A Bittersweet Speed Week: Dodge Unveils Their Future

Dodge says it’s the last call for modern muscle as we know it while also introducing the Dodge Hornet and a glimpse at their electrified future.

Kicking Off Speed Week Right

2022 Roadkill Nights - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2022 Roadkill Nights - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

Dodge announced three days of Speed Week Announcements this week, but they made sure to remind everyone what Dodge is about prior to the presentations. Roadkill Nights 2022 hit Pontiac, Michigan and brought all of the tire spinning gearheads from across the nation together for a heck of a time. The best way to describe it was a Dodge themed country fair. Tons of food vendors, merch booths, Dodge displays, drag racing simulators, and even some thrill rides. Dodge brought out the SRT Hellcats for attendees to ride around in for some spins around a skid pad and the RAM TRX was also on-hand at its very own high-flying off-road course for fans to witness the capability of this truck.

Hundreds of Mopar cars were on show over the weekend for attendees to enjoy. Everything from Plymouth Barracudas up to brand new Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeyes. Friday night featured a smoke-filled burnout contest that saw numerous tires explode to the delight of the crowd, but the real star of Roadkill Nights was the Woodward Ave drag. Dodge hand selected a group of auto enthusiasts and sent them some goodies to build a racer. The racers were provided a Redeye crate motor, six-speed manual transmission from Direct Connection, and some extra cash to help craft their car. Needless to say, the whole event really showed Dodge fans why it’s their favorite car brand.

2022 Roadkill Nights - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2022 Roadkill Nights - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

Now on to the Dodge Announcements from Speed Week though, where the fan base may be split on what is happening to the brand. We’ve got some sad news about our favorite high-horsepower V8s, some happier news about what’s to come, and some electrification plans in the works. Here’s what we can expect from Dodge in the next couple years.

Day 1: Last Call for Dodge V8s

2023 Dodge Challenger in Plum Crazy - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2023 Dodge Challenger in Plum Crazy - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

The first day of Speed Week announcements was considered the Current Muscle Announcements. It’s a sad start for some here, as Dodge is essentially telling fans that the rubber burning V8 powered muscle car era is ending. The current versions of the Challenger and Charger as we know them are set to end after next year. Dodge is providing multiple special edition sendoff models for each model and adding unique badging to all of the 2023 models.

For both the 2023 Dodge Charger and 2023 Dodge Challenger, Dodge says there will be six different special edition models that will each hold a special connection to Dodge’s past through their design. Specific information on each commemorative design will be released later in the year and orders will be on a first-come, first-served basis at select Dodge dealerships. There are also plans for a seventh version for each that will both be unveiled at SEMA that is said to be “the very last of its kind”.

2022 Dodge Challenger Convertible - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2022 Dodge Challenger Convertible - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

Three special paints are coming back as choices in 2023 too that include the classic High Impact Color choices of B5 Blue, Plum Crazy Purple, and Sublime Green. Dodge is also bringing back a modern favorite color in Destroyer Grey too. Alongside those paint additions are some special edition exterior badging. Cars with the HEMI under the hood will get a “345” badge on the fender in reference to the engine displacement like the classic muscle cars once did. All versions of the 2023 Dodge Charger and Challenger will feature a “Last Call” plaque under the hood that features the vehicle name and silhouette. It will also feature nods to Auburn Hills and Brampton in its design.

Dodge says it is also opening up the options for Jailbreak models to allow customers to truly make a one-of-a-kind muscle car for the 2023 sendoff year. The company also announced a specific option for the Dodge Challenger that hasn’t been seen on the model since a short period between 1970 and 1971. A drop top. Yep, the Challenger can be had with a retractable roof made possible through Drop Top Customs. The option is available through Dodge right now to order with the 2022 Challenger and will continue to be available for the 2023 version as well.

2022 Dodge Durango SRT - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2022 Dodge Durango SRT - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

Alongside these muscle car announcements was the expansion of the Dodge Direct Connection lineup to include a Challenger Mopar Drag Pak Rolling Chassis that’s been fitted with an NHRA-certified roll cage. The lineup expansion also adds a Dodge Challenger body-in-white-kit, carbon fiber SpeedKore parts, a vintage Dodge Charger carbon fiber body from Finale Speed, American Racing Headers for the whole Dodge lineup, and plenty more.

