Cars Named After Places
Since the invention of the automobile, carmakers have grappled with the challenging task of naming their creations. When done right, a good car name adds cachet: Mustang, Corvette, Wrangler. On the flipside, a bad name falls flat: Probe, Citation, Gremlin. Over time automakers have developed a plethora of methods for naming vehicles, and one tried and true way seems simple enough: naming vehicles after places. Some vehicle place-names are spot-on, some are questionable and some are downright head scratchers. Click through for cars named after places — some you will recognize, and some might surprise.
The Dodge Dakota, also known as the Ram Dakota for a time, was manufactured from 1986 through 1996. A unique player in the pickup segment, the Dakota was available as a 2-and 4-door pickup as well as a convertible. The model shares its name with two states of the Great Plains, as well as a Native American people.
Named after the Brazilian city known for Carnival and colorful culture, the Kia Rio has been in production since 1999, and is already in its fourth generation. Rio’s motive power comes from a 1.6-liter Gamma engine it shares with the Hyundai Venue (Hyundai Motor Group owns Kia), and has U.S. EPA fuel economy ratings of 33 city / 41 highway.
Chevrolet Bel Air
This car name invokes a California neighborhood connoting freedom and clear skies. Produced for the 1958–1981 model years, the Bel Air began as an additional designation of luxury on other Chevy models before becoming its own model line. The model line lasted seven generations in America, and Chevy discontinued Bel Air when large car sales dropped dramatically in the early 1980s.
Named after the sunny coastline from France to Italy, the Buick Riviera is a luxury car manufactured by General Motors from 1963 through 1999 — the only year the car went out of production during that time span was 1994. The Buick Riviera shown here is a 1966 GS, or Grand Sport, with headlights that pivot behind the grille when not in use.
Named after that great state known for moviemaking and celebrity, the Ferrari California was manufactured in Italy from 2008 through 2017. Although the name recalls the midcentury 250 GT California Spyder, the California is a thoroughly modern design incorporating a few firsts for Ferrari, such as the first retractable hardtop and first front-engine V8 in the lineup.
Ferrari 458 Italia
Eponymously named after its country of origin, the sleek mid-engine Ferrari 458 Italia produces more than 560 horsepower. The car borrows a few tricks from Formula One racing, including a prefill function for the brakes; when the driver takes a foot off the gas pedal, the brake pads automatically move closer to the rotors to minimize delay in brake application.
Named for the highest mountain in North America, the Denali moniker designates GMC’s top-line pickups and SUVs. There have been Sierra Denalis (pickups), and Yukon Denalis (SUVs) within the GMC brand from the turn of the 21st century to the present day.
The namesake place of this classic car is used for multiple U.S. cities, connoting fair skies and mountains. In production from 1977 through 1983, the Ford Fairmont is a rear-drive compact car based on the Fox platform, originally available as a 2-door sedan, a 4-door sedan or a 5-door wagon.
Now in its third generation, the Sedona gets its name from the city and red rock region in Arizona. The Kia Sedona has been around since 1998 and offers a 3.3-liter fuel-injected V6 engine producing 276 horsepower as well as seating for up to eight occupants. Standard equipment includes USB ports, Bluetooth streaming capability and alloy wheels.
Named after a ski locale and beautiful lake in California, the Tahoe is one of Chevrolet’s best-selling, full-size SUVs. Tahoe features three rows of seats, a 5.3-liter V8 engine, and it can tow up to 8,600 pounds — in case anyone needs to get a trailerful of toys to a heavenly mountain or a big, blue lake.
The Mulsanne name comes from a commune in the Sarthe department of France and also happens to be the name of a long straightaway of the Le Mans racing circuit. The former flagship of the automaker’s line, the Mulsanne recalls the large, powerful Bentleys of yesteryear. Unfortunately, Bentley canceled the Mulsanne, although a replacement for this ultraluxury model will likely appear sooner than later.
