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I would recommend starting with the 225/45-17. If you live in "pothole heaven", 18's aren't for you. 225//45-17 is ever so slightly larger than stock, but more importantly, wider and will look more aggressive and fill the wheel wells more. 45 mm offset is good, and will allow you to loewr the car later if you wish. Then, if you feel like you need more, you can drop the car, but I'd do wheels and tires first, and see how you like that, since it doesn't present any compromise like lowering the car would.
 

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a 45 mm offset with a 17x7, he should be fine with a 225, and if he's trying to "fill the wheelwells" more, the last thing he will want is a smaller overall diameter that a 215/45 will give him

I happen to agree with you that 215/45 is ideal for a 7" wide wheel, but 225 will work
 
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