Reviews

Best RC Cars: Play or Race with Speed and Power

These fun and fast RC cars will provide hours of racing excitement.

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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON April 20, 2021

Whether you’re an avid RC hobbyist or are just looking for a great gift idea for your son, daughter, niece, or nephew, there’s an RC car out there that’s perfect for what you’re looking for. RC cars can provide hours of entertainment and excitement for kids and adults of all ages. Take your RC car out to your backyard for some fun off-roading and stunting or take it down to your local RC track to challenge your friends.

RC cars can range greatly in price and capabilities. Some are designed to be exact replicas or real-life vehicles, while others look like heavy-duty futuristic cars that are designed for doing fun stunts. Some are strictly for street racing, while others are made to tackle all kinds of crazy terrain. If you’re in the market for a new RC car, we’ll help make your decision easy with our informative buying guide and our in-depth product reviews that outline some of the best RC cars on the market.

Best Overall
WLtoys XKS 144001 Off-Road Drift Car RTR
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Summary
Summary

A rugged and super fast RC car that is built for on- or off-road racing. It’s a great entry-level car with a top speed of more than 35 miles per hour.

Pros
Pros
  • Vehicle is water-resistant and comes with a durable aluminum alloy chassis 
  • Car can be operated from up to 328 feet away, giving you plenty of options for where to race
  • Quick charging time of 3 hours
Cons
Cons
  • Super short run time of only 10 minutes before needing to replace or recharge the battery 
  • One of the pricier units on our list
Best Overall
WLtoys XKS 144001 Off-Road Drift Car RTR
Best Value
HB-P1801 4x4 Rock Crawler Off-Road Buggy Vehicle
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Summary
Summary

This is a punchy and powerful 1:18 scale dune buggy that is designed for taking on tough terrain and doing fun stunts. Its oversized semi-pneumatic tires give it serious gripping power.

Pros
Pros
  • Super affordable RC car that is a fun and durable option
  • Comes with a one-year limited warranty
  • Can be operated from up to 195 feet away
Cons
Cons
  • You have to be careful not to overcharge the battery and shorten its lifespan
  • Battery life is short, at just 20 minutes per charge
Best Value
HB-P1801 4x4 Rock Crawler Off-Road Buggy Vehicle
Honorable Mention
Amicool RC Stunt Car Toy
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Summary
Summary

A versatile RC car that can be driven on its top or bottom, so there’s no need to flip it over manually. It’s made out of a durable, non-toxic, environmentally friendly plastic. Its top speed is nearly 8 mph.

Pros
Pros
  • The thick wheels and tires roll easily and quickly over small debris
  • The car has a 360-degree turning, rolling, and flipping radius and is incredibly shockproof and responsive
Cons
Cons
  • The battery life is low, and it doesn’t come with batteries for either the car or remote
  • Has trouble handling larger obstacles. The controls may be difficult to learn
Honorable Mention
Amicool RC Stunt Car Toy

Why Trust Us


Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Benefits of RC Cars

  • Learn responsibility. Considering RC cars run over all kinds of dirt, dust, and debris daily, they require regular cleaning and proper maintenance. Also, they can easily get damaged if not controlled correctly. Therefore, children realize they need to take care of their RC cars rather quickly. They slowly gain a sense of responsibility that is very beneficial at an early age. 
  • Enhance skills. Controlling an RC car is highly beneficial for hand-eye coordination. While steering their vehicles, avoiding bumps, and making turns, children learn to react faster. They also begin to develop fine motor skills, understanding the concept of vehicle parts working as a whole. 
  • Play outdoors. RC cars are known to promote outdoor play. Children who own these little toys love to spend time outside. It's much more interesting to drive an RC car over grass and different obstacles rather than controlling it in limited space indoors.
  • Socialize. An RC car allows children to spend more time with friends and even meet new ones. It also gives families an opportunity to bond over an exciting activity. Overall, RC cars prove to be one of those toys that promote socializing. 

Types of RC Cars

RC Cars

These are designed for those looking for more speed and excitement. RC cars speed up to 40 mph or more, flying over grass and pavement. They can be drift, rally, or on-road cars, so you can pick the one that suits you the most. However, it's crucial to keep in mind that these are mostly made for hard and flat surfaces. They don't do well on rough terrain. 

