Automobiles are vehicles that are designed to transport people, and are usually powered by internal combustion. The term is derived from the Greek prefix “auto” (self) and the Latin word “mobilis” (moving). Some cars, such as those used in motor sports, are designed for speed. Others are based on utilitarian transport needs, such as vans for delivery and cargo. Other designs include convertibles for open-air driving. The car is one of the most important inventions in human history and has had a profound effect on society, culture, and the economy.
The automobile opened up a huge amount of space, allowing people to travel greater distances and to be more mobile in relation to their job. It helped to expand the range of work possibilities for many people and allowed families to be closer together. It also contributed to the growth of leisure activities, such as amusement parks and other recreation and services, such as hotels, restaurants and fast food outlets. The automobile helped to create new industries and jobs as well. This was especially true in the United States, where cheap raw materials and a tradition of industrial mechanization encouraged automobile production and sales. It also created demand for gasoline and other fuels, tires and rubber, and plastics for car parts and accessories. This in turn stimulated the development of a wide range of services, such as gas stations and convenience stores.
It also made possible for more people to live in rural areas, and it enabled some people to move from city life to suburban homes. In addition, the automobile has been a symbol of personal freedom and empowerment for its owners. For example, in 1916 two women set out to drive across the country on their own, decorating their car with banners saying “votes for women.”
Despite the positive effects of the automobile, it has also caused harm. Its exhaust emissions contribute to air pollution, which can affect people’s health. Its use can also lead to traffic congestion and other problems. It can also consume a large amount of land. The automobile has also been associated with crime and violence.
New technological developments have helped to improve the automobile and make it more efficient. For instance, computerized controls have made it easier to keep track of the vehicle’s location, speed, direction, and other data, which can be very useful when a driver is distracted or inattentive to the road ahead.
Automobiles are available in all shapes and sizes for different needs. Smaller models, such as the Honda Civic sedan and Nissan Sentra compact sedan, ranked high in reliability ratings by Consumer Reports. The organization also likes the Toyota Corolla compact car and Nissan Rogue Sport subcompact SUV for their combination of safety, comfort and value. Other vehicles on the list include the Lexus RX three-row luxury SUV, Kia Telluride midsize crossover SUV and Toyota Prius hybrid for those seeking greener options. For those who want to haul heavy loads, there are the Honda Ridgeline and Ford F-150 truck-based SUVs.