RC cars are perfect for kids, or kids at heart. Like Nerf guns, Lego, and Transformers, there’s a timeless quality to RC cars that makes them beloved — whether you’re a boomer or a zoomer. Of course, because RC technology spans decades, RC cars have come a long way since Don Draper's times and can pull off some seriously surprising feats including super-fast speeds, sleek aesthetics, and the ability to take serious spills on rocky surfaces outdoors or down steps indoors. Here’s a selection of the best RC cars available right now.
— Best Overall: Traxxas Rustler XL-5 Control RC Truck
— Best Cheap: Super Mario Kart Anti-Gravity RC Racer, Mario
— Best Off-Road: BEZGAR Monster Truck
— Best for Adults: ARRMA Felony 6S BLX Street Bash All-Road Muscle
— Best for Kids: Threeking Amphibious Stunt Car
How We Picked the Best RC Cars
What makes a good RC car? The answer is not so obvious. Firstly, the RC in RC cars stands for “radio controlled.” A controller transmits radio waves to a transmitter on an RC car which responds in kind. It’s fairly simple technology, and while the kinks have been ironed out — especially in pricier models — but little has changed in actual RC tech. Why fix what’s not broken? Here are a few things we considered when picking out the best RC cars.
Control: This is perhaps the most important aspect of a good RC car. Like a gamepad, any lag between control inputs in the machine makes for a less-than-ideal RC experience. Sadly, most RC cars are still controlled with weird gun-like pointers instead of controllers that look like gamepads, like many popular drones. But again, why fix what isn’t broken?
Speed: In the eternal words of Sonic the Hedgehog, “Gotta go fast.” Or do you? There’s no denying how fun it is to watch an RC car zoom down a street block in seconds. Of course, great speed is usually paired with less control. It’s hard to turn on a dime when your RC car is just a blur. Finding the right balance is always good, but for many, speed is paramount. It truly just depends on what you’re after when it comes to your RC car experience.
Durability: Many RC cars aren’t just built to take a spill or two. They downright encourage it. The guts of an RC car will sometimes contain shock absorbers so they can take a tumble down some rocky terrain or a flight of stairs. This isn’t absolutely necessary. Again, it wholly depends on what you’re after with your RC experience. Granted, even RC cars not made for monster truck shenanigans should be able to withstand an accident or two.
Build Quality: Aside from durability, you want the outside of an RC car to have the same luster and shine as the real-life cars they’re based on. If it looks cheap on the outside, you can almost rest assured that the insides will be even cheaper. Inexpensive RC cars have their place as well, but even budget offerings shouldn’t look shoddy or cheap.
Best RC Cars: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Traxxas Rustler XL-5 Control RC Truck
Why It Made The Cut: The Traxxas Rustler is a perfect premium offering, but handles great even if you’re an RC neophyte.
— Dimensions: 17.5 inches L x 12.25 inches W x 7 inches H
— Weight: 3.72 pounds
— Top Speed: 35 mph
— Batteries Required: 4 AA
— Ready for all terrains
— Made for pros, approachable for beginners
— Battery hog
If you’ve been out of the RC game since the ‘90s, the Traxxas Rustler may leave you shaking. This isn’t just a toy, it’s an absolute beast of a car.
Pick a terrain, any terrain: Traxxas Rustler is more than ready to traverse it with ease. It’s even waterproof enough to handle driving in all weather conditions, and can deal with mud, puddles, and even snow. Traxxas Rustler is equally low maintenance, and requires little to no special care for continued use. Still, such a gorgeous machine may have you polishing it when it’s not speeding over speed bumps, catching air, or taking spills down a flight of stairs. Despite its professional grade, it’s an incredibly approachable RC car, especially for those looking for something a little more engrossing out of their RC experience. It’s also very fast, topping out at 35 mph. Of course, considering its power, expect to pay a premium for it. It’s also a bit of a battery hog, especially when operated at top speeds. Durability and smooth control cannot be undersold here.
