An automobile is a wheeled vehicle designed to carry people and usually powered by an internal combustion engine burning a volatile fuel. Automobiles have many uses, including transporting people and goods, hauling cargo, serving as recreational vehicles, and even as emergency medical vehicles.
An important component of modern society, automobiles have transformed the way we live. They have opened new ways of commuting, allowed people to travel further distances, and helped businesses and industries develop in towns and cities. But automobiles have also brought with them a number of social and environmental problems that we now face as a nation.
The history of the automobile is long and complicated. It has been influenced by many different inventors and engineers, but many historians credit Karl Benz with creating the first true automobile around 1885. Other inventors and engineers followed with their own designs, and the era of the automobile was born.
In the early 1900s, many women began to drive cars as a means of gaining greater personal freedom and power. This was especially true in the 1910s and 1920s when women pushed for equal voting rights, and drove around with “votes for women” banners to make their point.
At the same time, a large number of women started to work jobs in the automotive industry. In addition, the automobile made it possible for families to travel and visit one another more often, giving them a great sense of independence. It is because of these changes that the automobile has become such a huge part of American culture.
Today, more than 590 million cars are on the road worldwide and about 140 million in the United States. They carry more than three trillion miles annually, a total that far exceeds the combined total of all air and ground travel in the world. But the era of the annually restyled road cruiser has been brought to an end by laws on safety and pollution control; escalating gasoline prices following the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979; increasing fuel efficiency; and rising popularity for small, utilitarian cars with high reliability ratings.
The best automobiles are a combination of performance and practicality. For example, the BMW 7 Series offers a skillful balance of buttery ride comfort and powerful driving dynamics. The Audi A8 and Lexus LS offer similar features but lack the BMW’s athleticism. If you prefer an SUV, the Chevrolet Tahoe tops Consumer Report’s rankings for its passenger comfort and user-friendly infotainment system. The Jeep Cherokee is another good choice for a reliable family vehicle with plenty of cargo room.
The Toyota Prius is a great option for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on gas, as well. But if you’re looking for something sporty, the Porsche 911 delivers the thrills that have made it a fan favorite for generations.