Facebook Pixel Code
 

Best RC Cars

Updated December 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 116 Models Considered
  • 21 Hours Researched
  • 2 Experts Interviewed
  • 97 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best remote control cars

    Last Updated December 2018

    Whether you’re buying a radio-control car for a kid, an adult, or a kid-like adult, we at BestReviews understand how much fun tooling around with these toys can be.

    Our researchers studied the market’s top RC models to determine which cars deliver the best in terms of features, durability, and price. We created a shortlist of the best five, which you can see in the above product list. 

    To learn more about RC cars and how to make an educated purchase, please read the product shopping guide below.

    Where will you drive?

    Not every RC car can handle every kind of terrain. In fact, the environment in which you intend to drive greatly impacts which type of car you should buy.

    Ask yourself the following questions before making a purchase.

    Will you be driving on concrete or asphalt?

    If you’ll be driving primarily on concrete and asphalt, chances are your tires and undercarriage won’t sustain a lot of damage.

    What you will see in the long run, however, is a slow wear-down of the tire’s tread. In the same way that automobile tires smooth out and lose their grip after years of road use, so do RC car tires.

    If you’ll be driving on this type of pavement, a smooth-surface car would be your best bet. 

    Will i be driving on rugged terrain (grass, wood chips, rocks, etc.)?

    If you live in a suburban home with a front and backyard, chances are your car will eventually find its way onto the lawn. Any wood chips, grass, rocks, or twigs on your lawn could potentially damage your car’s tires and frame. You'll likely want an RC car that can take on slightly denser terrain without many problems. Bear in mind, however, that when you start hitting thicker grass, you may lose traction. It’s best to limit your path to lawns that are regularly trimmed.

    Will I be tackling various types of terrain with the RC car?

    If you’re more of an explorer and don’t really care what’s in your path, consider an all-terrain RC car that can withstand anything you decide to drive it into. These cars are designed to take on whatever they may encounter, with the exception of anything that would be like driving a real car into a wall! This includes sand, snow, puddles, thick shrubbery, leaf piles, and so on. 

    Of course, all-terrain RC cars aren’t impervious to everything. You couldn’t drive one through a river or up a tree log. “All-terrain” doesn’t mean “indestructible.”

    EXPERT TIP

    If you want to land on your feet running, going for an RTR (Ready-To-Run) model might be a better choice than building a car from parts.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Look for models with sealed electronics. This helps in keeping the car from getting damaged in rough terrain or even if it goes through water.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Make sure your car has at least a 2.4Ghz radio system. A system of this strength will find your car in spite of walls and other objects that might get in its way.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Purchasing backup batteries is a wise idea in case the day comes when your battery dies and you can’t find a replacement in store or online.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Controls

    Modern video gaming is such that a five-year-old can operate a character with two joysticks and accomplish whatever the game’s mission may be. But playing a videogame and handling an RC car call for two very different control schemes. If you buy someone an RC car they can’t grasp right off the bat, they will likely become frustrated and lose interest in the car.

    Joystick

    Most modern RC cars feature a trigger-operated joystick. You hold the remote with one hand and press the trigger button to power the back tires. You use your other hand to control the dial on top of the stick, which turns the front tires.

    This simple configuration allows younger kids (who may not be used to a gamer-like system) to control the car with ease and enjoy their experience.

    Dual controls

    A dual joystick somewhat resembles the control system a gamer might use, but it’s a bit more complicated, and it works on a 2D plane as opposed to a 3D plane. As such, there is a backward learning curve that might frustrate some kids and adults.

    One joystick controls forward and backward movement. (This is an advantage over a single joystick, which only moves forward.) The other controls the tires. The degree to which you push the first control determines your speed in either direction.

    Avoid road debris as much as possible. These obstacles, though small, could cause issues with your car’s functionality. Usually there’s a small section of information on the box that will tell you if you can take the car “off road” or not.

    Range

    Over the years, we’ve come to expect that we can control everything via remote from a single location. But with RC cars, you must keep moving with the car if you decide to push it past a certain range. Few cars contain remote technology that would stretch beyond 300 feet. That might not seem like much, but bear in mind that you must always keep your eye on the car while driving.

