Best Ride-on Toys

Updated March 2019
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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.

25 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
180 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 ride-on toys

Last Updated March 2019

When it comes to toys that hold universal appeal for kids of all ages and personalities, ride-ons are the undisputed champions. Whether they're motorized or kid-powered, have four wheels or two, ride-on toys are among the most highly cherished items in every kid's playtime arsenal. Once all the stuffed animals have been cuddled and cast aside, balls kicked about and lost, or dolls dressed and put away, most little ones inevitably return to their ride-on toys time and time again.

No child's toy collection is complete without at least one ride-on, but with so many options on the market, choosing the right set of wheels can feel like an uphill race. If you could use a jump-start to get rolling in the right direction, keep reading.

Our shopping guide to ride-on toys is packed with all the information you need to get your cutie cruising in no time. When you’re ready to buy, check our our top ride-on toy recommendations, too.

Ride-on toys certainly are fun, but they can also help teach little ones the basics of coordination, balance, direction, and speed.

Key considerations

Type

Today’s ride-on toys come in a wide array of styles, ranging from the traditional to the seemingly outlandish. With ever-evolving designs, there’s always something fresh in the ride-on toy market. Mixing and matching a handful of styles gives kids the opportunity reap the benefits of learning to move in different ways.

  • Powered: Always a hit, powered ride-on toys give kids a taste of what it's like to drive their very own vehicle. These toys are usually powered by rechargeable batteries and come in a variety of designs, including cars, bikes, quads, and trucks.

  • Push-along: This enduring type of ride-on toy features a design that's low enough to the ground that kids can scoot themselves along using their feet. Push-along ride-ons are sometimes referred to as parent-powered bikes, cars, or trikes with push handles.

  • Pull-along: Pull-along ride-on toys usually accommodate more than one child and feature a long handle that can be pulled by a parent or older sibling. These are great for long walks, and once your kids are big enough they can have oodles of fun carting all their things about. However, pull-along ride-ons don't deliver the same level of independence as other types, and this can be a major deal breaker for kids who long to be in the driver’s seat.

  • Pedal-powered: Everyone is familiar with trikes, bikes, and go-carts. Pedal-powered ride-on toys can help little ones work on coordination while giving their legs a great workout at the same time. Pedal-powered toys come in sizes for all ages, so remember to check age, height, and weight suitability before you buy.

  • Roller coaster and track: If your child already has a traditional ride-on toy or two, a roller coaster or track ride-on offers an exciting change of pace. Some of these ride-ons come with cars that can only be used with the track. For greater playtime versatility, we recommend choosing a set with a push-along ride-on toy that can be used independently of the track.

  • Centrifugal: These unique ride-ons require no scooting, pushing, or pedaling. Instead, they’re propelled by wiggles and twists. Depending on the design, centrifugal ride-on toys can require wiggling of just the handles or both the hips and hands at the same time. If you're looking for something a little different, these are well worth investigating.
     

Child’s age

Age is one of the most important considerations when choosing a ride-on toy. While older kids generally have sufficient motor skills, coordination, and muscle strength to propel anything from a foot-powered push-along to a pedal-powered ride-on, toddlers and smaller kids might need some help. For younger children, adaptable ride-on toys with push handles that go from being parent-powered to kid-powered are a safe and economical buy.

Size

Size matters for a number of reasons. Maneuvering, riding, and getting on and off a ride-on toy should be safe and comfortable for kids. Unless you'll be doing the driving for a few months, always make sure that your little one’s feet are able to reach the foot pedals or the ground. Also consider the size of your yard and available storage space before you buy. While the average ride-on toy doesn’t demand much room in order to deliver hours of fun, some powered ride-ons are large and require more space to ride and store.

Weight limit

All ride-on toys have a maximum weight limit. This can give you some indication of how long your child will be able to enjoy a particular model and also how suitable it is for your child's age and size. If your little one already weighs close to the maximum weight limit, you might want to  consider a larger ride-on with a higher weight capacity. If you're purchasing a two-seater for siblings or companions, checking the maximum weight limit is even more important.

EXPERT TIP

If you live in a hot climate or want to take the ride-along on some long walks, consider a model with a roof or canopy.


Staff  | BestReviews

Ride-on toy features

Adjustability: An adjustable design that grows with your child is hands-down one of the most valuable  features a ride-on toy can offer. Whether it's a removable push handle, movable seat, or floorboard that can be taken out for foot-powered driving, some level of adjustability can help see to it that your little one's ride-on toy goes the extra mile to deliver years of fast-paced fun – a win/win deal for both parents and kids.

