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method 702 wheels and all terrain toyo open country offroad tires on 2021 subaru crosstrek

Here's Why Installing Aftermarket Wheels Is One Of My Favorite Mods

By Ben Boxer

Every time I buy a new car, one of the first things I swap out are the wheels. While some people prefer the stock Subaru wheels, I personally don’t like any of the wheels they currently make and they rarely fit my needs.

I swap my stock wheels out for these main reasons:

  • Better fitment
  • Aesthetic reasons
  • Offroad protection
  • Weight savings
  • More control
offroad wheel on subaru outback


Most stock wheels are narrow, have a high offset, and don’t fit the tire sizes that I like to run. When I’m planning to build a Subaru for offroading, I like to select specific tires that will handle the trails that I take it on. This usually means I need to size down for a more durable sidewall.

I’ve always run 15 inch offroad tires on my lifted Subaru builds. While there are some 15 inch Subaru wheels, they are typically unattractive in my opinion and have a very high offset which causes the bigger tires to hit the spring perches. For these reasons, I’ve found myself purchasing aftermarket wheels such as Method, Konig, or Black Rhino.


2013 subaru wrx offroad with sparco terra wheels

Some people simply don’t care how their vehicle looks and that’s absolutely okay. But many of us prefer to modify our cars in a way that not only improves the functionality, but also the overall look of the vehicle.

Having a car that performs well and does exactly what you need it to do while looking great is a fantastic feeling. I think the art of aesthetics is often overlooked in many situations. Modern architecture is lacking in design, most newer cars are less appealing to many of us, and the same can be said for a lot of the other products we use. So why not add some visually pleasing parts to our Subies that make them just a bit more enjoyable to drive and look at?

I’m a big believer in letting people modify their car for looks without criticism. If someone wants new wheels just because they look better, who are we to criticize it? I think it’s perfectly fine and I’d prefer to see more positivity in the car community.

Offroad Protection

When going offroad, it’s not uncommon to accidentally send a rock or stick up into your brake components. I routinely find debris stuffed into my brake pads after hard days on the trail.

I like using rally wheels that have a full face design that prevent objects from entering into the brake area and damaging components.

Wheels like the Method MR502 and Sparco Terra offer a very protective face that keeps gravel from jumping through easily. Both of the wheels are relatively common among rallycross enthusiasts and are lightweight.

method mr502 wheels on subaru forester falken wildpeak tires
lifted 2022 subaru wrx with sparco terra offroad wheels

Weight Savings

This is arguably one of the biggest reasons I like to use aftermarket wheels on all of my Subarus. Having a wheel that is strong enough to handle trails while being as lightweight as possible helps extend the life of things like brakes, suspension components, and axles.

Lighter wheels also help preserve fuel economy and don’t rob as much power from the car. This means you can accelerate faster and save money on fuel.

Now I have to admit, not all aftermarket wheels are lightweight. But if you shop around and strategically pick your next set, you can get something that will help offset the heavier tires that many of us install.

A great example of weight savings is my Black Rhino Boxer wheels in 15×7. This wheel only weighs just shy of 17 lbs and looks great on my Subaru. I added about 8 lbs when I switched to mud terrain tires, but saved 4 lbs by using a lightweight wheel.

More Control

2006 lifted subaru forester in the woods with black rhino boxer wheels

When I purchase a new wheel for one of my cars, I look for something wider and with a slightly lower offset (sits further outside the wheel well.) A wheel setup that provides a slightly wider track allows for an improvement in the overall handling of the vehicle.

When you lift a Subaru and install heavier tires, you definitely lose some handling performance – there’s no question about it. You will experience more sluggish handling and added body roll. I’ve personally found that having a marginally wider wheel setup provides a better driving experience when on the pavement.

But the benefits don’t stop at the pavement. Having a wider track also helps in many situations when offroad. Many trails frequented will have a substantially wider “stance” than our cars do which can make it harder to navigate their ruts. While I don’t suggest using a wheel set up that will match the width of most trucks, a wider track will certainly help combat this issue.

My go-to wheel setup for offroad Subaru builds is the 15×7 with a +15mm offset. This wheel setup won’t work for everyone depending on if you have larger brakes. But for my particular car, I can run them with no issues. Always check with the manufacturer of a wheel you’re considering to see if they will clear your brake calipers.

Check out the list of some of my favorite lesser known offroad wheels for Subarus.

Hopefully this helps point you in the right direction in you’re on the fence about installing a new set of wheels. It may be the right choice for your build, and it may not be. But now you should have a better idea of what’s best for you.

Always remember to consult with a trusted mechanic before performing modifications to your Subaru or any other vehicle.

Check out more great Subaru offroad builds below to get more inspiration for your next mods!