Ranked

Worst car names in America

Come to think of it, Thing wasn't a great name for a car, was it?!

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

A vehicle's name is arguably one of its most important aspects. Of course design, features and performance are what ultimately sell a car, but a majority of marketing focuses on a car's name. Often expected to illustrate or suggest an auto's essence, names such as Jeep Renegade or Lamborghini Diablo conjure a visceral image of the vehicle.

This leaves us wondering what went wrong with the following car names. Petty power struggles? Poor translations? Three-martini lunches? We're not saying all these are bad cars (although some are not great), but they certainly could have benefitted from better names. Here are just a few of the worst car names we've experienced in America.

GM Impact

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Before General Motors introduced its groundbreaking EV1 electric car in the mid-1990s, the company showed a prototype electric vehicle called the Impact. Although we can see what they were thinking — this car would make a huge impact on the industry and America — riding in a car named after the first thing you don't want to have happen while in a car seems wrong. Although the name was marginally better than Crash, Smash or Slam.

Ford Probe

1993 Ford Probe GT

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Probe was a fine sport coupe — it didn't have great performance but the styling wasn't bad. The name, however, could have been better. When we think of the word probe, what comes to mind is what space aliens reportedly do with captives. According to Webster's Dictionary, a probe is "a thin, long instrument that is used especially for examining parts of the body" — along the lines of that space examination. A hot shower might be in order after driving a Probe.

Kia K900

2020 Kia K900

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The flagship sedan of the Kia model lineup, the K900 is a large luxury sedan. Although the rest of the Kia lineup has what we would consider reasonable names, we're not sure what the Korean automaker was thinking with the name K900. The big Kia's name is simply too close to K9, and while we know that dogs can help sell cars — just look at Subaru — no one wants a dog of a car.

Volkswagen Thing

Volkswagen Thing

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

In 1973 Volkswagen imported an odd-looking vehicle originally designed for the German military. Sold as the Safari in Mexico, Trekker in the UK and the Kurierwagon in Germany, apparently VW had run out of creativity by the time they got around to naming the American version, so it was simply called the Thing. Sold in America for only two years, the Thing's doors and windows could be removed, the windshield could be folded down and — with drains in the floor — it could be hosed out when dirty. With a 55-horsepower engine the Thing boasted a top speed of 71 mph. Perhaps Thing is more appropriate than we first thought.

Chevrolet Citation

Chevrolet Citation

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevrolet sold the Citation in the early 1980s — it was the brand's first front-wheel-drive car, but with quality and reliability issues the compact model was not terribly successful. Perhaps naming the car after the second thing you don't want to occur while driving wasn't the best idea either. Maybe Chevrolet marketing mavens glossed over the type of citation given by a traffic cop. According to Webster's, citation also can mean a statement praising a person's bravery. Back in the days of mullets and New Wave, you had to be pretty brave to buy a Citation.

AMC Gremlin

1970 AMC Gremlin

Photo by Getty Images

There are plenty of cars named after living things that conjure positive images. Ford Mustang, Mercury Cougar, Chevrolet Impala, Dodge Ram — even Volkswagen Rabbit. So why would AMC name their car after something that nobody would want to associate with? According to Webster's, a gremlin is a small imaginary creature that gets blamed when something doesn't work properly — something you certainly don't want in your car. But AMC fully embraced the name, even featuring a little Gremlin on the gas cap.

Ford Aspire

Ford Aspire

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Sold in America for just a few years in the mid-1990s, the Ford Aspire was a small 2- or 4-door hatchback built by Kia. The very basic car had few amenities and with its anemic 4-cylinder engine took more than 16 seconds to reach 60 mph. Perhaps the name was appropriate — anyone driving the Aspire would shortly be striving to drive something else.

Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi Mirage

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Is it really there or did you just think you saw it? Another naming fail is this small Mitsubishi, since a mirage is something with no substance that appears to be real but isn't. The car is something like that — with just 74 horsepower, less-than-appealing styling, tiny wheels and lackluster performance it might be better to reach the horizon and find the Mirage wasn't really there.

Maserati Quattroporte

Maserati Quattroporte

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The name of this high-performance Maserati sedan is not exactly bad — it really isn't much of a name at all. The Italian word "Quattroporte" literally translates to "four doors," and while the Quattroporte is a 4-door sedan, this name simply lacks imagination — it merely states the obvious in another language. At least the 2-door GranTurismo wasn't named the Dueporte.

Daihatsu Charade

Daihatsu Charade

Photo courtesy of Daihatsu

This small Japanese car company only sold vehicles in the U.S. from 1988 to 1992, and billed the Charade as a premium subcompact car. But with basic equipment and a weak 3-cylinder engine, premium was a bit of a stretch. Perhaps the small car was just living up to its name — charade is an empty or deceptive act and, based on the description, so was this car.

Ferrari LaFerrari

Ferrari LaFerrari

Photo courtesy of Ferrari

Ferrari took the wraps off its this supercar a few years ago at the Geneva Motor Show, and while the crowd of attending auto journalists were excited and impressed with the high-tech hybrid system and claimed 950 total horsepower, they were left scratching their heads when the name was announced. LaFerrari translates into English as "the Ferrari." Sure, we get the elemental nature of the name, but Ferrari's flagship sports car should have been given a more deserving moniker.

