Whether you are looking to buy your very first Radio-Controlled (RC) car or are looking for your next one, the vast diversity of options can be overwhelming.

RC cars come in various different types, brands and price points, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. However, making your purchase decision doesn’t have to be so tough, and here we will discuss all you need to know about choosing between all these different RC cars.

We will also offer our recommendations for the best RC cars we have tested and review, each for its respective types. By the end, you should have a better idea about which RC car is the right choice for you.

Let us begin!

Top 5 RC Cars To Get In 2020

While there are endless options available in the market and picking just 5 RC cars are very difficult, here are our recommendations for each type discussed above:

Best Street/Touring RC Car: Tamiya 1/10 RC Car Series No.570 Lancia Delta Integrale

CHECK LATEST PRICE >>

Key Features:

  • High ground clearance at the rear and front
  • Removable gearbox
  • 4-bevel resin differential gears
  • Need Assembly
  • Transmission, steering servo, RC transmitter, and battery not included (engine included)
  • Compatible with LF3700-6.6V Racing Pack
  • Comes with a clear body, maximum customizability

Specs:

  • Length: 16.02 inches (407 mm)
  • Width: 7.3 inches (186mm)
  • Height: 6.25 inches (159mm)
  • Vertical installation motor shaft drive 4WD
  • Steering: division into three tie rod type
  • Gear ratio = kit standard 9.58:1 (ten kinds of gear ratios to 11.38:1 – 7.28:1 can be selected in combination with pinion sold separately)
  • Motor: 540
  • Speed controller: ESC specifications (not included)

Pros:

  • High top speed and great overall performance
  • High-quality and durable materials, very robust
  • Great customizability, comes with extra parts so you can build a really unique car
  • Can perform off-road (although slow)

Cons:

  • Transmitter, batteries, and charger are not included
  • Need assembly and manual painting, so might not be suited for beginners

Our Verdict: A great RC car if you like the classic Tamiya look and/or if you enjoy the assembly process Great performance on-road, and still pretty decent in rough surfaces.

Best Buggy RC Car: Exceed RC 1/10 2.4Ghz Electric SunFire RTR Off-Road Buggy

Exceed RC 110 2.4Ghz Electric SunFire RTR Off-Road Buggy

CHECK LATEST PRICE >>

Key Features:

  • Officially licensed Ford GT Body
  • Innovative waterproof design
  • Waterproof and High-Performance XL-5™ Electronic Speed Control
  • 30+mph with an included pinion gear
  • Titan™ 12T 550 modified motors (internal cooling fan)
  • TQi™ Traxxas Link-enabled 2.4GHz Radio System
  • A shaft-driven 4-wheel drive (full-time)
  • NiMH battery, 4AA batteries for the transmitter

Specs:

  • Length: 15.8 inches (400mm)
  • Height:9.84 inches (250mm)
  • Width: 6.2 inches (160mm)
  • Ground Clearance: 26mm
  • Weight: 3.2lbs (1.45kg) with body (no battery)
  • Gear Ratio: 8.13:1
  • Wheel Diameter: 86mm
  • Wheel Width: 32mm
  • Battery: 7.2v 1800mAh Ni-MH

Pros:

  • Great performance ESC control that is very responsive, can keep the car under control
  • Great buggy performance, car tires keep it grounded on high speeds on-road
  • Oil-filled shocks to divert the car
  • Transmitter won’t mix with other frequencies

Cons:

  • Not waterproof
  • Battery runtime not very good overall

Our Verdict: Great performance for a buggy RC car with reinforced power train and adjustable suspension, you can tune the RC car to navigate any terrain. One of the most versatile RC car models available today.

