Toyota Explains its Most Iconic Model Names

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Toyota and the Japanese in general are known for being notoriously bad at naming their cars, though most of that's in the past now...

We’re sure you already have a dozen examples that you want to share with us. However, what are the origins of their most popular models’ names?

The automaker recently made a list of its 10 most well known offerings, featuring a short description for each model and why it’s called the way it is. Do note, though, that the list only features some of the brand's more recent (and more successful) names and none of the ridiculous old ones.

Feel free to remind us of any Toyota (or just generally Japanese) models with silly names that still baffle today in regards to how they ever made it past the naming committee meeting…

Note: Below you will find an explanation of how the names came to be and what they mean in Toyota's own words (...not ours), courtesy of the official Toyota Blog.


The name ‘Previa’ is derived from the Italian word ‘previdenza’, which means providence or foresight. The Previa was the world’s first MPV with a mid-mounted engine to maximize cabin space – no other manufacturer before Toyota had had the ‘foresight’ to fit a mid-mounted engine into an MPV.


Auris takes inspiration from the Latin noun ‘aurum’, meaning gold. It is also inspired by the English word ‘aura’ – the two combine in a car with a ‘golden aura’. Fitting then, that the concept version of the car – unveiled at the 2006 Paris Motor Show – was finished in a striking gold hue symbolic of the global importance of the model in terms of sales.


Avensis is derived from the French verb ‘advancer’, meaning ‘to advance’ and is indicative of the step forward that the model represented over its predecessor – the Carina E – when it arrived in 1997.


Yaris is an amalgamation of words from Greek mythology and German. In Greek mythology, ‘Charis’ was a symbol of beauty and elegance. Toyota swapped the ‘Ch’  with ‘Ya’ – German for ‘yes’ – to symbolise the perceived reaction of European markets to the car’s styling.


Camry comes from the Japanese word ‘kanmuri’, meaning ‘crown’. It’s an apt name for the car, which as the best-selling car in America for 12 years straight, really can claim to be a jewel in Toyota’s crown.


A ‘corolla’ is the ring of petals around the central part of a flower. The name was intended to evoke the image of a beautifully styled, eye-catching small family car.


A heavenly smooth drivetrain and linear power delivery were always staples of the Celica. Fitting then, that the name is Spanish for ‘celestial’.


Supra is a Latin word meaning ‘above’. The name is apt for a car that was able to punch well above its weight in magazine road tests – it famously defeated a Porsche 911 Turbo and an Aston Martin DB7.


The Corona was the first Toyota model to be exported to the UK, way back in 1965. Its name is routed in astronomy; the corona is the ring of pearly light around the sun. The name was a reflection of the robustness of the car – like a light at the end of the tunnel for motorists saddled with less reliable European cars at the time.


Prius is Latin for ‘prior’ or ‘previous’. Its name can be interpreted as a reference to the fact that at the Prius’ Japan launch in 1997, there had never been a mass-produced hybrid car prior to it.