The Hyundai Ioniq Electric.

You can surf the waves in Santa Cruz, California, check out the art galleries in Taos, New Mexico, or ski the slopes in Telluride, Colorado.

Or you can buy new vehicles named after those U.S. destinations.

Lately, automakers have been turning to real-life American hotspots – often associated with an active lifestyle – to serve as the names of new vehicles. Look no further than the Hyundai Santa Cruz, the Volkswagen Taos and the Kia Telluride.

“They’re trying to conjure up an image,” says Michelle Krebs, executive auto analyst at car-buying site Autotrader. “When you hear Telluride, you get this picture of mountains and terrain that’s outdoorsy. They’re also names that are familiar.”

It’s not a brand-new idea. You’ve been able to buy the Chevrolet Malibu and the Chevrolet Colorado for years.

But a flurry of recent naming announcements comes as automakers are apparently running out of “real words” that haven’t already been trademarked, says Karl Brauer, auto analyst at

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