Best Cheap: Super Mario Kart Anti-Gravity RC Racer, Mario
Why It Made The Cut: Nothing brings adults and kids closer together than Mario Kart, and this real-life version is almost as fun as the game itself.
— Dimensions: 11.50 inches L x 8.00 Inches W x 8 inches H
— Weight: 2.2 pounds
— Top Speed: N/A
— Batteries Required: 8 AA
— Two great modes, one great controller
— Surprisingly durable
— Charming as heck
— Eats batteries quick
How do you stop kids from playing video games for hours? Give them a toy of that video game, of course. The Super Mario Kart Anti-Gravity RC Racer is one of the best inexpensive RC offerings.
Mario and his kart operate using two modes. One allows him to zip around indoors and out like any typical RC car. The other works just like a real-life “Mario Kart 8” Anti-Gravity mode, where his wheels go flat and he drifts side to side. No, he doesn’t exactly hover, but it’s a neat enough extra feature, considering just how cheap this RC car is. The controller is equally charming and it also has Mario branding on it, making this a perfect package for Nintendo fans young and old. It’s not built cheap, though. The Super Mario Kart RC Racer can tumble down stairs, smack into walls, and even land on its head and still operate like new. The price comes at a cost though, the way it eats through batteries. This is a common con with RC cars, but it’s even worse considering you need 8 AA batteries to run it. Still, it’s not altogether a terrible RC car. If Mario isn’t your favorite, there’s a Luigi model that’s available.
Best Off-Road: BEZGAR Monster Truck
Why It Made The Cut: For outdoor monster truck action BEZGAR comes highly recommended.
— Dimensions: 10.2 inches L x 9.1 inches W x 5.2 inches H
— Weight: 4.24 pounds
— Top Speed: 25 mph
— Batteries Required: 2 7.4V 1000mAh, included
— Powerful and durable
— Resists chemicals and water
— Includes extra body shell for customization
— Slow for its price point
— Difficult to control at top speeds
Some of the best RC car experiences are the ones you only see in commercials promoting these popular toys. You know, the ones that have RC cars taking spills in dirt dunes, catching serious air, and traversing all terrain like the BEZGAR Monster Truck.
Like a good monster truck, this RC car is built to spill. It’s ready for all terrains with guts that smack of a real monster truck. A set of four oil-filled ultra shocks improve its anti-collision readiness. So go on, let the BEZGAR tumble down a rocky embankment. It can take it in stride. Aside from being ready for all-terrain accidents, this best off-road RC car offering resists water and even chemicals, depending on how grody the environment you operate the BEZGAR in. It even offers an extra body shell so you can completely personalize your machine, or perhaps copy the aesthetics of an established monster truck like Bigfoot or El Toro Loco. The downside is that you will be trading in speed for power. This RC car sadly tops out at around 25 mph. Even though that’s a tad slow for an RC car in its price point, it’s still difficult to maneuver at top speeds. Still, there’s some serious off-road potential to be had here.
Best for Adults: ARRMA Felony 6S BLX Street Bash All-Road Muscle
Why It Made The Cut: This incredibly expensive offering comes with muscle car handling and speed, making it the perfect RC car for grownups.
— Dimensions: 28.54 inches L x 12.91 inches W x 7.56 inches H
— Weight: 11 pounds
— Top Speed: 80 mph
— Batteries Required: 11.1V 5000mAh 3S 100C Smart G2 Hardcase LiPo Battery, sold separately
— Lightning fast
— Gorgeous build quality and finish
— Battery not included
— Incredibly expensive
Can an RC car be sexy? If the RC car in question is the ARRMA Felony 6S BLX Street Bash All-Road Muscle the answer is: unequivocally yes.
