9 Best RC Trucks: A 2017 Review and Guide

After careful consideration, we felt that the Traxxas Rustler was the most impressive truck. It stands out in the sense that it’s affordable, has really impressive speed, and parts are easily accessible for when you want to purchase upgrades. Another benefit of this truck is that there’s a gas version and an electric version, which means you get to choose which one is more appealing to you.

If you’re just getting into the world of RC, especially RC trucks, you’ll realize how much fun it can be.

We can all agree that whether you’re 10 years old or 100 years old, driving an RC truck is a hobby worth getting into.

Here’s the thing:

There is so much information online that it can get pretty confusing. Everyone has their own opinion on what the best RC truck is.

That’s where we come in. We created this guide to arm you with all the knowledge you should know before buying an RC truck, and to give you some suggestions on RC trucks that might be worth getting.

Whether you’re a beginner, or just looking to save money, this guide has you covered. Let’s get started!

Comparison of the Best RC Trucks

 Maisto Rock CrawlerFord F-150 SVTTraxxas Rustler XL-5ECX RuckusTraxxas JatoTraxxas Nitro RustlerHosim All Terrain RC Car S911Redcat Racing Terremoto-10Traxxas X-Maxx
Packagingtraxxas rustler review
More InfoViewViewViewViewViewViewViewViewView
Gas or Electric?ElectricElectricElectricElectricGasGasElectricElectricElectric
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
SourceHobbytronHobbytronHobbytronAmazonHobbytronHobbytronAmazonHobbytronHobbytron

(Scroll to the right to see all the trucks)

Table of Contents:

  1. What you should know before buying an RC truck
  2. Hobby-grade vs toy-grade
  3. Electric or gas?
  4. Understanding RC gas trucks
  5. Best RC truck under $100
  6. What about RC monster trucks?
  7. RC truck driving tips

1. What You Should Know Before Buying an RC Truck

Anytime you’re looking to buy an RC truck, there are certain things you have to keep in mind. Below is an infographic with a list of things you should be aware of before spending any money.

2. Hobby-Grade vs Toy-Grade

If you’re just beginning to dive into the world of RC, you don’t want to get frustrated and overwhelmed with all the stuff there is to learn. You want to start with an RC truck that is easy to manage and fun to learn with.

There are two types of trucks you should know about: Toy-grade and hobby-grade.

Toy-Grade

Pros:

Ideal for kids
More affordable
Slower speed than hobby-grade, which means it’s difficult to break

Cons:

Less durable than hobby-grade
Once it breaks it’s pretty much useless
Lower performance


Hobby-Grade

Pros:

Higher performance
Serviceable
Can be maintained
Upgradeable

Cons:

More expensive
Bit of a learning curve


In a nutshell, the difference between the two types is that toy-grade trucks are not made to be disassembled. If you wanted to do a bit of tinkering with your RC truck, hobby-grade gives you that option.

So which one should you choose?

If you are an absolute beginner or a young child, I would suggest trying a toy-grade truck. They are cheaper than hobby-grade trucks, and less complicated to deal with.

If you’ve driven a remote control car before and feel comfortable working the transmitter, I would suggest that you go with hobby-grade instead. Hobby-grade vehicles are great because you can upgrade different parts at different times, all while improving the way your truck runs. I promise you it’ll be well worth it.

3. Should I get an electric car or a gas/nitro car?

This is a question that gets asked countless times.

My answer to that question is this:

If you are getting an RC truck for the first time, and you don’t want to do too much tinkering with the truck, get an electric RC truck.

If you love tinkering, loud noises, and are willing to invest in maintaining your truck, then gas is the way to go. It’s as simple as that.

Down below are some trucks that are great for beginners to learn from.  The RC trucks listed are electric, which means they run on batteries.

You should get an electric RC truck as your first vehicle since it’s easier to learn and manage than nitro/gas trucks. To learn more, visit this guide, which explains all the different types of RC vehicles and discusses other useful information.

Beginner Toy-Grade Trucks

MAISTO ROCK CRAWLER

The Maisto rock crawler is a great truck for kids and beginners for a lot of reasons.

For starters, this truck is very affordable. With the price being under $50, you don’t have to break the bank to drive an RC truck.

