Automobiles are self-propelled motor vehicles used for transportation on land. The word automobile has been derived from the Latin word “auto”, meaning “self.” They usually have four wheels and are powered by an internal combustion engine fueled most often by gasoline, a liquid petroleum product. The modern automobile is one of the world’s most universal and widely used technologies, and is produced by one of the largest industries in the world. It has made the world a much smaller place and has helped create new opportunities for people to live and work in places that they would not otherwise be able to reach, but it also has brought its own share of problems, such as pollution, traffic congestion and safety concerns.
The scientific and technical building blocks for the automobile go back several hundred years. Leonardo da Vinci created designs and models for transport vehicles in the 15th century, but the automobile as we know it today did not take shape until the late 1800s. Karl Benz, of Germany, is generally credited with inventing the first true automobile, although many other individuals contributed to the development of early steam, electric and gas-powered cars.
In the 1900s, Henry Ford introduced mass production techniques that revolutionized industrial manufacturing and allowed ordinary people to afford their own automobiles. Other companies, including General Motors and Chrysler, also came into prominence as the industry consolidated and expanded.
Throughout the world, automobiles have become essential for daily life. A person can only do so much on foot, and public transportation systems such as buses, trains and trams are not always convenient or fast enough to meet the needs of everyone. Most people rely on their automobiles for their work, school and social activities. It is nearly inconceivable to imagine a world without automobiles.
Automobile technology is constantly changing and improving. New developments include computerized controls, advanced safety equipment and hybrid engines that use both gasoline and electricity to power the car. Researchers are working on ways to make the vehicles more fuel efficient and reduce their impact on the environment.
In addition to the technological changes, automobiles are also evolving in terms of design and style. For example, SUVs, or sport utility vehicles, are now more streamlined and more sleek than they were a few decades ago, when they were characterized by rugged body cladding and off-road capabilities.
Whether you’re in the market for a family vehicle or a fun sports car, there are plenty of options available to suit your budget and preferences. Among our top picks for the best automobiles of 2017, you’ll find efficient and reliable compact sedans like the Mazda CX-5, a powerful BMW X3 with plenty of performance to offer, and a wagon that channels its 3-series sports sedan cousin to stunning effect, the Subaru Outback.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC is a smartly conceived and beautifully executed luxury crossover that offers impressive value and a sporty driving experience. Its capable all-wheel drive system and high-quality interiors add up to a package that’s hard to beat.