What are the best remote control cars?

Remote control cars are also called radio control cars and RC cars. They’re called cars even though most of them are built to resemble trucks or off-road racing vehicles. All remote control vehicles are built to a scale that is expressed as a ratio. The larger the second number, the smaller the car. In the RC world, a ratio of 1:10 means every inch on the toy car equals 10 inches on the real car it is modeled after.

Car categories

The industry divides remote control cars into two categories called toy grade and hobby grade. Generally speaking, toy grade cars cost less because their materials, quality of assembly and performance are well below those of hobby grade RC cars.

Some remote control cars, meanwhile, are powered differently. They’re called nitro cars.

Toy grade remote control cars

This level of car is made for play, so you just turn it on and drive. This category appeals to younger kids.

Toy grade pros

  • Cost: Toy grade cars are made with a focus on keeping costs low for the price-competitive toy market. When they do fail, the cost of replacing them is low compared to that of hobby cars.
  • Easy to operate: Toy grade cars have only a few simple controls.

Toy grade cons

  • Transmitter range: Toy grade transmitters operate over relatively short distances.
  • Components: Makers of toy grade cars cut costs by using lower-quality materials.
  • Speed: Toy cars can compete against each other, but not against hobby grade cars.
  • Motors: Toy grade cars have brushed motors that convert electric current into mechanical forces that turn the wheels. They produce a lot of friction and heat, burn out over time and need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Suspension: Most toy grade cars have wheels and axles connected directly to the frame. With no mechanisms to absorb shock, they bounce out of control on rough terrain.

Hobby grade remote control cars

These cars cars have complex features and advanced technologies because they are made to go racing. This category appeals to people who like to build things and tinker with them, too.

Hobby grade pros

  • Performance: Hobby grade cars outperform toy cars in every way.
  • Components: Hobby grade parts and materials are high-quality combinations of lighter weight and better performance.
  • Batteries: Light, powerful lithium-based batteries deliver high top speeds.
  • Motors: Hobby cars have brushless motors that use magnets to generate electric power. Because brushless motors generate no friction, they produce less heat and provide better performance.
  • Suspension: Hobby cars are built with sophisticated suspensions and shock absorbers that handle bumps and rough off-road terrain without losing control.
  • Transmitter range: Hobby transmitters operate over longer distances.

Hobby grade cons

  • Cost: Their greater speed and maneuverability come at a higher price.
  • Durability: Hobby cars are built for racing, so they crash a lot and need regular maintenance and repair.

Nitro remote control cars

These cars are powered by internal combustion engines that burn nitromethane fuel.

Nitro pros

  • Realism: The engine noise is loud and, along with the smell of burning fuel, makes the racing seem more real.
  • Hands-on experience: Enthusiasts love to tinker with their cars and enjoy building and maintaining them.

Nitro cons

Best Nitromethane

  • Fuel: Nitromethane is an expensive fuel.
  • Danger of fire: Nitromethane is highly flammable.
  • Exhaust fumes: Carbon monoxide pollutes the air.
  • Restrictions: Some tracks do not allow nitro cars because of their noise.

Best toy grade remote control cars

Best Rastar 1:24 Remote Control Lamborghini Huracan

Rastar 1:24 Remote Control Lamborghini Huracan

This officially licensed car emphasizes realism and detail over performance. It has a remote range of 82 feet, a top speed of 4 mph, runs on AA batteries and is made to be used on flat surfaces.

Sold by Amazon

Best Jada Fast & Furious Chase Twin Pack

Jada “Fast & Furious” Chase Twin Pack

The chase is on with Dom’s Dodge Charger R/T and the Dodge Charger Hellcat Police Car, authentically detailed down to the door handles. Each car comes with its own remote and both are powered by lithium-ion batteries that recharge via USB cables.

Sold by Amazon

Best X-spasso Toy Grade 1-14 Scale Off-Road RC Monster Truck

X-spasso Toy Grade 1:14 Scale Off-Road RC Monster Truck

This car goes 13 mph and is able to climb a 45-degree slope. The controller has a 148-foot range and is shaped like a pistol to make it easy for kids to handle. The two rechargeable batteries give you up to 20 minutes of play time each.

Sold by Amazon

Best Prextex 2-Pack Cartoon Remote Control Police and Race Car

Prextex 2-Pack Cartoon Remote Control Police and Race Car

The police car and race car each come with their own driver and remote control that looks like a steering wheel. Kids 2 and up love how the race car engine revs and honks its horn while the police car flashes its lights and sounds its siren.

Sold by Amazon

Best hobby grade remote control cars

Best Deerc Brushless Four-Wheel Drive 1:18 Scale Monster Truck

Deerc Brushless Four-Wheel Drive 1:18 Scale Monster Truck

The brushless motor powers this car to 37 mph as it takes all terrains in stride with its four-wheel drive and independent suspension. It comes with two lithium polymer batteries and a remote controller with a range of 328 feet.

Sold by Amazon

Best Hosim Brushless 1:16 Scale Four-Wheel Drive Off-road

Hosim Brushless 1:16 Scale Four-Wheel Drive Off-road  

The tires and main body are waterproof and the independent suspension delivers traction in all conditions. It has a 40-minute run time and a responsive controller with a range of 262 feet.

Sold by Amazon

Best Laegendary 1-10 Scale 4x4 Off-Road Hobby Grade RC Truck

Laegendary 1:10 Scale 4×4 Off-Road Hobby Grade RC Truck

This 1:10 scale all-terrain vehicle gets a 30 mph top speed and 40-minute run time from its brushed motor powered by two lithium polymer batteries. You get two USB chargers, a fireproof battery bag and a user manual.

Sold by Amazon

Best Bezgar Hobby Grade 1:16 Scale Off-Road Truck

Bezgar Hobby Grade 1:16 Scale Off-Road Truck

The remote controller has a 250-foot range, steering wheel, trigger throttle and reverse and trim buttons. This truck’s brushed motor is powered by two lithium-ion batteries that power the vehicle and illuminate the headlights.

Sold by Amazon

Best nitro remote control car

Best Traxxas Revo 1_10 Scale 4WD Nitro-Powered Monster Truck

Traxxas Revo 1:10 Scale 4WD Nitro-Powered Monster Truck

This powerful racing engine has a push-button starter and delivers torque to all four wheels to cover any terrain at speeds up to 45 mph. The stability system steers straight on even slippery surfaces without fishtailing or spinning out.

Sold by Amazon

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.