During the 1980s, the top Japanese car manufacturers began to strengthen their hold on the mainstream market. The luxury segment was next, but the automakers knew that American consumers wouldn’t accept these cars unless they were offered through a premium brand. Just like Toyota and Honda, Nissan had its eyes on the upscale market and launched the Infiniti brand to serve its customers.
Nissan laid the groundwork for what was to become the Infiniti brand in 1985. Infiniti was chosen, based on the word “infinity” or what means boundlessness or continuity. Hatched in secret, the project was announced in 1987 and two years later the first Infiniti models were introduced: the Q45 performance sedan and the M30 performance coupe.
In 1993, the J30 sedan replaced the M30 coupe. The Infiniti J30 was a midsize rear-wheel drive model, itself replaced by the Infiniti I30 four years later. For 2002, that model was renamed the I35 to correspond with its 3.5-liter, V6 engine. The I35 was dropped in 2004.
By 1997, the first sport utility vehicle was introduced, the Infiniti QX4. That midsize model was based on the Nissan Pathfinder and was brought to the market to compete against the Acura SLX and the Lexus LX450. In 2003, it was replaced by the Infiniti FX35.
As the new millennium came in, Infiniti maintained a four-vehicle lineup composed of the G20, I30, Q45 and the QX4. In 2006, the G20 became the G35 and a new model, the full-size QX56 SUV was introduced, the largest vehicle in the Infiniti line. Powered by a 5.6-liter, V8 engine its platform was derived from the then all-new Nissan Titan full-size pickup truck.
The late 2000s brought several new models to Infiniti’s lineup or variations on a current theme, including the Infiniti G37 coupe in 2007, an M35 sedan and a G37 convertible in 2009.
In 2010, the Infiniti EX SUV was released, giving the marque an entry-level model. It was joined by the FX50S, an all-wheel drive sport model.
In 2014, Infiniti changed its naming convention with all car model names beginning with a “Q” followed by two digits and SUVs starting with “QX” followed by two digits. For example, the previous Infiniti G Coupe became the Infiniti Q60 Coupe and the EX SUV was now the Infiniti QX50. An all-new Q50 sedan was introduced that same year too.
Infiniti counts Acura and Lexus as its main competitors. Customers might also cross shop Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Volvo, BMW, Land Rover, Cadillac, Audi and Lincoln when considering this brand. Buick models compare to a number of the lower entry Infiniti models.