Finally, Dodge didn’t leave out their muscle car inspired SUV from the 2023 announcements. The Hellcat engine was only available in the Durango for a single year – until now. For 2023, Dodge is dropping the 6.2L HEMI Hellcat V8 engine back into the Durango. Dodge brand chief executive officer said “Muscle enthusiasts also have families, and the 2023 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat can get those families where they want to go and has the ability to tow 8,700 pounds.” That’s a good enough reason for me.

Day 2: All-New 2023 Dodge Hornet

2022 Dodge Speed Week - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2022 Dodge Speed Week - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

We speculated on the Dodge Hornet a couple months ago, but now it has been unveiled to the public. This subcompact SUV is the introduction to Dodge’s electrified performance models. As speculated, the Hornet shares a platform and some parts with the Alfa Romeo Tonale. These shared components also allow the all-new Hornet to be the first plug-in-hybrid model from Dodge too. So far, they’ve shown just three versions of the new Hornet in the form of the GT that is said to be the most powerful utility vehicle under $30,000, the “Head of the Hive” R/T plug-in-hybrid, and a concept with performance parts that brings back the GLH naming.

All of the Hornet models will carry the same fully independent suspension, dampers, and torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive from the Alfa Romeo Tonale. Brembo four-piston, fixed front calipers are also available as an option on the GT and standard on the R/T. The affordable Hornet GT comes in with a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four engine that’s said to make 268 horsepower and 296 lb-ft of torque. Paired to that engine is a nine-speed automatic transmission sending power to all four wheels. Dodge has said that the GT can go from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and achieve a top speed of 140 mph.

2023 Dodge Hornet GT - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2023 Dodge Hornet GT - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

Stepping up to the Hornet R/T introduces the performance plug-in-hybrid that combines a turbocharged 1.3L inline-four engine for the front axle with rear axle mounted electric motor. Together, the hybrid system makes 288 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. Paired to the engine is a six-speed automatic on the R/T. The top speed on the R/T is limited to 128 mph, but Dodge said the R/T can spring to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. Dodge also baked in a “PowerStop” feature that gives the Hornet R/T a boost of 25 horsepower and instantaneous torque for 15-second bursts.

Being a plug-in-hybrid, the Hornet R/T also features a 12-kWH lithium-ion battery pack that comes with a 7.2-kW onboard charger. Dodge estimates a battery refill in about 2.5 hours on a Level 2 connection. Dodge has said there is an available electric-only driving range of about 30 miles, but we’ll have to wait and see what the EPA rates the Hornet R/T at.

2023 Dodge Hornet GT - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2023 Dodge Hornet GT - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

Inside these Hornets is a technologically advanced experience. Across the dash is a 12.3-inch digital cockpit cluster screen for the driver with a 10.23-inch infotainment screen next to it running Uconnect 5 software. The system features customization, smartphone integration, Amazon Alexa built in, and a number of driver information displays. Keeping the tech going is a standard Hardon Karmon premium sound system featuring 14 speakers. On the safety side, the Dodge Hornet gains standard advanced driver-assistance systems and features like automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection, rear cross path alerts, lane keeping systems, and three levels of parking assistance.

Being a tech forward introduction, the 2023 Dodge Hornet will also be able to achieve Level 2 autonomous driving with the help of an optional Tech Pack. This package includes Intelligent Speed Assist with Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Attention Assist with alerts, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control to help with stop and go traffic, and Lateral Control/Lane Support system that keeps the vehicle in its lane.

2023 Dodge Hornet GT GLH - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2023 Dodge Hornet GT GLH - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

Finally, Dodge stated that Dodge Direct Connection will further expand its performance portfolio to include performance products specially developed for the Dodge Hornet. With this performance part introduction, Dodge, showcased a Hornet GT wearing the GLH badge. The GLH badge (otherwise known as “Goes Like Hell”) was famously seen on the 1980’s Dodge Omni GLH that was a collaboration effort with Carroll Shelby. This Hornet GT GLH features a better power-to-weight ratio than the original Omni GLH and provides a look at the potential the Hornet has through Direct Connection parts.

