If you are trying to get an RC car on a budget, you might be struggling to figure out where to spend your money. It is important that you get the best car you can for the money you have to spend. …but how do you figure out which car that is?
There are some great RC vehicles you can get for not too much, but at the same time there are some very cheaply made rigs that will break or quit after a very short time. So, you definitely want to make sure you don’t get one of the poorly made cars.
Which cars are cheap, poor quality knock-offs, and which ones are good value for your hard earned cash? That is what we are here to figure out.
I’ve spent a lot of time digging around and doing research to find out which cars will give you quality for money. Also, I’ve tried to figure out which cars customers are happy with and which ones leave them feeling like they just paid for a cheap rip off.
If you are in a hurry, CLICK HERE to see our top choice.
As I’m sure you know, there are a lot of things that will impact the price of your car. Most of your budget options will be electric, because there are fewer good quality nitro powered budget options. Even among electric cars, the type of motor (brushed vs brushless) and the type of batteries (standard vs LiPo) can make a big difference in price.
Therefore, there is a wide range of options depending on what you are looking for, and what you have to spend. To try to cover these choices, I am putting together a list of my favorite cars at various price points.
Check out the list below to find the best car for different budgets (100, 200, etc.). If you are really looking to splurge or are one of those lucky people who don’t have to worry about how much they spend, go to the bottom of the page to see my favorite top-end, top-dollar car.
Best Option Under $100: WL Toys Wave Runner
There goes your car zipping around the track. It hits the dirt ramps perfectly and leaves your competition in its dust. You power slide it around the last turn and head into the straightaway towards victory. As you run onto the track to collect your car, you bask in the cheers of your friends.
If that sounds like fun, then you are ready for the world of radio-controlled cars. On or off road, a scale sized RC car can give you plenty of enjoyment. One of the best for you to start out with is the WL Toys Wave Runner Super Sport RTR. This 1/12 scale buggy can go 25 mph on a paved surface for you speed demons. Since it has no problems handling a rocky hill, it is perfect for the off road types too.
Ready to go out of the box, the buggy has a strong chassis with independent suspension on the front and rear. A high-powered electric motor powers the two-wheel drive car while you control it from 100 yards away. The 2.4 GHz controller gives you full steering in forward and reverse letting you take it where you want to go.
One thing that you will have to watch out for is the take off speed. Going from a full stop to top speed has a tendency to lift the front tires off of the ground and leave you unable to steer. This can be a problem when you are racing against other RC cars. Its speed will rapidly make up for the delay off the line, so it is a minor issue. Of course, this can be fun in the right situation, like showing off for your friends. Hey everybody, watch this!
The Wave Runner comes complete with a 7.4-volt rechargeable battery that gives you up to 15 minutes of drive time before you have to recharge. This is perfect for races with friends. The included wall charger will soon have you ready for the next heat. The controller requires four AA batteries for operation.
Any long time RC enthusiast can tell you that the hobby can be expensive. With the Wave Runner that is one thing that you will not have to worry about. Compared to other RC cars out there, this is the best RC car under 100 dollars that you will find. It is tough, inexpensive and fun to drive. What more do you need out of a RC car?
Best Option Under $200: Redcat Lightning EPX PRO
If you are looking for that top of the line radio controlled car on a budget, this just might be your lucky day. The Redcat Racing Lightning EPX PRO is probably the best RC car under 200 dollars that you will find. Beautiful detail and a powerful brushless electric motor will make you the envy of all of your friends when you bring this car to the racetrack.
This 4WD car is ready to race right out of the box. The low profile soft racing tires hug the ground as you send it zipping at 35-40 mph around the track. With a speed like that, it is perfect for the intermediate RC hobbyist or a great project that they can build and improve on for someone that is more advanced. The aluminum capped and oil filled shocks ensure that, even at that speed, nothing will interrupt your fun.
A two-channel 2.4 GHz radio control allows for full steering in forward and reverse, while the 2000mAh 7.2 volt battery will give you up to 20 minutes of run time. The remote control unit requires eight AA batteries, but the car’s battery is included as part of the package. By purchasing a spare battery, you will be able to have one charging while the other is in the car. The race can go on.
The car is easily repairable with stock parts, should you ever damage it. On the other hand, you can use it as the basis for a faster modified car by purchasing the standardized parts that will require no alteration to it. Drift car tires and a more powerful engine could have you sliding around the turns like a pro. It is already the best RC car for the money, but some people always have to have more speed.
Like most new RC kits, the only problem is with the battery charger, and it is a minor issue. The included charger is a little slow. An inexpensive but faster charger is readily available, as are extra batteries to keep charged and on hand. If you are patient, you may just enjoy a break and a beverage while you wait.
The Redcat is just the thing for you if you are interested in RC racing, or even just want a fast RC car. This car is built just for speed, so you will not be disappointed. All that is needed from you is a place to race it and someone to race against.
This is a cool video showing the capabilities of the Lightening EXP PRO:
Best Option Under $400: HPI Sprint 2 Flux Camaro
You look at your friends as you place your remote controlled car on the pavement of the track. Your little Camaro seems to hug the ground between your competitor’s cars. You keep one eye on the starting light and floor the car as it turns green. You hear the gasps and can sense the looks of amazement as your new racer leaves black marks behind it.
If speed is your thing, than the HPI Racing Sprint 2 Flux with 2010 Camaro body is the best RC car for the money that you are going to find. The powerful HPI Flux Vektor 5900kV brushless motor drives this 4WD car to an astonishing 53 mph and perhaps more. The suspension is height adjustable to give you the best performance depending on the surface. Just keep your eyes on it when you are driving it or you might miss something.
The Sprint comes complete out of the box and ready to race. The 8.4V 3300mAh NiMh battery just needs to be charged and the included four AA batteries need to be installed in the controller. You will enjoy the 3-channel 2.4 GHz controller, and the low battery indicator will let you know when it is time to bring the car into the pit for a battery change.
The battery has about a 20-minute runtime, which is fairly standard for out of the box components. The car is fully customizable if you are interested in squeezing a little bit more speed out of it. If you are interested in playing for more than 20 minutes between breaks, than buying an extra battery is a good idea. There is plenty of room in the compartment for a larger one that could boost your speed up near 60 mph.
Like many out of the box RC cars, this one’s battery charger runs a little slow. This is more of an inconvenience than a problem and it is one with a simple solution. Faster chargers are fairly inexpensive to purchase and easy to find. If you choose to upgrade to a larger battery, they all use the same type of charger, so that will not be a problem either.
The Flux is fast and stylish with its Camaro body. This is likely to be the best RC car under 400 dollars that is out there. The adrenaline rush that you get the first time you peel out off the line is something that you will never forget.
Here is a video of the Sprint 2 Camaro zipping around a parking lot:
I hope you found this list helpful in your search for the best RC car to fit your budget, and check back as I’m sure this list will grow in the future.