"It might be said that Southern Californians have added wheels to their anatomy."
On a practical level, cars (like many other tools) give you incredible power. Go almost anywhere, fast, whenever you like. Take whatever people and things you want with you, and do it in comfort. There is a reason for their popularity.
Given the size of the United States and how much of its growth and development coincided with the automobile's rise, the USA is a little stuck -- it built for the car, with a bunch of assumptions. 100 years later, though, we're getting low on gas (having burned it all and sent it into the atmosphere), and didn't really anticipate a global population of close to 8 billion. Changing that infrastructure is difficult, and despite what some of my neighbors think, bicycles are not a reasonable option for many people in many situations in the best of circumstances, and public transit is not a serious option for many American cities any time soon.
It will be difficult to get people to give up the convenience and power of the automobile without significant incentives to change their behavior, and significant penalties for not changing their behavior. Even getting people to just switch to electric cars is difficult. (Even getting people to just wear a mask to save themselves and their families is difficult!)
The rise of the automobile also coincided with the rise in radio, television, and modern advertising. On a more symbolic level, cars are sex. Cars are freedom. Cars are an expression of who you are. (Note that you can substitute nearly anything for "cars" here, too).
Getting a driver's license was a rite of passage for many people in the 20th century. It is only relatively recently that kids have started not wanting or bothering to do it. Some of this is because their parents are much more willing to drive their kids wherever they need to go than previous generations were (to say the least).
I think of the song "Dream Cars", from Neon Neon's Stainless Style album, about John Delorean:
"Dream girls in cool cars / Cool girls in dream cars..."