Car names, in many cases, are formed in the minds of the marketing department of the respective automobile manufacturer, usually stemming from abbreviations, acronyms or different specific features on the car that could be used as a selling point. For example, Volkswagen added "TDI" to the end of "Golf" when naming the hot hatch because they wanted to advertise the Turbo Direct Injection (TDI) system in the car's diesel engine. But this is not the only method in which manufacturers name their cars, and sometimes, the names that were chosen make us question the motives of the marketing teams behind them.
So, I've put together a list of what I think to be some of the worst names that have been stuck to different vehicles over the years. To preface, I should add that most of these cars are very specific trim levels that were only available for a certain amount of time in a limited consumer market. For instance, there are many cars that are made in China that are never exported out of China which have names that don't translate into English all that well, creating some interesting names. However, there are plenty of other European and American cars that were specifically named for an English speaking market but yet, still have terrible names.
What makes these names the worst? Well, a few different things: how the name rolls off the tongue, double meanings with the name and how convoluted the name can be with different abbreviations/acronyms. Basically, if the name is weird to say, means something else, sounds silly or has a negative connotation, it was considered to be on this list.
20 Hyundai Veloster
I've always disliked the name Veloster, and because the Hyundai Veloster is a rather common car, I have to see it a lot.
The Veloster is a unique hot hatch that features asymmetrical doors and average technical specs, but suffers from a uniquely irritating name.
The name sounds like a shortened version of Velociraptor and frankly is annoying to say. "Veloster" is just awkward, and I can't imagine why it was the chosen name for the car, considering there must have been other choices in the running for the name of the car. Is it pronounced Vel-oh-ster or Vel-os-ter?
19 Skoda Superb SE L Executive
Much like the BMW x5 xDrive35d, the Skoda Superb SE L Executive is a serious mouthful to say and is much too long and complex to be a good car name. The most ridiculous part of the name is the "Executive" at the end: what did Skoda think that adding "Executive" to the end of the name make it sound more classy? Probably. Did they even need to? Not at all, the Superb SE L is already an incredible car that looks classy, luxurious and sporty. All things considered, the Superb SE L Executive is a pretty sweet car: a great choice to European motorists, that tragically, has an awkward, needlessly long name.
18 Maserati Quattroporte
The Maserati Quattroporte is a beautiful, luxurious sports car that I probably will never own, but the words "quattro porte," quite literally translate to "four doors." I think the real travesty here is that many non-Italian speakers saw the name and said "hey that's a cool name for a car," not realizing how dumb the name really is. No one would buy the Ford TwoDoors, it's just kind of silly. I guess the reasoning behind the car was that it was a sports car with four doors and was named so because most sports cars like it had two doors, setting it apart from the crowd.
17 Renault Kadjar Signature Nav
The Renault Kadjar Signature Nav falls victim to the same naming issue as the Skoda Superb, in which, it's needlessly long and tries to be extravagant due to the word choice in the name. "Signature" is much like "Executive:" in terms of the name, it really doesn't mean a whole lot, and honestly, sounds a little ridiculous. Furthermore, saying the name is a mouthful and really just doesn't bode well. Renault would have been better off using a different name entirely, or, at the very least, use better abbreviations/acronyms. But to give the Kadjar Signature Nav some credit, the car is a sweet crossover made by the French manufacturer Renault that is aesthetically appealing and a great car in the European market.
16 Mitsubishi Lettuce
The Mitsubishi Lettuce has got to be the most unusual name for a car I have ever heard. The car began its legacy under the name Mitsubishi Minica, however, by the sixth generation of the car, a trim with an included lift gate was added and the name was changed to Minica Lettuce. I don't really understand the naming of the car...maybe "Lettuce" had something to do with the lift gate?
I'm not quite sure, but I think it's a safe bet to say that there's good reason for cars not to be named after food. That's probably why the Mitsubishi Lettuce is one of very few.
15 Ford Probe
The Ford Probe is a sedan that was produced between 1988 and 1997, which isn't an incredibly long production period, but isn't the shortest either. To be honest, I have no idea how the name "Probe" was accepted and used for the car, it seems like a no-brainer, at least to me, that making any product's name "Probe" isn't a good idea for marketing.
