Will the 2023 Dodge Hornet be a Better Small SUV Than the 2022 Mazda CX-30?

The 2022 Mazda CX-30 is a refined, sporty, and sophisticated choice in the vast and well-staffed compact SUV segment. Two years after its redesign, it remains one of the best-equipped, sharpest-looking picks for people who want luxury in a small package. Yet, the premier driver-focused compact SUV is set to have more competition coming soon. Dodge, the American arm of multinational automaker Stellantis, seeks a segment assault with the 2023 Dodge Hornet, filling out its SUV lineup. 

The CX-30 sits just under the larger midsize CX-5. Likewise, the Dodge Hornet will present an option for buyers looking for something trimmer than the midsize Durango. The Hornet will enter a packed segment competing against the Volkswagen Taos, the Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda Passport, and Subaru Outback. As a watershed moment for the American brand, Dodge pulls out all stops to make it a worthy adversary.

However, does it have what it takes to dethrone the beloved Mazda CX-30? Let’s see how they stack up.

2023 Dodge Hornet vs. 2022 Mazda CX-30 styling

A light blue 2023 Dodge Hornet GT driving
2023 Dodge Hornet GT | Stellantis

As gracefully aggressive as a cheetah pouncing on its prey, the Mazda CX-30 has a more mature, sculpted appearance. With chrome accents, a large front grille, and thin lighting signatures, it’s luxurious modernity without taking it too far. Its low stance may lead to mistaking it for a hatchback—the Mazda 3 on which it’s based—but it’s handsome.

Most may think the Dodge Hornet is a shorter, thinner, and taller version of the outgoing Charger. After all, it features the same styling cues like the trapezoidal front grille and long, bulging hood, albeit curved. It’s a blunt, brawny specimen like the Charger, but it actually isn’t based on the American muscle car. 

Dodge’s Hornet will share much of its styling—and mechanics—with the Alfa Romeo Tonale of Stellantis origins. The Tonale sits below the midsize Stelvio, and the Hornet seems to be a more sport-focused variant of the underpinnings. Nevertheless, being accused of borrowing from Alfa Romeo is nothing near a bad thing.

2023 Dodge Hornet vs. 2022 Mazda CX-30 performance

Propelling the entry-level 2023 Mazda CX-30 is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. Yet, energetic drivers can opt for the turbocharged variant with 250 horsepower and 320 horsepower, which is impressive for the segment. Coupled with standard all-wheel drive, a six-speed automatic transmission, and agile handling, the CX-30 has classic Mazda capability on the road.

Unfortunately, the Dodge Hornet will not be offered with a ludicrous, Star-Spangled-awesome V8, but that’s expected in the 2020s. The Hornet will be the first to feature the all-new “Hurricane” modular engine platform. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the GT trim level is powerful. With 268 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and a nine-speed transmission, it will do 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds. The pricer R/T trim level will provide 288 horsepower, and 383 lb-ft of torque from a 1.3-liter four-cylinder teamed with an electric motor. While the R/T also has AWD, it will be fitted with a six-speed transmission.

As Dodge’s first plug-in hybrid, the Hornet does come with quite an exciting feature. Car and Driver reports that the powertrain can temporarily boost output by 25 horsepower via a PowerShot feature. When activated by pulling both paddle shifters, the Hornet will jump from a standstill to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds.

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2023 Dodge Hornet vs. 2022 Mazda CX-30 interior

Although both vehicles look quite different on the outside, when it comes to interior space, both are nearly identical. The CX-30 is pleasantly spacious, whereas the Hornet leaves you wondering where the presumed extra room would be from the larger body. However, despite the CX-30 having slightly less space in nearly every interior dimension, it’s a half-inch longer wheelbase than the Hornet. Regardless, both compact SUVs employ somewhat minimalistic interiors.

The Hornet has a straightforward appearance with digital gauge clusters and an immense infotainment screen placed in the dashboard’s center. Although the CX-30 has traditional analog gauges, it’s mixed in with various screens. At the same time, it has a smaller infotainment screen, but it’s more luxuriously integrated into the dashboard, albeit more of a reach for drivers.

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Which compact SUV is better?

Without a turbocharger under the hood, buyers can grasp a Mazda CX-30 for under $23,000. Since the Hornet isn’t yet on sale, there are no official price points for the five trim levels. Based on MotorTrend estimates, the Hornet GT will likely sit around $31,000, at least $10,000 below the middle-of-the-road R/T spec. This means the Dodge Hornet GT will be more expensive than seven of the eight trim levels offered with the CX-30.

Until prices are announced for the Dodge Hornet, it’s a tough call to say which one would be better. Given the Mazda CX-30’s famed reliability, striking looks, and relatively low price, it is a great choice for the moment.

RELATED: 2022 Mazda CX-30 Review: Surprisingly Agile, Athletic, and Addicting