- #10 Volkswagen Tiguan
- Perhaps the most well known gibberish car name on the market today, the Volkswagen Tiguan got its meaningless name from a marketing promotion. German publication giant Auto Bild allowed readers of its various magazines and websites to vote on the CUV's new name, and Tiguan, which is a combination of the German words Tiger ("tiger") and Leguan ("iguana"), won. Other names in the running were Namib, Rockton, Samun and Nanuk, which all sound equally gibberish to us.
- #9 Nissan Xterra
- It's easy pick on the name of Nissan's small SUV because it combines "terra" from the well known Latin phrase "Terra Firma" (solid earth) with a single letter that is supposed to signify the generation of people born between 1965 and 1981. Combining Generation X with Terra Firma gets you the image of a hip SUV that can go anywhere on Earth. The Xterra can go a lot of places, but in a dictionary is not one of them.
- #8 Lotus Exige
- The Lotus Exige is essentially a coupe version of the automaker's Elise roadster, yet its jibberish name sounds like something a medieval king declares when banishing subjects from his kingdom. "I declare that you have been exiged from Autoblogdom!" Dictionaries don't recognize it, and neither do we because it just doesn't seem to fit the extremely lightweight, high-performance car to which it's attached. Since their really is no etymology for "exige", we'll make one up. E·xige [eg-seej] - the trusty horse of choice on which peasants would flee their fiefdom on being banished by their lord. Much better.
- #7 Hyundai Azera
- Hyundai uses a lot of gibberish names, but the Azera large sedan is the most perplexing. Did this Korean automaker really want its flagship front-wheel-drive sedan to sound like prescription strength allergy relief medicine? If you look closely at print ads for the Azera, you might notice the fine print reads, "The best non-drowsy relief for your most severe allergy symptoms. Use only as directed. May cause cramps, sudden loss of blood pressure, internal bleeding, dyslexia, and, in extreme conditions, an enjoyable driving experience.
- #6 Chevy Aveo
- Having driven the Chevy Aveo, we can say without reservation that it barely qualifies as a new car. Its jibberish name does nothing to help mask the small car's shortcomings, and our quick sample poll among the Autoblog staff revealed that it in fact reminds us of Avian Bird Flu. We certainly feel like an antidote is required after driving one, so perhaps it fits. The Aveo is also marketed around the world under four other names, most notably the Daewoo Kalos, which is Greek for "beautiful". Not a jibberish name, but certainly one that has no business being on the rear of this car.
- #5 Saturn Vue
- We know why Saturn chose Vue as the name of its soft-roading SUV - it sounds like "view" but is spelled in a more snazzy, non-conformist sort of way. It's a meaningless homophone designed to trick you into thinking that this Saturn will afford you views of the world to which otherwise you would not be privy. [Hint: It doesn't.] In fact, many companies around the world use the gibberish word VUE in their name, and we could find only one thing in reality that might actually be associated with this word: a clan name of the Hmong people, an Asian ethnic group in the mountainous regions of Southern China. Now when you think of the Saturn Vue, you'll think of indigenous Chinese clans instead of spectacular vistas.
- #4 Volkswagen Touareg
- Some might argue that the name of Volkswagen's SUV is not gibberish, since it is derived from the name of a nomadic tribe of people called the Tuareg in the Saharan interior of North Africa. But for some reason, VW decided to change the spelling of "Tuareg" to "Touareg". While both of these words have identical pronunciations, the original word is actually easier to say correctly having never heard it before than the gibberish word VW concocted by changing the spelling. In fact, the German automaker ran a series of ads when the SUV first debuted in North America to help customers get its pronunciation right. We think leaving the spelling alone and not butchering the name of a proud people would have worked better.
- #3 Toyota Camry
- The Camry's name sounds like it could be a real word, but that's likely because it's so ubiquitous in our culture that nobody really thinks about. We're told Toyota came up with it by using an English phonetic spelling of the word 'kanmuri', which means "crown" in Japanese. The Toyota Crown is a full-size luxury sedan and anchor of the automaker's lineup in Japan where it's been on sale since 1955. Also, the Corolla and Corona trace their names back to Latin words for "crown". Still, the word 'camry' didn't mean anything until Toyota slapped it on a vanilla mid-size sedan with impeccable build quality.
- #2 Toyota Yaris
- When Toyota began selling the Yaris in the U.S. back in 2006, we remember our first thought was, "WTF is a Yaris?" We still don't know and can't find any explanation as to where the word came from or if it was inspired by another word, perhaps a Japanese one for "cheap car". We have two guesses: 'Yaris' is either a fictional planet inhabited by aliens who look friendly on the surface but covet Earth's natural resources and will stop at nothing to get them, or else Toyota took the word 'Paris' and swapped out the P for a Y. And we mean 'Paris' as in the vapid celebrity hotel heiress, not the city of lights in France.
- #1 Toyota Venza
- Our final gibberish car name is a doozy and will soon arrive in the U.S. affixed to Toyota's latest CUV/Wagon/MPV thingamabobber. While attending the first media drive for the Venza, Toyota reps recently told us that the vehicle's name is a combination of 'venture', which is indicative of the forward-thinking folks who will buy it, and 'Monza', the track in Italy, which represents driving excitement. Seriously, Toyota? We could give you the association with 'venture', though Chevy still owns the copyright on that word having used it on a now defunct minivan. But Monza? The Autodromo Nazionale Monza circuit that hosts the Formula One Italian Grand Prix? We would sooner associate the drop off curb at a multiplex with this vehicle than an internationally renowned motorsports course.