The best RC car

Peter McPherson

Buy an RC car at a time of year when it is most likely to be used.

RC cars are a ton of fun for children and adults alike. Finding the right remote-controlled vehicle for you means considering where you plan to explore, and how you want to control your vehicle. RC cars are built for a variety of terrains, from pavement to grass to sand. In addition, they vary in their controls, range, battery life, and durability. Our favorite model by Traxxas is known for its durable design and impressive speed. To learn more about RC cars and their features, continue reading our buying guide.

Considerations when choosing RC cars

The first question you should ask yourself is: where do you plan to drive? Some RC cars are designed for achieving high speeds and fast turns on pavement or asphalt -- these are called "smooth surface cars." For tackling terrain like rocks, grass, sand, and even snow, you will need a durable RC car with tires designed to gain traction on rougher surfaces.

There are two main types of controls used with RC cars. The simpler design features a trigger to send power to the rear tires and a dial to turn the car left and right. These work well for young children who may struggle with more complicated controls.

Dual joystick controls look a bit like video game controllers. One joystick moves the car forward and backward, and the other joystick steers the car. For those unfamiliar with driving or with video games, this can be intimidating at first. However, it ultimately gives the user more control over the car.

RC cars vary not only in the terrain they can handle and their controls but also in their range, battery life, and durability.

Range determines how far the remote can be from the car while still sending a strong signal. The most expensive RC cars may have ranges of 300 feet or more. In most cases, you will have to follow your car wherever it goes, and you will always need to keep it in sight.

Battery life determines how long you can keep having fun before you have to plug in your car to recharge the battery. Most RC cars do not use disposable batteries but instead use rechargeable batteries. The controller may require disposable batteries, or it may feature a rechargeable battery. To prolong the life of your RC car battery, always charge it fully before use, and avoid leaving your car out in the sun for extended periods.

Durability determines how much of a beating your car can take and how long it will last. For a car that can handle the elements, look for a model with sealed electronics, and a streamlined body with few extraneous parts.

RC car prices

Inexpensive RC cars typically cost from $40 to $80 and work well for driving around the neighborhood or on the grass. For a more durable model designed to handle tough terrain or reach high speeds, you will need to spend from $150 to $250.


Q. Can RC cars survive crashes?

A. Generally, yes -- a low-speed crash won't damage your RC car like it would your regular car. This doesn't mean you should plan on driving your RC car as fast as possible into the curb. The lifespan of your car will largely be determined by how well you treat it while you drive

Q. Are waterproof RC cars available?

A. There are a few waterproof models available. In most cases, the parts that are most likely to be damaged are the electronics and battery, which are generally sealed in waterproof models.

RC cars we recommend

Best of the best: Traxxas Slash 1/10-Scale 2WD Short-Course Racing Truck

Our take: Durable, easy to control, and extremely fast, this is one of the best remote-controlled vehicles on the market.

What we like: The rugged design of this impressive RC truck makes it fun for kids and adults alike. The top speed of 30 mph is a huge selling point.

What we dislike: There are many less expensive options available.

Best bang for your buck: Jeypod Remote Control Car 2.4 GHz High-Speed Racing Car

Our take: For its price, this is one of the best values available.

What we like: From the sharp turns to the high speeds, this durable RC car is a great option for kids who want to drive fast and dangerous on pavement or grass.

What we dislike: Some reports of broken controller parts within a few weeks of use.  

Choice 3: Qun Feng Electric RC Car Lamborghini Veneno

Our take: While this is far from the best performing RC car, it is fun and flashy with plenty of small details.

What we like: The battery life of this realistic replica is impressive, and the controls are easy enough for young children to use.

What we dislike: This car works best on flat, smooth surfaces.

Karen Ridder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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