliber in the dust.

The Dodge Hornet isn’t the company’s first crack at a sporty compact SUV

The Dodge brand is no stranger to SUVs. From the powerful Durango to the affordable Journey, Dodge has always had a couple of SUVs in its lineup. In the mid-2000s, Dodge was experimenting with smaller performance-focused SUVs. The Dodge Nitro was a smaller SUV, but the Dodge Caliber was a focus for the brand.

The Caliber blurred the lines between hatchback and SUV, and it was marketed as a sporty commuter. This Dodge Caliber lasted from 2007 through the 2012 model year, according to J.D. Power.

Was the Dodge Caliber a good car?

Sadly, the Dodge Caliber was a horrible vehicle. The Caliber featured a noisy engine, subpar fit and finish, and lackluster handling. Even in the performance, the R/T variant was disappointing, and the top-of-the-line SRT4 model was expensive and poorly built, despite its 285-hp engine.

What made this Dodge Caliber so disappointing was the fact that it was built to replace the Ddoge Neon, a compact car that put Dodge in the driver’s seat of the 1990s sport coupe competition. Dodge went from a sporty coupe to a high-seated lame duck of an SUV built with shoddy plastic materials throughout the interior. 

Will the Hornet succeed where the Caliber failed?

The compact SUV class is an incredibly tough segment to compete in for Dodge. This class is full of top-selling vehicles that appeal to a wide range of consumers, from teens looking for their first vehicle to young families, and even performance-minded drivers looking for some practical performance. However, the Dodge Hornet will be more successful than the Dodge Caliber. The Dodge Caliber failed in almost every way, while the Dodge Hornet is at least a solid-built, moderately affordable vehicle.

The Hornet is one of the most powerful vehicles in its class, and it also features all-wheel drive as standard equipment. The Dodge Hornet also comes built on the same chassis as the Alfa Romeo Tonale, which is a luxury vehicle. This alone gives the Hornet an Alta Romeo-adjacent quality in the interior fit and finish. The Dodge Hornet is a solid performance crossover SUV. It may not prove to be as successful as other mainline compact crossovers, but it will outperform its Dodge Caliber predecessor.


2023 Dodge Hornet GT Plus First Drive: A High-Strung SUV for the Discerning Driver