Best RC Cars: Realize Your Need for Speed

Just getting started or returning to the hobby we picked out the best cars and trucks to get you back in action

Best Overall

Traxxas Slash 2WD 1/10 RTR

Best Value

BEZGAR HP161S 1:16 4WD Brushless

Honorable Mention

Tamiya BBX 2WD Buggy Kit

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Radio-controlled cars are the gateway that got many of us to where we are today. And that’s to say, right here, being on a website dedicated to cars and the lifestyle that surrounds them. While I was going to car shows and watching racing with my family before I got into RC cars, it was my first Tamiya kit that sealed the deal. Hobby-level cars have all the same systems as real cars, so turning wrenches on one of these, either as a kid or adult, scratches the itch while requiring far less space and budget than the real thing. The same can be said for driving and competitive racing of RC cars.

If you’re brand new to the hobby, or like me have taken long breaks in order to focus on life stuff, I can help guide the way. When I started in RC, there were only a few trusted names in cars. The internet didn’t exist and you only found RC cars in hobby shops that no matter where you lived, always seemed to be on the other side of town. There’s now a huge variety of cars covering every possible niche imaginable; almost all of it is available online. With that said, you still support your local hobby shop when you can—if you have one these days.

Summary List

Our Methodology

There are more caveats in a buyer’s guide for RC cars than I can possibly list. First, this is a living document. The second this is published, new RC cars will be announced. But, like all the cars here, they may be the perfect RC car for some people and the worst choice for others. And C, this list is leaning towards people who aren’t serious racers. Look, I already know that if you’re really into racing, the only reason you clicked on this is to skim through the list and scroll down to the comments section to demonstrate your superior knowledge of all things RC.

So how did I arrive at what’s on the list? A combination of testing, years of experience, and research. Some manufacturers sent us products for testing and I even own a few cars that may or may not have made the list. Value, fun, ruggedness, reliability, and versatility were all weighed. Parts availability is a real concern and I do believe in supporting your local hobby shop, but I am also very aware that not all cities have a LHS today and for some people that do, ordering online can be more convenient. I also considered the ability to buy modification parts as a positive. I’m probably into performance tuning my actual cars thanks to my start in tuning RC cars. To read more about our process and standards, click here.

Best RC Cars: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Traxxas Slash 2WD RTR

I’ve owned a Traxxas Slash for a little over two years. OK, it’s actually my son’s Slash, but I’ve driven it quite a bit and helped him with most of the wrenching for both repairs and the few modifications that have been done. I chose this truck for him for the same reasons it’s my Best Overall Pick. Out of the box, the truck has plenty of performance and flies off sweet jumps, does big drifts, and looks like a trophy truck at speed. It has good suspension travel, and the stock oil-filled shocks and springs are matched well and on the soft side, so there’s lots of body roll and squat.

As my son has gotten better at driving, upgrades have been easy and relatively affordable to do. So far, nothing on the truck has broken – no one is more shocked than me. The battery charger that comes in the kit is adequate at best, so that will be the first thing you want to upgrade. Buying a selection of springs and shock oil is a cheap way to start learning handling dynamics. The exaggerated body roll will quickly go away, but the truck gets a lot faster.

The radio included with the kit is still great, it works in both my large hands and his. It has been disassembled and reassembled several times without issue, none of the plastic parts have stripped and everything lines back up just like the factory. This truck comes in a variety of styles from this 2WD brushed version, to 4WD, and brushless versions of both. There is also a kit version available that might be the best choice for long-time enthusiasts.

Best Value: BEZGAR HP161S 1:16 4WD Brushless

If what you’re looking for is big jumps, wheelies, and bashing on a budget, this is your best option. Like everything else in the world, YouTube videos and social media have given people expectations of extreme action in everything they do. This 1/16th scale brushless truck delivers the extreme with power to spare, literally. If you give this thing full throttle from a stop, it will wheelie so fast it literally flips on its top. There is a beginner throttle mode which basically limits you to part throttle. It is a little too tame and there is no inbetween. But, you quickly learn respect for the amount of power delivered by the brushless motor and LiPo battery. And it includes a wheelie bar.

Everything you need comes in the box. The tires are so huge compared to the size of the body it looks like a slammed monster truck, but that’s a good thing. Everything on the truck is tough, even after several bashing sessions, I have yet to break anything. The all metal drivetrain and thick plastic parts are to thank for that. If and when it does finally break, most of the suspension parts and bulkheads which are most likely to snap first, are available on Amazon.

