Nissan

Nissan logoThe Nissan brand offers a complete range of vehicles, from passenger cars to crossovers and even pickup trucks. There likely is a model that suits anyone’s needs and budgets.

2023 Nissan Ariya

In fact, the automaker, known as Datsun in North America up until the ‘80s, built its reputation on hard-working, robust trucks, comfortable and efficient small cars as well as desirable sports cars as it entered the North American market in the 1960s.

2024 Nissan Z NISMO

Nissan was also among the first automakers to bring a mass-production, fully electric vehicle to North America, while offering hybrid-powered variants of some of its models over the years. It’s still one of the only brands to still have a presence in the subcompact, compact and midsize passenger-car markets, in addition to an exhaustive selection of crossovers and a body-on-frame SUV.

2024 Nissan Sentra

Despite all this, some of its products are aging, and Nissan hasn’t been in the best of situations financially over the past few years, but there is a turnaround plan in place. Although the brand now has two fully electric models on offer, it didn’t really take advantage of its pioneering role in that regard, nor did it have much success with HEV and PHEV powertrains–at least in North America.

2025 Nissan Kicks

As a matter of fact, concerning the latter, there are no hybrid options in Nissan’s current lineup, as demand for EVs isn’t as strong as the industry expected, and consumers are looking for electrified combustion-engined solutions in the meantime. However, announced in 2021, the company’s Ambition 2030 vision outlines how Nissan aims to introduce 23 electrified vehicles, including 15 fully electric ones, by 2030, in addition to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

2024 Nissan Frontier Hardbody

Current Nissan Model Lineup

The brand’s U.S. and Canadian lineup currently consists of the Nissan LEAF electric hatchback, the Nissan Versa, Nissan Sentra and Nissan Altima sedans, the Nissan Kicks, Nissan Rogue, Nissan Murano, electric Nissan Ariya and Nissan Pathfinder crossovers, the Nissan Armada SUV, the Nissan Frontier and U.S.-only Nissan Titan pickups as well as the Nissan Z and Nissan GT-R sports cars.

Nissan History

The Nissan brand first appeared in the 1930s, while the Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. was established in 1934. However, the company’s origins date back to 1911, when the Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works was founded before introducing its first car in 1914 called the DAT.

1914 DAT

Following the release of the first model in 1914, the company concentrated its operations to help Japan through World War I. It then built passenger cars and trucks, including the Datsun Type 10 through Type 17 and the Nissan Type 80 commercial cab-over-engine (COE) truck in the 1930s, in addition to Austin Seven units under license, and Graham-Paige cars and trucks under license as well. Meanwhile, the automaker went through a series of rebrandings and mergers through the 1950s.

1933 Datsun 12

After World War II, the company released new passenger car and truck lines, the Datsun DA, DB, DC-3 and DS, followed by the 110/112/113. Nissan’s partnership with British car company Austin expanded in the Fifties, leading the Japanese automaker to gain rights to Austin patents, which it used to develop its own powertrains for Datsun vehicles.During the decade, the Datsun 120 small pickup and the bigger Nissan Junior commercial pickup arrived, as did the Datsun 210/211, also known as the 1000/1200 and the Datsun Bluebird. The Datsun 220/221/222/223 pickup appeared as an evolution of the 120, followed by the 310/311/312 line and the Datsun Sports or Datsun Fairlady roadster in 1959.

1950 Datsun Pickup

After presenting the Bluebird at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 1958, the company decided to establish Nissan Motor Corporation USA in 1960, and the first car sold in the country was the Datsun 210. The Nissan Cedric launched as a larger model in the company’s portfolio, while the Datsun 320/321/322 pickup and Datsun 410/411 cars were also introduced. The Nissan Sylvia nameplate debuted in 1965, exclusively sold in Japan as the Datsun 1600 Coupe for three years. The 320-series pickup became the Datsun 520/521, reaching the U.S. market in 1968.

1957 Prince Skyline

In 1966, Nissan merged with another Japanese automaker, the Prince Motor Company. The latter started building cars in 1952, followed by the Prince Skyline in 1957 and the Prince Gloria in 1959. These two models were renamed Nissan Skyline and Nissan Gloria after the merger, as were several others produced by Prince.

1959 Datsun Bluebird

In 1966, the Datsun Sunny was introduced, also known as the Datsun 1000, and was quickly followed by the Sunny Truck small pickup a year later. The Datsun 510 launched in 1967, renamed the Datsun 1600 in Canada, followed by the Datsun 240Z sports car in 1969, which elevated Nissan as a major car company. The 240Z became the 260Z and then the 280Z following two engine displacement increases.

