By on January 5, 2016

2007-Honda-Civic-Si-sedan

TTAC Commentator 70Cougar writes:

Sajeev,

I am probably the first owner of a Civic Si to ever want to downsize his rims, so I’m looking to the expert on -1 matters: you. (Woot! –SM)

I have a 2007 Honda Civic Si sedan with the factory 17-inch wheels. I’ve always preferred the same generation EX’s 16-inch five spoke rims, and I wouldn’t mind a smoother ride and cheaper replacement tires if I still get decent handling performance out of the 16s.

Would the 16-inch rims fit around the brakes on the Si and otherwise safely function on my car? Would there be a significant decline in handling performance?

Sajeev answers:

I should be the reason why bangin’ big-ass wheels are dumped for smaller ones!

The first determination is front rotor size. Rears are almost always smaller, therefore irrelevant. Snooping around RockAuto, the Si has a much larger front rotor compared to its more plebian counterparts. Oh dear:

The caliper part numbers are also different and, if this thread is correct, increased surface area implies the Si calipers are larger. But are they taller or wider … or both?

It’s possible an 11.8-inch rotor and caliper clears a 16-inch rim. Googling up snow tires, this thread says 16-inch steelies fit, so test fit your preferred 16-inch cast-aluminum wheel. If Corvette ZR1 peeps can -2 down to an aftermarket 18-inch wheel wrapped around their fancy ceramic stoppers, isn’t anything possible?

Your last question is indirectly referenced in the ZR1 hyperlink. If the aluminum 16-inch wheel fits (less unsprung weight than a steelie) and if you buy a high quality, high performance 16-inch tire (plenty of grippy summer tires on TireRack) you won’t lose a drop in performance.

I betcha new 16-inch wheels with those aforementioned summer tires will spank the stock 17-inch Michelin Pilot All-Seasons around a road course. Perhaps you can run 16-inch summer tires and “ruin” your factory Si wheels with winter tires? That’d be something!

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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140 Comments on “Piston Slap: Si or No to ‘Minus 1’ Tire Sizing?...”


  • avatar
    duffman13

    Yes, they should fit, as long as the offset works.

    I am a former RSX-S owner, former AP1 S2000 owner, and current AP2 S2000 owner. All 3 of those cars share the same front brake diameter and front pad shape. Two of them (the AP1 and RSX) have 16″ wheels from the factory. The calipers will definitely clear.

    A quick google tells me they’re both 45mm so they should fit perfectly.

  • avatar

    If the car carries an emergency spare, using the dimensions of that are a pretty good place to start in terms of minimum size for clearances.

    Also, a Civic on four space-savers is a hilarious drive.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      ” Also, a Civic on four space-savers is a hilarious drive.”

      Been there, done that lol. Years ago, a friend repoed a lowered 89 Civic, only it had no wheels when we went to get it. All we could find were four doughnuts. 55 miles like that, AND a blown head gasket. It didnt make it, last 5 miles or so it was towed (with a stap, not on a dolly because it wouldnt clear enough to go up the ramps lol) by a Ford Explorer.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      C63 AMG on four compact spares:

      youtube.com/watch?v=HPh90yNX-mY

  • avatar
    sproc

    While the part number is different, the rotor dimensions are identical to the 2002-2004 RSX Type-S, which came stock with 16″. Unless the caliper assembly is significantly larger (unlikely), 16″ should fit just fine.

  • avatar
    redav

    I went -1 on my last car, and I had a beast of a time finding data on fit. All the websites & tools only considered + sizing. I even walked into a wheel store and said what I was looking for, and the kid looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.

    “I’m looking for 15″ wheels.”
    “But you already have 16s.”
    “Yes, and I want 15s.”
    (long pause) “But you ALREADY have 16s.”
    “Yes, and I prefer to have 15s.”
    (stares silently into void–I think I broke him)

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      I’m not surprised that a local shop would think like that, but if you shop for winter tire/wheel packages on Tire Rack, the first thing that comes up for almost any car is a -1 or -2 package (if they’ll fit).

  • avatar
    Fordson

    This is not the place to pursue a question like that – five minutes spent on Temple of VTEC or similar site will answer the question definitively, rather than having people who may or may not know speculate here.

    Oh, and “I betcha new 16-inch wheels with those aforementioned summer tires will spank the stock 17-inch Michelin Pilot All-Seasons around a road course.”

    Gee – ya think? Less rotational inertia on a no-torque Civic Si with crappy Honda brakes, coupled with summer versus all-season rubber, and only a 1-inch reduction in rim diameter – ?

    • 0 avatar

      “Gee – ya think? Less rotational inertia on a no-torque Civic Si with crappy Honda brakes, coupled with summer versus all-season rubber, and only a 1-inch reduction in rim diameter”

      Nah, I really don’t. Just wanted to see if you’d agree or disagree with me.

    • 0 avatar
      vtnoah

      Jeez. Captain Grumperstein reporting for duty. Why don’t you go write your own column.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Commenting only on the “Honda brakes,” why, exactly, is it that Honda still insists on factory fitting brakes (disks or drums) made of Parmesan-Reggiano?

      Do Honda buyers just accept this without much context as they’ve likely been driving Honda products continuously since the 1970s/1980s?

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        DW, I have always assumed that this was all about saving weight. I’ve been relatively blessed in that my 2012 Civic with 47k doesn’t have any signs of even slightly warped rotors, but I live in a flat area and am a conservative driver (a lot of coasting to stops and timing of traffic lights).

