In this paper, we address the problem of detecting and localizing cars in still images. The proposed car detection system is based on a hierarchical feature detector in which the processing units are shunting inhibitory neurons. To reduce the training time and complexity of the network, the shunting inhibitory neurons in the first layer are implemented as directional nonlinear filters, whereas the neurons in the second layer have trainable parameters. A multi-resolution processing scheme is implemented so as to detect cars of different sizes, and to reduce the number of false positives during the detection stage, an adaptive thresholding strategy is developed. Tested on the UIUC car database, the proposed method achieves better classification results than some of the existing car detection approaches.