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Remember When We Thought 20-inch Wheels Were Huge?

I remember being in high school in the mid-2000s when 20-inch wheels were absolutely massive. Do you remember this? People who had 20-in wheels, which was practically no one, called them "dubs," and if you were really cool, your car had "dubs." They were all aftermarket, of course: no automaker actually fitted standard "dubs" on a vehicle. But if you were really rich, and you wanted to show off, you had them. Maybe you even had 22s — but usually not. Those were rare.

Back then, it wasn’t just that you had 20-in wheels. There was an entire culture around them. There was a "DUB Magazine," which apparently still exists, and which was devoted almost entirely to giant wheels and other aftermarket accessories. And — this was my favorite part — if you really wanted to show off your dubs, you put a little emblem on your front fender that displayed your wheel size for everyone to see.

And then it happened: a few automakers came out with factory dubs. The ones I remember were Dodge and Infiniti: some high-end trim package of the Dodge Ram had 20-in wheels, and the optional upgrade wheel on the Infiniti FX45 did, too. I think this was in 2003, as both of those vehicles were launching right around then (the FX was all-new, and the Ram was recently redesigned).

Factory dubs! We were in shock. I remember arguing with people in internet forums about whether a factory wheel could technically be considered a "dub" — though I don’t remember which side of the argument I took. I also remember seeing an FX45 with the 20-in wheels and telling a friend the car had "dubs from the factory," and he didn’t believe me. It was preposterous.

I say all this because, well, it isn’t preposterous now, is it?

The other day, I was driving along in that Tesla Model 3, which is equipped with 19-in wheels, and I realized just how far wheels have come. Everyone has huge wheels now. Not just big wheels. HUGE wheels. The current Range Rover comes standard with 20-in wheels — and, quite honestly, they look pathetically undersized. You can upgrade to 22s, which look nice. And forget about SUVs: Even sports cars have massive wheels; the Lamborghini Aventador offers a staggered setup with 21s in front and 22s in back. On a Lamborghini!

Of course, I could go on and on — the Toyota Camry now offers a 19-in wheel! — but the point here is made: Our youth has gone past us, time is marching on and wheels are becoming more and more massive. It won’t be long before the 30-in wheel is the new 20, and DUB Magazine will show off a line of accessory stepladders so you can climb into your car.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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