A remote control car makes a great gift to give a child, to an RC enthusiast, or to yourself. The car for you depends on where you'll be using it. There are two main types: on-road and off-road. Off-road RC cars are powerful and well-built, often with more rugged tires and suspension, to help them cope with the bumps and bangs. On-road models are sleeker, and can often go faster and handle more accurately. They're perfect for quiet streets and driveways. Here is our list of both off-road and on-road remote control cars.
The Traxxas Rustler is quick and a lot of fun. It's powered by a 7-cell NiMH battery that reaches speeds of 35mph. The high ground clearance makes it easy to navigate rough uneven terrain and rocks. Plus it's sealed so it's safe to drive through water, mud, and snow.
- Really fast
- Great for wheelies
- Self-righting feature
- Battery and charger not included
The remote has a handgrip with a steering wheel you can use to turn the wheels one way or the other. It's a two-wheel-drive car, so turns are easy, and the tires are large and ribbed for traction. Should this car flip, you won't have to move a finger thanks to a self-righting feature. Press a button on the TQi remote and the Rustler will jump back upright ready for more.
Good for beginners
This remote car is a stunner, looking just like the gorgeous Lamborghini Aventador. You can drive this car up to 80 feet away before losing the control signal. It isn't too fast, so it's ideal for younger drivers, too.
- Choice of color
- Limited battery life
- Top speed of 5mph
It does require 24 AA batteries and while the battery life isn't the best, you can still get some decent play time before having to replace them. It does work with recharageable batteries. Also, it does drift a little, but after a little practice you'll get the hand of how it drives and how to handle it like a pro.
It’s got the moves
The ORRENTE remote control car can drive separately on each side, so you can make it flip over, rotate, do cool stunts, and drive over almost any terrain. If you're brave enough to allow it, this car can be driven inside and outside, and it even has a headlight that lets you drive it in low-light.
- Fun to use, and simple controls
- Sturdy enough for outdoor use
- Great for racing
- Batteries don't last long
It's easy enough to control too, with a simple two-stick 2.4Ghz controller. This means you can race several cars at the same time, without interference between the two remote controls. Just expect batteries to get used up fast – thankfully it works with rechargeable ones so boosting back to full doesn't have to be expensive.
Fast and furrious
The Laegendary Monster Truck is every bit as all-terrain as it looks with those chunky tires and that high suspension setup. This is built rugged so it can take a knock or three, even when tearing about at that 20mph top speed.
- Very sturdy
- Good speed
- Long battery life
- A little complex for younger kids
With 40-minute battery life, this is ideal for going out in nature without having to worry about plugging in to recharge. The shock absorption system is metal and is set up to clear rocks, branches, and anything else that offroading might throw at you. This even has headlights so you can keep going in darker times, which looks super cool too. There's little worry about obstacles as the pistol grip remote is super sensitive so you can control the car very accurately. As such it's aimed at older users mostly.
A seriously speedy RC car
For all out speed this is the car to go for. With the right battery this can hit a mind-bending 70mph. It's made for speed and to push the limits with super flexible materials and a front basher plate to tke head-on collisions.
- Super fast
- Durable build
- Wears through tires
The 2050Kv brushless motor is what gets you all the power from the trigger wheel remote. This Spectrum SLT3 radio is light and comfortable with responsive controls and easily adjustable tracking. Arrma has built a speed demon that's good to race, jump and even get out in the wet and muck. It does come with a high price tag, but it's worth the speed and the quality build.
Choosing a remote control car
People choose remote control cars for all sorts of reasons, but the main one is their performance. RC vehicles are built for racing, so you’ll want one that’s built to go fast over the type of terrain you will be racing over, and which won’t run out of power halfway around. Also lookout for the sturdiness of construction, as unexpected pit stops can really ruin those lap times.
Of course, you want it to go fast, but make sure it can handle the speed and remain controllable as the needle rises. Increased speed means trickier cornering, but also more impressive jumps and skids, so generally, you’re going to want any extra power that’s available. Unless, of course, you’re buying one for a younger child, when something that crosses the carpet at a more sedate pace might be required.
Check out the size of the wheels and the tires on them - you’re going to want bigger, wider ones for better grip. This not only helps get the power down without spinning but means you’re less likely to lose the back end as you corner - unless drifting is what you’re into, of course. Match the tires to your intended racing surface - slicks or semis for hard, flat tarmac, off-road tires for just about everything else.
Crashes happen and can be some of the most exciting parts of an RC race. There’s nothing more heartbreaking, however than being left with a pile of broken plastic parts where your prized racing car used to be. A car that you can easily repair, whether by snapping parts back on with your hands or using simple tools, is going to get you back in the race more quickly. Off-road vehicles can take knocks from curbs and walls on their larger tires, but road racing cars may need careful nursing around sharp bends to avoid scratches to headlights and paintwork.
How much do remote control cars cost?
A good model, capable of handling 30+mph, will usually cost around $300 - $400. These types of models usually come with a year-long warranty, to protect that initial investment. You can buy models that hit about 15mph for a lot less than this if you don’t need those top speeds. These tend to cost $100 or less, but watch out for the shorter warranties, which will only last for around 90 days.
Different types of remote
The remote control is your interface with the RC vehicle. For this reason, it's important to select a vehicle that comes with a remote suited to your skill level. In our review, there are just a few major remote types.
2.4GHz pistol-grip style
The most advanced type of remote, these offer proportional control over steering and throttle, as well as increased ranged and customizability. While these features are all appealing to the advanced or adult user, young children will no doubt have a hard time with such sensitive controls.
The second type of remote is really not a remote at all. Many vehicles, yet just one in our review, make use of a Bluetooth connection for control. This allows you to use a phone or tablet with your vehicle and opens an entirely new world of possibilities. With this option, you can stream music, operate turn signals and even open the doors of your vehicle. However, you pay for these additional features with a decrease in range and increased difficulty in actual driving.
The third type of remote is what we call the two-button controllers. Pressing the button on the left causes your vehicle to veer to the right, while pressing the button on the right results in the vehicle turning to the left. When both buttons are pressed simultaneously, the vehicle travels straight ahead. While this doesn't offer much freedom or precise control, it is a great way of simplifying things for kids.
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