The latest video in Autoline's excellent Design Handbook series, which has already covered topics like the bone line and why the gas tank is on the right or left, takes a look at a kind of love-it, hate-it category in its latest video. Large-diameter wheels, like the kind that have seemingly increasingly become common in the automotive marketplace, are strong visual features on vehicles but often come at the expense of ride comfort. And as the video points out, they also have an impact on how much a vehicle costs to run.

Host Jim Hall also runs through the history of bigger wheels, and some of their more practical applications, like fitting larger brakes, along with other design tactics manufacturers use to to give the illusion of larger hoops. Take a look below for the full video, and be sure to watch the ending for a funny plea from Hall and the Autoline team for subscribers (you should subscribe, though, we did).


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      Yeah yeah
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wheel size is a pet peeve of mine on new cars. To me, 16 or at max 17 inch wheels are big enough for any car I want to drive. Those wheels are so big that the aspect ratio is already low enough that you get minimal tire flex in regular driving. Why would I want a bigger wheel to ride worse, cost more, and be worse in the snow. That fine for the base level of most cars, but generally if you want a higher trim level you are stuck with the larger tires, like it or not. In some cases, there is also a larger brake rotor diameter, so forcing the larger tires is necessary. But most times that's not the case. I'd even be willing to pay the full price if they took off the bigger wheels and exchanged them for the smaller alloys from a lower trim.
        Spartan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Yeah yeah
        Not to mention everyone doesn't live in the snow belt, so that argument is pretty much null. Until they design cars where the wheel arches aren't huge, bigger wheels look better. Cheaper? Have you seen the cost of tires lately in the 18-20 inch range? They aren't that much more expensive because most cars have them now. Some cars have "arguably" a better ride. My Taurus SHO with 20" stock wheels verses a co-worker's Taurus Limited with 18" wheels feel the same as far as ride goes. The difference isn't as stark as many have been led to believe, especially since suspension systems are a lot better than they were in years past.
        VL00
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Yeah yeah
        Its called ebay, you can flip a new set of wheels/tires very easily.
      ICantDrive88
      • 1 Year Ago
      I find it interesting that when I was 16 and bought a new Mazda Protege5 it had 16 inch alloys and they looked pretty good with the low profile tires. Now if it's not 18's or 20's, they are puny, even on small cars! My Infiniti has 17 inchers and I think they look good, but next to a car with 19's they look small. I think auto designs recently with more flared wheel arches makes the situation worse.
        msg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ICantDrive88
        its because the car gets thicker and thicker( pedestrian protection law, more interior space, etc). To make the car proportion better, they have to make the rolling diameter bigger( not only the rim but the overall size of the wheel). please dont blame on the designers.
      Cruising
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'll be uncool and stick with 15 inch tires as long as can be.
      789dm
      • 1 Year Ago
      No thanks. I ll keep my smaller wheel and bigger tires. I do not want to fix my wheels and tires every few months. I live in NYC metro area and big wheels and low profile tires are NOT suitable or WILL not survive New York streets.
      ponycargt
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ok I get it, you're all hardcore car enthusiasts and you're all about function over form. I suppose none of you appreciate it when your lady wears high heeled shoes or jewelry because they serve no real purpose. And you're also against art on the wall or crown molding in your home because those cost money don't do anything to enhance the sheltering capabilities of the structure. Aesthetics are a big part of life, and bigger wheels (up to a point) just look better.
      BG
      • 1 Year Ago
      The stupidest use of all for large diameter alloy wheels and low-aspect ratio aggressive tires is on crossovers. Few will ever be used on a track or in rallying, so they are just useless cosmetic attributes. In fact, lots of crossover buyers proclaim they need a handy vehicle they can take offroad or to the ski slopes - with giant wide tires?
        msspamrefuge
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BG
        It doesn't make much more sense on performance-oriented coupes and sedans, either. Many buyers claim they like the appearance, but then lament the NVH qualities to the point that I've seen some ask about addressing the issue from a suspension front rather than trying the easiest trick in the book- downsizing from their 20 inch rims w/30 series tires or some other similarly ostentatious combination.
          BG
          • 1 Year Ago
          @msspamrefuge
          You mean those buyers did not think it through when they ordered or retrofitted the huge wide wheels?
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      17 is a good stop point for tires. It gives you just enough visual excitement without breaking the bank on tire costs. I've learned the hard way through upgrading my own car the higher costs of using bigger and better tires. Its always fun between replacement and repairs, but not a thrill to throw down $1000 on tires.
      J
      • 1 Year Ago
      Rule of thumb is that it's a pretty dumb styling statement in almost all cases. Unsprung weight = bad. While there's certainly a good balance to be visually attained between wheel well gap and wheel size (something very very few auto manufacturers get right, and most customs go overboard with), lowering the car is probably a more effective way to reach this look. And even then, you're making compromises by inadvertently affecting the geometry of the car.
      Willy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Large dia. wheels may look cool, but the honeymoon is quickly over once you gotta replace it. Recalled working at a tire shop, owners w a 275/45-18 on their Maxima's shutters when replacement cost was almost $300 per corner! But alas, w ever higher belt lines and longer wheel bases, it be weird to see small dia wheels
        Spartan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Willy
        Yeah working at a tire shop, I'm sure you guys didn't recommend buying online to save money or anything like that. I have an odd-ball 23" wheel and my tires weren't even $1,000 for the set. Same for my wife's car with stock 20 inch wheels.
      AGSHOP
      • 1 Year Ago
      was hoping for some LFA news.
      Steve Hatchel
      • 1 Year Ago
      I remember when I bought my 3-year-old 1998 Lexus GS400, it had chrome 17" 5 spoke factory wheels and I thought they were huge. I went and looked at the Ford Edge Sport when it came out, with the Ecoboost 6 it should have been quicker but I think the standard 20" wheels slowed it down some and probably affected the gas mileage also. I went with the 18" inch option on my Bimmer instead of the 19s for driveability and lower replacement costs.
        msspamrefuge
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Steve Hatchel
        Both of the Edge's V6s are naturally aspirated. However, the Sport does use the Duratec 37 instead of the 35, offers double-digit horsepower and torque gains (20 hp, 27 lb·ft) within the same general operating range,
      VL00
      • 1 Year Ago
      Uhh, that was a pointless video
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