I don’t know about you, but when I get ready to buy something I always want to get the best product that I can afford, and I’m always afraid of spending too much on something then finding out I could have gotten something just as good or — worst of all — even better for less money.
The RC car and toy market can be a real headache in this regard. Some cars are better than others in certain respects but not in others. Sometimes it seems you might be paying more for the brand name or the body style rather than the actual quality of the car. Finally, some cars are just head and shoulders better than others, and no they are not always the highest priced.
Another headache you can run into when looking for a great car is the huge variations in price. You can pick up a car for twenty bucks at Walmart that looks pretty darn similar to one you can drop well over 1000 dollars on. So, what are you really paying for? Do you need what the top end car offers? How do you figure out what the best car is for you?
There are many things to think about before you even know what exactly you want: are you looking for an electric or nitro powered car? do you prefer an an on road car or an off-road buggy? is this for you or your kid to play around with and have some fun or are you looking to do some serious competing with your new car?
Finding The Right Car For You
If you are in a hurry, click here to check out my top choice for best RC car.
It can be a real nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Believe me, I’ve been in your shoes, and I want help you find the car that best fits your needs.
I’ve had my share of RC vehicles through the years and had both good and bad experiences. Nowadays, I try to keep abreast of the best gear in the RC world so that I can have more good experiences than bad.
The best car for you will depend on your needs, and my goal is to build a list of cars that I feel are the best for various needs. From the beginner looking for a fun car to tear around with to the veteran looking for the high performance options, I want to help you identify what you need.
If you are interested in RC trucks, check out some of my favorites here. Now, without further ado, here are some great RC cars to consider.
1. The Ideal Up-gradable Starter Car
If you are looking for a car that won’t break the bank, but will still give you great performance and grow with you as become able to spend more on your RC habit, you will really like the HPI Racing Sprint 2 Flux Camaro. This beast comes ready to go. It is powered by a waterproof, brushless electric motor and is RTR (ready to run) out of the box with top speeds around 50 MPH!
Better yet, if you ever decide you want to level up your machine, HPI has tons of parts so that you can overhaul and upgrade your ride from bumper to bumper. One option is to upgrade the standard battery pack to a high performance LiPo battery and boost your top speeds into the 70 MPH range!
One very cool option is that you can make mods to the body to switch up your ride. HPI has a large selection of bodies for this car from Porche to Mustang and everything in between.
This car is probably not the best option for a total beginner (it takes some time to be able to handle the high speeds of a performance RC like this one), but this is an ideal starter for someone wants to really get into the RC car hobby. Also, at a bit over $350, it may be a bit much to spend if you are not sure how much you will like your new hobby.
On the other hand, if you are sure that RC cars are a hobby you are really going to want to spend a lot of time on in the future, this is a great option for you. Especially since you will be able to start out at a lower investment and slowly upgrade your car as your budget allows and your skill level increases
One thing is for sure, with a car like this, you will be able to race and play to hearts content for years to come. This is not a car that will wear out quickly, and it is also very low maintenance. You will never have to tune or service the engine like would with a nitro powered car.
If you get the Sprint 2, you will be the envy of your friends (and enemies) for years to come. The best part is, you don’t have to let them play with it if you don’t want to!
2. Budget Option That Is Great For Kids
If you are looking for a cool RC car, but you are on a tight budget, then one of the many options from Maisto will be right for you. They offer a wide variety of different models in the $20-30 price range. Making them affordable for just about anyone.
The attention to detail on these cars is really quite exceptional. They look just like the real deal. Some people even say it seems a shame to take them out of the box because they would look cool on display. That’s just crazy talk though! Why get a RC car if your not going to have some fun with it?
Chances are that Maisto has a model you will like, the options range from Ferrari and Lamborghini to Volkswagen. Some models also have working headlights and other cool features that really add the realism and take these cars to the next level.
This is a really great option if you are looking to get a car for a young kid. They are easy to control, but also fast enough that the kids (and even their parents) won’t get bored driving them. Additionally, they are very durable, so that the youngsters shouldn’t be able to tear them up right away.
