The origins of their names (How did Toyota come up with the names of their cars)

How did Toyota come up with the names of their cars

Updated on April 23 2024

By Melvin Magadia for Automart.PH

As far as vehicles are concerned, Toyota is an established brand. Whenever someone plans to buy a set of wheels, the brand has always been top of mind. As of 2021, Toyota is the leading motor vehicle manufacturer based on global sales, with around 8.9 million vehicles sold.

Its history spans decades. Different models have come and gone, but the Toyota brand still stands. Through the years, have you ever wondered how Toyota came up with the name of its cars? Yes, you know their names, but do you know the origin behind those model names? In this article, we look at the history behind the names of some popular Toyota models.


The Toyota Corolla is one of the brand’s top-selling variants. It was Toyota’s best-selling car worldwide by 1974 and has continued that reputation since then. According to Statista, there were 67 million Corolla units sold in 2021. The variant got its name from Corolla, a ring of petals around the central part of a flower. Its name is intended to evoke the image of a beautifully styled, eye-catching small family car.


Spanning 11 generations between 1957 and 2001, the Toyota Corona was Toyota’s next to the highest product in their range. The Corona was one of the first models exported to other global markets. Its name is rooted in astronomy. The Corona is the ring of pearly light around the sun. It reflects the robustness of the car, symbolizing a hope for motorists who had to make do with less reliable European cars of the time.


The Camry name comes from the Japanese word “Kanmuri” which means “crown.” The name suits the car well because it has held the crown as Toyota’s best-selling car in the United States for 12 straight years. Since its introduction in the US market in 1983, the Toyota Camry has steadily increased its sales. From 52,651 units, there are now more than 12 million units Camrys sold throughout its 36-year history.

Corolla Altis

The Altis name was added by Toyota to the 8th generation of the Toyota Corolla. In the Philippines, it was reserved for the top-of-the-line trim level of the Japanese sedan in the country, and was carried over to the 12th generation of the car in the Philippines. In other countries, however, the Toyota Corolla Altis was simply referred to as the Corolla. The name Altis traces its roots from ancient Greece and was known as the sanctuary of the gods.  


The Vios carried with it various nicknames in its early years. From 2003 - 2007, Vios enthusiasts called it “Superman,” because of its subcompact grill. Then the second generation of the sedan was called “Batman” because of the shape of its grill’s outline. Now, the current line was named after Batman’s sidekick, Robin, because of its grill's shape.

Its official name, however, is actually an acronym for “Very Intelligent, Outstanding Sedan.”


Prius is Latin for ‘prior’ or ‘previous.’ Its name refers to the fact that when the Prius was launched in Japan in 1997, there had never been a mass-produced hybrid car before it. The Prius helped revolutionize the automotive world as it spearheaded the move towards green vehicles.


The Toyota Celica was always known for its powerful and smooth drivetrain. It was quite popular from 1970 until 2006 but was discontinued due to low sales. The name Celica is Spanish for “celestial.”


Launched in 1994, the RAV4 is considered the first compact crossover SUV. The RAV4 was the best-selling SUV of any type worldwide and the fourth best-selling passenger car overall. RAV4 stands for Recreational Active Vehicle with 4WD. It is worth noting, however, that not all models offer the option for a four-wheel drive system. Although we often see them plying city roads, it is still being sold as a 4WD in foreign markets.


According to Toyota Zambia, the Toyota Fortuner was marketed as an SUV for a “higher-income and trendsetting customer segment.” Launched in 2005, it was positioned below the Land Cruiser but above the RAV4. The SUV was named Fortuner because it brings fortune to customers who long to drive a prestigious SUV.


The Avanza is a multi-purpose vehicle developed by Daihatsu and being marketed by both Toyota and Daihatsu. As of 2018, around 2.75 million units of Avanza were sold globally. The name Avanza was derived from the Spanish word for “get moving” and the Italian word “avanzato,” meaning advance. Meanwhile, the name “Veloz,” was taken from the English word “velocity” and the Spanish word “velocidad,” meaning fast.


The Toyota Rush is an MPV that shares a similar chassis with the previous generation Toyota Avanza. Just like the Avanza, Wigo, and Raize, it is also manufactured by Daihatsu.

The name was derived from the same English word to depict it as a brisk and energetic car.


Over the years, the Toyota Hilux has built a reputation as having a high level of durability and reliability during sustained heavy use or even abuse. It also earned the tag “unbreakable” as it built a reputation for being nearly indestructible.

The name Hilux is a combination of “high” and “luxury.”


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Content Editor Kyle Liong contributed to this story.