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Even if you are not in the market for a small SUV, you probably know a few popular models like the Toyota RAV4 or the Honda CR-V. However, one compact SUV from Dodge has flown under the radar for a while (pun intended). Behold the 2023 Dodge Hornet, which is actually the Alfa Romeo Tonale in disguise.

Is the Dodge Hornet a fast compact SUV?

This compact SUV is the 2023 Dodge Hornet GT
The 2023 Dodge Hornet GT in Acapulco Gold | Dodge

With a name like the 2023 Dodge Hornet, the compact SUV better be fast (and it is, mostly). Two different engine types are available from Dodge; the base GT and GT Plus get a turbo four-cylinder. Those who opt for the faster R/T and R/T Plus trims get a turbo four-cylinder with an electric motor for more horsepower. Those engines only get 21 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway, which equals about 24 combined.

2023 Dodge HornetMSRPHorsepowerZero to 60 mph
GT$30,735268 hp6.5 seconds
GT Plus$35,735268 hp6.5 seconds
R/T$40,000 (EST)288 hp5.6 seconds
R/T Plus$45,000 (EST)288 hp5.6 seconds
Compact SUV price comparison

Dodge calls the Hornet a Compact Utility Vehicle (CUV), hoping it can blend American muscle with new technology. Only the GT and GT PLUS are available, while the R/T and R/T Plus are slated to hit the market later this year. Dodge has not released pricing information about the R/T and R/T Plus, but estimates could be around $40,000 and $45,000 based on pricing for the available trims.

That has probably complicated the issue, which has left the small Dodge SUV with low sales numbers. According to GoodCarBadCar, the 2023 Dodge Hornet sold 877 units in its first month on the market. That was followed by 843 in May and 877 in June. Even with the more powerful options, consumers seem to be shifting away from this type of vehicle. It almost feels better suited in the heyday of reborn muscle cars.

Is the Dodge Hornet a good compact SUV?

Sure, the Dodge Hornet is a good compact SUV for the right driver. Dodge has a heavy focus on performance and power with the Hornet, which won’t make it a good option across the board. Someone looking for a small SUV for the family might be more comfortable in something else. The compact SUV segment is also full of excellent vehicles. While the Hornet is not a bad SUV, it has no class-leading numbers or stats.

Current sales data only goes through June, so it isn’t clear how the Hornet has been selling since then. Other models with similar numbers are the Fiat 500X and the Ford EcoSport. The Mazda MX-30 also saw low numbers, but you hear about the MX-30 quite a bit. The Ford EcoSport isn’t exactly popular, but people know of it since it has been around for a while.

Does that make the 2023 Dodge Hornet the least popular compact SUV? Did you know the Dodge Hornet was available, and is the Alfa Romeo Tonale just rebadged for the North American market? It is, and it was, but the luxury Tonale hasn’t taken off either. In Q3 2023, the Tonale had 118 sales, while the Dodge Hornet had 2,597. These numbers do not include July or August yet.

What is the best compact SUV?

Inside the Dodge Hornet compact SUV
The Dodge Hornet interior | Dodge

3 More Affordable Luxury Compact SUVs Than the Maserati Grecale

The 2023 Mazda CX-5 and the 2023 Hyundai Tuscon are some of the best options in the compact SUV segment. These have sold 106,113 units (CX-5) and 134,367 (Tucson) in 2023. Even if the 2023 Dodge Hornet broke no sales records in the first few months on the market, the compact SUV is looking toward the future. The 2024 Dodge Hornet will bring the two faster trim models and more additions to jumpstart sales, hopefully. A fully loaded hornet starting at $45,000 isn’t too out-of-pocket for a brand-new vehicle, but no pricing is confirmed yet.

Drivers who want a crossover SUV with muscle-car character might be impressed with the Hornet. That also might be easier to locate in the upcoming R/T models, with the electric motor adding additional power. If the Hyundai Tucson and Ford Escape models are too bland, perhaps the Hornet will spice things up. Otherwise, the Dodge Hornet suffers from image issues and misaligned market needs. Is it a Dodge or an Alfa Romeo, a compact SUV or a crossover? Is it fast, or is it just average? The Hornet leaves more questions than answers.