To that point (expense) my pal was running 15's and 16 on everything.
Replacing 18" tires on a Mitsubishi Outlander gave him a heart attack.
Buy whatever esthetics you prefer. Me? I so hate this big wheel thing. Completely unnecessary.
But the tire companies need to keep increasing profits every year...hard to do unless you sell something thats bigger and has a much larger price tag...lol
It's not the tire companies' profits. It's the cars:
1. SUVs have proliferated and trucks have gotten bigger, so all vehicles need to be crash compatible with them.
2. Various safety regs have raised hood lines. The rest of the car's waistline has to match or it'll look silly.
3. General styling trends.
For those reasons, cars these days have high waistlines and big slab sides, so smaller wheels would look silly. IDGAF personally (hate the idea of paying for looks in any way), and I'm sure many here would agree. But the point is, enough
people prioritize looks that the rest of us have to put up with worse products.
Brakes are getting bigger, too. Sometimes this is out of necessity; cars are heavy these days (see above), and always upping the ante. I'm sure there's also some combo of "because we can" (thanks to improving tire tech) and just filling out those huge rims they were going to have anyway. Either way, this often means you can't use a small rim even if you want to.
And because wheels are getting bigger, tire companies are slowly but surely trimming their offerings for smaller wheels. That exerts more pressure to stick with bigger ones.
So yeah, almost all bad reasons. FWIW, chances are you know a lot of people who are part of the problem. So, if you don't like it, speak up.