RC Trucks

RC trucks are heavy-duty vehicles suitable for all kinds of terrains. Depending on the design, they can climb rocks, cross rivers, and much more. The two most common types are monster trucks and stadium trucks. 

Monster trucks are ideal for off-road rides. They are designed to withstand daily abuse and prove to be quite powerful. You can use them for long outdoor courses and enjoy adventure rides. Stadium trucks are also heavy-duty but because they are two-wheel drive, they are more suitable for indoor use. 

RC Buggies

If you're not sure what to get, you can always go for all-rounders or so-called buggies. These are great on hard surfaces and can be quite speedy. Those who are experienced in driving RC vehicles will also find buggies ideal for off-road purposes. All in all, they can handle both flat and uneven surfaces and withstand daily use. 

Top Brands

WLtoys

Wltoys is a Singapore-based toy manufacturer that specializes in producing fun and affordable RC cars, boats, airplanes, drones, and replacement parts. One popular product is the WLtoys XKS 144001 Off-Road Drift Car RTR.

Laegendary

Laegendary is located in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. What started as a small family business quickly became one of the most popular toy companies. The thing that makes Laegendary special is its passion for unique products that prove to be both fun and educational for children. The Laegendary Remote Control Car is one such product, and it made it on our list. 

Top Race

Top Race was founded in 2010 and is located in Brooklyn, New York. It's a company that focuses on producing high-quality RC models, from all kinds of vehicles to planes, helicopters, and robots. The Top Race Remote Control Police Car is one of the company’s most popular products and is highly rated among customers. 

RC Cars Pricing

  • Under $50: This is a regular price for most mid-range RC cars that prove to be ideal for beginners and hobbyists. They offer decent speed, quality design, and overall excellent performance.
  • $50-$150: For some more cash, you can find high-quality RC cars that can speed up to 60 mph and provide more reliability in the long run. Also, at this price point, you can get some extras such as lights, audible effects, sturdier parts, and more.

Key Features

Type

As we mentioned above, there are several RC vehicle types. Although the overall design of the models can vary a lot, most of them are divided into two categories: on-road and off-road vehicles. 

The first one is fast and suitable for hard and flat surfaces, while off-road vehicles can go over bumpy roads and withstand much more abuse. Consider your personal preferences and application before the purchase, so you can pick a type that works the best for you. 

Scale

RC vehicles are modeled after full-size cars and trucks, which is why the scale number is crucial. It stands for the size of the model compared to its full-size counterpart. For example, a 1:10 scale refers to the RC vehicle that is 10 times smaller than the real one. 

When it comes to choosing a scale, that will mostly depend on your personal preferences and needs. Most models come at 1:8 and 1:10 scales and are suitable for most purposes. Still, you can choose smaller or bigger vehicles depending on whether you want to run them over hills and rocks or around the block. 

Speed

Consider how fast you want for your RC car to go. Entry-level vehicles go around 25 mph. However, mid-range models go up to 40 mph and the high-end ones can even run at around 60 mph. 

If you're a beginner, you'll be quite satisfied with the RC vehicles that speed up from 25 to 40 mph. Still, those who want to engage in races and seek more excitement might want to consider getting a high-end and super fast RC car. 

Other Considerations

  • Motor. There are two most common motor types used in RC vehicles. The brushed one offers more reliability for the user but is less powerful. It's mostly recommended for beginners and children who are learning how to control RC cars. Brushless motors are highly efficient, offer more power, and can accelerate at higher rates. 
  • Battery. The battery can significantly influence the overall performance of your RC car, so it’s important to pick carefully. Ni-Mh batteries are the most commonly used ones, as they are inexpensive and easy to use. However, they are not very powerful. Li-Po ones are pricey, but they provide high power and can make your vehicle fly over different terrains.
  • Number of Wheels. While 2WD vehicles are powered by only two wheels, 4WD ones are powered by all four of them. That means you'll have more power and speed. Therefore, it's important to keep an eye on the wheel drive and choose accordingly.

Best RC Cars Reviews & Recommendations 2020

Best Overall
WLtoys XKS 144001 Off-Road Drift Car RTR

When it comes to the best overall in terms of durability, speed, and performance, we like the WLtoys XKS 144001 Off-Road Drift Car. It’s definitely on the pricier side of recommended options, but you get a lot of rugged and cool features that are lacking in other models. For starters, this car’s top speed is upwards of 35 miles per hour, which is impressive. It’s got an on-road or off-road chassis, giving users plenty of options when it comes to choosing where to race it. It’s a good balance between being able to handle smooth indoor tracks or more rugged outdoor terrain.