        My worst offender has been my ’96 4Runner, definitely a matter of undersized brakes with not enough thermal capacity from the factory. I initially bought it with badly warped rotors, the cheapo Napa replacement units warped within 3 months as well. The solution is a relatively simply and affordable bolt on job, thankfully. I bought some calipers and rotors made for a early-year Tundra, everything bolts right up with just a touch of dremeling of the dust shields. Sadly that’s not the end of it, I can still feel some pulsation when doing hard braking (like exiting the highway), I suspect it might just be pad build up on the Brembo rotors. More aggressive ceramic pads might be in my future, to clean the rotors up.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Akebono Pro-ACT disks with Brembo or mid to upper tier Centric rotors?

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          Modern rotors aren’t stress relived like they should be. The situation becomes worse with modern hard pad compounds. Your best bet is to let them warp. Once that stabilizes, machine the rotors, and they will be fine. Continuously replacing rotors will never fix it, because the new ones will just warp again. This excludes European cars whose rotors don’t agree with the speeds and feeds of a brake lathe.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            A lot of people don’t properly bed their new brake pads, also, and if they knew how to (or were told how to), wouldn’t need to replace rotors as a “matter of course” and service center/dealership profitability as frequently as they do.

            Having said that, many mainstream down to economy commuter cars are being fitted with incredibly thin & cheaply made rotors at the factory (regardless of company; there are probably only 3 or 4 major suppliers of rotors to manufacturers at the assembly level anyway), and these rotors are essentially one-use throwaway rotors that are toast by the time the original pads are done.

          • 0 avatar
            fincar1

            I had that problem on my 03 Silverado – really bad pulsation, with 70k miles on the truck. I got the rotors machined, and no problems since.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Rotors don’t warp. Ever. That’s an old myth that somehow never dies. Uneven pad deposits cause excessive lateral runout and that’s what people feel when they think they have warped rotors.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            White Shadow. Rotors warp. Period. The whole rotors don’t warp crap was started on the internet about 10 years ago by Centric, and has spread like the plague. They were trying to get out of paying warranty claims for warped rotors. Modern rotors are especially susceptible, because they are poorly cast, and not stress relieved. As the rotors go through their heat cycles, the stress starts to release, and the rotors begin to warp. If you place a warped rotor on a brake lathe, and pull the cutting tool in until the it just barely makes contact, t will only remove iron in one spot. If the surface wasn’t deserted, that would not be possible.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ White Shadow, anyone who has operated a Brake lathe will tell you that yes indeed they warp and you’ll see it plain as day as you make your first cut.

            Yes Jesus spots do form from pad deposits but it is much rarer than some people seem to think it is and is more likely to happen with cheap pads.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Rotors don’t warp. I’ve proven it to people more than once. And anyone who thinks that they are cutting metal on the high spots is sorely mistaken. My friend told me his rotors were warped and I bet him $100 bucks that I could get rid of his pedal pulsation with cutting his rotors. He agreed. I went and purchased a set of hard compound race pads and installed them on his car. After a bunch of hard stops, his pedal pulsation was completely gone. The harder pads effectively scraped the uneven pad deposits off the face of the rotors. If the rotors were truly warped, this would not have been possible.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Read and learn:

            http://www.stoptech.com/technical-support/technical-white-papers/-warped-brake

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Like I said, Centric (the owner of the Stoptech brand) came out with that about ten years ago, and some people like you thought it was the word of god. There is plenty of research about stress causing rotors to warp after heat cycles. Here is a study ThyssenKrupp financed on reducing stress and therefore warping.
            http://www.asminternational.org/documents/10192/18931279/2012_2nd-michigantech.pdf/b1bf1fbd-e84e-4411-b431-da34a9c1d80a
            If rotors didn’t warp, why would a major supplier conglomerate finance a study on trying to limit it?

          • 0 avatar
            S197GT

            rotors don’t warp.

            they just don’t.

            you do not heat your brakes up enough in normal driving to even stress your brakes.

            Griggs Racing:

            http://griggsracing.blogspot.com/p/brake-tech.html

            “There is no such thing as a “warped” rotor.
            Carroll Smith wrote the book on brakes for drivers to understand and dispels the myth of warped rotors. In the ‘60s Smith was involved in what was probably the largest disc brake development campaign in road racing history on the Ford GT40 for Shelby American and Kelsey Hayes with some of the best drivers in the world at that time. His document is very complete and concise, except it predates the current ceramic carbon pads we use on race cars today, which are harder still on rotor life when brakes are power assisted and/or abused.”

            ———

            article from police fleet manager, raybestos brake tech school:

            http://www.hendonpub.com/resources/article_archive/results/details?id=1787

            follow the logic:

            “Think about it this way: What are your conservative officers doing to their cars to “warp” the brake rotors in less than 5,000 miles? They don’t get the brakes warm (350 F), let alone patrol-hot (600 F), and never pursuit-hot (850 F). Yet their rotors are warping? No. They are not warping. They are unevenly wearing during the times of zero brake pedal pressure, and your officers are not doing anything to either prevent it or cause it.”

            ————–

            moss motors:

            http://www.mossmotors.com/SiteGraphics/Pages/brake_discs.html

            “The fact is: The discs were never warped at all. Every warped brake disc that we’ve investigated with the assistance of our suppliers shows uneven patches of friction material from the brake pads on the surface of the disc. These patches cause variation in thickness (run-out) and the vibration under braking. Brake manufacturers have been struggling to deal with this situation for years because warped discs are so readily blamed for brake-related vibrations.”

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Typically then, does Toyota fit better brakes than Honda?

          My GS had some sort of brake boost thing which came out that year (01) IIRC. That thing could stop quick.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            My LS has far better brakes than any Honda I’ve ever driven (including some well-equipped ones). But it’s not exactly your average Toyota. And the factory Brembos on my G8 GXP were far better yet.

