Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wheels and Tires: Which Way For Our WRX?

Subcompact Culture's 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX

Nothing transforms a car's look more than a different set of wheels and tires. For most of my vehicles, it's been a cut-and-dry decision on which way to go with the car's shoes. The lowered vehicles get stickier rubber and lighter weight wheels. My 4x4 gets bigger tires that are better in the dirt. And then there'rs our '13 Subaru Impreza WRX. Which way do we go? Bigger wheels and sticker on-road rubber, or smaller wheels and meatier all-terrain tires?

Currently, our Toyota Yaris is lowered and rolls on lightweight Konig wheels and fairly sticky Yokohama S.Drive tires. It'll always be the on-road go-kart of the household (unless it got turned into a rally Yaris).

Our Suzuki Sidekick is lifted and gets around on 15x7 steel wheel wrapped in knobby Kumho Road Venture Mud Terrain tires. It's great off road and a surprisingly decent urban runabout (I never worry about parking it).

The WRX is sort of the Swiss Army knife of the group, and is in between our lowered Yaris and lifted Sidekick. It's got a stock ride height and currently has the factory 17x8 alloy wheels wrapped in the original 235/45/17 Dunlop rubber. It handles great, it's fast, and it's also fun on gravel roads as well as asphalt. We'll probably put a hitch on it so we can pull our trailer, too. I don't plan on lowering it, however, since it is our ski rig and since we do take it on gravel from time to time, and it rides pretty well.

While I could simply replace the stock wheels with a different style of 17x8 wheel or go up to a 17x9 or larger 18-inch wheel, I'm strongly considering going with an 16x8 wheel and add a set of 215/60/16 all-terrain tires, such as a Yokohama Geolander or General Grabber AT2. This rally-esque look just screams "business" to me. It's functional, costs less than a 17- or 18-inch wheel package, and would be great in all kinds of terrain.

Sean's WRX with 16x8 Enkei Compe wheels and Yokohama all-terrain tires
Sean's WRX with 16x8 Enkei Compe wheels (+25) with 215/60/16 Yokohama Geolander All-Terrain tires.
The above picture showcases the look I'm quickly becoming smitten with. I love the meaty tires and smaller wheels. Yes, it'd lose some points in the handling department on the pavement, but it would be great for those gravel roads, perhaps a rally cross, and frankly, it looks pretty rad too. After driving the lifted Primitive Racing Subaru XV Crosstrek, I think having a more capable Impreza would be great. It certainly wouldn't be as hardcore as our Sidekick when off road, but it would still allow us to do a fair amount of off-pavement driving while gaining a bit more ground clearance, more tire sidewall, and a cool look.

So which way will we go with our WRX? I'm not 100% sure yet, but I really like the rally look. Plus it's fairly cost-effective and adds some off-pavement capability. Add our trailer, slap on our roof rails, and it might be a great—and quick—compact adventure vehicle.

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