3.5's variety is a matter of volume more than anything else. Yes, you can create a lot... if you have a big pile of material and the time and energy to go sifting through it. If you want to create certain concepts with just the core rules... good luck. 5E might be less varied overall, but it has a greater variety that's available easily. You can create an archer or dual-wielder without really wishing you hadn't, for instance.
I'm far from praising 5E, but it does play to its strengths better. 3.5/PF try to be customizable - or at least their players treat them this way - despite having a baseline system that curtails variety at every step. 5E tries to deliver a familiar, consistent and accessible D&D experience, which classes and levels actually do help with.
Very much this. 3.5 is not helped by the enormous glut that makes running it a chore.