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Stingrays, Mustangs, Rams, and Cougars are rolling proof that automakers enjoy naming car and truck models after animals. Other examples include the Shelby Cobra and Dodge Viper as fast cars named for impressive serpents. However, only one car named after another reptile isn’t a type of snake.

The reptile half has nothing to do with snakes

When naming cars and trucks, manufacturers typically opt to promote a positive idea in the mind of potential purchasers. Jaguar, Gazelle, and Puma evoke visions of speed and grace. Honey Bee, Wildcat, Rabbit, and Sunbeam sound youthful, sporty, and ready for anything. Bronco and Ram present a sense of power and durability, while Thunderbird and Firebird bring to mind fabulous mythic creatures.

Some cars boast ridiculous names, says CarBuzz, which points to the Mitsubishi Fuso Canter Guts, the Daihatsu Naked Be-Pal, the Honda Joy Machine, and the Nissan Homy Super Long as cars with stupid names that were not very well thought out. On the other hand, the Shelby Cobra and Dodge Viper are brilliantly named because they represent an attractive natural danger that can be managed, but only by a brave and capable driver.

The Viper and Cobra both appear in Zero to 60 Times picks for cars with animal names. All the same, very few modern car manufacturers tip their proverbial hat to reptilian creatures. At least the Volkswagen Tiguan goes halfway.

How the Volkswagen Tiguan got its stripes (and scales)

The name ‘Tiguan’ was a contest-winning portmanteau of the German words for ‘Tiger’ and ‘Iguana.’ VW has been successfully selling the reasonably-sized crossover SUV for well over a decade, even though it’s named for a creature that would be horrifying if it existed anywhere other than an automotive emblem.

Car and Driver report that 2015-era ads for the Volkswagen Tiguan featured a “ghastly beast” tiger-iguana amalgamation that may have resulted from a nuclear waste spill. Additionally, in case you’re wondering, the animal-inspired car name is pronounced ‘TEE-gwan,’ explains Volkswagen of Des Moines.

A quick look at the 2023 VW Tiguan

An Oryx White 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line compact SUV driving on a forest highway
2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line | Volkswagen of America, Inc. Newspress Limited

The first Volkswagen Tiguan debuted in 2009, marking the German car maker’s first foray into the compact crossover SUV market. A luxurious interior, solid construction, and a peppy turbo-boost engine remain hallmarks of the Euro-styled Tiguan.

Car and Driver had kinder words for the 2023 Tiguan than they did for the VW ad campaign eight years prior. Describing it as “an athletic, fun-loving SUV” that delivers agile handling, responsive steering, and “a taut ride,” the publication did mention some downsides. The outlet was not impressed with Tiguan’s brake pedal action, calling it “soft,” especially compared to the “firm, progressive pedals” found on other Volkswagens.

Another feature of the 2023 Tiguan that left Car and Driver reviewers less than satisfied is its 0 to 60 mph test time which clocked in at a languid 9.1 seconds. Nonetheless, reviewers noted that acceleration doesn’t feel as slow as test times indicate and still has enough “low-end grunt to feel perky” while driving on city streets.

Volkswagen provides the following specs for the 2023 VW Tiguan:

  • 16-valve, 2-liter, eight-speed turbocharged engine
  • 184 horsepower
  • Four available on- and off-road drive modes
  • 73.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity
  • ACC adaptive cruise control
  • Driver assist technology with blind spot monitor
  • Lane assist
  • Premium sound system with Fender upgrade option
  • VW digital cockpit

Readers interested in driving a car named for a frankly scary imaginary animal may know that the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for a 2023 Tiguan starts at $26,950.

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