We also like that you can operate this RC car from up to 328 feet away. It’s aluminum alloy frame is tough and can stand up to some serious wear and tear.


 While it has a quick charging time of three hours, it has a horrendously short run time of only 10 minutes. We recommend getting one or two backup batteries, because there’s no way you’re going to want to stop using this fun RC car after only 10 minutes.

Best Value
HB-P1801 4x4 Rock Crawler Off-Road Buggy Vehicle 

The HB-P1801 4X4 Rock Crawler Off-road Buggy is a fun, easy-to-operate stunting RC car that’s offered at a refreshingly low price point. It’s a great choice for anyone who is a little more budget conscious, or who is newer to RC racing and trying to see if it’s worth investing a little more down the road. This little dune buggy is a 1:18 scale replica that features high shock absorption and some serious climbing capacity.


The oversized semi-pneumatic tires are designed to quickly and easily tear through uneven or rugged terrain, even sand. Its four-wheel drive capability and powerful motor let you pull off some pretty cool stunts. It comes equipped with a full-function pro-steering remote and a 2.4 GHZ radio control system that can be operated from as far away as 196 feet. 


It has an unfortunately short battery life of only about 20 minutes and an annoyingly long six-hour charge time. This RC car is also not meant for use by children under the age of 8. You also have to be careful not to overcharge the battery when it’s on the charger since this can greatly shorten the battery life.

Honorable Mention
Amicool RC Stunt Car Toy

This is a versatile RC car you can drive on its top and bottom. It's one of the most unique models on the market, so its high popularity doesn't come as a surprise. Users love to flip the vehicle over and over again, exploring its possibilities with overall speed and efficiency.


The vehicle is made of durable non-toxic plastic. It's environmentally friendly and speeds up to eight mph. Although not very fast, the vehicle makes up for the lack of speed by its flexibility and flipping radius. Because it can roll and flip for 360 degrees, the car is very responsive and exciting to play with. Furthermore, the shell is shockproof, and the car turns out to be very durable.


Still, keep in mind that the package doesn't include batteries. You'll have to buy them for both the car and the remote. Another drawback might come from the car's inability to handle large obstacles. Some users, especially beginners, might have difficulties with learning how to control the vehicle.

Honorable Mention
Laegendary Remote Control Car

If you're searching for a speedy car to drive around the block, you might want to take a look at this model from Laegendary. It's a powerful little thing that can speed up to 30 mph and help you win a lot of races. On top of that, the car is super stylish and well-made.


This RC car features two brush motors and two Li-Po rechargeable batteries. There's also a high-speed remote control you can use for ultimately fun rides. Furthermore, the car proves to be waterproof and very durable. The 4WD offers an extraordinary grip, while the two-speed mode system allows for excellent driving control. Overall, the car is suitable for both beginners and professionals and proves to be a lot of fun.


The product is not without drawbacks, though. First of all, some of the plastic parts might wear out or get damaged easily. A lot of buyers complained about spending some extra cash on replacements. Secondly, the battery life is not that impressive at all. You'll get around 20 minutes of continuous use before having to recharge the batteries.

Honorable Mention
Jada Toys Fast & Furious 1:10 Drift RC Car

The Jada Toys Fast & Furious 1:10 Drift RC Car is a fun and durable next generation RC car that is surprisingly large and quick. It’s modeled after the race cars in the famous Fast & Furious movie franchise. The car has an easy-to-use remote control that smaller hands do very well with. It’s best feature is that it has a fun turbo booster that allows it to drift and slide around corners for extra excitement. 


The trigger type remote control has a small steering wheel feature that lets you drift out around corners and fish tail just like in a real street race. We also like that the car comes with an extra set of wheels and sturdy construction that will hold up to younger, less experienced users. 


However, this car’s setup is best for indoors on hardwood or tile floors. It doesn’t perform well outside or on thicker carpets

Honorable Mention
Top Race Remote Control Police Car

Here, we have another high-quality RC vehicle from Top Race. It's a fashionable police car with 4D gravity control and unique car simulation. That means the users are provided with a life-like car riding experience and hours of entertainment. Although primarily designed for children, this Top Race vehicle is also fun for adults.