Pontiac Le Mans
This one is a double whammy: the automaker named after a place in Michigan, the model named after a town in France. Highly collectible today, the Pontiac Le Mans sold in America from 1962 through 1981. The model line ran through five generations, and the last lineup included the Le Mans, Grand Le Mans and Grand Am — all available as a coupe, sedan and even a wagon known as the Le Mans Safaris.
Hyundai Santa Fe
Introduced for the 2001 model year, the Santa Fe has been Hyundai’s most popular SUV. Now in its fourth generation, the Santa Fe is exclusively a two-row SUV; the three-row version was rebranded as the Santa Fe XL until it was replaced by the current Palisade, which debuted in 2018. The Santa Fe takes its name from the state capital of New Mexico.
Chevrolet Monte Carlo
A 2-door coupe manufactured by Chevrolet between 1969–1987 as well as 1994–2007 for a total of six vehicle generations, the Monte Carlo started as Chevrolet’s version of the Pontiac Grand Prix. The Monte Carlo name comes from a section and casino in Monaco — a principality well known as a residence and tax haven for the wealthy.
The rugged, can-do Toyota Tacoma midsize pickup took to American roads with a point to prove about Japan-based pickups, and Tacoma’s rise to the top of the midsize truck market reflects its hardscrabble namesake city in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. In its third generation since 2016, the Tacoma also has the best resale value of any vehicle in America, according to Kelley Blue Book.
With a moniker from a state that embodies freedom, adventure and discovery, the Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup comes in 2- and 4-door versions in Regular Cab, Extended Cab and Crew Cab body styles. Available with either 2WD or 4WD, the Colorado also has a new ZR2 Bison variant that features full off-road capability along with rugged styling.
Named after a city in Switzerland, the Lucerne was in production from 2005 to 2011. Harking back to earlier Buicks, the Lucerne has “ventiports” on the front quarter panels — small holes corresponding to the number of engine cylinders. Lucernes with V6 engines have six ports (three per panel) while the V8 has four per panel.
Sold for the 2003–2006 model years with a name intended to conjure images of the 1000-mile endurance race across the Mexican desert, the Subaru Baja recalls a more BRAT-ty past. The Baja looks a lot like Subaru’s BRAT small truck of the ‘80s — the one with rear-facing plastic jump seats anchored to the bed (an afterthought to avoid a U.S. import tariff on trucks).
The first minivan in the U.S. with a hybrid powertrain, the Chrysler Pacifica is available in three main trims: Touring, Touring L and Limited, as well as a number of limited editions. Pacifica takes its name from the city halfway between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay in California. With a starting MSRP around $40,000, the Pacifica Hybrid has many standard features and amenities including an 8.4-inch infotainment display.
Named after another “quiet little beach community” in Southern California, the Malibu has been a cornerstone nameplate of the Chevrolet line for decades. The current Malibu is a front-drive midsize sedan and, once the last of the 2020 Sonics and Impalas are sold, Malibu will have the dubious distinction of being the last midsize 4-door sedan left in the Chevrolet portfolio — a result of the proliferation of crossovers and sport-utility vehicles.
Confirming Hyundai’s affinity for naming vehicles after cities in the Southwest, the third-gen Tucson is a top seller in America for the Korean automaker. With a base MSRP of $23,700, Tucson is available in six trims from the SE to the Ultimate and features a 161-horsepower engine (SE and Value trims), lane-keeping assist, forward collision avoidance, and Android Auto and Apple Carplay.
Taking its moniker from a port city in France that overlooks the Strait of Dover, Cadillac sold the Calais from 1965 through 1976 as a 2-door hardtop, a 2-door coupe and a 4-door hardtop. Redesigned one time during its reign (for the 1971 model year), the Calais was the economical alternative to the more costly DeVille model line.
Produced in America between 1968 and 1976, the Torino was Ford’s midsize car built as a 4-door hardtop and 2-door coupe. A city once known as the automobile capital of Italy, Torino is the sister city of Detroit. One of the most popular Ford muscle cars was the 1972 Gran Torino Sport; pictured above is the 1970 Torino Cobra Sportsroof.