1960 Nissan Patrol

The Datsun Cherry launched in 1970 as part of the automaker’s small-car lineup, and was the first to feature a front-wheel drivetrain. The 1970s also saw new generations of the automaker’s models appear with new designations, including the Datsun 610, the Datsun 710, the Datsun 1200, the Datsun B210 and 210, the Datsun 810, the Datsun F10 and the Datsun 310. The Datsun 620 pickup was known in the U.S. as the Datsun Li’l Hustler and in Canada as the Datsun Sportruck. The Datsun 280ZX replaced the 280Z.

1969 Datsun 240Z

The Datsun 910 debuted in 1979, but was sold in North America as the 810 Maxima starting in 1981, becoming the Datsun Maxima a year later. In the early ‘80s, the automaker started rebranding its vehicles from Datsun to Nissan globally, including in the United States and Canada, while moving its car lines to front-wheel drivetrains. In North America, the Nissan Stanza and Stanza Wagon (Nissan Multi in Canada), the Nissan Sentra, the Nissan Micra, the Nissan Pulsar NX, the Nissan Pathfinder, the Nissan Van, the Nissan 200SX and the Nissan 300ZX arrived during the ‘80s. Meanwhile, in 1983, Nissan finished building a new North American factory in Smyrna, Tennessee and started building Nissan 720 pickup trucks, which were replaced by the Nissan Hardbody in the mid-80s.

1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo

In 1989, Nissan launched the Infiniti luxury brand in North America to rival other Japanese premium brands Lexus and Acura. Infiniti eventually expanded its operations to worldwide markets. The first models were derived from domestic Nissan vehicles, including the Infiniti Q45 (Nissan President), the Infiniti M30 (Nissan Leopard) and the Infiniti G20 (Nissan Primera).

1987 Nissan Pathfinder

The 1990s once again brought new nameplates to redesigned model lines, such as the Nissan Altima replacing the Stanza, the Nissan NX replacing the Pulsar NX, the Nissan Axxess replacing the Stanza Wagon/Multi, the Nissan Quest replacing the Van and the Nissan Frontier replacing the Hardbody pickup.

1989 Nissan 240SX

By that time, Nissan was struggling financially. In 1999, French manufacturer Renault and Nissan formed an alliance to become one of the largest carmarkers in the world, now known as the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The two companies would share technologies, platforms and powertrains to reduce development costs and increase efficiency. Carlos Ghosn was named Nissan’s CEO in 2001, and a turnaround plan was put in place.

1993 Nissan Altima

After the turn of the century, the Nissan 350Z launched as the 300ZX’s successor, which later became the Nissan 370Z, while the Nissan Versa subcompact launched after the Sentra had moved up to the compact-car segment. The Nissan Xterra midsize SUV, Nissan Murano midsize crossover and Nissan Armada full-size SUV also appeared, as did the Nissan X-Trail compact crossover in Canada and international markets, but not in the U.S. The X-Trail was replaced by the Nissan Rogue, offered in both countries.

2003 Nissan Murano

With a desire to grab a share of the North American full-size truck market, the Nissan Titan pickup launched, fully developed and built in the U.S. and the automaker’s new Canton, Mississippi plant. The mighty Nissan GT-R supercar hit the scene as a 2009 model, known in other regions as the Nissan Skyline GT-R, while the oddly shaped third-generation Nissan Cube debuted for 2009 in America.

2009 Nissan GT-R

The 2010s saw the arrival of Nissan’s first fully electric mass-production vehicle, the Nissan LEAF subcompact hatchback, for the 2011 model year. During the decade, the brand also launched the Nissan Juke, the Nissan NV commercial van line based on the Titan’s platform and the NV200 compact commercial van. The second-generation Rogue appeared and in the U.S. market, the outgoing model was still sold as the price-leading Rogue Select.

2011 Nissan LEAF

The Nissan Pathfinder, redesigned for the 2013 model year, transitioned from a body-on-frame SUV to a crossover. The Nissan Micra returned to the Canadian market for 2015, replacing the Versa Sedan in the brand’s lineup, while the U.S. market kept the Versa Sedan. The second-generation Titan launched, adding the Nissan Titan XD heavy-duty variant in the lineup. The Nissan Qashqai also debuted as the brand’s subcompact crossover entry, but was called Rogue Sport in the U.S. The Nissan Kicks arrived near the end of the decade as well.

2020 Nissan Titan XD

During that time, Nissan was selling the Nissan Dayz and Dayz Roox kei cars in Japan as rebranded Mitsubishi Motors models. In 2016, Mitsubishi admitted to falsifying fuel economy ratings for some of its domestic-market models, including the rebadged Nissan vehicles, and it was Nissan who uncovered the wrongdoings. Mitsubishi subsequently lost half of its market value–about 3.6 million USD–and Nissan acquired a controlling 34% stake in the shamed automaker. The Renault-Nissan Alliance became the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance in 2017, led by Chairman Carlos Ghosn.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

More recently, the Nissan Z launched as a replacement for the 370Z, while the Nissan Ariya fully electric crossover debuted as the company’s latest EV. The Nissan Kicks was completely redesigned for the 2025 model year.