Nissan's luxury marque was launched two decades ago along with its Lexus and Acura rivals, but arguably Infiniti has distinguished itself less than the other two so far. Infiniti began in 1989 as a U.S.-only brand with the express purpose of moving the company into upscale segments that were dominated by Cadillac, Lincoln and German makers. The idea was to leverage American perceptions of Japanese quality into pricier realms. The first Infiniti model was the Q45 sedan. Infiniti got off to a slow start with a Zen-influence ad campaign that didn't even show its vehicles. And it chose modest, monochrome interiors rather than wood accents and chrome brightwork that typified the luxury segment. The brand occasionally rallied over the next several years; for example, the QX4, in 1997, was a pioneering mid-sized SUV in the segment. But by 2000, Infiniti was rumored facing extinction. Instead of terminating Infiniti, Nissan revived the brand with a completely redesigned Q45 flagship for the 2002 model year. Infiniti also then began its current association with design themes and cues that highly differentiate its vehicles from anything else in the segment. They included the FX crossover in 2003 and, in 2008, the smaller EX crossover. Now, Infiniti continues to cultivate an aspirational image as "the Japanese BMW."