This rock crawler is on the slower side of RC trucks. This is actually great because you cut the chances of running into a barrier and breaking the truck.

What it lacks in speed, this truck has in skill. This truck is great for maneuvering over obstacles such as rocks and steep hills.

Also, like the concept of squares and rectangles, you can drive a rock crawler on-road, but you might not be able to successfully drive an on-road truck off-road. This makes the Maisto rock crawler a bit more versatile.

If you want to learn more about the Maisto rock crawler, check out our review.

Key Points

  • On the slower side
  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • Great price

Items Included

RC Rock Crawler, Transmitter, 6 AA Batteries, 9V battery (for the transmitter)


Ford F-150 SVT


Another good choice for beginners is the Ford F-150 SVT, specifically the bundle.

What’s great about the bundle is the price. At less than $100, you won’t dig a big hole in your wallet.

This bundle is a great pick if you have more than one kid who wants to drive a truck around. You get three differently colored trucks with their own unique transmitter.

This truck is great for driving both on-road and off-road, and has rubber tires and a pretty durable casing.  

Key Points

  • Good for driving on-road and off-road
  • Under $100
  • Comes in a bundle of three

Items Included

3 RC Trucks, 3 Transmitters


Beginner Hobby-Grade Trucks

Traxxas Rustler XL-5

If you’re itching to try a hobby-grade RC truck, one you might want to consider is the Rustler by Traxxas. The Traxxas Rustler XL-5 is a great electric RC truck to start out with because of it’s shallow learning curve and it’s ability to be upgraded.

Another great thing about this truck is how easy it is to get replacement parts. Traxxas in general is pretty awesome because vehicle parts are pretty easy to find anywhere.

The Rustler is cheap for a hobby-grade truck, and it has good durability. Since these trucks will be faster than your toy-grade trucks, you want to make sure the truck you have can withstand impacts.

For more information on this truck, check out our Traxxas Rustler review.

Key Points

  • Easy to find replacement parts
  • Upgradeable
  • Shallow learning curve

Items Included

Traxxas Rustler, Transmitter, Power Cell NiMH Battery , Parts, Upgrade and Tools Package

ECX Ruckus

Just like the Traxxas Rustler, the Ruckus ECX has parts that are pretty easy to find. This truck is also affordable with the price being under $150.

The Ruckus is also pretty fast, so you might need to turn down the throttle if you’re just starting out.

With 4WD, waterproof electronics, and good durability, this is the best RC truck for beginners who want to do some on and off-road driving.

Key Points

  • Great durability
  • Really fast
  • 4 Wheel Drive

Items Included

ECX Ruckus, Transmitter, 4 AA Batteries

4. Understanding RC Gas/Nitro Trucks

As you get more comfortable with the electric RC trucks, you may want to move up to Nitro/Gas trucks.

I would highly recommend getting experience with electric RC trucks before you move to nitro.

Nitro/Gas trucks need more maintenance, and are more complicated to deal with.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t get a gas truck as your first truck. Just know that it requires a lot more investment than an electric RC truck.

That being said, gas trucks are even more of a blast to drive than electric RC trucks.

Traxxas Jato

The Jato is a beast! This  RC truck is really fast, with speeds reaching up to 65+ mph. You have to be a decently skilled driver to comfortably control it.

This truck is also pretty durable, and easy to drive and tune. One thing to keep in mind is that this truck has a 2 speed transmission, which means it can’t reverse. This is great for racing since having a reverse means additional weight on the truck.

If you are just beginning your journey into nitro RC trucks, I wouldn’t choose this as your first truck because of the skill level needed.

Key Points

  • No reverse
  • Really fast
  • 2 Wheel Drive

Items Included

Traxxas Jato, Transmitter,  2 Amp DC charger, EZ Start battery pack, Fuel filler bottle, Extra glow plug, Extra oiled air filter, Manual, Tools

Traxxas Nitro Rustler

For a cheaper nitro RC truck, I’d take a look at the Nitro Rustler by Traxxas. The rustler has been around for a long time, and Traxxas has had plenty of time to iron out any wrinkles with the design.

The speed on the rustler is pretty good, although I’d say this truck is on the tamer side. This is pretty good if you’re getting your first nitro truck.

