• Mar 13, 2008


Did you ever wonder how the Aztek received its name (okay, maybe not)? Well then, how about the Tiburon, Prelude, Aveo, or Allanté? What possessed Acura to drop "Legend" for "RL," or "Integra" for "RSX" (we're still dumbfounded on those). Why would anyone name a car The Thing?

Whether it is apparent or not, there is a ton of money and more than a little psychology involved in naming a car these days. It's not a simple matter. Not only do the names have to invoke quality, significance, and excitement, but they must not offend -- in any language. Most importantly, the name cannot already be taken (manufacturers "reserve" names years in advance, and hold them close to their chests). Automakers scour dictionaries in the East and West, forage through literature and geography books, and even flip through pet names knowing perfectly well that a name can make or break an automobile. That said, Nova had a good run at the time, but don't expect to see the name slapped on a trunk again in the near future.

Thanks for the tip, G!

[Source: AOL Autos via CNN.com]



I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 37 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      These have been desperate times. Consider the fact that Chevy named the Avalanche after a natural disaster.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Best line of the article:
      "Most of the good animals have been used, and only the minor ones are left."

      Sales Person: "Nothing makes you feel more like a man than a Thundercougarfalconbird. So how much were you thinking of spending on this Thundercougarfalconbird?
      Fry: "Sorry, I'm not here to buy."
      Sales Person: "I understand and it's wonderful that you don't care whether anyone questions your sexual orientation."
      Fry: "I care! I care plenty! I just dunno how to make them stop!"


      I too hate the alphanumeric names. They have no soul. Most of them don't even make sense. Many refer to engine displacement, but then do so incorrectly. It's all so random you'd have to already know the specs of the car just to figure out what the name referred to. The S63 AMG (and SL63, C63, CL63, CLK63, CLS63, E63, ML63, etc.) all have 6.2L engines for example (they round up for nostalgia). The BMW 335i has a 3.0L turbo engine and the 328i...also has a 3.0L engine. There are so many of these that it makes even accurate names lose their meaning.

      And what is a 3-Series, when Audi calls theirs a 4, Mercedes classifies it as a C, Infiniti uses G, Volvo S40/V50, etc.? Even the one letter/number name fails to describe the car's class unless you already know it.

      The only justification they have for alphanumerics is that it requires you to say the manufacturer's name to qualify the model. "Mercedes C300," instead of merely "C300." That still leaves us with 3000GT VR4's, G6 GXP's, X3 3.0si's, RDX SH-AWD's, and all the rest of the soulless alphabet soup.

      Still, I find it funny how much we make over so little. Think about being a kid and naming your toys (a robot, stuffed animal, action figure, whatever) and how, even if it was a group decision, you did what needed to be done and that was that. Now everyone has to be so serious that we waste tens of thousands of dollars (and pages of blogs) on committees to decide for us--and the names are worse than ever. A rose by any other name is still a rose. Spend the money on better cars, not rebadging the 500 a Taurus.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Bah. Like you wouldn't buy a car called the "Liger" :D
        • 6 Years Ago
        Soulless alphanumeric names? Would you call the Merkur XR4TI soulless? It's such a bad name ("Merkur" sucks too mur-ker? meer-koor? mur-kyur?) that it sticks in my head solely because of its super alphabet soupiness. Soulless? I. Think. Not. Especially not with the double whale tail.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Acura dropped actual names like Vigor, Integra, and Legend for one simple reason.
      Some people would be bragging about their new BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus.
      Where as Acura owners would be bragging about their new Legend, etc.
      Acura felt that the name of their company was not getting out so in North America they changed the names of their cars.
      It's as simple as that. They just wanted people to start saying Acura.

      P.S. I think the Vigor was a cool name.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Mazda MAZDASPEED MAZDA6 would have been a good one to include in this article :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      While the Mustang carries horse emblems, it was actually named after the famous WWII P-51 Mustang
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is a great ageless debate. Regardless of the name of Alphanumeric value, a great car is a great car. We will utilmately attach a value to that car based on it's on-road or show-off worthiness.

      My favourite is the Buick Lacrosse ... which in Québécois French means one of two things; The Buick Ripoff or the Buick Masturbator. Either way; I kinda wish they wouldn't have renamed it Allure for the Canadian market.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I find many of the random/arbitrary names to be silly, but what really irks me is when they change a well-known car's name to one of these stupid new monikers.

      The "Integra" becoming the "RSX" after over a decade of production is the one that immediately came to mind.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Thought of one more, 'Impala' used to be a popular car when i was a kid. Impala is a kind of African deer if i recall correctly. Another strange name, that!
      • 6 Years Ago
      I sure hope Lincoln reads this article, they have really bashed the great names into numbers game, hell im a total car nut and cant remember a mkz from a mkx how stupid! and ive always wondered if Acura were to bring back Legend and Integra if sales would fly like crazy, just for the nostalgia of a great car name !
        • 6 Years Ago
        Speaking of Acura, I have always thought Vigor was a great name for a car, much better than the alphabet soup they have now.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've commented on this in the past: the auto makers used to have related names for their cars. Chevrolet had resorts (Del Ray, Biscayne, Bel Air), Plymouth had names that sounded like famous hotels (Plaza, Savoy, Cranbrook, Belvedere), and Chrysler had cars named for cities (Saratoga, New York[er], Windsor).

      Bring these back! Where did they get stuff like Alero, which, while a pleasant car, has a name that sounds like something with an air leak. Or these intentional mispelingz like Aztek?
      • 6 Years Ago
      From what I understood Acura changed the names Legend and Integra because it was interfering with the Acura brand. For example people said they had a Legend, not an Acura

      Names just aren't the same anymore. I don't want silly numbers. Bring back LeMans, Caprice Classic, Bel Air, the Bonneville!
        • 6 Years Ago
        I can understand Acura's thinking. They were trying to emulate the German companies, where the brand is bigger than the car. People who know nothing about cars will often say things like "yeah, he drives a benz.", to which I would ask "which one?", and they would have no idea about 80% of the time. Same with BMW, less so with Audi. People in marketing are obsessed with branding because they want to be the next Toyota/BMW.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think VW changed the name to "Thing" because if they continued to call it a Kubelwagen it would not have been very accepted here. Oh wait... it wasn't very well accepted here anyway. Nevermind...
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Thing" was the best car name ever!
    • Load More Comments