The things that make this car special are quality construction, high efficiency, and stylish design. The car offers two-mode steering wheel control, police sirens, lights, and amazing sound effects. You get to control all these features and run the vehicle over all kinds of roads. Overall, buyers love the flexibility and versatility of this vehicle. It allows for easier handling and more control over the driving course.


However, the controls take some time to get used to. At first, it might be quite challenging to make turns and handle the vehicle for long distances, especially for youngsters. Another drawback regards the position of the power switch. It's located at the bottom of the car, so it's always in contact with bumps on the road and might break easily.

Honorable Mention
SGILE RC Stunt Car Toy

The Sgile RC stunt car is a favorite among both adults and children. It's a modern toy you can drive everywhere and in several different ways. The car moves in all directions, allowing you to turn it 360 degrees and make spins and flips on both sides. With it, there are no limits when it comes to bumpy roads and obstacles.


Along with impressive flipping features, users love how well-built this model is. The car is made from soft yet durable plastic that can withstand heavy abuse and collisions. The rubber tires are easy to control and run smoothly over different terrains. Overall, the entire shell is safe, explosion-proof, and non-toxic. The quality motor enables the car to speed up to 9 mph.


Some users did find a couple of faults in the design of the car, though. The first one regards the short battery life. The car doesn't run continuously for more than 20 minutes. The second drawback comes from the fact that the batteries have to be removed for charging. That's rather inconvenient, especially because the compartment is sealed with nuts.

Honorable Mention
Remo 1621 Waterproof 4WD RC Truck

If you’re new to RC racing or have an older child who’s just getting into it, the Remo 1621 Waterproof 4WD RC Truck is a fun, fast, and rugged option. It’s got some serious bite with its heavy-duty four wheel drive suspension and beefy tires. This 1:16 scale model is sized just right for going off-road. It’s got an impressive top speed of 31 miles per hour, which isn’t the fastest you can get, but it’s fast enough to be competitive with most other entry level RC cars. You can also get accessories to customize it and trick it out, which is a fun feature that a lot of other cars don’t have.


The remote employs a 2.4 GHz radio control system and allows you to have full control in four directions: forward, backward, right, and left. The tough waterproof housing begs to be raced in almost any weather. 


There have been several complaints about the motor on the truck overheating quickly, but this is likely due to keeping the throttle on the remote control fully open for too long. Like many other RC cars, it’s also got an annoyingly short run time before needing to be recharged.

Tips

  • Store the car and remote somewhere temperate and dry. Condensation can build in the machinery and damage the batteries.
  • Remove the batteries from the remote and the car after playing with it to conserve their life.
  • Avoid leaving the battery charger connected when it is not in use to prevent the risk of a fire or overcharging the battery and shortening its lifespan.
  • To operate multiple cars near one another, make sure they are each on different frequencies. Many remotes allow you to change the frequency by pressing a button or flipping a switch. Some cars may come with frequency settings on their bodies.
  • Since most RC cars have a short run time of under 20 minutes, purchase one or two extra batteries that you can swap out to race longer.

FAQs

Q. How fast can an RC car go?

A: All RC cars have different speed capacities. Some of the higher end cars can go between 35-60 mph. You’re going to pay for that speed with a higher price tag, of course. Most RC cars that are used as kids toys can reach speeds of 10-15 miles per hour.

Q. What kind of batteries do RC cars take?

A: Most RC cars and trucks require either AA or AAA batteries. Some newer models run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries of various sizes, and there are even a few cars that use 9-volt batteries.

Q. Can I use a different remote for an RC car?

A: In many cases, it is possible to switch remotes for your RC car. The only requirement is that the car and the remote run on the same frequency, which is pretty simple, as most RC cars run on the same frequency.

Final Thoughts

For the ideal combination of speed, durability, and performance, our top pick has got to be the 

WLtoys XKS 144001 Off-Road Drift Car RTR. It can go more than 35 miles per hour and is built for on-road or off-road use, so you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to choosing where to race it. 

If you’re looking for a fun and reliable option that’s super budget friendly, check out the HB-P1801 4x4 Rock Crawler Off-Road Buggy Vehicle. This punchy little dune buggy can do some fun tricks and stunts and is perfect for off-roading.