At this price range, you obviously won’t be getting high speed, high performance vehicle. In fact, compared to the other options on this page, the performance from the Maisto cars is pretty poor. However, this is part of what makes them a great option for young children, because they will be better able to handle the cars without becoming frustrated. Also, they are just about the right speed for playing inside so that you can fun with your car whether or not you have a good place to run around outside.
If you get cars with different frequencies, you could even get a couple of cars so that your kids could race against each other with their new toys. Heck, you might even want get a second one so that you can show the youngsters how its done. At these prices you can get a couple of these cool little rigs and still not spend too much.
With a car like this, your kids (or you) will have some the sweetest looking rides on the block, and will get countless hours of fun tearing around in one of these cool little cars.
3. Awesome RC Drift Car
If you are looking for great RC drifter, look no further than the Lightening EXP Drift from Redcat Racing. This is a really great starter option that is ideal for both children and adults.
It comes in a couple really awesome looking body styles (my favorite is the black and orange Lamborghini body) that really look cool when you are drifting through the turns.
This drifter is very beginner friendly. While you or your kid are mastering the technique of drifting through the turns like a pro, you will also be developing control skills that will transfer well to other RC cars if you decide to get more into the hobby in the future.
The Lightning EXP is very affordable at about $130-140, and it will be ready to race right out of the box. So, you don’t need any special skills to get it set up before you take it to the track or head out to play around in your driveway.
One downside on this car is that the batteries don’t have a very long life to them. As a matter of fact, I would recommend getting a spare battery pack or two. That way, all you have to do to extend your play time is swap out the battery, and you will be ready to keep tearing it up to hearts content.
One thing to keep in mind is that you will need a fairly smooth surface to run your EXP Drift on. An asphalt of concrete drive way will work great, but it won’t work well if you try to run on a rough surface. If you are looking for something more versatile, you might want a rally car like the next one on my list.
If you are looking for a drifter though, I would strongly recommend you consider the Lightening EXP Drift. With this car you will be able to fly through the turns on the race track or just mess around recreating cool scenes from your favorite movie car chase.
Check out some the awesome stuff this car is capable of the video below.
4. Outstanding RC Rally Car
If you are looking for a truly versatile machine, the Traxxas Rally (winner of RC Car Action Magazine’s 2013 Car of the Year) may be the best RC car for you. This beauty is built for fun, especially of the wet, dirty variety.
The Rally comes ready to run out of the box, and boy does it run! With the standard NiMH battery pack you can get top speeds of about 35-40 MPH, which is pretty incredible for an all terrain RC. However, if you upgrade to a LiPo battery pack it can reach speeds of up to 60 MPH!
Don’t be intimidated by the high speeds though, it has a 50% speed training mode setting. This works great to get used to handling the Rally before really crank it up, or for letting your kids play around with it without having to worry that they might loose control and destroy your car.
It is powered by a powerful brushless electric motor, so you will never have the tuning and maintenance issues you would have with a nitro powered car. Also, all the electronics are sealed up tight so that they are waterproof. That way, the Rally can keep going rain or shine. No matter the conditions, mud, snow, etc. the fun never stops.
Now, some people find the price tag on these cars to be a bit scary. At prices around $460-470 this is not something to buy without giving it some thought. However, it is important to remember that you are buying a very durable, top quality piece of equipment.
Also, if anything ever breaks on your rally, there are tons of parts available to fix any problem you might run into. This fact also means that the Rally is also very customizable, with tons of aftermarket options available if you want trick out your car and take its looks and performance to the next level.
One issue I have heard of some people having is that the plastic caps on the shocks will sometimes un-thread themselves and pop off. This not a big deal, as they can be threaded right back on, but it can be a mess if the oil in the shocks leaks all over the place. This can be easily overcome however by replacing the plastic caps with aluminum ones that won’t un-thread so easily.
With this beast, you will feel like you are a real life rally racer. Power sliding through the turns, spraying dirt and gravel everywhere, racing from dirt to pavement and back again, flying over jumps, and push your car to its limits a roar – barely under control – down the road. Just thinking about it gets my heart pumping! How about you?
Skip to about the 2:30 mark to see the Traxxas Rally in action.
I hope you found this list useful. At the very least I think it should have helped you realize that no matter your budget or RC skill level, there is a great RC car out there that would be perfect for you.