Fully Loaded Dodge Hornet GT Plus Is A $45,000 Steal

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The 2023 Dodge Hornet configurator is up and running for the pure combustion variants.

The online configurator for the highly-anticipated 2023 Dodge Hornet has gone live, showcasing the base GT and GT Plus derivatives. The plug-in hybrid models are only slated for sale in spring 2023, so will likely be added to the roster at a later date for you to play around with. In the meantime, we're able to configure what Dodge calls the gateway to Dodge muscle and the models that will likely make up the bulk of the sales for the new crossover.

With insane demand for the compact crossover, speccing one may be much easier than actually getting one any time soon, though. But even fully maxed out, the Hornet GT Plus will likely remain affordable, as we were only able to spec one up to $44,420.

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As promised, the Hornet is the fastest, quickest, most potent sub-$30,000 compact crossover in America. A base GT has an MSRP of $29,995, while the more luxurious GT Plus starts at $34,995. These prices do not include the $1,595 destination charge, so the reality is the Hornet is the fastest, quickest, and most powerful for $30k-ish.

Not that it matters because the Hornet remains a performance bargain. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder produces 265 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. A nine-speed automatic gearbox sends that power to an all-wheel-drive system with standard torque vectoring. While there are several rivals in the same price segment, the Mazda CX-30 is the closest thing to a direct competitor, though you could also make a case for the CX-5. To get turbocharged power in the CX-30, expect to pay just under $34,000.

Whichever way you look at it, the Hornet might be the best value-for-money car currently on sale.

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The Hornet has a disappointing color palette for a car that's meant to be the first crossover muscle car. The only no-cost options are Q Ball and 8 Ball (white and black). The $495 options include Gray Cray, Blu Bayou, and Hot Tamale. Acapulco Gold is the wildest color available, and it goes for $595, joined by Blue Steele for the same price.

The standard 17-inch wheels are uninspiring, but you can upgrade to 18- or 20-inch black alloys. This adds a nice bit of contrast, which helps the car stand out a bit more. The 18-inch black alloys are a no-cost option, but you must add the $1,995 GT Blacktop Package, while the 20-inchers require the $2,995 Track Pack. Black is the only interior color available, and you can have it in cloth or Alcantara.

Thankfully, the 10.25-inch touchscreen is standard, and it has the latest Uconnect 5 software.

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The GT Blacktop Package is worth getting because it adds several black bits in addition to the wheels. Other items include a Dark GT Badge, Dark Hornet Badge, gloss-black Painted daylight opening moldings, and gloss-black painted mirror caps.

If you really want to get noticed, the Track Pack adds a set of red-painted brake calipers behind those sizable wheels. This package also adds all of the interior enhancements, including Alcantara seats, Bright pedals, Dual-Mode suspension, a sporty leather steering wheel, and aluminum door sills.

Opting for this package automatically adds the $495 Cold Weather Package, which includes heated front seats, remote start, and a heated steering wheel.

Finally, the Tech Pack ($2,245) adds the Active Driving Assist System, Drowsy Driver Detection, Intelligent Speed Assist, front and rear park assist with automatic braking, and a surround-view camera.

A fully-loaded GT costs $39,915, or roughly $4,500 more than a top-spec Mazda CX-30.

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Opting for the GT Plus gets you LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED fog lights. The infotainment is upgraded to include navigation, and it's connected to a premium Harman Kardon sound system. Premium leather is standard, as are heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats. Dodge also includes wireless charging and a power liftgate.

Unfortunately, the color palette is just as limited as on the standard GT. You can add red leather seats, which is a must (and cheaper than the Alcantara). Another bonus is the standard power sunroof, providing some natural light.

The Cold Weather Package is unavailable here because it's all included as standard, but the Tech and Track Packs cost he same as on the GT.

With every possible option included, you're looking at $44,420. That's more than a top-spec Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus without any options. Compared to the larger CX-50, which is already a big seller in the USA, a fully-loaded Hornet suddenly seems a bit expensive.

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We'll reserve comment until we've spent some time behind the wheel. The Hornet is a Tonale underneath, and Alfa Romeo knows how to make an SUV feel like a sports car. For reference, see the Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

It's hard not to be disappointed by the configurator. We were hoping for the same level of individualization you get when playing around on the Challenger configurator. Dodge might be leaving the stripes, decals, and wilder colors for the R/T hybrid.

Dodge also said there would be various options via Direct Connection, including suspension drop kits, a sportier exhaust, and some graphics. The Hornet isn't live on the Direct Connection website yet, but we look forward to seeing what Dodge offers.

With the Challenger and Charger effectively sold out and production ending this year, Dodge needs the Hornet to succeed.

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