Cars and Trucks

What the Frunk Else Should They Call It?

Illustration by Gianna MeolaCar and Driver

From the September 2021 issue of Car and Driver.

I’ve long wondered if part of what drew me to cars, or maybe to writing about cars, was all the fun words associated with them. “Accelerator” sounds like a rush of speed. “Scoop” sounds big and open, an obvious intake. “Diffuser” smooths out the air even as you say it. Who doesn’t want to stomp hard on “throttle” or luxuriate in the spaciousness of “sedaaaaan”?

New technologies bring new words. Some are simply everyday words made sparkly in proximity to an automobile. Nouns like “camera” and “touchscreen” are old hat around the house but still intriguing on the road. “Massaging” always sounds nice yet is even more relaxing when your car does it. But don’t get too comfortable, because they aren’t all winners. There’s one in particular that’s banging around in my brain like a freeway pileup.

It could be an old-school Batman fight sound (frunk!), a muttered insult to a dowdy elder (“That old frunk!”), or half of a high-end German brand of electronic equipment (“Oh, this stereo? It’s a Telefrunken”). But no. It’s not any of those things. “Frunk” is a serious word that we’re expected to use seriously on a regular basis as front trunks become more common. I can’t do it. It’s too silly. I wouldn’t say I’m depressed, but I’m definitely in a frunk.

Pictured here, man getting his frunk on with a 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning.

“Frunk” is a portmanteau, a combo of “front” and “trunk,” like “brunch” is made from “breakfast” and “lunch,” “motel” from “motor” and “hotel,” and “brony” from—never mind, you get the point. Previously, there was no need to differentiate where your trunk was, because most likely it was in the back, and if it wasn’t, you were probably in a Porsche or something Italian, and part of the fun of ownership was snickering at the unsophisticated schlub who went behind your 911 to stow their bags. C/D first used “frunk” in a McLaren review in 2012, when it was a rarity. Now we must refer to this area more often, and I really don’t want to say “frunk.” Ugh.

Because I don’t believe in complaining without offering a solution, I have made it my duty to come up with an alternative. First I looked to Porsche, since it has a long history of front trunkin’. Where do suitcases go in Stuttgart? “Kofferraum,” said Frank (not Frunk) Wiesmann, a Porsche spokesman. No matter where it is? “No matter the location. Literally translated, it means ‘space for suitcases.’ ” I like Kofferraum better than “frunk,” though it does sound as if your car might be about to hack up your luggage like a cat with a hairball.

What the Frunk Else Should They Call It?

Car and Driver

What the Frunk Else Should They Call It?

Car and Driver

Much of Europe goes with “boot” instead of “trunk.” Jaguar briefly tried to make “froot” happen, but that works better for sugary cereal than for cargo space. Swapping the root words doesn’t help either. “Trunt”? The less said about that, the better.

If I can’t come up with a superior word, maybe I can learn to love the one we’ve got. That’s what Nancy Reppenhagen did when she found herself in charge of designing the front cargo area for the new Ford F-150 Lightning. What were her first thoughts on calling it a frunk? “It just seemed like an efficient way to say ‘front trunk,’ so it didn’t bother me. And then I tried to have fun with it. When people would ask me how the project was going, I would be like, ‘It’s frunking awesome.’ “

“Would you say it’s frunktional?” I asked. “Oh my gosh,” she gushed. “That’s great.” So if you see it in Ford advertising, blame me.

I hung up with Reppenhagen feeling better about frunks but not totally convinced. There must be something else, something with a little more gravitas. Then it came to me. This whole time I’ve been talking about a portmanteau, which, before it was applied to fused words, meant . . . a trunk. Now that has a dignified ring to it. “What should I do with these coolers full of Coors Light?” “You brought frunkin’ Coors Light? Whatever, put ’em in the portmanteau.” Oh yeah, that’s classy.

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