Storage: Regardless of size, one or two onboard storage compartments can take a ride-on toy’s appeal to a whole new level. For parents, storage means practical convenience – after all, having a built-in spot for drinks, snacks, or a change of clothes means you’ll have one less thing to carry on outings. Even if you don't plan to leave your yard, chances are your little one will appreciate the novelty of having a place to keep much-loved knick-knacks or treasures found on outdoor adventures.

Horns, bells, and sounds: Kids are noisy by nature, and having a horn to honk, a bell to ring, or music to play can be great fun. Horns and bells can also help prevent collisions if you have more than one kiddo tearing up your driveway at a time. If you're considering a powered ride-on, a built-in radio is a nice feature to look out for.

Realistic touches: Not only do a handful of realistic details make a ride-on toy more enticing, but they also provide opportunities for kids to learn. For instance, an ignition switch and other buttons that can help little ones work on fine motor skills while turning lights on and off is a fantastic example of cause and effect. Even if your child already has these skills and concepts down pat, some level of realistic styling never goes amiss.

CAUTION

Don’t leave your child's ride-on toy outside. Exposure to the elements can cause fading, rust, cracks, and permanent damage to electronic components.

Ride-on toy prices

With such a huge variety of ride-on toys on the market, it's easy to find something for every budget. Depending on size, features, and whether or not it's motorized, a ride-on toy can set you back anywhere from  $30 to over $300.

Inexpensive

Basic push-along ride-on toys or those that are designed for the younger crowd with a low weight capacity can be found for around $30 to $40.

Mid-range

If you're looking for something that will grow with your child, or you simply want a first ride-on toy with at least a handful of cute details, expect to pay between $40 and $60.

Expensive

Flashy features, track and car sets, a large and sturdy model that offers years of use, or a powered ride-on can cost anywhere from $70 to $300 and more.

Some powered ride-on toys take hours to charge. Having an extra battery on hand can help keep little ones from becoming frustrated when it's time to recharge.

Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • Choose an age-appropriate toy. Purchasing a ride-on toy that's too large or too fast for a younger child can be dangerous. On the other hand, trying to squeeze a bigger kid into a small model can put strain on moving parts, potentially leading to breakage and accidents.

  • Check the ride-on toy before your child uses it. Take a few extra minutes to make sure that all the parts are assembled and fastened correctly before you hand your kiddo their driver's  license.

  • Provide proper protective gear. Your little one should wear a helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads when riding a powered ride-on or if there's a chance of falling off any type.

  • Supervise your child at all times. Most kids are fearless and enthusiastic drivers and can find a way to reach breakneck speeds even on a push-along ride-on toy.

  • Run regular maintenance checks. Look for any loose parts, cracks, or general wear and tear that could cause a problem.

Other products we considered

If you have a little one who's raring to go but isn't quite ready to steer or push alone just yet, the Step2 Whisper Ride II is a safe bet. With a parent-powered design that features a long push handle, seat belt, steering wheel with a working horn, and plenty of storage space, this is an ideal first ride-on toy for tiny tots. On the other hand, toddlers who have already graduated from their first ride-on toy and are ready to pick up the pace are sure to appreciate the extra power of the Fisher-Price Power Wheels Lil' Quad. Featuring toddler-friendly controls, low body, rugged all-terrain wheels, and rear cargo rack, this little quad will delight kids ages one to three. For kids who’ve already tried them all and want something a little different, the Radio Flyer Ziggle offers a unique design that's propelled by twists and wiggles and features caster wheels for thrilling 360° turns.

While some ride-ons are suitable for a variety of different surfaces, others are strictly designed for indoor or on-track use. Check manufacturer specifications before you buy.

FAQ

Q. What's the best option for a first ride-on toy?

A. That depends on a number of factors, including your child's age, level of coordination, and the age recommendation of a particular model. In general, little ones who are sitting independently and learning to walk fare well starting out with ride-on toys that have a push handle for parent-powered driving. Younger children might also require additional safety features like a deep seat, low body, and seat belt.

Q. Are powered ride-on toys safe for toddlers?

A. Most toddler-friendly powered ride-ons have a low maximum speed and automatic braking to help prevent accidents and collisions. However, it’s still wise to outfit your tot with safety gear like a helmet and elbow and knee pads.

Q. My child hasn't reached the maximum weight capacity but looks too big for his ride-on. Is it still safe to use?

A. If your child hasn't yet reached the maximum weight limit and still feels comfortable using the ride-on, there shouldn't be a problem. However, when it comes to pedaling, being too tall for a ride-on can interfere with motion and balance, leading to bruised knees at best or toppling over if it's a two-wheeled model.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Erica
    Erica
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Moriah
    Moriah
    Writer

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