Renault LeCar

Renault LeCar

Photo courtesy of Renault

Along the same lines as LaFerrari, Renault was a bit short on creativity when it came to naming this little French car. At first blush it appears that the translation to English would be "the car," which is rather unimaginative. However "car" in French means coach or bus — so this tiny econobox is actually named "the bus." At least the name is big.

Subaru Brat

Subaru Brat

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Nobody likes a brat. Typically an annoying child belonging to someone else (our own children are never brats), this is not someone you want to spend any time with. So why would you name a car after an ill-mannered, annoying child? As it turns out, BRAT is an acronym for Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter. So while the little 4WD Subaru with the rear-facing open-air seats was great fun in its day, the name is definitely annoying.

Hummer

Hummer H2

Photo by Getty Images

The Hummer was a civilian version of the military Humvee (a nickname for the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle). Arnold Schwarzenegger pressured AM General to make the big SUV available to the public, so AM General put the Hummer on public roads in 1992. However, you might hear some snickering whenever this big vehicle's name gets uttered, given that it's slang for a certain oral act. Not exactly what you want associated with your new vehicle, but hey — sex sells, right?

Infiniti Q?

2019 Infiniti Q50

Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Nissan's luxury brand always had a naming convention of letters and numbers — the letters indicated the vehicle series, the number was determined by the engine. But recently Infiniti rebadged all vehicles, and it's no longer possible to determine the vehicle based on its name. Every vehicle name starts with a Q. Why? Good question. There doesn't seem to be much logic behind the names — the car named Q60 is a 2-door version of the Q50, but the QX60 SUV is bigger than the QX50. (The numbers no longer indicate the engine, simply the order in the vehicle lineup.) Very confusing, even for those in the industry.

Suzuki Esteem

Suzuki Esteem

Photo courtesy of Suzuki

If you're not feeling great about yourself, buying a good-looking, quality car could certainly raise your self-esteem. Strangely enough, the car named Esteem would no doubt fail in that endeavor. The Esteem was a basic economy car sold in the late 1990s through 2002, and while it would get you around, very few people would hold this car in high esteem.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2021 Ford F-150 will come in a hybrid variant

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

If Ford is making anything clear these days, it’s that the future all-electric F-150 won’t just just a mundane street car. The future model will be capable of achieving the same feats as the rest of the company’s family of full-size pickup trucks, if not with more gusto than its relatives.

Ford has confirmed that the battery-electric (BEV) F-150 will be on sale in just a few years. To get to that point, there’s a lot of work that isn’t just going into product development, but also into facilities development. Demand for the F-150 BEV is expected to be high and Ford’s Rouge Complex can’t absorb it as the plant stands now.

Ford Rouge Complex The Ford plant in Dearborn will be the home of the F-150 electric truck.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The company will invest $700 million in the Dearborn, Michigan plant to include a new high-tech manufacturing home for the model. The investment will add 300 jobs. This $700 million is on top of the $1.45 billion that Ford is spending to equip its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan to produce the Ranger and Bronco.

"We are proud to once again build and innovate for the future here at the Rouge with the debut of our all-new F-150 and the construction of a modern new manufacturing center to build the first-ever all-electric F-150," said Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company. "This year's COVID-19 crisis made it clear why it is so important for companies like Ford to help keep our U.S. manufacturing base strong and help our country get back to work."

The all-electric Ford F-150 is expected to come to market in mid-2022. The redesigned 2021 F-150 will come to market later this year and include a new hybrid powertrain option dubbed the F-150 PowerBoost.

Recently, the company captured video of the F-1500 BEV testing in the wild.

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Volkswagen has chosen a name for its new SUV.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The forthcoming new Volkswagen SUV will be called the Taos after the town in New Mexico. The name was chosen to specifically appeal to North American customers, who are the target market for the SUV, which Will slot below the Tiguan in the VW lineup.

“We're thrilled to announce the name for the newest member of the Volkswagen family," said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President for Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "It was important to choose a name that really embodied the nature of the car and the town of Taos, New Mexico was a perfect fit. It's a small city that offers big things—from outdoor adventure to arts and design and great cuisine."

Taos New Mexico Taos, New Mexico is the namesake for a forthcoming Volkswagen model.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"We are excited that Volkswagen has named their sport utility vehicle after the town of Taos," said Taos Mayor Dan Barrone. "It's a great opportunity for our community to share its rich history and culture alongside Volkswagen with its unique and rich history and culture."

Taos, New Mexico is a thriving small town of 6,000 people. It has a 400-year history and a 1,000-year-old Native American community just a few miles from the center fo town. Artists and skiers flock to the city, which is noted for its stunning landscapes.

Incidentally, Taos was also home to John Muir, an engineer turned mechanic, and author of "How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step procedures for the Compleat Idiot." First published in 1969, and illustrated by local artist Peter Aschwanden, this counter-culture guide to Volkswagen repairs quickly developed a popular following. The book, started in Muir's Taos shop, has helped keep countless VW models running, from Beetles and Buses to Type 3 and Type 4 models.

Volkswagen promises that the new Taos “will offer great value, excellent fuel economy, and great packaging, as well as advanced infotainment and driver-assistance features”.

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos will be revealed on October 13.

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