Best Truggy RC Car: ARRMA 1/8 TALION 6S BLX 4WD Sport Performance Truggy

ARRMA 18 TALION 6S BLX 4WD Sport Performance Truggy

CHECK LATEST PRICE >>

Key Features:

  • 4WD with steel driveshafts
  • ESC: BLX185 150A with a cooling fan
  • ADS-15M waterproof steering servo
  • Oil-filled aluminum body with aluminum caps and protectors filled with 2000cst silicone shock oil, 0.16 (4mm) diameter shafts
  • Low drag MT wheels with matte black finish
  • Adjustable caster, caster toe-in refers to the angle of the front suspension when viewed from the side of the car in relation to the chassis
  • Fully waterproof

Specs:

  • Length: 21.65 (550mm)
  • Width: 16.46 (418mm)
  • Height: 7.0 (180mm)
  • Tire Diameter: 5.71 (145mm)
  • Wheelbase: 14.88 (378mm)
  • Weight: 9.22lbs (4.19kg) without battery
  • Wheel Diameter: 4.09 (104mm)

Pros:

  • Very fast performance off-road, and pretty decent on-road
  • Extremely durable
  • The low-profile cab-forward look of the body
  • Waterproof
  • Very customizable
  • Great price for a Truggy with great performance

Cons:

  • Low-end throttle response is not very well designed
  • Need to upgrade to 6S LiPo battery to unlock its full potential

Our Verdict: Intense performance and very durable with a 3mm anodized aluminum chassis that is fully waterproof. Very recommended if you are looking for a versatile Truggy RC car.

Best Monster Truck RC Car: Hosim Large Size 1:10 Scale High Speed 46km/h 4WD 2.4Ghz

Hosim Large Size 110 Scale High Speed 46kmh 4WD 2.4Ghz

CHECK LATEST PRICE >>

Key Features:

  • 46 km/h top speed
  • 2.4Ghz Accurate System & 2 Different Speed Mode
  • IPX4 Waterproof Level
  • Motor: strong magnetic carbon brushed motor
  • Battery powered (1 x 7.4V/1600mAh battery pack (included))

Specs:

  • Fuel type: Battery
  • Drive System: 4WD
  • Model Scale: 1:10
  • Top Speed: 46 kmh
  • Dimensions: 17.8 x 12.8 x 6.6 inches

Pros:

  • Decent performance with 46 kmh top speed
  • Charging Time: 2.5 hrs
  • 2.4Ghz highly responsive steering and throttle
  • strong magnetic carbon brushed motor

Cons:

  • Running time: Up to 15 minutes at a time

Our Verdict: A brilliant monster truck RC with a top speed of 65 mph on off-road surfaces, great TSM stability control, and other overall features. The best choice available if you are looking for a nitro-fueled RC car.

Best Drift RC Car: Traxxas 1/10 4WD Ford GT Vehicle with TQ 2.4GHz Radio System

traxxas link

Key Features:

  • Officially licensed Ford GT Body
  • Innovative waterproof design
  • Waterproof and High-Performance XL-5™ Electronic Speed Control
  • 30+mph with an included pinion gear
  • Titan™ 12T 550 modified motors (internal cooling fan)™
  • TQi™ Traxxas Link-enabled 2.4GHz Radio System
  • A shaft-driven 4-wheel drive (full-time)
  • NiMH battery, 4AA batteries for the transmitter

Specs:

  • Length: 17.6 inches (448mm)
  • Front Track: 7.7 inches (195.6mm)
  • Rear Track: 7.9 inches (200.1mm)
  • Ground Clearance: 0.3 inches (8.7mm)
  • Weight: 3.2lbs (1.45kg) with body (no battery)
  • Wheelbase: 10.1 inches (256mm)
  • Top Speed: 30+mph with the pinion gear (included)
  • Skill Level: 1

Pros:

  • High top speed, excellent RC drift car overall
  • Great look with the officially licensed Ford GT body
  • Has a waterproof body, very durable and you don’t have to worry about weather
  • Good NiMH battery life
  • A reliable transmitter that is also waterproof with ergonomics design

Cons:

  • Batteries and charger are not included
  • Relatively expensive

Our Verdict: hands-down one of the best-looking RC cars in the market today, especially if you like RC cars that are modeled after real vehicles. Excellent performance with very good top speed and great drifting performance.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Different RC Cars

As we can see, there are many different types of RC vehicles to choose from with their own unique features and qualities.

