Pros / An abundance of replacement parts and upgrades make this car easy to repair and customize.
Cons / The Rustler's design is slightly outdated when compared to modern RC trucks.
Verdict / Reparability and customization options make the Traxxas Rustler XL-5 a remote controlled truck that can grow with you as your skills improve.
The Traxxas Rustler XL-5 is a well-rounded veteran in the world of hobbyist remote control cars. Traxxas released the first iteration of this RC truck over 20 years ago, so it's certainly a tried and tested option. This longevity is largely because it is an easily repaired, capable vehicle that's a perfect first truck for new hobbyists.
- Tested Top Speed
- Battery Life
The Rustler is a two-wheel-drive car. Although four-wheel-drive vehicles often have better traction in loose terrain, the Rustler's smart features make it well suited for driving off-road. It has full suspension, which helps to maintain control over uneven or rocky terrain and makes cornering easy. If you happen to wander a little too far off the beaten path, its braking and reversing capabilities help you keep it from getting stuck.
The Rustler is powered by a seven-cell Ni-MH battery and is capable of achieving speeds of up to 35 mph. Due to these high speeds, this model is not recommended for young children. Instead, it's designed to deliver the flexibility and performance that can help older RC car enthusiasts get into the hobby and explore its various possibilities.
Durability & Design
The Rustler is an RTR (ready to run) vehicle. This term describes radio controlled cars that require no initial assembly to drive. You can simply pull the Rustler out of its packaging and, assuming the batteries are charged, start driving immediately. This makes it great for beginners who aren't yet accustomed to the assembly and maintenance required by other models.
The Rustler is durable enough to help beginners get a grasp on driving techniques. This doesn't mean it's invulnerable, although it certainly tries. The car's components are made from tough plastics and metals that can withstand the inevitable bumps and crashes. Each of the vital internal components is sealed and waterproof. Waterproof components extend your options for when and where you can drive the Rustler, but they also keep sand and grit out of important parts.
The Rustler's tires are quite impressive. With large lugs on the rear tires and ribbed front tires, it's easy to see they are made for superior off-road traction. In fact, they are designed for nitro cars capable of speeds upwards of 65 mph, so these tires are more than enough for this truck. The high quality of these tires also means you can get a lot of use out of them before they need replacing. Replacement tires, like the rest of the parts on the Rustler, shouldn't be difficult to find.
The remote included with the Traxxas consists of a pistol-like grip and trigger with a steering wheel mounted on the side. Pulling the trigger causes the Rustler to spring forward, while pushing the trigger forward initiates braking and reversing. Although some models require eight batteries, this one only requires four AA batteries. This can make driving somewhat more comfortable due to the reduction in weight. The controls are precise yet simple enough that you'll get the hang of them quickly – a trait that's very important as you develop your skills as an RC driver.
Traxxas also offers an optional telemetry feature with all of its cars. With this system, you can view details like speed, battery voltage, rpm and temperature on any iPod, iPhone or iPad with iOS 4.3 or later. This feature will increase the cost of your investment, however, as it requires the addition of sensors. Still, it is a nice feature to have available.
Help & Support
Due to the high-risk nature of the hobby, remote control cars typically do not have extended warranty periods. Traxxas offers a standard 30-day warranty with the Rustler. Traxxas also offers exceptional support to its customers. Replacement parts for the Rustler are easy to find, and the Traxxas website has a truly impressive amount of support information. You can find comprehensive troubleshooting and repair instructions as well as parts lists, downloadable user manuals and consumer forums. If somehow this wealth of information fails to answer your questions, Traxxas phone support is available Monday through Friday during extended business hours.
The Traxxas Rustler XL-5 is an excellent car that keeps things simple for you as you explore the possibilities of RC racing. An intuitive remote control makes learning easy without sacrificing precision. The car's durable, waterproof construction ensures that broken parts won't slow your progress. If something should break, widely available replacement parts make it easy to repair and customize your Rustler as your skills and knowledge increase.