Granted, this isn’t your everyday simple RC car. For one, it’s incredibly pricey. We wouldn’t recommend making this your first RC car buy, or hell, even your second. It’s strictly for RC car aficionados looking for the tippy top of the line of RC tech. And aside from its gorgeous finish, the guts of this RC car are seriously powerful. Strong metal gears throughout the body provide the best in traction, torque, and perhaps especially, speed. Topping out at 80 mph, the ARRMA Felony 6S is practically highway-ready (not that we suggest that). Its tunable aero wing lets you really top out those top speeds. It’s not the only thing that’s customizable, in fact, just about every part of this RC car can be customized, from its wheels to its intake engine, and even the battery that powers it. Therein lies the most tragic part of this RC car, considering it’s pricey and requires you to supply your own battery, which is also rather expensive. However, if you do plan on splurging on an RC car, make it this one.
Best for Kids: Threeking Amphibious Stunt Car
Why It Made The Cut: Kids will feel at home with this RC car controller, and it may be engrossing enough to get them outside.
— Dimensions: 7.87 inches L x 6.69 inches W x 6.69 inches H
— Weight: 2.16 pounds
— Top Speed: N/A
— Batteries Required: 2 AA
— Truly all terrain and amphibious
— Very affordable
— User-friendly controller
— Hard to control at top speeds
Kids are clumsy, and whether you hand them a tablet worth several hundred dollars or a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy worth a couple of cents, it’s only a matter of time before they break it. Threeking Amphibious Stunt Car can take all manner of youthful clumsiness, and then some.
Some RC cars are all-terrain, but this one not only resists water but encourages you to take it for a swim. Its wheels paddle through deep water with ease, so it won’t slow down even when leaving terra firma. Threeking Amphibious Stunt Car’s wheels are surprisingly heavy duty, with traction that makes it perfect for climbing up rocky hills and sandy dunes. This RC car simply can’t be stopped, especially when you consider that it doesn’t really have a top or a bottom. It operates right side up and upside down, and even on its side. Kids will especially love its controller, which looks very similar to one they are likely used to using when gaming. Best of all, it’s one of the most affordable RC cars available as well. That said, it’s difficult to control at top speeds, and you really want to be careful to close up its battery enclosure whenever you switch them out. It’s waterproof, but only if you’re careful.
Things to Consider Before Buying an RC Car
Battery Life (Or Lack Thereof)
Even the more expensive offerings in this best RC car compilation share one annoying feature: battery life. Modern smart devices have us spoiled with not only rechargeable batteries but ones that last four hours, if not days on end. RC cars eat batteries like nobody's business. And not just a couple, mind you. Some devices use up to eight to run, when you take into account the fact that you need to put batteries in your RC car and your RC car controller. There’s no way around this annoyance, but there is a way to mitigate it: use rechargeable batteries. That way, you can not only recharge batteries after a few hours of play but have some standing by if you just don’t want the fun to end. This is an especially prudent thing to do if you plan on taking your RC car to the great outdoors.
Q: What brand of RC car is best?
Traxxas is well known for being one of the best and most popular brands of RC cars and vehicles.
Q: What is the toughest RC?
Once again, Traxxas is well known for its durability and toughness in its RC cars.
Q: What is the most popular RC?
Traxxas is an incredibly popular brand of RC cars, along with ARRMA, and Kyosho.
Q: Which is the best off-road RC car?
Our pick for the best off-road RC car is the BEZGAR Monster Truck, but the Traxxas Rustler XL-5 Stadium Remote Control RC Truck is also great when used off-road.
Q: What is the fastest RC car in the world?
The Traxxas XO-1 RC car is the fastest, with top speeds of 100 mph.
Q: What scale RC car should I get?
There are many different scales of RC car to get, from 1/18 to 1/10, and beyond. It all depends on how much space and money you want to dedicate to your RV hobby.
Final Thoughts on RC Cars
For kids — and kids at heart — RC cars are as timeless as they’ve ever been. The Traxxas Rustler XL-5 Control RC Truck is an industry leader for a reason: it’s powerful, durable, and fast, which is why it’s our overall best pick. If you plan on splurging on an RC car, make it the ARRMA Felony 6S BLX Street Bash All-Road Muscle, which packs serious power in a gorgeous shell. Inexpensive offerings include the Super Mario Kart Anti-Gravity RC Racer, Mario, and the Threeking Amphibious Stunt Car, which are both incredibly kid-friendly.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.