            My ’95 Legend, nearly $40k new in 1995, has brakes that feel just as mousy as those on an Accord. I’m very gentle with them for fear that the rotors will crumple like pop cans if exposed to serious heat.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Commenting on the car under discussion, I have the original rotors and pads on my 2007. I’ve warped brake rotors on many cars, but never this one. They just passed Virginia State Inspection too, which means the pad material was sufficient that the shop doing the inspection couldn’t justify padding my bill. My father has original pads and rotors on his 2004 TSX too, and he probably drives faster than you do. The last car owned by anyone in my family to need brakes prematurely was my mother’s Porsche 924S. My first BMW received front brakes and its floating rear brake calipers stopped floating at some point, but it had a reasonable number of miles before issues arose. I’ve had company cars with flimsy brakes that warp the first time you late brake into an exit ramp from 80 mph, but all of them were Detroit-3 brands.

        There are enough complaints about undersized brakes on Hondas that I believe it is probably true of their brakes on many of their non-enthusiast oriented models, but the brakes on performance versions have been fine in my experience. I used to go to track days with an S2000 club, and S2000 brakes caused a lot less issues at the track than those of much more expensive sports cars. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a Corvette brake rotor shatter after coming off the track, but it is more than five. That might not seem like a lot, but all the track days I went to in the last decade were organized by S2000 clubs or the PCA, so there weren’t that many Corvettes.

        No I haven’t tracked the Civic. I realize that if I did I wouldn’t still have original parts in the brake system. That’s true of practically all cars though.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I’m just commenting on what I’ve heard so often on “the forums” and such (even JB wrote that his Accord brakes are pretty weak), and don’t doubt that more robust pads & rotors are used in vehicles such as the S2K and some Acuras.

          Also, how much weight can really be saved as a relative % of a new vehicle’s total weight by spec’ing a thinner brake pad or rotor?

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “Also, how much weight can really be saved as a relative % of a new vehicle’s total weight by spec’ing a thinner brake pad or rotor?”

            Well looking at it that way of course it doesn’t make sense, but a few pounds here, a few there, and it adds up. My Civic is a featherweight 2650lb, less than many SUBcompacts, let alone vehicles in its own class. Truly surprising for a 2012 model year C-class sedan with all the safety accouterments. How Honda achieved this is pretty evident when you drive along and hear everything that’s going on in the wheel wells, or see how thin the sheetmetal is, how thin the door cards and seats are. When I upgraded my 4Runner brakes, the new hardware was substantially heavier (more thermal mass, just what I was looking for). I’d like to think it was a good 2-3lb more per side. To an engineer, that’s a lot when they’re trying to keep curb weight to a certain number.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I doubt the pads are thinner. I have noticed that I’ve had no brake dust issues with my Civic Si though, and that points to a pad chosen for JD Power scores instead of maximum effectiveness. When German cars were good, the wheels would be covered in brake dust by the time you got home from the carwash. Lighter rotors are one of the most effective places one can save weight. You reduce rotational inertia for better mileage and the potential for better braking(this is the most hypothetical potential), and the loss of gyroscopic mass as unsprung weight does wonders for ride and handling. The same is true for wheels and tires though, and that’s a much better place to save said weight if you want to achieve superior braking.

            Anyway, the point is that even though weight reduced with lighter brake rotors isn’t a meaningful amount of the total weight of a car, it results in superior ride and handling combined with better fuel economy. These are good things, until you need to stop twice.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            Answer- there saving money more than weight.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Remember that the rotor is part of the unsprung mass. Light rotors = lower inertia of the wheel/hub assembly. Lower inertia helps performance and fuel economy.

            I’m not necessarily against brake pads and rotors wearing out at the same rate. Rotors usually aren’t that difficult to change out.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            “I’m not necessarily against brake pads and rotors wearing out at the same rate.”

            Rotors are a LOT more expensive, though.

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            DW,

            As I pointed out above as a serial VTEC Honda owner, the S2000 shares pads with the RSX-S and Civic Si, as well as rotor diameter. I’ve been tracking the hell out of my S2k on this brake system as well with little more than pads and fluid, though I do replace rotors every 2 years now.

            Now I know those aren’t your run of the mill civic or accord, but the point stands.

            The S2000 does have a problem with cracking front rotors, but that only really occurs with the excess heat from once you’ve moved up to R-comp tires and track-only pads. I haven’t had an issue yet with high end street pads and 200tw autocross street-class tires.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I had a 2004 TSX. No warped rotors, but I only drove it 23,000 miles. It definitely suffered fade even in hard street driving.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Civic brakes are adequately sized if you get the right components. Pads, fluid, lines, tires, good to go. The EX and Si have EBD as well and my EX does a little trail braking.

        It used to be a lot worse though. I had a 93 Accord with 2 buddies in it and ran a red light as my brakes were completely gone. My new Civic weighs less and has bigger brakes.

      • 0 avatar
        ctowne

        Upgraded pads and fluid have gotten many a Honda over that particular shortcoming.

        As most hondas are dronemobiles, i can see the product engineer spec-ing the same pad compound for the LX as the Si just to save some coin. For the 1% of the people who might fade the stock brakes there are many options to fix.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I don’t know about Honda, but I like cheese.

        Yay, parmesan!

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          Ever tried shaved parmesan? Comes in a small clear plastic tub, looks something like almond slivers.

          Toss some onto yer best chili, let ’em get melty… yee haw!

  • avatar
    Skink

    + size wheels are a latter day codpiece.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Going minus one will make your car feel, handle, brake and steer much better. I have upgraded many cars with -1 or -2 wheels and have always achieved nirvana. Smaller wheels and tires are lighter, which pays the biggest dividends for everything. The car will feel smoother, more fluid, far better in every way. Make sure you buy really good tires, too.