One thing that I stumbled upon in my research of the Ford Probe is the hypothetical situation that must have occurred when someone asked an owner of a Ford Probe what kind of car they had. Speculating on the possible answers, I'm sure "a Probe" was rather common, and that makes me giggle.
14 Toyota Deliboy
The Toyota Deliboy is an awesome little van that got the rather hilarious name of "Deliboy." I think we can categorize this one as a "lost in translation" type thing, considering it isn't universally available or well known. One thing I absolutely love about this car is the brandishing of its name on the door of the vehicle, making it clear that it is a Deliboy, and personally, I think that is hilarious. This is probably why the Deliboy is one of my favorite cars on the list: its name is ridiculous, yet the car has it clearly displayed on the side of the body. Of course this probably doesn't mean much in non-English speaking countries, but it still makes me smile.
13 Chevrolet Citation
Why would you name your car after something that people hate? Citations, fines and all things bureaucratic are loathed by the general public. However, in 1979 Chevrolet began production of the Citation, a new compact sedan that was sold until 1985. I guess I can't knock it too much, considering Chevrolet sold over hundreds of thousands of units in the short production life of the Citation, but really? Someone thought Citation was a good name for a car?
After its discontinuation in 1985, the Citation was replaced by the Beretta in 1987, which had a much better name as well as other upgrades.
I think Chevrolet's idea with this car can be encapsulated by the statement, "you'll love driving the Citation so much that you'll get citations in it," which in theory makes sense as a selling point, but doesn't help its rather underwhelming name.
12 Studebaker Dictator
Originally, I thought the Studebaker Dictator was a classic example of name via association and thanks to my knowledge of 20th-century history, I was able to draw a solid conclusion about the origins of the name. However, it seems the name was actually meant to imply dictating of trends, as in, other cars will follow Studebaker's design.
The Dictator was produced in Indiana beginning in 1927 and ending in 1937 when the name of the car was changed, which was probably for the best.
I don't think that will ever change the image of the car though, and although they are rare to see, there are only a handful of people I could imagine driving (or rather riding in) it, all of which were "leaders" at some point.
11 Mazda Scrum Wagon
Another name that made me laugh, the Mazda Scrum and its variant, the Scrum Wagon are two hilariously named vehicles that is another case of broken translation. The car was only ever sold in Japan, and was a good option for a city-style utility vehicle. However the name is just so ridiculous that I can't read it without laughing, because the phrase "Scrum Wagon" is hilarious.
Apparently the name "Scrum" comes from the name of a maneuver in Rugby, something which I didn't know prior to writing this article, which makes it slightly less funny, but still not a great name for a car.
10 Pontiac Aztek
I can't seem to stop discussing how much I dislike the Aztek and the name is definitely another reason to hate it. The Pontiac Aztek is an odd midsize crossover SUV that was originally designed as a car for the outdoorsy folk, who could use the Aztek to go camping, but was largely disliked due to its design. As for the name, I get that Pontiac had some reason to change the last letter of "Aztec:" they wanted to be set apart from the ancient Mesoamerican culture in terms of advertising and brand, but then maybe just, use a different name? Whatever lead to Pontiac's final decision we may never know, but what we do know is the name is not the only thing that sucks about this car.
9 Bmw x5 xDrive35d
X what? This German crossover has a serious mouthful as a name. The BMW x5 xDrive 35d is a beautiful car with a terrible name, that is wordy, awkward to say and frankly sounds kind of arbitrary.
Which is a shame, because the car is awesome: a great choice for a high-end crossover that comes equipped with an in-line 6, diesel engine, rated at 255 horsepower.
While I was researching a name meaning for the xDrive 35d, I couldn't find much, but I did find that the final "d" in the name is supposed to be referencing the diesel engine, not that that adds a ton of meaning to the name.
8 Ford Kuga
The Kuga is an SUV, manufactured by Ford, that has a good appearance, average specs and is a solid all-around vehicle. However, the name of the car is...underwhelming. For starters, simplifying "Cougar" to "Kuga" is a questionable decision, as Kuga sounds much less professional. While I understand reasons for Ford to not want their car to be named "Cougar," I can't think of any reason they would settle on "Kuga" when I'm sure there were other names in the running. As a general rule of thumb, I think car companies need to use serious caution when picking an animal name for a car, and moreover, should consider the pros and cons to changing the spelling and pronunciation.
