Man ponders about names

Where do Hyundai model names come from?

We love Hyundai for many reasons. One of these is the stylish, edgy, creative names that they bestow on their vehicles. The automaker’s chosen monikers always seem to perfectly encapsulate what the vehicle is intended to represent.  

And these names are not merely random words that sound good. They all have specific inspirations and meaning. Read on to find out just where each current name in the Hyundai lineup comes from!


See the vehicles that stand behind these lovely names for yourself in our new Hyundai inventory!


Hyundai Model Name Meanings and Origins

Accent – The Accent is named for the linguistic symbol that denotes a sharpened or heightened pitch. The moniker mirrors the way in which the model itself boasts a sharp, heightened design and movement.

Elantra – The name “Elantra” comes from the word “elation.” Fittingly, the model lifts one’s spirits when driven. Interestingly, it was originally known as the “Lantra” overseas.

IONIQ – This name gives an ultra-modern feel, and is a little out there. It’s a combination of the word, “ion” (you know, an electrically charged atom) and “unique.”

Kona – This model is the first (alphabetically) of several Hyundai models named after places. In fact, most (all?) Hyundai SUVs are named after places in the United States. The Kona is named after the western district of the island of Hawai’i. In Portugal, it’s sold as the Hyundai Kauai, because Kona sounds too similar to a crude slang term in Portuguese.

NEXO – The NEXO is one model we’re not entirely certain of the naming origins for. We theorize the name is intended to give a futuristic feel to this hydrogen fuel-cell powered SUV, in the sense that it may be the “next” big thing.

You know who likes the NEXO? Korean boyband BTS.

People discuss names in an animated fashion

Palisade – Hyundai says the name of this model is in reference to a series of costal cliffs. It’s suspected to be a nod to the neighborhood of Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles.

Santa Fe – This model is named after a city in New Mexico. It lends the vehicle a somewhat untamed sense of outdoor adventure and wide-open possibility.

Sonata – This model is named after the eponymous type of musical composition. That word itself comes from the Latin “sonare,” which means “sound.” Both the musical and vehicular Sonata are intended in part to demonstrate how beauty can be found in contrasting elements.

Tucson – The Tucson is named after a city in Arizona. Similarly to the Santa Fe, this moniker brings up adventure-targeting images of desert, mountains, and outdoorsy freedom.  

Veloster– For this model, Hyundai chose to combine the words “velocity” and “roadster.” The result conjures up the impression of a speedy, fun-to-drive machine.

Venue – The last model on our list is also an SUV. Instead of being named after a specific place, this crossover’s title simply means “place.” According to the dictionary, the definition of venue is “the place where something happens, especially an organized event such as a concert, conference or sports event.” Perhaps it’s meant to imply that this model is a flexible machine that can be anything the driver wishes it to be.

Learn more about each of these models in their online Hyundai Owner’s Manuals.

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