    Recently I put 17″ wheels on my BMW 550i, originally equipped with idiotic 19-inchers. The car feels so much better, amazingly better. Smoother, more fluid, bump steer almost completely gone, etc. Same for my 325i, where I upgraded from 17″ to 16″.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      One of the things I was thrilled about on my recently acquired 320i was that it “only” has 17-inch wheels. I’ll freely admit it looked a little odd at the dealership surrounded by 335’s, 340’s and M3’s, but it rides and handles better than any car I’ve ever owned.

      My neighbor just got an Accord Sport with huge wheels and knowing her like I do I figured she paid extra to upgrade, but checking their site shows 19’s are standard. The do look fantastic, but I bet that car rides hard.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      What’s the real price difference in tires? And how much for the 16″ wheels?

      Better handling? Not even if you stay with the same width and sidewall profile. But then what’s the point?

      Is there then a speed sensor error? What about the tire pressure sensors? Sounds like you’re better off living with factory stock. Or going clear out of your way for minimal returns at best.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        The idea of going to a smaller wheel is to increase the tire sidewall, and keep the tire circumference the same.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Right. The trade off is worse handling and loss of feel, for the sake of ride-comfort.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          Not always. A certain amount of sidewall is preferable, even for performance applications. Ever look at an F1 tire? They’re not exactly rubber bands.

          In the NA/NB Miata racing world, 15″ is the standard for track work, even though the cars came from the factory with everything from 14″ to 17″. And here we’re talking about track cars modified to up to double or triple the stock horsepower, and 4-5 times the original spring rates. The answer is 15″ wheels, and my bet is that they’re not doing it to save $10/tire come replacement time.

          Most people who downgrade aren’t doing it for the cost savings, and OEMs aren’t always putting huge wheels on their cars for their performance benefits. It wasn’t that long ago that Porsches and Lamborghinis were getting by on 16″ wheels.

          • 0 avatar
            JuniperBug

            “Anyway, claiming that a 16″ tire will always handle better than an equivalent 17″ tire is ridiculous. There are too many other factors involved.”

            Agreed. And by the same logic, claiming that a 17″ tire will always handle better than a 16″ is equally ridiculous.

            My example regarding the NA/NB Miata was exactly that: an example. On that specific car, 15″ works better than 16, 17 (and 14), even though the sportiest factory model came with 17″. What I was getting at is that the OEM doesn’t always put bigger wheels on their cars because that’s what handles the best.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Yeah, I wasn’t really disagreeing with you, JuniperBug. F1 tires are the best example of how tires can have plenty of sidewall and still provide excellent handling. But they’re also not optimized. That can only come from opening up the regulations.

            The Miata example is a good one. There’s always a sweet spot, and it varies between vehicles. Manufacturers tend to offer wheels bigger than that ideal size for cosmetic reasons only. Ironically, they look ridiculous to anyone who knows what they’re looking at.

        • 0 avatar
          vvk

          >Right. The trade off is worse handling and loss of feel, for the sake of ride-comfort.

          DenverMike, you are wrong. We are not talking 13 inches and 80 profile sidewall here. Although I once rented a Peugeot 106 in Europe and it handled amazing on 13″ Michelins.

          Going from 17 to 16 WILL give you better handling. Assuming tires and wheel are comparable price/quality/construction.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            OK, going from 17″ to 16″ (with taller profile) gives you better handling? What about 17 to 15? 17 to 14 with 80 series?? See where this is going?

            I don’t know about F1 tire builds, but I don’t see anywhere near the deflection street/DOT tires get with the same profile.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Optimal tire size and sidewall height for handling depends greatly on the vehicle and road surface. F1 tracks are very smooth and the best tire for those would have very little sidewall. F1 wheels are regulated at 13″ for legacy reasons only. Opening up the rules and allowing a tire war would probably end up in the 18″ tire range like most serious race cars. LMP1 cars, for example, use tires equivalent to about 335/35R18.

            The F1 engineers would also face new challenges in suspension design if tire size was increased, as the sidewalls provide much of the travel and suspension design is very limited in F1. Redesigning a passive suspension to handle three to four times as much load at high speed as it does at lower speeds with shorter sidewalls won’t be cheap. The brakes would have to be completely redesigned as well.

            So the teams don’t want bigger diameter wheels because they’d have to devote a lot of resources to it, but the tire manufacturers would prefer it for commercial and development reasons. There was a lot of discussion around F1 last year about this, with both Pirelli and Michelin expressing interest in it. Pirelli even did some testing on 18″ wheels.

            autosport.com/news/report.php/id/114907

            Anyway, claiming that a 16″ tire will always handle better than an equivalent 17″ tire is ridiculous. There are too many other factors involved.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            While increasing wheel and overall tire diameter would increase the load on the brakes going to larger wheels would allow bigger rotors which should provide a larger improvement in braking power than the increased load of the larger and heavier tire and wheel assembly. Larger rotors are the driving force in the increase of the diameter of the base wheels on many passenger cars and truck and especially on cars with sporting intentions.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      My XC70 came with 18s. I hate them.

      I just figured out that 16″ steelies will definitely fit (Volvo sells ’em and says they fit EVERY XC70, and Tire Rack assures me they sell one too).

      The next time one of my stupid, expensive 18″ tires fails, I’m replacing the entire set with 16s.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup. My sport pkg e46 came with staggered 17 inch wheels. I now have 16 inch 225/50×16. More comfy for potholes and crap roads and still stick really nice in corners…the contact patch is actually larger. the 1 mpg loss is worth it.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Going to smaller wheels/tires can & often does pay significant dividends when it comes to lower repair/replacement costs (huge $$$ difference between 16″ and 18″, or 18″ and 20″, wheels & tires), and as a bonus, often leads to a MUCH improved ride quality over real-world road surface conditions in much of the U.S.

