Automobiles are a type of transport that is used to get people from place to place. They usually have four wheels and an engine that can be powered by gasoline, diesel or other fuel. Most automobiles are designed to carry passengers, but there are also some that are built to carry cargo. There are many different types of automobiles, but they all share the same basic features. Some are designed to be fast and sporty, while others are built for efficiency and comfort.
The first automobiles were built in the early 20th century. They were a key force in changing the American society because they gave people more freedom and allowed them to do more things. People could escape from urban areas to the countryside, and they were able to visit other cities. The automobile was one of the biggest economic drivers of the time and it revolutionized manufacturing. It allowed manufacturers to make cars faster and cheaper by using assembly lines where each worker had a specific task and parts passed around the line on conveyer belts. These innovations made it possible for middle class families to afford an automobile.
Cars have become essential to everyday life and there are more than 1.4 billion of them in operation worldwide. Most of these are passenger vehicles that can carry up to eight or nine people. The most common engine is the internal combustion engine, which uses a volatile fuel such as gasoline or diesel to create the energy needed to move the vehicle.
Other systems in an automobile help to control it and steer it, keep the vehicle in a straight line, and provide electricity for lights. There are also various safety features to protect the passengers from accidents and to prevent children or babies from being thrown around the vehicle. The body of an automobile is the outer shell that houses all the mechanical parts and it is typically made from metal.
A modern automobile is a complex technical system with thousands of individual parts that must work together to function correctly. Many of these parts have been developed from technological breakthroughs, such as high-strength plastics and new alloys of steel or nonferrous metals. Some of these are made from lightweight materials, so that the car can be more environmentally friendly and use less fuel.
The best automobiles are those that perform well in all the important categories, such as fuel economy, reliability and safety. Consumer Reports has tested hundreds of vehicles this year and has chosen its top picks based on the results. The winner is the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, which provides excellent mileage and has a range of safety features. The Chevrolet Tahoe is another top choice because it has a powerful engine and can tow heavy loads. A midsize SUV that is comfortable to drive and has plenty of cargo space is the Nissan Rogue. It also has good gas mileage and a user-friendly infotainment system.