A 5-passenger luxury crossover from Nissan, the Murano moniker is intended to evoke the artful nature of this stylish yet rugged SUV. Named after an Italian city known for its glass making, Murano comes in four trim levels: the S, SV, SL and Platinum; the latter has a base MSRP starting at $44,000 and features a premium interior as well as Nissan Safety Shield 360.
Named after a Colorado ski resort, the Dodge Aspen was produced for the 1976–1980 model years and available as a 4-door sedan and wagon as well as a 2-door coupe. The above OEM photo reveals a lot about Aspen in its heyday; the 1976 Special Edition 2-door coupe features swanky wire wheel covers and a premium vinyl roof.
The second Chrysler vehicle named after the popular Colorado ski locale, the Chrysler Aspen luxury SUV was produced for the 2007–2009 model years. A sibling vehicle to the Dodge Durango SUV, the Aspen features three rows of seating for up to eight occupants, and had available all-wheel drive.
Named after a southern city in Spain’s Andalusia region, the Granada was part of Ford’s U.S. model lineup from 1974 through 1982. The design of the Granada as a new luxury compact was influenced in part by the impending oil crisis and embargo of the early 1970s. Offered in three trim levels (L, GL and GLX), the second-generation Granada shares many design elements with the aforementioned Ford Fairmont.
Although some might argue this Buick sedan is named after a rough and tumble sport, it also shares its name with a city in Wisconsin. The LaCrosse was in production for model years 2005–2009, and in Canada the car was called the Buick Allure, since lacrosse in French Canadian slang can mean a number of things, including a scam and, ahem, self-pleasuring.
Named after a California historical landmark in the Santa Ana mountains, the Silverado pickup constantly nips at the heels of the Ford F-Series in an attempt to gain dominance as the best-selling pickup in America. The Silverado is available in many variants, including the Rally Edition, Midnight Edition and Custom Sport HD.
Manufactured from 1955 to 1960 and again from 1964 to 1968, the Montclair was a product of Ford’s mid-level Mercury division. Available as a 2-door coupe or 4-door sedan, the Montclair has chrome accents, unique two-tone paint, and for a time was manufactured in the state where Montclair is located: New Jersey.
The vehicle named after this sovereign principality of the wealthy is also from an American automaker. The Monaco moniker has appeared on various Dodge vehicles throughout the company’s history. Once considered the flagship of the Dodge division, the Monaco name reflects royalty and prestige. The Monaco has been a full-size car (1965–1977), a midsize car (1977–1978), and in its last guise again as a full-size flagship of the line (1990–1992).
Produced between 1958 and 1972 and named after an island and bay in Florida, the Chevrolet Biscayne was an entry-level model of the Chevrolet lineup. Biscaynes were available with little chrome and practical, no-frills interiors. In 1960 Chevy produced an even more minimalist Biscayne for fleet sales, aptly called the Fleetmaster.
Another location in Florida, the Sebring midsize sedan was produced from 1994–2010 during the period of Chrysler’s demise as an American-owned automobile manufacturer. At various times, the Sebring was available as a coupe, sedan and convertible. Mitsubishi Motors built the Sebring coupe, which has little in common with the sedan and convertible — other than its name and a few styling cues.
Named after large, arid salt flats in Utah synonymous with speed — and one of the most recognized vehicle lines of the defunct GM brand — the Pontiac Bonneville lasted eight auto generations from 1958–2005. The model line began as a 2-door hardtop and convertible. The most valuable Bonneville today? This 1954 Bonneville Special concept car that started it all, which sold at auction in 2015 for $3 million.
The Kia Sorento is a midsize crossover produced since 2002. The name is supposed to evoke a sense of the Italian coastline, yet Kia’s spelling puts it in a small village in Illinois — not the worst place to land, but we think this might be a typo no one caught. Or an unintentionally amusing truncated spelling.
