The auto industry may be shrinking but their tires are not. 18 inch rims are now a common sight when it comes to the models coming off the factory line in every country. Most of them are SUVs and trucks.
Many types of cars also have a standard option of 18 inch wheels from the manufacturer. They look great and add visual appeal to the car, but they do a lot more than that as well. It all has to do with the sidewall as you get a better flex when you have a bigger wheel.
SUV and pick up trucks with these larger wheels have some benefits above others who do not. One reason is towing capacity. If you have a heavier load then the lower profile tire will be limited. You should check the load rating of your tire before opting to haul a heavy load.
For those who enjoy four wheel drive action and venture off the beaten path, the 18 inch rims give you and aggressive tread. A lower profile tire taken off road could result in major damage to the rim. Off road needs flex and a bigger rim gives it to you.
In the sports car and sport sedan market, 18 inch rims are almost common place. Back in the muscle care era of the 60’s and 70’s the cars had lots of power and could go in a straight line very quickly on their 15 inch wheels. Much care had to be taken when entering a corner however. The sidewalls on the tires were not up to the side forces during high speed cornering. In today’s market, straight line speed is only half of what buyers are looking for in a new car. If the vehicle won’t go around a corner as fast as it will go in a straight line then the buyer will keep looking until he finds a car that will.
This is because the 15 inch wheels that were previously standard on vehicles were too small for optimum control. When you have 18 inch rims a low profile tire, with matched sport tuned suspension, you get the control of the vehicle while optimizing the power of the vehicle. Your tire is your sole contact point between you and the road. If the tire does not adhere to the road then the car will not handle. A smaller sidewall equals flex reduction on a low profile car. This is a formula for keeping the tire glued to the road.
Not only are there performance benefits from 18 inch wheels and low profile tires but visually, it makes the vehicle look better. Instead of a lot of boring tire showing, you have a nice rim that accents the look of your car. Whether you buy a vehicle with factory 18 inch rims, or purchase them aftermarket, your vehicle will perform and look better.