Like a scenic roadtrip on Historic Route 66, Disney-Pixar’s “Cars” takes its time getting where it’s going, but you still find yourself enjoying the trip.

Clocking in at nearly two hours, “Cars” is Pixar’s longest — and most casually paced — effort to date.

With “Cars,” director John Lasseter re-imagines the world as populated with living, breathing automobiles and other forms of like-anthromorphized transportation.

The protagonist, hot shot rookie stock car Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), lives life in the fast lane, always thinking of the next win. Adored by his gushing fans, Lightning has no real friends with whom to share his fast-paced life — a fact re-enforced when he ties with two other cars — The King (Richard Petty, the film’s best piece of vocal casting) and the instantly loathsome Chick Hicks (voiced by Michael Keaton) — for the coveted Piston Cup.

On his way to California for the championship race-off, Lightning loses his way and finds himself veering off the Interstate and into the almost abandoned town of Radiator Springs.

When an altercation leads to the destruction of the town’s main road, Lightning must stay in the sleepy town while he repairs the damage he’s done.

While there, he befriends lovable bucktoothed tow truck, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), gets to know grumpy town judge, Doc Hudson (Paul Newman, in a role that fits him perfectly), falls for the wise, cute Porsche, Sally (Bonnie Hunt), and ultimately learns that life is more than just racing to the finish line — it’s the journey that counts the most.

What sets Pixar above others in the animated market is that, while other studios make cartoons, Pixar specializes in films.

Pixar films aren’t compared to cartoons, or even other films, per se — they’re compared to other Pixar films.

In that respect, “Cars” doesn’t break any new ground, but there’s a laid-back charm to the movie that stays intact even when the story is coasting in neutral.

Comedy does come quickly and slyly (insects inhabiting the world of “Cars” being VW Bugs with wings, for example), and some jokes will go over the heads of children, who’ll enjoy the gorgeous animation and the broad strokes of Mater’s personality — one of the best scenes of the movie involves a “Cars” spin on cow-tipping, where Mater takes Lightning “tractor-tipping.”

(And the funniest bit in the movie comes during the end-credits — a self-referencing joke that would only work in a Pixar film).

But beneath the shiny paint job and comedic hood ornaments of “Cars” is a more thoughtful engine, one that hums with a respect to the wonders and freedom of traveling the open road.

Like Lightning, too many people in today’s tech-happy, fast-paced society have forgotten how to appreciate what’s all around them. There’s an emptiness to the character that he finally realizes when he slows down long enough to see what he’s been missing.

One of the most poignant scenes in the movie recalls a busy Radiator Springs in its heyday, before the Interstate came through, and traffic — and life — began to pass the small town by, turning it into little more than a roadside relic along the all-but-forgotten Route 66.

Overall, “Cars” satisfies with photo-realistic visuals (especially the scenes on the open road) and is layered with less obvious themes than other animated movies.

While the vocal cast is impressive, the dialogue is less so.

“Cars” biggest speedbump could be in the characters themselves — like last year’s “Robots,” the main characters of “Cars” aren’t really living — or even organic — beings, they’re automobiles, which makes it kind of difficult to warm up to them as sympathetic creatures. But Lasseter manages to evoke pathos from the pistons, lending each car its own likable personality and charm.

Although “Cars” may not be the crown jewel in Pixar’s crown, it’s certainly a gem that will outshine many of the summer’s other movies — and one as well-worth seeing as the beauty and majesty of Route 66 itself.