    Vehicle manufacturers have sort of gone ridiculous in terms of factory fitting much larger wheels & tires on even their more pedestrian offerings in an effort to push a certain styling profile, to the great harm of ride quality, ownership expense and other adverse ownership experiences.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      This is a big part of why the CUV craze bugs me. A significant part of the additional height (over the comparable sedan) is achieved through larger wheels/tires, with no additional benefit beyond sitting higher and looking stylish.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        To me, ground clearance is very important (I’d say it comes in handy even more often than AWD), but I’d rather that be acheived through tall tires than tall rims. 16″ FTW.

      • 0 avatar
        Zoom

        And station wagons offer no additional benefit over sedans, other than more cargo room. Considering most vehicles spend their time hauling only one or two people, consumers obviously value ride height, hip height(entry/egress) and style over cargo capacity.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “with no additional benefit beyond sitting higher and looking stylish.”

        I’d actually dispute that claim, one of the biggest advantages a CUV has over a wagon is vertical loading space. It’s a substantially taller cargo area. I was blown away by how much stuff fit in the back of my fiance’s parents’ 2013 Rav4 over Christmas, 38 cu ft of seats-up cargo space. Good luck getting that in a wagon with a similarly small footprint. Likewise My old 4Runner has 44 cu ft of seats-up cargo space in a very useful shape, more than even an old Volvo station wagon, every wagon-ista’s favorite point of comparison it seems.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          “one of the biggest advantages a CUV has over a wagon is vertical loading space’

          It also makes a huge difference if you have a big dog. They have a hard time standing up in the back of a low-roof wagon.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yep, our pooches (airedale and american/english bulldog) absolutely love the 4Runner. Lots of space and headroom, low sills with big windows to look out of, and that fantastic lowering rear hatch glass. The newest 4Runners actually have even more space back there (47 cu ft) but the windows are significantly smaller, and the increase in space is likewise vertical.

            I feel like there is a market for such pet-centered car reviews “will it dog,” especially seeing as some people’s pets are now their “children.” IE Subaru demographic.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Subaru would inspire a new generation of fanatics, mostly dog owners, if they’d add a 4Runner-style lowering rear window to the Forester.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Maybe you don’t remember the tall wagons of the late ’80s to mid ’90s? They had tall roofs AND low floors, and some were available with AWD! But they were economy cars, and were replaced by small CUVs with a bigger markup, and smaller windows. Style costs extra.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Those were glorious.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Lorenzo I am quite familiar with the breed, my family owned a 1990 civic wagon from 1996 until 2007, when it was replaced by a Fit, also a taller sort of hatchback wagon. Absolutely brilliant design that civic wagon, the fit could never really hold a candle to it. Our friends owned a colt vista wagon, and several neighbors had tercel wagons. What a time to be alive!

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Except for the tinted windows, that could be my Civic in the photo. I still run the original wheels, but partly because I had the car in California for the past almost nine years. I just drove the car to Virginia though, where it may stay for a while. Perhaps I’ll finally get some 16s for snow, or I might take the car back west. The mountain roads of my memories have been clotted with traffic and reduced speed limits that are enforced with nights in jail and EPA level fines. Not much point having a fun to drive car in the People’s Republic of Virginia now. I might as well send it back to the broken grids of San Diego. Or maybe it is time for a Prius.

    When the Civic Si was new, I was approached by a young Asian woman with a similar Si sedan that had been modified, even though it had only been on the road for a month or two. She had gone to 16s for better acceleration. While it was nice being approached by a significantly younger cutie over a new car purchase, she didn’t seem impressed that I had no intention of modifying it.

    The Tire Rack has Continental DWS tires in the 17 inch size on clearance for $95 a pop at the moment. It will be hard to amortize the cost of new wheels with cheaper tires when you can get deals like that.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    My Golf SportWagen has the 18″ wheels that come standard on the SEL. I don’t like the 17″ design on the SE because it’s a six-spoke design…but I would like to downsize for improved comfort and handling, and I should be able to fit any recent small-car VW rim.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I actually love that the base model GSW “S” comes with tidy 16 inch alloy wheels. I just wish heated seats could be bundled separately on this base model car.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Oops make that 15 inch alloys, even better!

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          The only US-market Golf Mk7 with 16″ wheels is the TDI in S trim, which of course means a 2015 model sold before the stop-sale. The gas Golf, base or S, has 15″ alloys; SE has 17″, and top-line SEL, insanely given the likely desires of those who buy one, has 18″. 18″ alloys are also fitted as standard on all GTIs, whilst the Golf R has 18″ or 19″ with the latter packaged with other optional equipment. So there are FIVE different wheel diameters supplied by the factory on Golfs!

          I’d probably prefer 16″s on a Golf TSI. I’d downsize to 16″ or 17″ on a GTI for winter tires, maybe 17s for summer.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        They should just make seat heaters standard. A lot of people that buy the wagon, even in base TSI S guise, are going to be in the northern states.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      My boss just bought a brand new Accord, and man do I hate the feet wheels they’re putting on them this year. I don’t even think you can escape the design if you choose Sport or Touring.

      The worst Honda wheel may be those 20 spokes they put on the CrossTour, though.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Feet wheels? Oh those are “Running Man” wheels. Haven’t seen those since late 80’s aftermarket.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Yes, I was pricing out ’16 Accords earlier this year and noticed that. I do not like the swirly/angled wheel spokes; they’re hideous. I do like the Sport and its better wheel design (although they’re too big), as well as the demure, subtle body kit and dual exhaust tips without needing to buy a V6. Now that I’m not a complete snob for leather/leatherette anymore, if I could get CarPlay on a Sport model, I’d just stop there.

