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Does your vehicle live up (or down) to its name?

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By Larry Printz
Saturday, May 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A perfect name can summarize a car or truck's personality: Mustang, Ram, Impala. But the wrong one can send a message the automaker never intended.

Sometimes, automakers seem unaware of an embarrassing name. Despite having a name that means “a seizure in which the victim loses consciousness,” Honda has not changed the name of the Fit back to Jazz, which is what the hatchback is called in other countries.

Maybe this is why automakers avoid proper words when naming their vehicles; it avoids unintended consequences. You'll understand why when you see what your vehicle's name means.

Here's a sampling of model names and their definitions, along with the automaker that uses them.

• Accent: a way of pronouncing a language, associated with a country, area, or social class. (Hyundai)

• Cayman: or caiman, a Central and South American crocodile. (Porsche)

• Civic: relating to a city or town. (Honda)

• Enclave: a minority culture group living as an entity within a larger group. (Buick)

• Eos: the Greek goddess of dawn. (Volkswagen)

• Equinox: the time or date at which the sun crosses the celestial equator and when day and night are of equal length. (Chevrolet)

• Equus: Latin word for horse. (Hyundai)

• Escalade: the scaling of fortified walls using ladders, as a form of military attack. (Cadillac)

• Fiesta: a religious festival, especially a saint's day. (Ford)

• Fit: a seizure in which the victim loses consciousness. (Honda)

• Focus: the center of interest or activity. (Ford)

• Forester: a person or animal living in a forest. (Subaru)

• Forte: the strongest part of the blade of a sword, between the middle and the hilt. (Kia)

• Fusion: a fusing or melting together. (Ford)

• Genesis: the way in which something comes to be. (Hyundai)

• Golf: an outdoor game played on a large course with a small, hard ball and a set of clubs. (Volkswagen)

• Insight: the ability to see and understand clearly the inner nature of things, especially by intuition. (Honda)

• Juke: outmaneuver by feint or other deceptive movement. (Nissan)

• Rio: Spanish word for river. (Kia)

• Rogue: a person or thing that is defective or unpredictable. (Nissan)

• Sequoia: a redwood tree. (Toyota)

• Sierra: A range of hills or mountains having a saw-toothed appearance from the distance. (GMC)

• Sonata: a composition for one or two instruments, usually consisting of several movements. (Hyundai)

• Soul: an entity that is regarded as being the immortal or spiritual part of the person and is credited with the functions of thinking and willing. (Kia)

• Touareg: or Tuareg, a nomadic African tribe. (Volkswagen)

• Tundra: a vast, flat, treeless Arctic region of Europe, Asia and North America in which the subsoil is permanently frozen. (Toyota)

• Vantage: a place or position affording a good view. (Aston Martin)

• Volt: A turning movement or gait of a horse, in which it moves sideways around a center (Chevrolet)

Larry Printz is automotive editor at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk. He can be reached at

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