Alfa Romeo Tonale vs. Dodge Hornet: Compare Crossover SUVs

The related Dodge Hornet and Alfa Romeo Tonale share many things under the fabric of their small crossover suits, though their differences are more noteworthy. They both represent each brand’s first foray into electrification with plug-in hybrid powertrains, but for Dodge the Hornet represents how electric motors can power the performance future in a popular crossover package. The Tonale, on the other hand, points the Italian luxury brand down market to make it more accessible to more shoppers. 

Both are new, with Dodge launching the Hornet for the 2023 model year, then following in 2024 with the R/T plug-in hybrid version that more closely aligns, at least on the spec sheet. The Alfa Romeo Tonale launched for the 2024 model year only as a plug-in hybrid. 

Which of these siblings does the small crossover segment better? The Alfa looks the luxury part with alluring Italian curves, good proportions, and a clean dash, but the Italian style is subjected to a cosmopolitan upcharge of about $2,000 between the plug-in hybrid models.   

The Hornet feels less refined and more defiant, in the traditional iconoclastic character of any Dodge. Yet it lacks a genetic resemblance to anything between the Dodge Challenger muscle car and Dodge Durango bromobile, nor does it resurrect any likeness to the fastback that preceded it decades ago, long before Chrysler absorbed AMC in the ‘80s. 

For car shoppers, they each represent something different in a segment awash in similarity. Which one earns the higher TCC Rating and our recommendation? It comes down to performance, style, and that unique persona that attracts us to a car. Here’s how they compare.

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Dodge Hornet

2024 Dodge Hornet

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

Dodge Hornet vs. Alfa Romeo Tonale price and trims

  • Base Dodge Hornet GT costs about $33,000, to start
  • Dodge Hornet R/T plug-in hybrid jumps to about $43,000
  • Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV starts at about $45,000
  • A loaded Tonale Veloce costs just over $50,000

Both models come well equipped with standard all-wheel drive as well as driver-assist features such as automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors. They share an infotainment system as well, with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen connectable with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and both models are fitted with cloth upholstery. 

A 3-year/36,000-mile warranty on both is average at best.

How much is a Dodge Hornet ? Which Dodge Hornet should I buy?

That base Hornet GT gas model costs $32,330, including a $1,595 destination fee. The R/T plug-in hybrid model costs about $10,000 more at $42,530, and includes most of the same features mentioned above. 

Whatever your powertrain preference, we’d step up to the $5,300 Plus package to get leather upholstery, power heated and cooled front seats, a rockin’ 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, wireless smartphone charging, navigation, and a sunroof.

Dodge, being Dodge, offers a $2,995 Track Pack on Plus models that adds adjustable dampers, 20-inch wheels, Alcantara upholstery, and Brembo brakes with 4-piston front calipers painted red. That gets the gas model above $40,000, which would make our eyes wander to small crossovers over in the premium segment. On the Hornet PHEV R/T Plus, it’d be $50,000, and we’d prefer the Alfa.  

How much is an Alfa Romeo Tonale? Which Tonale should I buy?

Standard as a plug-in hybrid, the Tonale costs about $3,000 more than the Dodge Hornet R/T, but it comes slightly better equipped. Standard features on the $45,440 Tonale Sprint include adaptive cruise control and 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as adaptive LED matrix headlights, ambient interior lighting and elements from Dodge’s Plus package such as wireless smartphone charging, navigation, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel.

The $48,090 Ti model hits the Tonale on the head with its adjustable dampers, aluminum trim  accents, and a hands-free power tailgate. The $50,435 Veloce tops the lineup and rolls on 19-inch alloys, and dresses the interior with Alcantara upholstery

Advantage: Dodge Hornet gas, Alfa Romeo Tonale PHEV. 

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Dodge Hornet

2024 Dodge Hornet

2024 Dodge Hornet

2024 Dodge Hornet

Alfa Romeo Tonale vs. Dodge Hornet styling

  • The Hornet flexes muscle car pretensions with hood vents, air intakes
  • The Tonale buttons up with Alfa’s triangular grille
  • In profile, they’re nearly identical
2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

Is the Alfa Romeo Tonale a good-looking car?