        20″ wheels? Why does a Crosstour need 20″ rims (although I think that variant is being discontinued)?

        Meanwhile, the worst offender for *oversized* wheels was the previous-generation Edge Sport with its 22-inchers. I’m not sure if the new Edge Sport has more-sensible wheels or not…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Don’t change the wheels, just get better-riding tires. You’ll give up a bit of sportiness, but you’ll have a much nicer riding car which your body will thank you for in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      That makes more sense than swapping wheels, but how much ride comfort can you get out of granny edition, 40 series tires?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Not on exact point, but the difference in ride quality between my 18″ summer UHP rubber and 17″ snow tires is genuinely night & day.

        It’s really something I wouldn’t have expected or believed until I experienced it (and experience it each year when I swap wheels/tires).

    • 0 avatar
      Zoom

      Or up-size the tire a little. A 1/4″ increase in radius improved the ride quality of my Maxda3, and fills the wheel well a little more. The speedometer is only off 2-3 MPH at 60 MPH.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        3% is nearly exactly the speedometer recalibration that’d be necessary to get a precise speed reading when going from 225/18″ to 215/17″ tires.

      • 0 avatar
        Der_Kommissar

        Hey Zoom- I’ve got a ’15 Mazda 3 S and was thinking of doing the same thing, or possibly going -1 like the thread suggests. What tire size did you move to? I’m thinking of going from my 215/45/18s to 225/50/18 or possibly just 225/45/18.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          225/50 will be a pretty significant increase in diameter, aprox 1.25″ most likely to big to fit and certainly enough to seriously throw off the speedo. Bumping up to the 225/45 will only add about .35″ in overall diameter so that should probably work just fine.

          • 0 avatar
            Zoom

            235/45-18 would work too.

          • 0 avatar
            Der_Kommissar

            Thanks- I think 225/45/18’s are the way for me to go if I don’t want to buy new wheels. I really loved this car at first, but it’s pretty harsh on my 70 mile round trip commute. It still handles like a BMW, but it’s harsher than an e90 on RFTs when you’re just cruising for miles and miles. Really makes me appreciate the combination of performance and comfort I had in my 328. Hopefully that small increase and moving to a set of Extremecontact DWS06s will take care of it.

        • 0 avatar
          Zoom

          My 2004 wheels are 17″ stock. I went from 205/50-17 to 225/50-17 tires, primarily because there was a larger tire selection in the latter size. The extra width and diameter smoothed out the ride a little at the expense of handling (and probably MPG), but the Mazda3 starts out as a great handling car.

          The diameter is 3% larger (13/16″), so the speed difference is an extra 2 MPH at 60 MPH on the speedometer.

          There are many calculators on the web to calculate the differences. You don’t want a tire too wide or too tall for your wheel size.
          http://www.rimsntires.com/specspro.jsp

          http://www.mazda3forums.com/forumindex.php is your friend.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            215/50R17 is also a good option for the earlier Mazda3. With a decent quality tire, the handling will actually improve with a 215 or 225, especially over imperfect road surfaces. It just won’t feel like it under lighter cornering loads because the steering will be a little heavier and mushier. I think 225/50R16 is the most popular autocrossing size. 215/55R16 is a nice size for street use. 205/55R16 is pretty good too if it’s not too pot-holey, but leaves big fender gaps. 205/60R16 on 6″ wide Protege alloys is ideal for winter, IMO.

            Most vehicles have plenty of room for a slightly taller and/or wider tire. It’s hard to imagine that I’d ever purchase a stock tire size ever again, for any vehicle.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    My Corolla VE came with 175/65/14 tires, ever since I started buying replacement tires, they would always sell me the 185 instead, saying it was “better” for the car. This last set I got, the tire guy told me I should use the original size, so I put on the 175’s and I am noticing sharper steering, handling and slightly better mileage as well.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The rolling circumference of 185/65R14 tires is greater than the rolling circumference of 175/65R14 tires by 2.3%. Are you really getting better gas mileage, or just going shorter miles?

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    I’ve had them for 2 mos. and I am getting slightly better mileage, it could be that the ones that were replaced were horribly worn out.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      That you are seeing more miles on your odometer for a given amount of gas consumed is to be expected with a smaller circumference tire. Other benefits may come from superior tires now being fitted or a reduction in unsprung weight.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      So does that mean that when you calculated your MPG on the larger tires you always added 2.3% to the result? Conversely are your new tires giving you more than a 2.3% increase in MPG?

      When you adjust the results properly you’ll find that as long as you are comparing like tires the larger tire will increase the MPG. Yes when you calculate the MPG it usually shows less than what you had on the smaller tire but once you add the correction it is more. Because the larger tire usually puts more tread on the road the rolling resistance increases and the larger tire usually weighs more which require more energy to rotate. In most cases the change revs per mile more than makes up for the added drag.

      Switching tire types and/or between different quality tires can have a significant differences in rolling resistance. On my wife’s car when I replaced the factory LRR touring tires with UHPs in the same size and brand we saw a significant drop in MPG.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    The truth about -1 or -2 is “it depends.”

    C&D tested a Mk6 Golf with stock 15s on it. They used the same brand tire in 16, 17, 18 and 19″ sizes, with aftermarket alloys in those sizes. They got slight improvements in mpg and acceleration in the smaller sizes, but better braking and handling in the larger sizes…they felt that the best compromise was in the 18″ or 17″ sizes, with the nod going perhaps to the 17″…and this was in a Golf with the suspension tuned for 15s, not a GTI with suspension tuning for the larger sizes.

    Taller sidewalls ride better, but lose steering accuracy and response, and permit the tire to roll over more in hard cornering, and allow the car to generally move around on the suspension more, because the tire sidewall is part of the suspension.