The Rustler is also versatile, giving you the option to drive in various places without too much difficulty.

Key Points

  • Versatile
  • More affordable than the Jato
  • Pretty good speed

Items Included

Traxxas Nitro Rustler, Transmitter,  2 Amp DC charger, Rechargeable EZ Start battery, Extra glow plug, Manual, Tools, 2A DC charger, Fuel dispensing bottle

5. Top Trucks under $100

There are some people who just don’t have the money to buy crazy expensive RC trucks, and that’s totally understandable. I know when I started I didn’t want to drop a ton of cash on a truck. Fortunately, there are some pretty decent trucks out there that work well and are under $100.

HOSIM All Terrain RC Car S911

Aside from the Maisto Rock Crawler and ECX Ruckus already mentioned (definitely check them out!), another truck under $100 is the Hosim S911. With speeds of up to 30+ mph and a range of more than 250 feet, this truck is definitely worth considering if you’re tight on cash.

The Hosim S911 is a jack-of-all trades when it comes to terrain. It isn’t amazing on any one surface, but it does a pretty good job of handling grass, sand, and mud.

The best thing about Hosim is that they are constantly improving the quality of their service. Right now they are offering a one year replacement warranty when you buy the truck, which is pretty sweet.

Key Points

  • jack-of-all trades
  • great customer service
  • Semi-waterproof

Items Included

Hosim S911, Transmitter, Transmitter batteries, Battery pack for the truck

6. What About RC Monster Trucks?

What are monster trucks? Wikipedia puts it nicely when they say,

A monster truck is a pickup truck modified with a larger suspension and larger tires.

Because of the larger suspension and tires, monster trucks are great for any off-road driving you plan on doing.

Down below are two trucks you should consider getting. Depending on what you’re looking for, one truck may be a better choice for you than the other.

Redcat Racing Terremoto-10

The Redcat Racing Terremoto-10 is probably the best RC monster truck under $300. It has great durability, waterproof electronics, and has great ground clearance. The speed on the truck is pretty good as well.

The downside is that their aren’t many “upgrade” parts, so you might have to wait a bit before being able to buy improvements.

Redcat’s customer service is pretty good as well, so you don’t have to worry about any of your questions not being answered.

Key Points

  • Great ground clearance
  • Not many upgrade parts
  • Under $300

Items Included

Redcat Racing Terremoto, Transmitter, 7.4V 3200mAh LiPo Battery, LiPo battery charger, Manual

Traxxas X-Maxx

If the price isn’t as much of an issue, check out the Traxxas X-Maxx. The X-Maxx is a 4 wheel drive monster truck with 8 inch tires and a self-righting system. The scale on this truck is 1/5, so you can probably guess how much of a beast this truck is.

The speed is also great on this truck since it can reach speeds of up to 35+ mph. Another great aspect of this truck is the customer service. Traxxas is well-known for providing AMAZING support. Also, Traxxas parts are easy to find in case your truck breaks.

Some people argue that the E-Revo is better, but that’s like comparing apples and oranges. The X-Maxx is designed for off-road driving, doing wheelies, and being an overall rugged truck. The E-Revo is designed more for speed and racing other trucks.

Key Points

  • 4 Wheel Drive
  • Self-righting system
  • Perfect for off-road driving

Items Included

Traxxas X-Maxx, Transmitter, Tools, Guide

7. RC Truck Driving Tips

  • Whether you’re trying to be good at racing or just trying to improve your overall driving skills, practice is the most important thing you can do.
  • Consistency goes hand in hand with practicing. The more you drive your RC truck, the better you’ll get. You can’t just practice once every couple of months or so and expect to improve.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in perfect condition before you drive. You don’t want to be driving a damaged RC truck.
  • This is more for if you want to race, but “Slow is fast”. When doing turns on a track, a lot can go wrong. Practice turns at a slower speed and you’ll be able to master it much easier.You’ll be surprised by the number of people who don’t even finish a race because they were driving their car or truck too fast.

Whether you’re an adult or a kid, there is an RC truck that will be suitable for you. Getting into the hobby can be expensive and intimidating, but trust me, it’s definitely worth it.

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