Automobiles, also known as motorcars or cars, are four-wheeled transportation vehicles powered by internal combustion engines and fueled with volatile fuel. The automobile has profoundly altered the world’s societies and economies, with entire cities built around them and many industrialized countries organized around the fast transport of goods that it makes possible. The automobile, however, can be a source of significant environmental harm and is responsible for traffic congestion and air pollution. The design of an automobile involves a complex balance of many factors, and compromises are often made to achieve optimum performance in a range of uses and conditions.
The first modern automobile was the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, invented by Karl Benz of Germany in 1885 and patented on 29 January 1886. It was the first car with a four-stroke, liquid-fueled internal combustion engine. Benz also developed an accelerator for speed regulation, a battery ignition system, a radiator for cooling the engine, and a gear shift.
Since the early 1900s, automobiles have grown rapidly in complexity and have become indispensable tools for modern life. Today, they are highly refined systems of interrelated subsystems, requiring specialized engineering and manufacturing techniques to produce them. The development of automobiles has spawned new industries, such as car manufacturing and a variety of automotive parts manufacturers. They have also reshaped the ways we live, from urban planning to private and public transportation.
Many people cannot imagine living without their car. It allows them to go shopping, visit friends and family, and conduct business in far-flung places. Moreover, owning a car can have an impact on other major decisions, such as whether or not to buy a house, because it shows that individuals are responsible and disciplined enough to handle a mortgage. It also tells lenders that they will make regular payments on time.
Having a car can save a lot of time, too, because it takes less time to run errands than it would to ride in a bus or walk. It can be a lifesaver in emergency situations, like when the power goes out or there is an accident on the road.
Automakers constantly improve and upgrade their models, and the annual Consumer Reports Best Buys list is a good place to find out about the latest innovations. Some of these include a smarter infotainment system, improved safety features, and more efficient fuel economy. These changes can make a big difference in how the cars perform on the highway and in city traffic. Mazda, for instance, has a model in this year’s list called the 2023 CX-50 that is very similar to its predecessor, but it comes with new technology and more options. It’s one of several nameplates in this year’s rankings that have moved up or down based on their performance in recent tests and reliability ratings. Some brands have seen their scores rise significantly while others have slipped, which may indicate that it’s time to shop around. To help shoppers choose the right car for them, our experts have rated these models for safety, comfort, cargo space, tech features, and value.