    Fitting over front brake calipers is not the only consideration in specifying wheel size, either – most -1 tire fitments result in narrower tread, too, because higher aspect-ratio tires bulge more at the sidewall – this guy’s car came with 215/45-17s, and the normal -1 for this is 205/55-16.

    In for example a Pilot Sport A/S 3, a popular summer-oriented A/S tire lots of sport compact people get, both those sizes have an 8.4″ section width. If you try to go with a 215/50-16 to keep the stock tread width and diameter, you end up with a 9″ section width…it might not fit. You’re going to have to play around with wheel offsets, backspacing and widths to keep it from hitting the strut or fender lip or suspension or steering member. Lower aspect-ratio tires keep the section width much closer to the tread width, and that is a huge consideration in ride, handling and packaging within the wheel well.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Car and Driver can’t afford to alienate their reliable advertisers by telling people not to spend money on aftermarket wheels and big tires.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        I believe that going to -1 or -2 sizing, which is what this post is about and what we are talking about, will similarly result in the purchase of aftermarket wheels and tires from C&D’s advertisers, among others.

        My guess is Tire Rack doesn’t have a huge preference for selling a guy 19″ wheels and tires to replace his stock 18s compared to selling a guy 17″ wheels and tires to replace his stock 18s.

        C&D ran a battery of tests and came up with empirical data…are you saying they actually fudged those numbers? Go and Google it and read it before you offer a statement like that, maybe – ?

        There are some sound reasons for going with larger wheels, which I enumerated…it’s not all about rimz and $$$. You have anything to offer on that subject?

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The car they used came with small wheels. When they recommended going up two sizes, they were recommending spending money with their advertisers. The car performed best in the ways that matter to most owners on its OEM tires and wheels; which is in terms of fuel economy, acceleration, and cost of ownership. They didn’t fudge numbers, but they also used different model tires to represent different tire sizes; which makes any results meaningless to anyone who knows about tires.

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            No, they used the same model tires in all sizes…with the exception that they could not find the same speed rating in all sizes, so the larger sizes had a higher speed rating. I don’t know why any test of this sort would use different model tires, and they did not. They used the car that they used because it came with small wheels stock and because they could easily equip it with a very wide range of wheel and tire sizes.

            In trying to apply the results of this C&D test to this post, we are dealing with a Civic Si, the owner of which would presumably care somewhat more than the owner of a base-model Golf about how the car handles.

            You may be landing a bit hard on the C&D advertiser benefit theory here.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Different speed ratings equate to different constructions and different compounds, which have as much of a chance of dictating results as size does.

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            Dude, anyone who “knows about tires” knows that it is almost impossible to find a tire model that is MADE in sizes from 195/65-15 through 235/35-19 and everywhere in between, let alone one that’s made in those sizes AND in the same speed range.

            There is not a lot of call out there for a 235/35 tire with an H speed rating, nor for a 195/65 tire with a W speed rating.

            And even if you could find the same model, same speed rating, they still would use different construction methods and different compounds and different tread designs, too, because they’re such radically different sizes.

            C’mon – next you’re going to claim they have a different typeface on the larger ones and that makes them different.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I suspect Hoosier, Toyo, and Yokohama make certain tires that are available across their size spectrums that use the same technology. It is quite possible that BFG does too. Sure, they’re DOT legal track day specials, but they would take the tire compound and construction out of the variables in determining what size wheel produces the best performance on a given car.

            Your typeface comment accomplishes what? You’re equating a real factor in the results with an imaginary one to do what? Show you don’t know the difference? Appeal to an ignoramus reading our discussion?

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            It shows that you are attempting to rebut me with increasingly implausible claims.

            You can’t compare tires across that wide a size range and have just the size be the only variable – too much has to change in terms of construction and materials. Car & Driver did not purposely try to slant their test results in favor of larger wheels and tires to benefit an advertiser.

            For our friend with the Civic Si…yes, you can probably run 16s. No, it will not hugely change ride or handling. No, it will not save you money even though 16s are cheaper, because you have to acquire a set of 16″ wheels.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I’m not entirely sure you even read the article, CJinSD. They didn’t recommend anything. They did the test, provided the data, and explained the results, including the benefits of the smaller wheel sizes:

            “What’s immediately apparent from the results is that as the wheel-and-tire packages get larger and heavier, acceleration and fuel economy suffer. Neither is a huge surprise, but we measured a 10-percent drop in fuel economy and a four-percent degradation in 0-to-60-mph acceleration from the 15s to the 19s, which is worth considering should you be thinking about “going big.” . . . In contrast, the two smallest wheel-and-tire combos showed a propensity for more understeer on the skidpad but provided a more controlled and supple ride. And although it didn’t register on the dBA-meter, the 15- and 16-inch arrangements had a more pleasant sound quality than the larger tires . . . If it’s acceleration you’re after, stick with the smaller, lighter wheels and tires. And remember, unless you believe it is better to look good than to feel good, take our advice and stay away from extremely low-profile sidewalls and massively heavy wheels.”

            http://www.caranddriver.com/features/effects-of-upsized-wheels-and-tires-tested

            I doubt that article convinced anybody to buy up-sized aftermarket wheels. The disadvantages are made very clear. What it probably did do – for those who were already willing to sacrifice some acceleration and fuel economy for cornering ability – is convince them not to go too big.

            There are performance advantages in going bigger than the 15″ tire in that test. A wider, lower-profile tire is going to perform a lot better on a smooth track, and it’s obvious from OE wheel sizing that a lot of people want that perception in their daily drives. So of course Car and Driver and Tire Rack aren’t going to write an editorial chastising those readers for their preferences.

