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What Is a Car?

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A car, also called an automobile, is a motor vehicle that is designed to transport passengers. Almost all cars run primarily on roads, seat one to eight people, have four wheels and use an internal combustion engine as their power source. Cars come in many different shapes, sizes and models and are available for a variety of purposes. They can be classified by their body type, which includes sedans, coupes, convertibles and minivans. They can also be distinguished by their design and purpose, such as sports cars, luxury vehicles and family vehicles.

The first practical cars were developed in the late 1800s, largely by European inventors like Etienne Lenoir, Franz Anton Schutz, and Nikolaus Otto. In the early 1900s, Americans dominated the industry with Henry Ford’s mass-production techniques and innovative new engine designs. Throughout the postwar period, manufacturers continued to push state-of-the-art technology to meet consumer demand, but quality and fuel economy suffered as production was concentrated on war needs. By the late 1960s, Detroit’s gas-guzzling road cruisers were being replaced by small, functionally designed, compact Japanese cars that offered a better mix of performance and efficiency.

Passenger cars now represent the primary means of transportation in most nations, accounting for over three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) of travel each year. With so many options, choosing the right car can be a complex task. Buyers need to decide what kind of vehicle they want or need, then select a model that suits them and their budget. A small sport car might appeal to single drivers, but may not be suitable for a growing family or long trips. Similarly, a large SUV might offer plenty of space for hauling luggage and equipment, but may be too expensive to fuel and maintain.

In addition to the convenience of having your own vehicle, a car can help you save money by reducing the need for costly taxi rides or public transportation. Driving can be a fun way to relax, and it’s often a great time to think and plan. Some researchers have even found that driving can improve mental health by occupying parts of the brain that are usually idle.

Whether you’re looking for a high-performance electric car or a luxurious four-door with buttery ride comfort, there is a car out there that is perfect for you. But the key to finding the best car is to know what you need and then look for a vehicle that goes above and beyond your expectations. Whether it’s an established icon that has been satisfying customers for decades or an upstart that caught its competitors napping, the best cars do what they need to do well—and then some.

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