Never mind that Wallace & Gromit director Nick Park had the whole anthropomorphized automobile thing going on more than a decade ago, in the TV commercials he made for Chevron. Cars comes from Pixar, the Bay Area’s animated-hit factory with a heart of gold, where every high concept (the secret lives of toys, of bugs, of superheroes, of cars) gets special treatment: strong storytelling, empathetic voice talent, and bar-raising digital wizardry. In the studio’s seventh feature, a narcissistic race car (voiced by Owen Wilson) gets stuck in a rustic, rusty little town on the old Route 66, where the locals, vehicles all, teach him to slow down and appreciate the scenery. That’s easy for the viewer to do: director John Lasseter’s fondness for open roads in majestic landscapes beautifully enriches his inherently cartoony tale. Though unabashedly nostalgic and just shy of trite, Cars is deeply felt and expertly rendered. From automotive houseflies to “Question Interstate” bumper stickers, nothing’s wasted in this droll, richly realized universe.