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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New performance SUV

Hyundai announces pricing for 2022 Kona N

The Kona N is price right at $35,425.

Hyundai

Hyundai is hard at work developing new electric vehicles, and has released some truly interesting electric concepts in recent months. However, the automaker’s efforts in the electric world haven’t stopped it from rolling out fun-to-drive and affordable performance vehicles under its N brand. Today, Hyundai announced pricing for the latest vehicle in the series. The Kona N will go on sale soon with a reasonable starting price of $35,425, which includes a $1,225 destination charge.

2022 Hyundai Kona N One well-equipped model will be available.Hyundai

The Kona N joins Hyundai’s high-performance stable that also includes the Veloster N and Elantra N, though the latter hasn’t yet hit the streets. The hot crossover gets the same output numbers from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder as the Elantra N: 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque. The Veloster gets 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. That rowdy four-banger is paired with an eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission.

Hyundai’s full-on N cars get plenty of other go-fast bits to keep them planted in corners and stable at higher speeds. The Kona N gets an electronic limited-slip differential, an active sport exhaust system, electronically controlled suspension, and 19-inch wheels with Pirelli P-Zero performance tires.

2022 Hyundai Kona N Aggressive wheels and tires help keep the Kona N planted in corners.Hyundai

Hyundai generally knocks it out of the park with value, and the Kona N is no exception. Its modest price tag buys a generous helping of advanced driver aids in addition to its exciting specs. Standard features include forward collision warnings, lane keep assist, lane following assist, driver attention warnings, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and a safe exit warning system.

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New electric pickup truck

GMC Hummer EV deliveries to start soon

Hummer EV deliveries will start in December.

GMC

This year has turned out to be as difficult for automakers as 2020 was, if not much more so. The pandemic is still a major factor, and to make matters worse there's a global microchip shortage that heavily impacts automakers' ability to build tech-heavy vehicles. GMC has a big launch left to handle in 2021, and according to a recent call with journalists, it's proceeding as planned. On a recent call with reporters, GMC exec Duncan Aldred noted that Hummer EV pickup deliveries are on track to begin in December. He also elaborated on the truck's EPA range numbers.

2023 GMC Hummer EV The trucks will deliver up to 329 miles on a charge. GMC

The Hummer's EPA range lands at 329, not far from the 350 miles General Motors targeted for the vehicle. Those are the estimates for the limited Hummer Edition 1, which carries a six-figure price tag and gobs of bells and whistles. Aldred said that other models coming later on will offer longer range estimates when they hit the roads sometime in 2023.

A staggering 80 percent of reservations GMC has gathered so far are for the Edition 1 model. Almost half of the 125,000 people who have inquired about the Hummer EV have placed the refundable $100 deposit and the SUV's first year of production is completely sold out.

2023 GMC Hummer EV The Hummer EV's first year of production is sold out. GMC

When it hits the streets later this year, the Hummer EV will be just in time to face off against a growing crop of EV trucks and SUVs. Rivian recently began delivering the R1T electric pickup truck and will continue with the R1S SUV next year. The Ford F-150 Lightning is coming in 2022, and General Motors itself has a Cadillac EV rollout to handle in 2022. Chevy and GMC will show off electric versions of the Silverado and Sierra pickup trucks on January 5 and GMC will push the Hummer SUV EV in 2023.

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