by Mark Prus Marketing Consultant at  NameFlashSM

As a professional name developer, I think about names all the time. One of my favorite times to think is when driving. No, I am not “texting while driving.” But when I pull up behind a car at a red light, I notice the name on the back of the car. Lately I’ve been paying more attention to car names. And you know what? Car names today stink by and large.

What put me over the edge was the Suzuki Kizashi. Who wants to drive a car that sounds like a breakfast cereal? I think the name is very confusing, and apparently many people agree. Today I “Googled” Kizashi…about 881,000 hits. I also “Googled” Kazashi…75,400 hits. Other spelling variants got hits too. If you listen to how it is pronounced on the TV ad, it sounds like Kazashi not Kizashi, so I am not surprised that almost 10% of people are confused. even had it misspelled when it first was added to the site!

Here is a terrific listing of historical car names.

Oh do I miss my Legend, my Firebird, etc. Yes there were some “clunker” names in the past (Ford Probe anyone? And why would you name a car Mariner?). And I still have to explain that we did not buy my wife’s Prius because it looks like my last name (but if you see me in your rear-view mirror keep in mind that sudden acceleration thing…).

What do we have today? Suzuki Kizashi? Porsche Panamera? Kia Forte Koup? Is the trademark situation so polluted that we have to start making up crazy names?

Sorry…where is the passion? Where is the secondary meaning that demonstrates the imagery I need in a car? My car is an extension of my personality after all! I’d even settle for a descriptive name (sorry trademark attorneys!).

What are your favorite car names? Which ones do you think are “clunkers?”


  • James Mahoney

    To say nothing of Kizashi sounding like a noise the thing would make in a thrilling collision: Screeeechhhhhh…KIZASHI!!!
    Great names: VW Scirocco, Thunderbird, Mustang, Camaro, Corvette, Land Cruiser, Grand Marquis, Spyder, Silver Ghost, Crown Vic, Javelin, Rebel…on and on.
    Some more contemporary ones: Forester, Passat, Jetta, Tiburon, (reborn) Challenger and Charger, Odyssey, Pathfinder, Cube…

  • Marta Randall

    I’m entertained and appalled by the names of SUVs and big pick-ups, since many of them refer to things that over-use of SUVs etc. tend to destroy: Tahoe, Tundra, Sierra, Silverado, Forester, Mountaineer, Sequoia, Sonoma, Yukon… Manly, but geez, people, think about it.

  • “Kizashi” basically means “omen” in Japanese. More specifically it means a sign of something great to come.
    This car, the brand and the name all signal a change for Suzuki as it shifts from the economy sector into higher-end markets.
    In Japan the name needed to send a clear, bold message while being more sophisticated than saying something cliche like “Samurai.” Hence the choice for a more meaningful Japanese word.
    In the US it was meant to appeal to a younger, adventurous crowd — folks who actively embrace something different, guys who want to drive something sporty, inexpensive and new.
    So if you ask me, the name makes sense. That’s why my team and I created it for Suzuki back in 2007.