  • avatar
    omer333

    How I regret trading my Si sedan for a Crosstour (I KNOW!)…

    Anyhoo, I don’t get the need to put GIANT RIMZ on everything. For some ungodly reason Honda decided to put 19-inch wheels on Accord Sports for 2016, and while they look nice, ITS A CAR WITH A FOUR-BANGER! Why does a car powered by a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine need 19s? Yeah, the Sports used to have 18s, but that’s as big as you want to go.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      Yes, and Mazda ships 19s on a CX-5 with the weaksauce Skyactiv 2.0L.

      Too big – no question.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        You have to get the highest trim level CX-5 with AWD and the 2.5L to get the 19″ wheels on the CX-5 in Canada. All the reasonably priced option levels – including those with the 2.5L and AWD – have 17″ wheels. But they know what people who are willing to pay thousands for HID headlights and navigation want out of their wheels: an expensive look. At least the much more common 235/55R19 size is a nicer fit with better ride quality than the stock 225s, and can be had for reasonable prices.

        I can confirm from my favorite local on-and-off-ramp circuit that the CX-5 handles just fine on the 17″ wheels. The six-speed manual is a good one.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Why? Because you want it to handle like it’s on rails. With solid steelies like the locomotive it shares the line with.

    • 0 avatar
      Zoom

      The Mazda6 also has 19’s on the mid and upper trim. 4-banger only.

      What bugs me is that the rotors then look smaller. Most people don’t notice or care about that I suppose.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Ugh! 19″ rims on a family sedan. And I’ve driven and ridden in the Mazda6 Grand Touring with those 19″ wheels. It rides like a buckboard. Plus, the 6 has poor noise insulation compared to the Accord, Fusion and Legacy, which all provide similar handling.

        • 0 avatar
          omer333

          I came really close to getting a Mazda6, but I just couldn’t even though I like the car and think it looks amazing.

          I’m leasing my Accord, and a part of me really likes it, but another is hot-to-trot for Civic Si sedans and WRXs…

          Although a case could be made for trading it in for another Accord Sport if they come in blue with the 6MT and CarPlay when the lease is up…

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Because bigger wheels don’t really have much to do with engine size or power. If anything, its more about handling, although you don’t need big wheels and low profile tires to make a vehicle handle.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I’m sure if look for snow packages on TireRack they will tell you if -1″ wheels will work.

    It does sound like you want some factory wheels which I’d highly recommend over the more affordable aftermarket wheels.

    So if TireRack or the Honda forums say they will fit go for it. Start searching Craigslist, Ebay and the Forums and see what you can find. Another option would be to put your wheels up for trade on craigslist as you may find someone willing to trade you their 16″ and give you some cash too. Of course the tread depth on yours and the others should be factored it. I wouldn’t think someone with new tires would pay extra to upgrade to your 17″ if they are bald. However I can see asking for $50 or $100 buck and the 16″ if the tires are of similar quality and remaining tread.

    • 0 avatar
      70Cougar

      Original poster here. Swapping my 17s with someone with 16s or buying used 16s and selling my 17s via Craigslist is how I envisioned making this happen.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        That is certainly the economical way to do it as they will be cheaper than buying new OE wheels and quality aftermarket wheels aren’t exactly cheap either.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I do like those flat-faced five spoke 16″ Civic wheels. I see them regularly on Kijiji here for $200 to $300 a set in good condition. I figured those would be ideal for winter wheels for a buddy’s TSX but he ended up finding a nice set of five spoke 16″ RSX wheels first, which I also like. The extra outset of those provided a flusher fitment with the 215/60R16 winter tires anyway.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    I guess to answer the guy’s question…really, he says his primary reason to switch is that he likes the looks of the Honda 16s, and none of us even mentioned that.

    The other question – will it handle or function poorly – ? No.

    Really, the stock 17s on this car are quite modest in size, they run really quite a modest-size, mainstream tire. The change to a -1 size wheel and tire, all other things being equal, will not result in wholesale improvement in ride or degradation in handling, and it’s silly to expect it would.

    I have a 2003 SVT Focus that runs 215/45-17 summer tires and 205/55-16 winter tires, and allowing for the different tire types, there is not a hell of a lot of difference in ride or steering response or handling…in normal day-to-day driving.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    “Perhaps you can run 16-inch summer tires and “ruin” your factory Si wheels with winter tires? That’d be something!”

    I was thinking of the opposite (get 16s for winter), but good compromise in any event. I have the same car as pictured, and a benefit of buying a car that gets mods is that I was able to buy a 2nd set of 4 brand new 17″ factory wheels for the price of 1 wheel from a dealership because their buyer immediately wanted new wheels and declined the factory wheels before delivery. So for the past 8 years I’ve been using one set of 17s for good weather and then swap out the other set for winter.

    As others have said, crazily enough these days 17″ IS a downsized wheel.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Where do you all find good tires in the 14 or 15 inch sizes?

    It seems like my options these days are either classic car tires (big $$) or bottom-spec no-name stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Had no issues finding any number of good quality all seasons in 195/65R15 for my Civic on Tirerack or Discount Tire Direct, my dad has a Fit with 14s and likewise no issues (although he generally just buys whatever Goodyears WalMart carries in the appropriate size). Unless you’re talking about some sort of higher end performance tires.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        My Electra has 205/75-14 and there is just about nothing in that size it seems.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Oh yeah that’s definitely an “old school” size. I think my brother had that size on his ’89 Mpv, he upped it to a 75 sidewall for snow tires and then got 15 inch alloys for summer wheels. I wonder where tercel owners looking for 155/80R13s will turn.

          • 0 avatar
            la834

            Many cars with 155/80R13s had 175/70R13s (often on the same width wheels) on the more deluxe models, and they remain more readily available.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    I could not find ANY summer tires for the
    Corolla 14 in rim.I live in So Fla I don’t need no stinking all season tire.


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