Here’s What Volkswagen’s SUV Names Mean

People sometimes ask, “What’s in a name?,” and we find ourselves asking that about the less well-known names Volkswagen gives some of its vehicles. Native English speakers get “Beetle” “Golf,” and we even got the VW “Thing” from back in the 1970s. But once it started doing other names starting with “T,” it can be easy to get lost. Pronouncing Volkswagen’s SUV names can be even more of a challenge. So, we decided to get some answers to explain what these “T” words really mean.


2020 Volkswagen Tarek
2020 Volkswagen Tarek | Volkswagen

This is actually an Arabic word meaning “to pass by.” It more specifically refers to one that passes by in the night or a night traveler. In the Quran, it means a brilliant star at night which leads the way: “Nightcomer or star of piercing brightness” (At-Tariq, verse 3). 

Volkswagen’s Tarek is a new crossover slotted just below the Tiguan SUV. It will be sold in Europe starting in 2020 and come to the US in 2021. 


2019 Volkswagen Tiguan
2019 Volkswagen Tiguan | Volkswagen

Supposedly, Volkswagen teamed up with a German enthusiast magazine to name its new SUV, but no one actually suggested this one. It was part of a list that Volkswagen supplied, which included Namib, Rockton, Samun, and Nanuk.

So where did VW get the word? It’s a cross between the German word for Tiger (Tiger) and Iguana (Leguan). So Tig-Juan. Get it? It raises the question of why a company would want to name a product for a cross between a tiger and iguana, but we’ll leave that one for Volkswagen to sort out.


2019 Volkswagen Touran
2019 Volkswagen Touran | Volkswagen

This one was more difficult. Exhaustive searches revealed it means “a place.” But that is not why VW chose it. It’s another word salad of mixing “Tour” and “Sharan.” The Sharan is a VW minivan not sold in the US. So VW wanted this to maybe mean a more sporting Sharan and felt that instead of naming it “Sharan Sport” or “Sport Sharan,” it would mix the two words. It is also used as a Persian name given to women.


2019 Volkswagen Touareg
2019 Volkswagen Touareg | Volkswagen

This has a couple of different meanings. First, Libya’s former leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had an army called the Tuaregs. Once his regime was smashed, the Tuareg rebels left Libya for Mali where they would fight against the Mali government for control. In the 1800s, the Tuaregs controlled the Sahara trade routes for decades until railroads and trucks came along. 

VW says, “The vehicle was named after the Tuareg people, a Berber-speaking group in North Africa. Derived from strength and adaptability of the tribe, we see the same qualities in our SUV.” So there is some similarity between the two understandings of what Tuareg means, but there is also an Arabic meaning, “abandoned by God.” There is also a famous Tuareg saying, “Better to walk without knowing where than to sit doing nothing.”


Volkswagen Tharu
Volkswagen Tharu | Volkswagen

The Tharu are an ethnic people mostly found in the southern foothills of the Himalayas. Most live in the Nepal Terai. In the 18th century, the Tharu were mainly bonded laborers, with the practice extending right up to today. 

The VW Tharu will be the Tarek in the US when it gets here in 2020. It’s a midsize crossover available in China. It is built in China, Argentina, Mexico, and Russia. We don’t know why VW chose this name other than the fact it begins with a T.


2020 Volkswagen Tayron
2020 Volkswagen Tayron | Volkswagen

The best we could do for Tayron is that it is a boys’ name with Irish and English origins. It was fairly popular in the 1970s but has since declined in popularity. Odds are, it’s another VW-created word that is a mashup of two other words. What those words are, though, we are not sure. 

The Tayron is the Chinese version of the Atlas SUV, though it deviates with front end styling, engines, and options available. Prices in China range from $27,000 to $45,000 based on packages and options.