16 vs 17-inch wheels off road

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Last Updated on July 18, 2022

The importance of wheels in the performance of your off-road vehicle is immense. Your vehicle wheel allows you to have many benefits. Having a good ground clearance is one of them.

Basically, the ground clearance means the gap between your vehicle’s lower end and the ground. As a result of enough ground clearance, it will be easy for your vehicle to run smoothly. The probability of getting stuck with the lower end of your vehicle will become low. Without it, it will improve the approach of your off-roading and departure angles. 

Now the question is how you can improve the ground clearance of your vehicle. The answer is by installing larger wheels in your vehicle. But is it a good option to install the larger wheels? Well, installing larger wheels is not always a good option.

Here, I will be talking about two different wheel sizes, the 16 vs 17-inch wheels off road. I will try to cover everything about both wheel sizes.

16 vs 17-inch wheels off road

16 Inch wheels Off-Road


  • The small wheel offers a softer ride by allowing the tires with tall sidewalls.
  • Small wheels offer better traction and a larger contact patch by “air down” compared with the larger wheels.
  • The 16″ wheels are more affordable than the 17″ wheels.
  • You will have plenty of variety in tires that will fit into the 16″ wheels.


  • While driving on the pavement, there can be more flex due to the taller sidewalls. It can result in vague handling.

17 Inch Wheels Off-Road


  • A larger Wheel will allow you to have the opportunity to install bigger brakes.
  • The ability to tow will increase with the larger wheel.
  • You will enjoy improved stability in handling your vehicle.


  • Bigger wheels are expensive.
  • If you purchase a tire that holds a lower profile, then it will be prone to damage.
  • The bigger wheels may put a strain on your vehicle’s brake and suspension.

16 vs 17-inch Wheels: Which One for Offroad?

Well, which one to pick among the 16-inch and 17-inch wheels will depend on you and your personal preference.

If you wish to build a hardcore and dedicated trail machine that will trailer in the off-road, then it is recommended to take the 16″ wheel and a big tire. By doing so, you will experience improved traction. Besides, the possibility of suffering a flat out on the trail will be lower compared with a low profile tire.

Again, if you are a regular driver or off-roader who loves to have fun always, then you are recommended to have a large 17″ wheel along with a low-profile tire.

Although you will lose some off-roading capability after getting this setup, you can expect some predictable driving experience on the road. If I am not wrong, then you are expecting the same thing as a driver. You will need to be a bit careful about treading on your trails, still, you will get a great experience of driving and obviously, the fuel will be more economical.

Is A Bigger Rim Better for Off Roading?

In short, bigger wheels are preferable for off-roading as they will allow you to have better ground clearance without spending on an aftermarket lift kit.

As I already said, the bigger tires will fit on bigger wheels and it will make some space for installing bigger brakes. The bigger brakes are preferable to the smaller brakes as pads and discs’ surface area will create friction when the heat is dissipating caused while braking a larger area.

So, if you are an off-roader enthusiast, it will be the perfect setup to bring a small wheel along with a tire that has the ability to feature a tall sidewall. The small wheel should have the ability to fit a bigger tire though.

It is better to pick big wheels that can fit bigger brakes if possible. However, opting for a too big wheel will ask you to compromise the tire size you will run.

The taller sidewalls along with a lot of flex are perfect for off-roading enthusiasts and rock-crawling because they hold enough to give in them. It is possible to make some air down in case of need for increasing the traction and contact patch.

The tires that have short sidewalls are likely to be less resilient to harm from jagged rocks, potholes and unexpected obstacles.

It allows you to think about the tires in off-roading as it is your vehicle suspension system’s first chain. Things may become rough and you have to know that you can believe on the rig for taking a hit except falling if you find things tough.

So, the last summary is- the perfect off-roading combination is a small wheel (larger than stock) and a tall, big and flexible tire for providing the most traction no matter how the terrain is.

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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