2023 10 Best Engines and Propulsion Systems

Dodge Hornet R/T: Pizzazz in PHEV Package

Snappy electric drive augmented by gas-powered range and a compelling and handy CUV design makes the ’24 Dodge Hornet R/T a worthy winner.

David Kiley, Senior Editor

October 6, 2023

3 Min Read
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As Stellantis’ Dodge brand pivots from gasoline-powered pavement-pounding muscle-car propulsion to electrified options of the future, we find plenty to like in the hybrid powertrain propelling the Hornet R/T midsize CUV.

The plug-in hybrid builds on a turbocharged 1.3L 4-cyl. from the Stellantis Global Small Engine family, shared with the Alfa Romeo Tonale.

The 175-hp engine driving the front axle gets a 44-hp boost from a belt-starter generator, while a 121-hp, 184-lb.-ft. (249-Nm) electric motor powers the rear wheels.

Put it all together and total output is 288 hp and 383 lb.-ft. (519 Nm) of torque, good for 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.6 seconds  assisted by an extra 30-hp boost for up to 15 seconds when punching the PowerShot button on the steering wheel.

But wait, there’s more: As a plug-in hybrid, the Hornet R/T also runs on pure electric power for up to 32 miles (51 km).

Overall, the Hornet plug-in is rated at 77 mpg-e. In our test drives, mostly running on the gas engine, fuel economy ranged from 34 mpg (6.9 L/100 km) to 43 mpg (5.5 L/100 km).

Stellantis truly understands the consumer-pleasing potential of mainstream PHEVs beyond fuel economy.  That said, the Hornet is no Hemi-powered Hellcat, but as the days wind down on big V-8 powertrains, Dodge and Stellantis deserve our praise for keeping the excitement alive while changing the way we’ll experience muscle-car performance in an electrified future.

“This powertrain is a joy to drive in most situations, from punching up PowerShot on a launch to silent EV motoring on local errands,” says Wards Editor-in-Chief Bob Gritzinger “It’s quick when you want it, mellow when you’re just cruising. Pedal response is appropriate regardless of drive mode.”

Wards Contributing Editor and judge Drew Winter says the key innovation in the Hornet is the ”gam-ification” of the propulsion system.

“I’m a fan of PHEVs but they are complex and difficult for consumers to understand,” Winter says. “Typically, PHEVs try to pretend to be EVs in BEV mode and make combined mode as quiet as possible. With features like PowerShot, Dodge encourages drivers to explore and enjoy the Hornet’s multiple personalities as features, not something to be covered up.”

Hornet comes in two trims, with a base price of  $44,995. Our test car stickered at $52,405.

It’s a versatile and well-appointed package inside and out that includes a solid, fuel-efficient powertrain, with some pop and a taste of performance that only gets better the more you keep the battery recharged to save some bucks at the pump.

The 2023 winners will be honored during the Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems award ceremony taking place on day two of AutoTech: Electrification – Oct. 18. The event will take place Oct. 17-18 at the Fort Pontchartrain in Detroit. Learn more about the event and book your ticket by visiting https://bit.ly/3REayqc. All credentialed media are welcome and qualify for free admittance to both the awards ceremony and AutoTech: Electrification.

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T PHEV

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About the Author(s)

David Kiley

Senior Editor, WardsAuto

David Kiley is an award winning journalist. Prior to joining WardsAuto, Kiley held senior editorial posts at USA Today, Businessweek, AOL Autos/Autoblog and Adweek, as well as being a contributor to Forbes, Fortune, Popular Mechanics and more.

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