    Battery life

    Modern RC cars that run on standard, store-bought batteries alone are few and far between. You’ll either have a charging station for both the car and remote, or you’ll have a remote that runs on AA batteries and a built-in car battery that charges in the wall.

    A standard NiMH battery can last you a long time, but if used or allowed to sit in the sun for too long, the battery could die out. (Remember, they’re basically sitting in a black plastic case that attracts heat.)

    These batteries are also susceptible to water damage. They can resist some water, but they're not waterproof. We advise users to remember this before driving an RC car through a giant puddle after a storm, tempting though it may be.

    To make the most of your battery life, recharge the car until it’s full. During long periods of inactivity, the car should still be charged once per week.

    Bells & whistles

    Depending on the car you buy, the remote may add the ability to do extra things like honk a horn, light up, or even talk back to you. These might sound appealing, but don’t be fooled by simple “additions” that could drain the battery faster because they’re constantly on standby. In many cases, they’re marketing additions and nothing more.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Generally, a 1/16 scale RC car handles dirt and trails well, while a 1/10 scale RC car is better on lawns or wet grass. Choose your car by what terrain you'll be driving it on.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    An RC car is 1/10 or 1/16 the size of a regular vehicle. As such, a small twig in an RC car’s path is the equivalent of a large tree branch in the path of a full-sized automobile.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Many RC cars nowadays come with remotes that can be used on other cars. This can be helpful if you build or buy a new RC car but are used to your older remote.

    Durability

    Whenever you take your RC car out for a spin, you run the risk of a devastating crash. There’s no way around it: toys break sometimes. Most people want to buy the most durable RC car possible in order to minimize this chance.

    The key to buying a hearty car is finding one with a sturdy chassis and durable body. Follow these tips.

    • Avoid RC cars with unnecessary plastic add-ons that contribute nothing. Having a spoiler may look cool, but does it actually help the car in any way?
    • The best RC car bodies are usually self-contained and wrap to the frame. They may still suffer from scraped paint and perhaps a dent or two, but they won’t look “wrecked” from wear and tear.

    The “look” of an RC car is an aesthetic and personal choice that ultimately matters only to the owner of the car. If you’re buying this as a gift, keep the recipient’s color preferences in mind. Fortunately, many RC cars come in a variety of color schemes.

    RC car prices

    When it comes to the price of an RC car, there really is no standard “middle ground” where everything you want will be covered at an adequate price. Either you shell out over $200 for a top-of-the-line vehicle, or you aim for a lower price and settle for a car that does the trick “to a certain degree.” You’re not getting cheated, per se; it’s simply a matter of getting what you pay for.

    But that being said, the priciest RC cars aren’t always the best.

    If all you want is a decent RC car that will give you or your kids hours of driving fun, anything between $40 and $80 should do fine. The only reason to go higher is if you want a deluxe car that does everything  including going anywhere you want it to go and having a horn that sounds like a ringtone.

    If you are just getting started, choose a model that has a “brushed” electric motor, or a training mode to make the car go slower, till you get a hang of things. Also, make sure you have enough batteries, as well as a fast charger, for your car. That way, you won't run out of juice on a long run.

    Preserving interest in the car

    If you’re a parent who’s hoping to make an investment that will maintain your child's interest for months or years to come, we offer these tips.

    • Don’t buy an RC car as a Christmas present unless you live in an area with little to no snow. Kids are less likely to go outside and play with a summertime toy in the winter, even if you do spring for an all-terrain type.
    • Play with your child and his/her new car. Visit an open area and try out some tricks. Practice donuts and other fun maneuvers. If you’re interested in the car, your child will more likely be interested, too.
    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Alvina
      Alvina
      Photographer
    • Amos
      Amos
      Director of Photography
    • Branson
      Branson
      Videographer
    • Ciera
      Ciera
      Production Assistant
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Vukan
      Vukan
      Post Production Editor

    BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
    and give us feedback about your visit today.

    Take Survey