The included controller is smaller than those you find included in hobby shop RTR (Ready To Run) cars, but halfway through the first run it feels natural in your hand. The battery pack looks like it would be proprietary, but it has a Dean’s type connector. I will need to figure out how to make the battery strap fit a different style pack, but that doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. For the price of this Bezgar, nothing comes close to the performance. I will admit to being suspicious about a “non-hobby shop” brand when I started out, but the seas are changing quickly. I don’t know what cars like this will mean for the industry in the long run, but good cars at lower prices aren’t a bad thing for consumers.

Honorable Mention: Tamiya BBX 2WD Buggy Kit

Long time hobbyists will love the nostalgia of this buggy and newcomers to RC will love the performance, the realism, and the quality. Most modern buggies have very little in common with the real thing, but the BBX uses a monocoque/tube frame chassis, with dual A-arm front suspension and trailing arm rear, like full-scale UTVs. Unlike most Tamiya kits, this includes full ball bearings, a ball differential, and metal universal drive shafts. This is substantially larger than most Tamiya buggies and has a more rugged feel, yet when you pick it up, your brain immediately says “TAMIYA!” – however you choose to pronounce it.

The BBX comes as a kit and requires some amount of skill to build. This is a great first kit, although younger budding automotive engineers may need assistance. The kit includes the car only, so you will need to also supply the radio, motor, speed controller, battery and charger. This doesn’t start out as a particularly inexpensive kit, and all those other parts can easily double the price. But, in the end, this is a kit that despite the high price and effort involved, is well worth it.

Unless your local track has a special class for buggies, it won’t be competitive with the modern carbon-fiber offroad F1 cars that are being raced today. But, RC car manufacturers are definitely recognizing the desire for cars like this, so there may be more coming and not just re-releases. A lot of BBXs will end up sitting on bookshelves in car-caves, which is a shame. Tamiya already has a number of upgrades and the aftermarket is sure to follow. This is an extremely satisfying kit to build and drive, and the hobby needs more like this, although if I’m totally honest, I’m looking forward to some competitors at a lower price point.

Best On-Road: Tamiya Formula E Gen 2 TC-01

The Tamiya TC-01 chassis is one of the most underrated and largely ignored platforms on the market. It’s a shaft-driven all-wheel drive platform with inboard shocks, sealed differentials, and an exceptionally-mid-mounted motor. Yes, there are a lot of mid-motor cars out there, but Tamiya went all-in on keeping everything centralized. The layout gives the car an extremely low polar moment of inertia, meaning it rotates and changes directions quickly. Although it’s only been sold as the Formula E car you see here, it’s easily converted for touring car racing and a YouTuber has even built one into a rally car.

The toughness of the car leads to enthusiasts’ most common complaint, it’s heavier than some of its competitors. If you’re going racing in open classes, you may not have the selection of lightweight parts that drivers of other touring cars have at their disposal. This car’s handling, ease of driving, and durability might make up for that.

This is another kit. You will need to supply a radio, and electronics including a motor, battery, and charger, and while you are at it, you will want to pick up a ball bearing kit. Like all Tamiya kits, if you aren’t all that familiar with how cars work, you will be after some time with this kit. As mentioned, this has been used as a rally car by changing out several parts, but I would probably keep this for on-road use only.

Best Beginner Rally Car: Team Associated Apex2 Sport A550 Rally Car RTR

Who doesn’t love rallying? The answer is people who’ve never seen it, those are the only people who don’t love rallying. RC rallying is no different. Although there is a huge variety of rally cars out there, this is one of the best. Team Associated turned buggy racing on its head with the introduction of the original RC10 in 1984. Today, the company still builds some of the fastest and most technologically advanced racing buggies in the industry. This Rally car isn’t the fastest or most high-tech, but the Associated dedication to quality is on full display.

The Apex 2 Sport platform is built on a plastic tub that houses the shaft-driven all-wheel-drive system and rides on dual control arm suspension which uses friction shocks. The friction shocks are as disappointing as the fact that it doesn’t include ball bearings. I’m not as disappointed as some critics with the brushed 550 motor. If you’re familiar with rallying, you know it isn’t about huge power – real WRC cars have a hybrid power system that makes a nominal 380hp with bursts of 500hp possible. This car does include a 2S LiPo battery but can also run on 3S for even more power.

