What Every Major Car Name Actually Means

What Every Major Car Name Actually Means

There are hundreds of active car names and some of them are fairly obvious, like the Mustang or the Escort, but what's a Passat and, uh, where is a Venza? Our friends at MojoMotors.com put together this definitive list and graphic.

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Original post by MojoMotors.com on Oppositelock

Almost every car name categorized

Have you ever wondered what the name of your car means or maybe how manufacturers come up with names? After all, we say names like Camry, Miata and Passat without pausing to think if those names have a meaning. Turns out almost every car name has some significance that can be grouped into 12 categories.

Almost every car name categorized

Our study looked at 215 models, but there were exclusions. We left out some discontinued models and models with letter-number naming conventions used by BMW, Lexus or Mercedes. A breakdown of the categories and highlight model names are below.


Location | 21.9% of names

Toyota Venza: Named by combining the word venture with the city Monza, Italy.

Subaru Tribeca: Named after the bustling New York City neighborhood.

Chevrolet Tahoe: Ever heard of Lake Tahoe? Of course.


Adventure | 19.53% of names

Audi Allroad: Fitting name for the luxury station wagon with AWD, ride height adjustable suspension and a Biturbo V6.

Ford Escape: Cue the Indiana Jones puns.

Honda Odyssey: As a literary term, it means a long journey full of adventures


Nature | 14.42% of names

Toyota Corolla: Another name for the petals of a flower.

Volkswagen Passat:German trade wind.

Hyundai Equus: Genus of animals that include the zebra, horses and donkeys.

Volkswagen Tiguan: Combine "tiger" and "iguana" and what do you get?


Cultural | 9.76% of names

Toyota Yaris: Formed by combining the name of the greek god Charis, who symbolizes beauty and elegance, and the German word for affirmation, "Ya."

Volkswagen Touareg: Named after a tribe of nomadic people in Northern Africa. Chosen to represent the strength and adaptability of their new crossover SUV.

Volkswagen Eos: Named after the Greek Titan Eos, goddess of the dawn.

Ford Taurus: Named after the second sign in the astrological zodiac, Taurus. It means "bull-like."


Transportation | 6.98% of names

Dodge Grand Caravan: A caravan is a vehicle designed to be lived in.

Volkswagen Phaeton: Means light, open horse drawn carriage.

Chrysler PT Cruiser: The PT means "personal transportation."


Power | 6.02% of names

Jeep Commander: Person in charge, especially in a military application

Nissan Armada: Fleet of warships

Mitsubishi Galant: Derived from the word "Gallant" which describes bravery and heroism


Futuristic | 5.12% of names

Honda Prelude: The definition of Prelude is, "an action or event leading to something more important." I wonder what Honda was referring to?

Mazda Millenia: Derived from the "Millennium" which means 1,000 years.


Versatility | 4.19% of names

Nissan Versa: This one's pretty obvious.

Honda Fit: Named because, although its a sub-compact, you'll be surprised what you can "fit" in it.

Saturn VUE: Saturn had a new "VUE" (view) on the SUV.


Speed | 3.72% of names

Chevrolet Sonic: The word Sonic refers to the speed of sound, but with a 138 horsepower, don't expect to come close to the sound barrier.

Dodge Dart: Think about it. To dodge from something or to dart from something is the same thing. Pretty redundant.


Musical | 3.26% of names

Kia Forte: When reading music, a Forte instructs the person to play the note loud and strong.

Hyundai Sonata: A musical composition involving a soloist, perhaps accompanied by a piano. Moonlight Sonata, anyone?

Kia Cadenza: An instrumental or vocal solo in a larger piece of music, such as a Sonata.


Human | 2.77% of names

GMC Jimmy: Jimmy got its name from the sound "GM" makes when spoken, such as how Jeep sounds like "GP." Either way, Jimmy sounds like the type of guy you'd like to have around.

MINI Cooper: Named after the famous car maker John Cooper.

Chevrolet Caprice: Caprice is an Italian name meaning fanciful or "over imaginative and unrealistic."


Technology | 2.33% of names

Chevrolet Volt: Voltage is the unit of measurement for electromotive force, which is the perfect name for Chevrolet's first electric car.

Saturn Ion: Maybe you recall this from Chemistry 101, an Ion is an atom that is electrically charged due to the loss or gain of an electron(s).


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