Years ago, I ranted about my distaste for most modern steering wheels found in current production cars. They’re just too thick and often too soft. I miss the old days of a thin, light circumference to grip. Now, a reader has emailed me to ask for some slim steering wheel options found on cars they can buy right now, so let’s help them out.
Here’s the bulk of the email I got today, talking about my old article ranting about the sleekness of my old BMW 325ci’s slim steering wheel:
I just read your article lamenting the current trend in steering-wheel design. Our family needs a third car and I insist on finding one with a slender, non-padded, non-thick steering wheel like my husband’s 2012 325i. I am currently driving a Toyota Highlander 2014 with super thick, unwieldy steering wheel and I can’t stand it. Do you happen to know whether there are any cars out there with slender designs like the 325i? I’ll take a sedan, wagon, or small crossover made after around 2012 (just need Bluetooth audio).
In this case, with a family involved, it makes sense to maybe avoid going down the route of buying an older used car to satisfy this need, so I won’t just cop out here. I would not wish the maladies of my old BMW, all of the reasons why I don’t have it anymore, on anyone — especially a family.
I think my go-to, depending on the size of the family maybe, is the current Mazda 3. I’m driving the Mazda 3 Turbo this week, it’s parked outside, and one of the first things that struck me about it is the relatively slim grip it offers the driver. You can also get the beautiful red interior trim like my test car has, but the wheel will still be black.
If you are willing to get something used, I’ve driven my parents’ previous-generation Mazda 3 for years and it also has a good, slim wheel. Having driven the debut Mazda 3 a couple years ago and now the more powerful Turbo option, I would argue a family should probably enjoy the power boost and give up on the manual transmission, which isn’t available on the Turbo trim but is on the lower power models. If it’s something only one of you will be driving much of the time and enjoy shifting, both the current and previous Mazda 3 offer a great driving experience.
Plus, the Mazda 3 will make a great first car for when kids grow up. What other cars are out there that offer something for a family that either has small hands like me or just doesn’t like the trend of thicker steering wheels? What is your preference? Would you suggest a family look into aftermarket wheels, and what are some good choices?