The kit includes a pretty decent XP120 radio which has all the functionality you need as a beginner. But, even those of us who have been around the hobby for a while will enjoy throwing this around in the dirt or even on the road. Sure, you will probably want to start upgrading this car after a few months, but you can say the same thing about Team Associated buggies that are twice the price for a rolling chassis. I love the Lancia Beta Monte Carlo-esque body and the big chunky tires. It’s worth noting that the Traxxas Fiesta is also a compelling package, but doesn’t have the same scale feel.

Best Beginner High-Speed Car: AMORIL AK-917 Brushless 75mph RTR Supercar

The advent of relatively affordable and undeniably small GPS-based speed, and G-force data loggers has opened up the hobby to speed running anywhere you have the space. The Rlaarlo AK-917 from Amoril will have you running at insane speeds right out of the box. There are a few different versions of this car available from Amazon or directly from the company. You can get basic rollers with no electronics. Then there are competing cars that range from brushed-powered (up to 50MPH), to brushless 3S cars(up to 80MPH), and Brushless 4S cars the company claims will do over 120MPH with the right gearing.

I recommend the mid-level brushless cars which include a chassis, shocks, motor mount, and driveshaft all made from aluminum. The universal shafts and differentials are steel and it has a full bearing kit. It also includes a 2S LiPo battery, a 4-channel controller and a charger you’ll probably want to replace. While this is sold almost entirely on it’s top speed, it does handle well. You aren’t going to take this racing with dedicated touring cars, but if you set up a parking lot road course, you’ll enjoy it.

The downside of this car is that it is another online-only car. You can’t get parts at your local hobby shop. If the parts are available on Amazon, you can probably have them in a couple of days. If you have to go directly to the manufacturer, it might be a couple of weeks. Amoril does offer a number of aluminum parts for this car to make it more durable; they are pretty reasonably priced too. This is a fun car. It has the performance to keep you interested but like most cars, it’s the looks that get you first.

Our Verdict on the Best RC Cars

The Traxxas Slash is so versatile and offers so much performance, that it’s hard to think of anything that could be a better overall choice. For those who are specifically looking for a basher to take to skateparks and BMX tracks, the Bezgar Brushless truck can’t be touched for the price.

What to Consider When Buying An RC Car

With so much to choose from when buying an RC car, paralysis by analysis is a real struggle. Consider what your goals are with the car. Do you just want to have fun driving, go for huge air or do you strive to be a competitive RC racer for on or off-road? What’s your budget? What’s your skill level? What else should you consider when picking the best RC car to suit your needs?

RC Car Key Features


Like all other electronic devices, lithium batteries are quickly becoming the standard, although nickel-metal is still the most affordable choice. Lithium offers higher voltage and higher capacity in smaller, lighter packaging. They do require more care and cost a little more money. The initial investment is more, but in the long run, you will probably get more value out of lithium batteries.


As lithium batteries are taking over, so are brushless motors. Brushed is still the choice for lower-priced cars, although online-only brands are making the shift to brushless happen quicker. A brushless motor has more power and can handle higher voltage. They are also considered maintenance-free. Right now, the initial investment for a brushless car over brushed at the hobby shop level is considerable, so it isn’t always an option for beginners.


You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!

Q: Do RC cars require special batteries?

A: Yes, anything that isn’t a disposable toy will require a battery pack for operation. Many RC bundles will include a battery pack, but you will need to look on the list of requirements to see if you will need to buy one separately. If you need to buy a battery, you will most almost certainly need to buy a charger as well.

Q: What scale are RC cars?

A: The most common scale is 1/10th, although larger and smaller offerings are becoming more popular. Smaller cars, like 1/16 or 1/18 are becoming popular as bashers, crawlers or drifters, anything much smaller will pretty much be indoor only. Bigger models, 1/6 and larger, require much more space and become ridiculously expensive, quickly matching the price of dirt bikes and UTVs.

Q: What does “RTR” mean in RC cars?

A: “RTR” means that your RC car is ready to run. It’s ready to drive right out of the box with no assembly required. It usually includes the controller, batteries, and charger. Other RC cars come as kits that have to be assembled prior to use.