A white 2021 Nissan Murano is shown from the front at an angle on a snowy road after leaving a dealer that had a Nissan Murano for sale.

What’s in a Name? The Story Behind 8 Nissan Model Names

Ever wonder where cars get their names? Consider if you’re looking at a Nissan Murano for sale. For a Japanese car to have an Italian name, it makes you wonder why it was chosen. Does it mean anything at all in relation to the Nissan SUV, or is it simply a pretty name?

When a brand like Nissan is known for creating some unique and eye-catching vehicles, you can only wonder where it gets some of the most interesting names on the market. While you might not always take the time to think about it, where do names like Murnao, LEAF, and Sentra come from? Do they mean something? Or are they invented by marketing experts to invoke specific feelings in consumers?

Interestingly, our research has shown that behind an interesting name, there is often an interesting, sometimes quirky, meaning that adds to the car’s personality. We’ve checked out a few of Nissan’s most interesting names to find out what’s in a name.

#1 – Nissan Murano

When you think of the name Murano, the Italian islands in Venice might spring to mind instead of the popular Nissan crossover. Ever since the 13th century, the island has been home to Venice’s glassmakers, making it the source of the world-famous Murano glass. At the time, the local government declared glassmaking a fire hazard, so the artisans were moved to the small island in the Venice lagoon to prevent a potential catastrophe.

What does all this have to do with the Nissan Murano? Well, one of the stand-out colours offered for this SUV was a warm orange called “Pacific Sunset.” This colour invokes a rare and popular shade of orange often used by Murano glass makers. Google it, and we’re sure you’ll notice the similarities between the rich Venetian glass work and the spicy-hued SUV. This unusual colour has been discontinued from the current Murano lineup, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find.

A white 2021 Nissan LEAF is shown from the rear at an angle.

#2 – Nissan LEAF

At first glance, the Nissan LEAF’s name is obvious; it’s an electric car, meaning it’s eco-friendly or “green,” as people say. But notice the capital letters L-E-A-F, and you’ll realize that the name LEAF is actually an acronym that tells you exactly what you’re getting when you choose to drive a LEAF. “Leading Environmentally-friendly, Affordable family car” is the name and mission statement of Nissan’s green EV. So no real mystery there, but still, now you know.

#3 – Nissan Tiida

Let’s move on to the compact car that Canadians know as the Versa, but which was sold as the Tiida in the rest of the world. If you look quickly, you might think this compact car is named “Tilda” but look again, and it’s “Tiida.” Not a very common word. Where does it come from, and what’s Nissan doing naming a vehicle this? Don’t worry; there is a method to Nissan’s madness.

Before Nissan created the Tiida, there was the Sunny. Nissan manufactured this popular compact car from 1966 until 2002. After the Sunny was discontinued, Nissan replaced it with the Tiida, a compact car available as either a hatchback or sedan. In homage to the much-loved Sunny, the name Tiida was a subtle nod that you’d only get if you understood the Okinawan Japanese dialect in which Tiida means “sun.” A daring name to give to the mass market car, if we may say so.

#4 – Nissan Sentra

One of Nissan’s most popular models, the Sentra, has been a favourite of drivers since its introduction in the 1980s. But what is a Sentra? Does it mean sensuous? Or Century? Sentra wasn’t even a word until Ira Bachrach, a “constructional linguist” and founder of the company NameLab, invented it. NameLab is responsible for some of the most well-known, catchy car names on the market. Ford, Honda, and Chrysler, along with Nissan, have all come to NameLab to create names that invoke a particular mood or feeling for their latest creations. When Nissan approached NameLab to come up with a name for what would be its mainstream sedan, the company put together “Sentra,” which not only invoked the feeling of being compact or “central” but also safe as if guarded by a “sentry.” Mystery solved!

A white 2021 Nissan Sentra is shown from the front.

#5 – Nissan Fuga

Ever heard of a Nissan Fuga? Unless you’re a Nissan know-it-all, you probably haven’t. The Fuga is a sedan that isn’t currently sold in the Canadian market. It is Nissan’s answer to a luxury sedan. Its competitors are the likes of executive sedans such as the Honda Legend and the Toyota Crown. Despite its quirky-sounding name, the Fuga is anything but. It’s made up of sophisticated lines and elegant details, so there’s no mistaking its class. To those who speak the language of music, the word “Fuga” isn’t completely foreign––it’s Italian for “fugue” and can also mean to fly or escape. A perfect name for an executive sedan that combines elegance and performance to create a harmonious driving experience.

#6 – Nissan Lannia

The Nissan Lannia is a friendly-looking sedan that was created in a collaboration between the Nissan Global Design Center and its Chinese counterpart, Nissan Design China, to appeal to the youthful Chinese market. It’s a car that was made for China’s young trendsetters. The Lannia sedan was derived from the “Friend-Me” concept, a futuristic sedan specifically created to appeal to China’s Millennial generation. The name comes from the Chinese “lan niao, yin xiang,” which translates to “bluebird impression”––a nod to the iconic Nissan Bluebird sedan.

#7 – Nissan Juke

This name is pretty straightforward; one ride in the upbeat, agile Juke and you’ll probably conclude pretty quickly that the Juke probably got its fun name from “Jukebox.” The meaning of the word “Juke” refers to several different things, including a roadhouse where people would stop to dance, eat, and listen to their favourite songs on the Jukebox. It’s the perfect name for the youthful little crossover. But Juke can also be used in terms of sports like football or boxing, where it means to bend or move quickly, which could refer to the Juke’s agile and responsive steering.

#8 – Nissan Qashqai

Here’s a name you might have wondered about: the Nissan Qashqai. This small SUV is a versatile vehicle that gives nothing away when it comes to its unique, mysterious name. Delving a little deeper into the origins of the word, you’ll find that the Qashqai (pronounced “cash-kay”) are a nomadic people from Iran renowned for creating beautiful textiles. Now the name makes more sense! When you look at the sporty Nissan Qashqai, it’s easy to imagine adventurous road trips to far-flung places topped off with a premium, well-designed interior.

A Unique Name for a Unique Brand

You can never accuse Nissan of being unoriginal, and the Nissan family sports some of the most uniquely named vehicles on the market. Next time you’re perusing the dealership or checking out Nissan’s latest lineup, and you see a name that makes you say, “what?” chances are Nissan has a perfectly good explanation for why a Sentra is a Sentra or why a Murano is a Murano. From an everyday practical sedan that evokes feelings of safety and security to an SUV named for Italian glassmakers, Nissan’s colourful names take inspiration from across the globe to unite drivers and inspire them to get behind the wheel and explore where the road takes them.