Although a last vestige of Ford’s defunct Mercury brand, back in its day the Milan was an attractive automobile. Named after an Italian city and hub of fashion, fine arts and design, the Milan shares a platform with the Ford Fusion and Lincoln Zephyr. In production from 2005–2010, the Milan faded from view when Ford decided to shutter its Mercury brand in order to weather the Great Recession.
Although not as breathtaking as its namesake palace and place in France, the Lincoln Versailles midsize luxury car ruled from 1977–1980. In actuality Versailles is a rebadged Ford Granada (or Mercury Monarch) with some fancier options, including the first halogen headlights and clearcoat paint on a production car in North America.
Named after the famous racetrack and Florida city, the Daytona name has been around for a long time at Dodge. Although the actual Daytona model is a 2-door, front-drive compact car built from 1983–1993, in their heyday certain Daytonas — especially Dodge Charger Daytonas — were the coolest cars around.
Subaru began selling the Outback — a station wagon with high ground clearance named after a remote swath of land in central Australia — in 1994, and it is still in production today. Present-day Outbacks have morphed from wagon into crossover territory, still sporting high ground clearance and the same spirit of adventure that the moniker bestowed upon the vehicle from the start.
Chrysler 5th Avenue / New Yorker
Both the Chrysler New Yorker and Chrysler Fifth Avenue take their names from the Greatest City in the World. The original Fifth Avenues were produced from 1979–1993 as special editions of the New Yorker. The original New Yorker model had a continuous production run from 1940 through 1997. The final generation of the New Yorker appears above.
Although named after a beautiful island in the Mediterranean, this relatively bland front-drive GM compact car was produced from 1987 through 1996 and offered as a 4-door sedan as well as a 5-door hatchback for a brief period. Unfortunately the Chevrolet Corsica does not live up to the enduring beauty and mystery of its romantic Mediterranean name.
Named after a bay on the Jamaican coast, the Montego hailed from Ford Motor Company’s Mercury brand from 1986–1976, and again from 2004–2007 — three generations in total. The third and final Montego wave came after a 28-year hiatus; for the 2005 model year the name returned on Mercury’s full-size sibling to the Ford Five Hundred.
Ferrari 360 Modena
Named after an Italian town famous for being the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari, the 360 Modena — a 2-seat sports car initially available as a berlinetta and later as a spider (convertible) — was in production from 2000 through 2004. Today Ferrari 360 Modenas are highly valued and highly collectible.
An Italian town in the southern Alps known for winter sports, Cortina also is a Ford product manufactured in Great Britain from 1962 through 1982. Also called the Ford Consul Cortina, this large car (at the time) was the United Kingdom’s best-selling car in the 1970s. The example pictured here is a Ford Cortina Lotus — a popular variant among collectors, and desirable today.
Named after a large mountain in the Cascade Range of Washington state, the Rainier of GM’s Buick brand is a midsize SUV manufactured from 2003 through 2007. Rainier features a 4.2-liter Vortec V6 engine, 5-occupant configuration, an available (at the time) small-block V8 engine as well as rear- or all-wheel drive.
Billed as a smaller size premium Cadillac, the midsize Seville was in production from 1975 through 2004. The capital of Andalusia, Spain, the Seville name had been used on a number of previous Cadillacs, most notably the 1956 Eldorado Seville, which set the precedent that any model with the Seville designation was a hardtop, and any with a Biarritz notation was a convertible.
Another testament to the Korean automaker’s affinity for place names (Tucson or Santa Fe, anyone?), Hyundai’s Veracruz midsize crossover was in production from 2006 through 2012 until being replaced by the Santa Fe LWB and eventually the Palisade. Veracruz is one of the 32 states that make up the Federal Entities of Mexico.
The Cheyenne name — adopted from an indigenous people of the Great Plains and also the capital of Wyoming — has been associated with Chevrolet C/K pickup trucks for a long time. The C/K was in production from 1971 through 1998, the year before the Silverado series of trucks began. Cheyenne was often used as a trim name for C/K pickups, such as the 1971 Chevrolet C-10 Cheyenne shown above.
