Allmusic reviewer Greg Pato describes the album as "a genuine rock masterpiece". "The band jokingly referred to the album as their 'true greatest-hits album,' but it's no exaggeration -- all nine tracks are new wave/rock classics, still in rotation on rock radio. Whereas most bands of the late '70s embraced either punk/new wave or hard rock, the Cars were one of the first bands to do the unthinkable -- merge the two styles together. Add to it bandleader/songwriter Ric Ocasek's supreme pop sensibilities, and you had an album that appealed to new wavers, rockers, and Top 40 fans. One of the most popular new wave songs ever, 'Just What I Needed,' is an obvious highlight, as are such familiar hits as 'Good Times Roll,' 'My Best Friend's Girl,' and 'You're All I've Got Tonight.' But like most consummate rock albums, the lesser-known compositions are just as exhilarating: 'Don't Cha Stop,' 'Bye Bye Love,' 'All Mixed Up,' and 'Moving in Stereo'."
The album was re-issued as a deluxe edition on April 20, 1999, containing demos of the entire album alongside five previously unreleased demos.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album #279 in its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The cover model is Natalya Medvedeva, a Russian-born model, journalist, and musician who died in 2003.
An instrumental version of "Moving in Stereo" was used as the theme for Phoebe Cates' famous pool scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. "You're All I've Got Tonight" was covered by The Smashing Pumpkins and released on their The Aeroplane Flies High box set.
The Cars, in its entirety, was released as downloadable content for the music video game Rock Band on May 27, 2008.
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