The small crossovers share most of their bones, body parts, and a lot of the same skin. From the side, the slightly scalloped door panels run to a more pronounced rear fender, and the proportions and rooflines are identical, even though the Hornet sits higher. The wheel designs differ, with Alfa’s five lobes standing out more than the Hornet’s milk bottle spokes. The Tonale has wheel sizes ranging from 18 to 20 inches, while the Hornet starts out with 17s and mostly paints them black. 

The siblings diverge at the front fascia and interiors. Alfa adopts the curves of its motherland, and stamps the face with its trademark triangular center grille sitting over a long, thin lower grille. Thin LED highlights made of three loops on each side give it some visual menace, like a hawk locked on its prey.

Inside, the loops continue with circular air vents bookending the dash. A 10.3-inch touchscreen stretches across a low dash that waterfalls into two layers, and can be stamped with aluminum plates and accents to counter the soft black leather. 

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

Is the Dodge Hornet a good-looking car?

It looks the Dodge part, with a beveled hood layered by twin vents, and a thin upper grille squared off by rectangular headlights. It sits over a broad layered grille flanked by fake air inlets, so from the front it kinda resembles a little Dodge Durango. Same in the back, with its horizontal taillight bar looping around like a racetrack. A Track package flashes black trim elements, black 20-inch alloy wheels, and red Brembo brake calipers. 

The interior has a similar layout as the Tonale, with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster alongside a 10.3-inch touchscreen stretched across the low dash. Contrast stitching dresses up the black, while some grades can get red seats. Metallic accents ring the gauges, and a stop/start button moves from the Alfa’s steering wheel to the console bridge. There’s nothing flashy about it, yet it’s all neatly organized. 

Advantage: Alfa Romeo Tonale.

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

Hornet vs. Tonale performance and specs

  • Dodge Hornet GT taps a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 268 hp and 295 lb-ft 
  • Dodge Hornet R/T ties a 1.3-liter turbo-4 with two motors at 288 hp, 383 lb-ft
  • Alfa Romeo Tonale tunes the R/T plug-in powertrain to 285 hp, 347 lb-ft
  • Alfa Romeo Tonale only comes as a plug-in hybrid
  • All-wheel drive is standard on both

How fast is the Alfa Romeo Tonale?

The Alfa Romeo Tonale comes only as a plug-in hybrid, with a shifty balance between its 180-hp 1.3-liter turbo-4 and a motor at either axle that’s fed by a 15.5-kwh battery pack. The pack fills the drivetrain tunnel running down the center of the car floor, then spreading out under the rear seats. The large 121-hp rear motor powers the rear axle and is connected to the main powertrain by computer modules and software, instead of a mechanical connection as in other all-wheel-drive vehicles. Together, the system generates 285 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque, which is a whole lot of power for a small crossover. 

The front motor is an integrated belt starter-generator that provides a small shot of boost at take off and smooths over coasting and the automatic stop/start feature. 

The Tonale defaults to hybrid mode on start-up and remains in electric power with a full charge until the driver floors it or switches the Alfa Romeo’s trademark DNA dial on the console. N is for Natural, while the A makes a cognitive leap to Advanced Efficiency, or battery electric mode as long as there’s enough juice for the EPA-estimated 33 miles of range. In either of those modes, the cabin remains quiet from engine noise though the available 20-inch wheels broadcast more jitters from the somewhat high-strung suspension. Laying on the throttle kickstarts the small turbo-4 and awakens the 6-speed automatic transmission that lessens some of the quiet luxury calm of the electric cabin.

Dynamic mode stiffens the adaptive dampers on top models, and firms up the throttle response. It optimizes power from both the engine and rear motor, and goes long in first gear past 6,000 rpm and fills the cabin with frenetic energy before finally shifting to second gear. This transfer of power in Dynamic mode with the 6-speed can be sensitive, and playing with the column-mounted paddle shifters doesn’t sort it out. It does help the Tonale jump from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds, but it’s not a smooth shot, especially compared to the seamless electric mode. 

How does the Alfa Romeo Tonale drive?

