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The Dodge Hornet Is the Slowest-Selling Compact SUV in America, and Thus, Quite Lame

2024 Dodge Hornet 10 photos
Photo: Stellantis/autoevolution
2024 Dodge HornetDodge Durango and Hornet2024 Dodge Hornet2024 Dodge Hornet2024 Dodge Hornet2024 Dodge Hornet2024 Dodge Hornet2024 Dodge Hornet2024 Dodge Hornet
What’s the deal with the Dodge Hornet? I’m picturing Jerry Seinfeld bringing this up during one of his sets. I mean, this is the “least-Dodge” vehicle I’ve ever seen. It’s even relatively fuel efficient. How can you even call yourself a Dodge and not be a gas guzzler?
What? That’s funny, right? I should stick to my day job? Fair enough, but keep in mind that while the Hornet is quite the competent little SUV, generally speaking, it’s just hard for some people to accept/acknowledge it as a new Dodge model. It doesn’t look or drive like a Dodge, and it’s not selling like one either.

In fact, according to CarEdge, the Hornet is by far the slowest-selling compact (and sub-compact) SUV in the United States – and has been since the start of 2024. In February, it was the slowest-selling new vehicle period in America, but it has since lost that “crown” to the Acura ZDX and Fiat 500e for the month of July.

Also, what I mean by slowest selling is topping the MSD chart (Market Day Supply). MSD is a “measure of the number of days it would take to sell all of a particular model of car, based on the current sales rate, assuming no additional inventory is added.”

A high MSD figure suggests an oversupply, and the Hornet has been among the vehicles with the most inventory available throughout 2024.

What’s the point of the Hornet?

Look, I understand why Alfa Romeo made the Tonale. It’s a great product for European roads and U.S. buyers will find it interesting too, given its efficient engines and sharp handling characteristics. The Tonale is priced from $43,845 in the U.S. whereas the Dodge Hornet has a starting MSRP of $31,400.

On one hand, if you’re a savvy buyer, you’ll skip the Tonale altogether and just get a Hornet, given the price discrepancy. It’s basically the same car. However, Americans aren’t doing this and the reason, at least to me, is obvious. It’s hard for buyers (Dodge buyers in particular) to identify with the Hornet.

Dodge Durango and Hornet
Photo: Stellantis
This was such a clear cash grab as far as Dodge are concerned. There’s literally no other reason to rebadge the Tonale, especially since it doesn’t really fit in with the U.S. carmaker’s vehicle line-up – not even a little bit. To be fair, it’s not like they could have designed it to resemble something like the Durango (just a thought) without additional investment, but again this takes us back to the cash grab scenario.

Whenever two or more vehicles share identical underpinnings, carmakers can go one of two ways. You either redesign the body completely to help it fit in with your brand identity (more expensive), or you just redesign the front and rear fascias (grille, headlights, bumpers, hood, taillights), also known as badge engineering.

Meanwhile, inside, they mostly fiddled with the air vents (round for the Tonale, more rectangular for the Hornet), otherwise the dashboard and center console are nearly identical.

Alternatives

Maybe something like a Cadillac XT4 if you’d rather have an American badge. Otherwise, I’d suggest the BMW X1, Volvo XC40, Jaguar E-Pace and so on. Of course, they’re a little more expensive, but they also have more of an identity, whereas the Hornet is anything but a Dodge. I’m not sure how else to put it: I don’t mind it as a product (overall), I just mind it as a Dodge, and according to the numbers, American buyers do too.

Note: You can get a closer look at those stats right here.

I'll also add that while a lot of people, and even carmakers themselves refer to models such as the Tonale/Hornet or the BMW X1 as ‘compact’, they’re technically smaller than your usual compact crossover. So basically, the Hornet is a sub-compact SUV, which again, hurts its chances of finding new owners in the States.

2024 Dodge Hornet
Photo: Stellantis
In a way, the Hornet is a lot like the Caliber. Small, and riding on the same platform as a European sibling. The thing is, the Caliber at least looked like a Dodge (and it was built by Dodge), whereas for the Hornet, they couldn’t even bother coming up with a separate exterior design.

Is Dodge toning down its designs?

I have a fear they just might be. Just look at the all-new 2025 Charger – it looks like the 2024 Challenger’s sickly cousin. So, you’ll have that, plus the Hornet going forward, and who knows what’s going to happen to the next-gen Durango styling-wise? If it takes after the all-new Charger, we’re in trouble. Dodge clearly got hit hard by the Tesla bug, which has the tendency to make carmakers focus their new designs on the quirky side, so that buyers instinctively know they’re looking at an electric vehicle.

Mercedes and BMW got hit by the same bug, but at least the former acknowledged it to some extent and future Benz models will be a lot less “pod-like”. As for BMW, I don’t even know what to say anymore.

Ultimately, as muscle car fans, all we can do is hope that Dodge will do a 180 on its designs and draw up something truly breathtaking sometime in the future. Going back to your roots is never a bad thing, because you can’t put a price on identity.
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About the author: Sergiu Tudose
Sergiu Tudose profile photo

Sergiu got to experience both American and European car "scenes" at an early age (his father drove a Ford Fiesta XR2 supermini in the 80s). After spending over 15 years at local and international auto publications, he's starting to appreciate comfort behind the wheel more than raw power and acceleration.
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