As tested and photographed by Ricardo Rodriguez Long
Dodge Hornet, a Plug-In hybrid for fast commute!
The hornets are the most aggressive of the Vespa family of wasps. A fast and furious flying insect that many people confuse with a yellow-jacket wasp. The hornet sting is more dangerous than bees. At the same time the hornets have the highest level of organization, and their colonies are one of the best examples of cooperative labor.
The European hornet is widely found in North America, and still today misunderstood. A mean transplant that found its home here, and is fully capable to surprise anyone by its attributes. And that is exactly the way I felt about “The Other Hornet” that has just arrived in our land. This one has four wheels, air conditioned, and almost 300 HP.
I had the opportunity to drive this powerful compact utility vehicle and it really surprised me. Let me tell you why.
Dodge has established itself as a brand of powerful cars like the Hellcat, Charger Wide-Body, and the Durango SRT. But as the electrification of cars becomes the new standard, the people at the factory believe that the spirit and power should not be compromised in their product line. The Dodge Hornet is their first Plug-in Hybrid and you better erase the Prius image that comes to your mind when you think “hybrid”. This Hornet is a Plug-in car with a heavy sting and rooted in Europe as well.
The GT, and R/T versions of the all new Hornet is a four door CUV that stands powerful and sinister. There are hot air extractors on the hood, and certain curves that make it look aggressive. Inside you noticed that everything is facing the driver. I like the tablet integration into the dash and the overall design. Other than the reflection of the dash on the windshield, everything else is done in a harmonious way.
But the Hornet best features are found once you start the engine. The GT and R/T have different motors. The GT uses the “Hurricane4” 2.0 Liter Turbocharged inline four cylinders that is now the most powerful engine in its segment thanks to the 268 horsepower that it make.
The R/T model is something else. This is the Americanized hornet with a bigger sting. The engine generates 383 ft/lbs of torque. As much power as a V8 of just a decade ago. This is the Plug-in version that has an electric motor on the rear axle capable of a 120 HP in an instant. At the front of the car there is a 1.3 liter Turbocharged ICE rotating the front wheels without effort. This combination makes it an all-wheel-drive vehicle. All together you have 288 HP in your right foot whenever you need it. But off course there is people like me that want more. So the engineers added a Power Shot button on the steering wheel that when you press on it you get an additional 25 HP. All these “horses” make the Hornet fast.
A fast car has to be controlled and here is what I found best in this automobile. At speed in the twisty roads near the Blue Ridge Mountains you are faced with all type of corners and hill climbs. The Hornet driving dynamics are nothing like their competitors. This suspension is tuned for cornering and braking. Perhaps because of the Koni FSD shocks, or the Brembo brakes, I found myself going faster than you should in these country roads because the car felt safe and with excellent grip. I noticed the Michelin Pilot Sport on the 20 inch rims. You never see these high grip tires in this segment. I found the throttle response as good as any sport car and definitely I can say that the Hornet R/T is a Hybrid on another kind.
The car comes with the U-Connect 5 infotainment system. Using a 10.3 touch screen and a digital cluster you can control everything in the car with ease. You can connect 2 cell phones and it is Android, Alexa, and Apple Car Play ready. It took me seconds to connect my phone.
It also has a very good Level 2 autonomy system that can help you with traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise, intelligent speed assist, and more. Since I am not the type I let the car do it s magic I did not learn all the features. I think the Hornet wants to be driven.
Any high performance car incorporates bigger tires, bigger brakes, and features that can add to the price. So here is no different. The base Hornet GT is well equipped and starts at around $29,000. The Plug-in Hybrid R/T starts about $5000 more. Off course being a Dodge means that there will be some accessories to make it even faster. Those components will come through “Direct Connection”, a high performance parts supplier that will enhance even more your Hornet while keeping the factory warranty intact.
Like the real hornet, the four wheel version is not domesticated and full of attitude. A Plug-in car for those that want much more.