In more everyday driving, the balance between the motor and engine feels more integrated, with the engine taking a supplemental role and often acting as a generator. The Tonale uses MacPherson struts front and rear, though adaptive damping for more responsiveness and cushion can be optioned. The adaptive dampers have a normal or firm setting accessible in the DNA dial, and even in its firmest setting it’s never too harsh and counters some of the lean endemic to small crossovers. 

The low ride height and low ground clearance of just 5.6 inches translates to a more connected feeling to the road than rival small crossover SUVs. The added weight of the battery pack adds to a low center of gravity spread between the axles, though with a rear-axle bias. It handles more like a hatchback than an SUV, similar to the larger Stelvio. It has a relatively quick steering ratio, with light inputs making big changes in direction for a sportier feel. 

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

How fast is the Dodge Hornet?

The Dodge Hornet comes in two varieties, a gas-only GT version powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, or a plug-in hybrid R/T variant sharing the same technology as the Tonale. 

The GT’s turbo-4 defaults to efficiency, with the 9-speed automatic flicking through the low gears quickly but it starves it of peak power. Mash the pedal to trigger a downshift, sometimes of two to three gears at once, but it still takes a beat too long to make a quick passing move; plans must be made. Click the Sport mode button to let it rev higher and get more throttle response. Sport mode stirs up a 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds.

The R/T plug-in hybrid feels more feral than the Tonale and rougher around the shifting edges. Dodge tunes it for 288 hp and 383 lb-ft, and it has four modes that essentially act the same as the Tonale. Instead of a dial on the console, press a button on the steering wheel in the place of the Tonale’s engine start button. It defaults to Hybrid mode, operates like Natural mode, and Electric like Advanced Efficiency. 

A Sport mode button on the console equates to Dynamic mode in the Tonale, but the difference with Dodge and its intention is its PowerShot mode. In Sport, hold down both column-mounted paddle shifters, floor it, and you get an extra 30 hp for up to 15 seconds as long as there’s an 80% charge or more. Sport mode holds that first gear even longer than the Tonale, and once off full throttle the shifts can be herky jerky and the dance between motor and engine power can be a dance of two left feet. 

How does the Dodge Hornet drive?

It’s a bit more high-strung than the Tonale. The rear suspension swaps out a MacPherson for a Chapman strut, aka a three-link independent suspension, but the real difference in handling comes from the taller ride height of the Hornet. The body lean is most pronounced on the GT, which sits up high with 8.0 inches of ground clearance versus 6.1 inches for the R/T, which is still a half-inch taller than the Tonale. It feels more jittery and sensitive to road imperfections, as well, though the available two-stage dampers similar to the Dynamic function in the Tonale smooths it out a bit. 

Advantage: Alfa Romeo Tonale.

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Dodge Hornet

2024 Dodge Hornet

2024 Dodge Hornet

2024 Dodge Hornet

Alfa Romeo Tonale vs. Dodge Hornet fuel economy

  • Dodge Hornet GT with AWD gets a low 24 mpg combined 
  • Alfa Romeo Tonale with AWD gets 29 mpg combined
  • The plug-in hybrids have 33 miles of range, but a small 11.2-gallon tank. 

Is the Dodge Hornet good on gas?

It’s mid. The GT’s rating of 21 mpg city, 29 highway, and 24 combined is below average for a small crossover, even with standard all-wheel drive. The Mazda CX-30 and Subaru Crosstrek with standard AWD rate at 29 mpg combined. 

The R/T plug-in hybrid rescues it, on average. It gets 29 mpg combined without electric power, but with it the EPA rating jumps to the equivalent of 77 mpg. On electric power alone, the Hornet R/T can travel 33 miles for its cleanest driving rating. Note that it’s relatively small 11.2-gallon tank means more stops on long road trips than other crossovers. 

Is the Alfa Romeo Tonale good on gas?

Since it only comes as a plug-in hybrid, it is. But it has the same ratings as the Hornet R/T. The Lexus NX plug-in hybrid has 37 miles of range, and an equivalent of 84 mpg, and it’s also larger than the Tonale. 

Advantage: Alfa Romeo Tonale, by default. 

