I have some troubling news to report: The rear-mounted spare tire is dying. In fact, it’s almost completely dead — I’ve considered this for a while, and I think the Jeep Wrangler and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class are the last vehicles remaining to offer a rear-mounted spare. The Ford EcoSport does in other markets, but not here in the U.S. In the U.S., the rear-mounted spare is dead.
Here’s the basic genesis of the spare tire, as I see it: Spare tires are huge, but automakers mostly put them underneath trunks in "spare tire wells" because they fit there. But on off-roader vehicles, these spare tires stole ground clearance and caused problems with differentials and other off-roader gear — so the spare was moved to the back of the car.
And for years, off-roader vehicles had spare tires in back. The Jeep Wrangler is the most obvious example, but there are many others: The Land Rover Defender, the Kia Sportage, the early Toyota RAV4, the Jeep Liberty, the Suzuki Sidekick and the Geo Tracker, older versions of the Toyota 4Runner and the Nissan Pathfinder, the Isuzu Rodeo and Trooper and on and on. The rear spare tire was a "thing" for so many years.
And now, in 2018, it isn’t anymore. We’ve moved past the rear spare tire, and automakers have figured out how to package their vehicles so they can use a traditional spare under the cargo floor. This means it’s all over for funky tire covers, for rear-mounted spare tire backpacks (yes, this is an accessory you can buy) and for full-size spare tires that are easy to remove when you’re on the trails.
Indeed, it’s up to the Jeep Wrangler and the Mercedes G-Class to carry the torch — but for everyone else, the rear spare is dead.