Skip to main content

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 Review

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.

Our Verdict

Reparability and customization options make the Traxxas Rustler XL-5 a remote controlled truck that can grow with you as your skills improve.

For

  • An abundance of replacement parts and upgrades make this car easy to repair and customize.

Against

  • The Rustler's design is slightly outdated when compared to modern RC trucks.
Image 1 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: This remote control car can effectively ride on rocks, dirt, mud and soil with speeds up to 35 mph.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: This remote control car can effectively ride on rocks, dirt, mud and soil with speeds up to 35 mph.
Image 2 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The body of the car is waterproof, although it can't drive submerged in water.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The body of the car is waterproof, although it can't drive submerged in water.
Image 3 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The oversized tires on this red version of the car easily cut through the packed dirt of a race course.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The oversized tires on this red version of the car easily cut through the packed dirt of a race course.
Image 4 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The pistol-grip controller has two channels for when you race friends, so your signals don't interfere with each other.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The pistol-grip controller has two channels for when you race friends, so your signals don't interfere with each other.
Image 5 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The shocks absorb impact almost like a full-size car. This allows the radio-controlled car to jump and land safely.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The shocks absorb impact almost like a full-size car. This allows the radio-controlled car to jump and land safely.
Image 6 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: Underneath the body, the chassis, or framework, protects the battery, tires and shocks from damage.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: Underneath the body, the chassis, or framework, protects the battery, tires and shocks from damage.
Image 7 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The body is sleek and shiny, but it's also durable and can withstand the harshest terrain.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The body is sleek and shiny, but it's also durable and can withstand the harshest terrain.
Image 8 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: You have four different color options with the car: blue, red, white or black.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: You have four different color options with the car: blue, red, white or black.
Image 9 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: Each color scheme has different decals with the name of the RC car on the side. The decals are orange and red on this model.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: Each color scheme has different decals with the name of the RC car on the side. The decals are orange and red on this model.
Image 10 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The receiver box is waterproof to keep internal components clean and working.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The receiver box is waterproof to keep internal components clean and working.
Image 11 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The large tires of the car are top-rated for traction and grip. The back tires on this two-wheel-drive car are studded.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The large tires of the car are top-rated for traction and grip. The back tires on this two-wheel-drive car are studded.
Image 12 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: You can add a dock to this RC car so you can attach your Apple device and see your speed and battery life.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: You can add a dock to this RC car so you can attach your Apple device and see your speed and battery life.
Image 13 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: This 1:10-scale monster truck is small and portable, but it's also large enough to tackle big objects like boulders and curbs.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: This 1:10-scale monster truck is small and portable, but it's also large enough to tackle big objects like boulders and curbs.
Image 14 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: Exploded component views with selectable parts makes finding replacement parts on the Traxxas website easy.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: Exploded component views with selectable parts makes finding replacement parts on the Traxxas website easy.
Image 15 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: Detailed diagrams on the Traxxas website help you familiarize yourself with the functions of the remote.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: Detailed diagrams on the Traxxas website help you familiarize yourself with the functions of the remote.
Image 16 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The controls are easy to use. Pulling the trigger causes the car to move forward. Pushing it forward causes it to reverse.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The controls are easy to use. Pulling the trigger causes the car to move forward. Pushing it forward causes it to reverse.
Image 17 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: A downloadable user manual offers comprehensive and colorful images that detail the internal workings of the RC car.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: A downloadable user manual offers comprehensive and colorful images that detail the internal workings of the RC car.
Image 18 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: Traxxas designed the car's transmission to be durable, with metal gears and tough plastic waterproof housing.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: Traxxas designed the car's transmission to be durable, with metal gears and tough plastic waterproof housing.
Image 19 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: You install the four AA batteries for the remote control on its underside.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: You install the four AA batteries for the remote control on its underside.
Image 20 of 20

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The speed control inside the RC car is waterproof and durable for traveling in water.

Traxxas Rustler XL-5 image: The speed control inside the RC car is waterproof and durable for traveling in water.

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.

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.

This is a 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.

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.