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale

Dodge Hornet vs. Alfa Romeo Tonale size and dimensions

  • The Hornet and the Tonale match up on the spec sheet 
  • Both have five seats and fit four adults 
  • The Hornet has more cargo room
  • Tall passengers may need more rear headroom

How big are the Dodge Hornet and Alfa Romeo Tonale?

Since they share a platform, the Dodge Hornet and Alfa Romeo Tonale measure up similarly, though the Hornet has more cargo room behind the rear seats. At 63 inches tall (give or take a quarter-inch), 178 inches long, and with a wheelbase that’s 103.8 inches long, they’re most similarly sized to the Subaru Crosstrek and the Volvo XC40 in the small crossover segment. 

Dodge Hornet and Alfa Romeo passenger room and seat comfort

Heated power front seats covered in cloth upholstery come standard in both models, but Alfa offers finer features such as perforated Alcantara leather and brushed aluminum trim. Dodge dresses the Hornet in black with red accents for a sporty touch. Both sets of front seats have supportive bolstering that hug more than average but not so much as to be smothering. 

The rear seats have good legroom of 38.0 inches, and the headroom is decent enough to sit a 6-footer behind a 6-footer but people taller should look elsewhere. One knock is that the rear door cuts have dramatically more opening at the chest and shoulder level than at leg level, forcing rear seat passengers to do a kind of twist and pout when getting in the back seats. 

How much cargo space is there in the Hornet and Tonale?

Still, the rear seat space is relatively good for this segment, thanks in part to the rear strut set-up that also benefits cargo space. Both have more versatile 40/20/40-split rear seats, so you can fold down the narrow middle portion to fit golf clubs or skis or longer items without really upsetting the two passengers in back. 

The Hornet gets the edge with either powertrain setup. Without a battery pack eating up a portion of cargo space, the GT gas model has a deeper floor for 27.0 cubic feet of space (54.7 cubes with the seats flat); it drops to 22.9 cubes with the R/T plug-in hybrid model. The Tonale has 20.9 cubic feet (50.9 with the seats down), and in either vehicle, the wheel well covers create a wall without any storage pockets or recesses, so the cargo area is as wide as it is deep and tall, like a box.

Advantage: Alfa for finish, Dodge for cargo.  

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

2024 Dodge Hornet R/T

Tonale vs. Hornet safety

  • Neither model has been crash tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA
  • Both models come with a full suite of driver-assist features
  • Options include a surround-view camera system, but not hands-free driving

How safe is the Dodge Hornet?

Testing is incomplete, but Dodge equips it with technology designed to avoid or mitigate a crash. Standard features include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control. Outward vision is OK out the front but only in higher seat positions, and it gets worse at the sides and the rear. 

How safe is the Alfa Romeo Tonale?

Similar story as the Hornet, but the Tonale comes with more standard driver-assist features, including blind-spot monitors with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, active lane control, front and rear parking sensors, a driver-attention monitor, and automatic emergency braking. Options include a surround-view camera system, automatic parking, and a limited hands-free driving system on uncongested highways for 15 second increments or so. The rear pillars obfuscate rearward vision, but the view out the front and sides is broader than the Hornet. 

Advantage: Tonale.

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Which is better: Alfa Romeo Tonale or Dodge Hornet?

The Alfa earns its modest upcharge with a TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10. Powertrain hiccups notwithstanding, its style and personality stand out in a class that too often skews toward the boring. Far from boring, the Dodge Hornet jolts the electrified era of Dodge, but it’s as puzzling as it is performance-driven. The gas-only GT model is a well-equipped value, but the R/T plug-in hybrid doesn’t stand out enough in performance; Alfa makes up for the $3,000 price difference on standard features alone, excluding its stylistic advantage. The Dodge Hornet earns a TCC Rating of 6.4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

To save a buck, we’d recommend the base Hornet, while we’d step up at least to the Tonale Ti for its two-stage dampers and flashier upgrades. Alfa Romeo succeeded with the Tonale by casting a wider net for its brand, whereas the Hornet seems more astray and unable to pin down.  

Winner: Alfa Romeo Tonale.


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