Before you decide on a purchase, whether it’s your first or next RC car, it’s important to understand these different types and their unique features. RC cars can be expensive, so it’s best to get one that actually fits your preferences and budget.

Below are the important factors to consider:

Budget

This one is pretty obvious, you can only get an RC car that fits your available budget.

First, RC cars with brushed motors are always more affordable compared to brushless motors, since brushless motors are faster and more efficient.

It’s important to ensure you don’t exceed your budget. Plan a set budget, and stick to it. The most expensive RC cars are not always the best, and would ultimately depend on your preference. In general, our advice is to research carefully and buy the most affordable RC car that suits your preference.

For example, if you are looking for performance, then you can plan to get the most affordable RC car that can reach a certain mph. This way, you won’t break your budget when there’s a more tempting product in front of you.

Body

There are two main types of bodies of RC cars: plastic and metal. In general, RC cars with metal bodies are more expensive, but they are also heavier and bulkier. So, the metal body might affect speed. Plastic-bodied RC cars are generally lighter and more flexible, and so they typically run faster.

So, it’s typically a matter of durability and style (metal) vs speed and performance (plastic).

Both body types are customizable with paints and vinyl stickers, so it’s not a deciding factor. Keep in mind, however, that buying paints and stickers will translate to extra costs. So you should try to get a body with the right paint, look, and color according to your preference in the first place.

Brand

The brand is often the biggest factor to consider for RC car enthusiasts, many of them are loyal only to a specific brand or two. Brands dictate price and some also offer unique features/characteristics not offered by others.

In the world of RC cars, there are four prominent brands:

1.Tamiya

Arguably the most well-known brand for RC cars and car models, and has been around since 1946. Tamiya is especially known for its classic, anime-like RC car designs (which were featured in Japanese mangas and animes in the 1980s and the 1990s), although they also offer realistic-looking RC car models.

Relatively expensive and starts from $200, but relatively slow for its price since Tamiya sticks to its classic, low-tech design. However, Tamiya RC cars are very durable and high-quality.

2.TRAXXAS

Traxxas has been around since 1986 and has tremendously contributed to the mainstream popularity of RC cars. Famous for their fast and durable cars, but they are relatively expensive (slightly more expensive than Tamiya).

Traxxas mainly offers ready-to-run (RTR) cars and is arguably the fastest name in RC cars today. Highly customizable and you can easily replace or upgrade various parts of Traxxas RC cars.

3.Redcat

A relatively new brand has been around only in 2005 but quickly gained popularity due to its fast and relatively affordable RC vehicles. Redcat offers battery-powered and fuel-powered (nitro) models, and it also offers various models that are designed for beginners,

Also, great after-sales service with excellent customer support and high availability of accessories and spare parts.

4.Exceed

Exceed cars are often regarded as the more affordable version of Tamiya, since Exceed also offers classic 80s design, just like Tamiya. Relatively more affordable than the other three brands on this list, but the cars often require a higher level of maintenance and spare parts replacement.

A good choice if you want fast and affordable RC cars, but know that they are often not very durable.

Battery VS Fuel (Electric VS Nitro)

Most RC cars are battery-powered, but there are nitro RC cars that make use of fuel (and also need oils) to operate. Also, keep in mind that there are gas-powered RC cars that use gasoline instead of nitro as their fuel. Gasoline RC cars are larger and typically not as popular as electric and nitro cars.

In general, nitro RC cars are more suited for experienced users and DIY-lovers that like to modify their vehicles. Obviously with nitro cars you’d need to purchase the nitro fuel regularly, while with batteries you only need to replace the battery after several months or even years.