2023 Dodge Hornet GT orders are open now and the Hornet R/T will hit showrooms in spring of 2023.

Day 3: The All-Electric Dodge Concept

Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

Dodge saved the best for last, at least depending on who you ask. The company unveiled their first ever electrified muscle car concept dubbed the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT, an electric performance coupe. The exterior design looks exactly like what one would think of when you hear the words “futuristic muscle car”. The car is sleek while paying homage to the history that preceded it with similar lines to the original Charger. Though it may carry a similar silhouette to the Dodge Classic, the electric concept is strikingly modernized and features a hatchback at the rear instead of a separate trunk.

Looking back at the exterior design, at the front is an LED light bar in the shape of the old Dodge grills. However, instead of a typical grill, this space is left open for what Dodge calls the R-Wing. This wing design was partially inspired by the ‘69 Charger Daytona’s rear wing design from NASCAR’s early years. Obviously that wing was at the rear then and not built into the front end, but this R-Wing design on Dodge’s concept helps the EV achieve better aerodynamics and downforces. In the middle of that design, you’ll also notice the glowing Fratzog logo Dodge brought back for use in identifying their EV lineup.

Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

On the specs side of things, the Charger Daytona SRT will come with an 800-volt electric architecture called Banshee. That amount of voltage is double the amount used by current EVs and will allow the car to charge faster, cool better, and use lighter wiring throughout the vehicle. That electric power in the Charger Daytona SRT is controlled through an eRupt multi-speed transmission with an electro-mechanical shifting experience. Essentially that means it’s an automatic transmission with optional select shifting and that the vehicle gives drivers the feeling of shifting. That eRupt system goes on to send power to all four wheels. Those wheels will feature six-piston brakes.

We haven’t gotten any specifics on the performance numbers yet, but Dodge claimed it will outpace a modern Hellcat. That means a zero to 60 mph time of under 3.5 seconds. The concept also utilizes a feature known as PowerShot that acts as a temporary power boost to give the car an edge when it needs to make a pass.

What’s one thing that people in an electric car miss? The rumble of the engine, right? Well, Dodge seems to alleviated that issue with a feature they’re calling the Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust. This Fratzonic feature amplifies the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT’s electric motors’ quiet hum into a rumbling 126-decibel roar like previous Dodge’s were known for.

Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

All of this performance and future muscle car innovation is great, but Dodge also made sure to make this EV concept a practical one. The previously mentioned hatchback design opens up the rear for ample cargo space when the rear seats are folded flat. Flip those seats back up and you’ve got room for you and three other passengers to enjoy Dodge’s electrified car. All four of those seats from the concept look like they belong in an F1 car, but they fit right in the Charger Daytona SRT’s cyberpunk interior.

Ambient lighting can be seen throughout, angular architecture is everywhere, 90% of the roof is glass, and then there are those large screens at the front. The driver gets their very own 16-inch digital instrument cluster featuring curved glass. Next to that is the 12.3-inch infotainment screen at the center of the vehicle. Finally, there’s a Head-up Display for additional driver information.

What Do You Think of Dodge’s Plans?

2022 Dodge Speed Week - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2022 Dodge Speed Week - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

A lot of automotive purists aren’t looking forward to the electrification of their favorite brands. Dodge is at least giving their fans one final year of those big HEMI engines stuffed under the hood with their “Last Call” in 2023. The Hornet seems like it’ll be a fun little vehicle, but the audience it appeals to is a younger demographic that wasn’t around during the muscle car era. Then there’s that Charger Daytona SRT that really splits the room on how you feel about it. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s a bittersweet news week with the Charger and Challenger as we know them leaving the showroom floors.

How do you feel about Dodge’s plans for the future? Are you grabbing one of the “Last Call” muscle cars? Are you one of the over 14,000 people who have already preordered a Dodge Hornet? And what are your thoughts on the electrified Dodge and its interesting “exhaust” system? Let us know!

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Jesse McGraw

Jesse McGraw brings his life-long car obsession into his writing. A fun childhood that involved growing up around race tracks, working on a rusty ‘99 Dodge Dakota held together by zip ties, and collecting Hot Wheels developed into a strong appreciation for automotive history. If there is an old, obscure, or rare car, he wants to know about it. With a bachelor's degree in Web Development & Design from Dakota State University, Jesse can talk shop about car or computer specs, focusing on classic cars, imports, and car culture.

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