7 Subaru Brat
I absolutely love Subarus, but 'Brat' is an extremely poor naming choice for a car. The Subaru Brat was a light pickup coupe that was manufactured from 1978 to 1994, offering an all-terrain driving experience in a small package.
The full name of the car is "Bi-drive Recreational All-Terrain Transporter" which came to the unfortunate acronym "BRAT" which of course is a well-known insult.
Moreover, the name kind of sounds stupid, but, at least the name is an acronym, and that makes a little sense. Hey on the plus side, when I see a spoiled child acting out at the grocery store, an image of the Subaru B-drive Recreation All-Terrain Transporter will pop into my head and I'll chuckle.
6 Toyota Estima Lucida G Luxury Joyful Canopy
This has got to be the worst victim of "lost in translation" when it comes to car names. Whatever this was supposed to mean in Japanese I do not know, but hopefully something better than Toyota Estima Lucida G Luxury Joyful Canopy.
The car comes from the family of Toyota Estimas and this iteration of its name is probably from a very specific trim level.
In any matter, the name is absolutely ridiculous and is a serious mouthful to read, not making a whole lot of sense, in English anyway. The only possible explanation I could have for the name of the car is "canopy" is referencing the moon roof, but even as a best explanation, that's a bit of a stretch.
5 Ford Pinto
The Ford Pinto (Bean) is a subcompact car, designed with the Mustang fastback in mind. Although, the name works too well to be made fun of and can seem to carry connotations of "small." Maybe it was related to the subcompact nature of the care? Could be, but I'd still consider a multitude of other names before picking "Pinto," because "Pinto" implies that the car is also weak.
Overall, it's really a shame: the Ford Pinto had so much potential as a subcompact sports car from Ford. In my opinion, both the design and the specs were solid and maybe I'm just a sucker for that subcompact fastback look, but that name? Yeesh.
4 Tarpan Honker
The Tarpan Honker has a name that is rather hilarious, as it paints a portrait of a specific type of driver for the car: one who honks incessantly. I honestly cannot think of an explanation for the name, other than it not being of huge concern because much of the application of the car comes in military use, and being realistic, soldiers aren't entirely too concerned with the names of their cars. However, for the consumer market, I think as a general rule of thumb, take the idea of naming a car a verb with serious caution, as not all verbs work out well.
3 SEAT Leon X-Perience SE Technology
A prime example of over-complicating and over-abbreviation, the SEAT Leon X-Perience SE Technology has two obvious flaws with its naming. First, "experience" being abbreviated to "X-Perience" is nearly a crime in and of itself. Why take out the "E?" To make the name start with an "X" and sound cool? Secondly, the name is a mouthful and should not contain a continuous string of names that really don't add anything to the description of the car. Why would the word "Technology" be in the name of a car? Does the car have advanced tech? Maybe, but that is probably the worst way to express it.
2 Lamborghini Urus
Lamborghini has consistently made amazing, high performance and luxurious vehicles, the Urus being no exception. However, the name of the Urus is a huge let down for the car, giving it an image not representative of the actual stylish appeal of the car. The name just isn't catchy, and honestly, is awkward to say, most likely because it starts with a U, which in my opinion is never good for naming something. Moreover, the word is confusing to say, an aspect that might subconsciously drive away possible buyers. But still, the car is extremely nice, as it's an extremely high end crossover, but tragically, the name does not match the other amazing aspects of the car.
1 Kia Cee'd
The Kia Cee'd, and its variants like the Pro_Cee'd, are plagued by one of the worst car names out there. At least Kia recognized the issue and has changed the spelling of the name to "Ceed," which, I'll be honest, fixed very little in this naming problem.
The origins of the name come from the full name of the Car: European Economic Community (EEC or CEE) European Design (ED). They combination acronym became CEEED and not wanting a third "E," Kia shortened it to Cee'd.
The idea was supposed to promote the strides Kia had made in the European car market, however, it kind of just looks like an unusable abbreviation of something.
Sources: Carthrottle, Odometer, AutoNXT, ZeroTo60Times, Complex