On the other hand, it’s easier to refuel a nitro RC car outdoor where we might not have any outlets to recharge our electric RC car. In such cases, you might need to upgrade the electric car’s battery and get a stronger charger.

LiPo VS Ni-Mh Batteries

If you plan to get an electric RC car, typically you’ll be faced with two different options for the battery pack: LiPo or Ni-Mh.

LiPo is the newer and better battery but is generally more expensive (although not by much). Not only LiPo has a better capacity—so longer run times and power—, LiPo batteries also don’t lose their charge over time. The downside, however, is that LiPo batteries can run hot and explode if improperly charged.
Ni-Mh batteries are more affordable and cheaper, but they don’t last as long as LiPo ones (both in terms of capacity and life expectancy.

The Remote Control

Different RC car brands and models offer different types of remote control with different button placements, different functions, and some are easier to use than the others. But in general, there are two main types of remote control:

  1. Pistol-Grip Transmitter: the one that we hold like a gun, the trigger operates the throttle, and the side-mounted wheel is used to steer the RC car.
  2. Stick Transmitter: this type of controller looks like a game joystick that is operated by thumbs. Typically more expensive, but highly configurable.

For beginners, the stick type is generally easier to use, but pistol grip control is now more popular due to its compact and self-centering, ergonomic steering input that is more precise.

Extra Features

Some RC cars can produce sounds and even smoke to make the vehicles more realistic during operation. It’s worth noting that some are much louder than others, so they are probably not suitable if you are going to play cars in a residential area.

Different Types of RC Cars

There are many different types of RC cars today but in general, we can divide them into five major types:

  • Street RC Cars

The average RC cars, also called “Touring” RC cars. Typically used on-road on the asphalt, concrete, or even carpet. Most street/touring RC cars are the scale of 1:10 with a 4WD system. The chassis is designed to run on flat surfaces for acceleration. Not suited to off-road terrains like grass, gravels, and sand.

  • Drift RC Cars

Similar to the street/touring RC cars in many ways but with slicker tires and a 4WD system that is designed for easier drifting without damaging the car. With drift RC cars you can still get almost the same top-speed as street RC cars, but with more flexible turning.

Keep in mind, however, that drifting is difficult and you might destroy the car if you are not careful. Not recommended for beginners.

  • Buggy RC Cars

A hybrid between on-road and off-road RC vehicles, quite fast on-road, but usually the slowest off-road with its low wheelbase design. Also features long shock absorbers and relatively narrow tires to accommodate off-road terrains, but will compromise top speed.

A good all-around choice if you don’t have any preference and simply wants to play anywhere you can.

  • Truggy (Truck-Buggy) RC Cars

It doesn’t feature as long shock absorbers as the buggy, and all of the four wheels are protected by the shell of the truck (and the bumpers). We can think of a Truggy RC car as a buggy that is designed more for the off-road, with the frame of a buggy and monster truck tires on it.

Faster than a buggy on off-road terrains, but slower on-road.

  • Monster Truck RC Cars

Arguably the most iconic and popular RC designs due to its cool appearance and high-powered performance. They need high-capacity batteries (LiPo) batteries due to its bigger four wheels, heavier chassis, and more powerful motors.

Excellent, and the fastest off-road, but it is the slowest on-road. Also, not very good in making high-speed turns (can easily flip). A great choice if you are looking for an off-road car, but you shouldn’t get this if you want to play the RC car in the house.

Ready To RC-Race?

This concludes our RC cars buying guide and our recommendation for the best RC cars available today. Our advice is to first figure out your preferences: whether you’ll mainly play the RC car indoor or outdoor, whether you prefer fuel or electric-powered RC cars, and so on. Stick on a budget, and stick to it.

Remember that most RC cars are customizable both in looks and performance, so you can upgrade the RC car later, or even get a new RC car altogether.

The five RC cars we have discussed above are certainly the best options available for their respective types and are good choices to start your RC car hobby or as your next RC car.