With a name taken from a city in Rhode Island intended to evoke feelings of summer resorts, coastal towns and all things nautical, the Chrysler Newport was a low-priced large car on the market from 1961–1981. However, the very first Chrysler Newport was created in 1940; a show car based on the New Yorker platform, only six original Newports were built, and five remain in existence today.
In production from 1950 through 1981, the Pontiac Catalina is a full-size sedan named after an island off the coast of California. The name was originally used only for Pontiac models that had a 2-door hardtop body style, or what some call a hardtop convertible, since there was no B-pillar. In 1959 the Catalina became a separate model line.
The Dodge Durango name recalls a westward, expansive spirit of individualism, grub stakes and mining. Named after a Colorado town (or a sister city in Mexico), the Durango full-size SUV has been in production since 1997 under the auspices of Chrysler, then DaimlerChrysler, then Chrysler Group, then FCA, and now Stellantis. The current Durango shares its underpinnings with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
A subcompact produced by Chevrolet for the 1975 through 1980 model years, the Monza was available as a 2-door coupe, 2-door 2+2 couple, a 2-door hatchback and even a 2-door station wagon. Named after a racetrack and city in the Lombardy region of Italy, the Monza shares its chassis and 4-cylinder powertrain with the Chevrolet Vega.
Ferrari 575M Maranello
A sports car produced from 2002 through 2006, the Ferrari 575M Maranello has a 5.7-liter V12 engine and an available (at the time) Magneti-Marelli electrohydraulic F1 gearbox. This grand tourer was available as a 2-door berlinetta or a 2-door retractable hardtop convertible (the Superamerica), and takes its name from the Italian city that is both headquarters and home of Scuderia Ferrari.
In production in the U.S. from 2011 through 2016, the Verano is an entry-luxury car from Buick. The standard engine is a 2.4-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Verano is still manufactured and sold in China, and some say the car draws its name from South Tyrol, Italy, although the more likely origin is its translation from the Italian: Verano means summer.
The first Chrysler not a full-size car, the Cordoba was known as a “personal luxury car” named after a city in Spain. In production from 1975 through 1983, the 2-door coupe is most remembered for its TV ads, in which actor Ricardo Mantalban touted the luxurious features of Cordoba, famously noting the car’s “rich Corinthian leather.”
The Monterey is a full-size car from Ford’s Mercury division, built from 1952 to 1974. During its tenure it came as a 4-door hardtop, a 2-door sedan, a 2-door coupe, a convertible and as a station wagon. Drawing its moniker from California’s Central Coast, the Monterey was the only continuous Mercury nameplate in the 1960s.
Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
The Eldorado Biarritz is a luxurious Cadillac known for its immense proportions and dynamic fins. A shiny parade float with two doors, the 1959 Eldorado Biarritz shown above is a part of the collection at the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Now THAT is American luxury, named after a mythical city of gold and a swanky beach community in France.
With a name taken from a now hip and trendy locale in New York City, the Subaru Tribeca is a crossover built from 2005 to 2014. For some reason Tribeca never caught on in the crowded midsize crossover segment, and Subaru ended up selling a little over 77,000 units in total during the vehicle’s 10-year run.
A minivan sold by GM’s Pontiac division from 1997 through 2009, the original Montana was a trim of the Trans Sport (transport, get it?) van until the Trans Sport part of the name was mercifully dropped for the 1999 model year. Named for the fourth largest state in the U.S., the Montana was a sibling to the defunct trio of Chevrolet Uplander, Buick Terraza and Saturn Relay.
Produced from 1955–1958, the Chevrolet Delray was initially a trim level on mid-range Chevrolet vehicles before becoming its own model for the 1958 model year. The notable Delray is a 2-door sedan delivery vehicle popular among hot-rodders and car customizers, and its name originates from the beach and city in sunny Florida.
Now in its fifth generation and named after two islands — one real, one mythical — Toyota’s flagship Avalon sedan has been in production since 1994. As the crown of the Toyota lineup, the car’s name is fitting as the successor to all other Toyota vehicles named after the word crown in various languages, including Corona, Corolla and Camry.