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Hagerty Employee

On any new car, a spare tire is a full-sized surprise

It was the end of a long summer beach day. Exhausted by the sun, my wife and son were snoozing away while I was driving toward home in a lengthily-named 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT on a four-lane interstate. Suddenly, the low tire pressure dash light illuminated and warning gong, well, gonged at me. The gauge cluster indicated decreasing pressure in the right rear tire. No reason to panic, but rather annoying, if slightly worrying.


The one big concern on my mind: Does the Outback have an actual spare tire?


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You're correct that a full-size spare--or, increasingly, one at all--is a real treat. It's been hit-or-miss for me.


My 2015 Grand Cherokee Overland lists the full-size steel spare it has as being part of the tow package, as it's RWD. I suspect 4WD ones may come with it.


My 2004 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas and 2006 Range Rover Supercharged both had full-size, matching spares, as you would expect for cars of that price territory. The 2012 Range Rover Supercharged that I'm in the process of acquiring actually monitors the spare tire pressure along with the four on the ground, as do other expensive luxury cars.


My 2011 BMW X5 xDrive35i Premium did not have a spare tire; it had run-flats. You had the option of spec'ing that generation of X5 (the E70) with regular tires and a spare-tire kit (which was *not* full-size, IIRC)...unless you had the third-row seating and load-leveling rear suspension, in which case you were stuck with the run-flats.


My current 2016 BMW 535i xDrive M Sport has run-flats. No version of the F10-generation 5 Series (and likely the G30 that followed it) has any provision for a spare tire; there is literally no room for one in the car, unless you want to store it directly in the trunk cargo space.


But the car that surprised me as having a full-size spare was the first one I ever bought new, a 2014 VW Jetta SportWagen TDI w/DSG. It was steel, but it was full-size, a real rarity for a compact wagon. Naturally, the 2015 Golf SportWagen TDI SEL that replaced it in my garage...had a space-saver spare, of which I had to avail myself several times.


Oh, and a final word: one mustn't forget the heritage Porsche spare wheel, always prominently painted in red or (more-recently) orange. The orange wheel has spilled over to other VW Group large cars, too, like the Phaeton, Touareg, Continental GT and Flying Spur.