The 7 Best Remote Control Cars to Buy in 2019

Take these mini wheels for a spin

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Most Popular: Top Race RC Monster Truck

3.6

For those with a budget, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to sacrifice features, terrains, and applications when purchasing a high quality RC car. This Top Race truck clocks in at well under $30 making it the cheapest on our list, but with 4WD, a strong anti-collision structure, anti-skid tires, immense rock-climbing power (with the super absorbent shocks to go with it), a 2.4Ghz transmitter, and all the batteries you’ll need for operating right out of the box, this little RC rig pulls way out of its weight class. A bonus here is that it’s also waterproof, so the kids in the family (ages 8 and up) can take it through puddles and across streams without almost any fear of shorting.

Best Overall: Exceed RC Electric DriftStar

Treading a really delicate line between “uber-expensive hobbyist RC” and “RC that’s fine for kids” the Electric DriftStar is a decent price point at pro operation levels. With stable arm suspension and aluminum-capped shocks that are filled with actual oil, the suspension system pays homage to a full-sized drift car (which this thing is 1/10th the size of). The precise steering tech gives drivers full control while the high precision SP03018 electric speed control keeps the engine measured and in check. And speaking of that engine, the RC540 motor is basically top of the line. Combine that with a 7.2V 1800maH Ni-MH battery power and an extra large bumper for extra sudden collisions and you’ve got an RC car that will go the distance. 

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Distianert RC Truck

If you look back at RC trucks of the ‘90s, the commercials always featured vehicles climbing complex rock structures and splashing through muddy pools just like real off-road trucks. But, when it came to the actual capabilities of those toys, much of what was shown on TV was an exaggeration. This 1/12th scale RC truck from Distianert, however, can handle off-roading better than any entry-level RC could. The ultra-wide, grippy tires can climb rocky and rugged surfaces, and the body itself is fully waterproof when submerged to a depth of up to 50m. The sturdy frame can take a good amount of pressure, and the fully independent shock system means that the wheels will move, shift, and tilt individually to suit whatever angle of driving.

Distianert has equipped the truck with dual motors — one rear and one front — for enough power to gun it in open areas or overtake sudden inclines. When fully charged, the dual battery will give you 20 minutes of drive time, which, admittedly, is nothing special compared to some of the larger more expensive options out there. But the ability to recharge via USB offers some nice versatility. The whole package comes with a one-year replacement warranty and the manufacturer even promises minor part replacements (like screws and casings) as needed. 

Best for Kids: Maisto Rock Crawler Extreme

The Maisto Rock Crawler Extreme handles off-road trails and driveways with aplomb and can keep kids engaged for hours. Built with three motors to help handle rough terrains like grass and rock, the Rock Crawler Extreme tackles it all with large tires, a full suspension, and four-wheel drive. Supported by a durable frame that can handle some crashing and rolling around, the Maisto achieves a kid-friendly top speed of around five miles per hour making it manageable for kids learning to control the vehicle. The pistol-grip joystick is a good size for smaller hands and includes a trigger for moving forward or reverse and a circular control toggle for changing direction. It requires six AA batteries, giving the Maisto a longer runtime without the constant need for recharging.

Best for Toddlers: Holy Stone RC Cartoon Race Car

Holy Stone RC Cartoon Race Car
Courtesy of Amazon.com

While the adults get to have most of the fun with remote control cars, kids are not without their own options. The Holy Stone RC cartoon race car doesn’t go off road and it doesn’t come waterproof, but this remote control car for those 18 months and up is the perfect beginner’s model for young children. Featuring two-channel direction with forward, reverse, left and right, there are also honking sounds, as well as music and flashing headlights. Additionally, there’s a removable race car driver that kids can take out and play with separately and then put back when they want to drive around the house. With a simple, two-button design, bright colors and plenty of noises to keep a toddler entertained, the cartoon race car will bring hours of joy. Three AAA batteries are required to power the car and two AA batteries are needed for the remote.

Best Off-Road: KingPow 2WD RC Car

Traxxas Summit
Courtesy of Amazon.com

You’ll be surprised at just how rugged this RC car is. The high-powered motor with ratcheted-up torque will take the thing as fast as 15 mph and up 45-degree slopes, while also giving it enough oomph to get over those rocky landscapes (hence that “Best Off-Road” distinction up there). Pair that with the four-wheel independent suspensions and ultra-shockproof tires made of PVC-like material and you can be sure this thing won’t get thrown on any surface. The control itself operates at 2.4GHz which avoids interference and allows operation at up to around 250 feet. The battery is 3.7V and 700MAh, and fully charges in 45 minutes, allowing about 15 minutes of high speed operation. And, while it is marketed toward kids, they recommended experienced user supervision of ages 10+. 

Best Splurge: Exceed RC MadDrift Brushless

One look at the Exceed MadDrift, and it’s clear that this RC car sits firmly in the “hobbyist” category. While many of the $100 RC cars out there could be fun for adults or kids, the MadDrift is focused on drivers looking for raw speed in clear straightaways, rather than flashy off-road features and forgivable controls. In a word, the 100A 540L 2150KV brushless motor is powerful. Brushless motors inherently offer more raw power and speed, but because of that, they often don’t come in packages that afford you much side-to-side control. The unique low-center-of-gravity body offers great aerodynamics and the resilient oil-filled shock system will amount for a super-smooth ride. If you do lose control with all that speed, there’s a high-impact foam bumper that will help deter some damage to the car.

Further underscoring the MadDrift’s focus on hobbyists, they’ve afforded easy access to the front and rear differentials for adjustments and upgrades. There are two, 7.4V 3300mAh Sky Lipo batteries to support all the power. It comes in a sleek, indie-car-inspired that body that measures 620MM long, 310MM wide and 175MM tall, dimensions that put it at about 1/8th scale. If you have the cash, this is a great full-fledged car (or a project starter), but be sure to note that you have to order the charger separately. 

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought one of our readers’ favorite remote control cars and our reviewers tested it for eight hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this remote control car, from its price to its battery life. We’ve outlined the key points here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Remote Control Car

Age range - Perhaps the most important consideration when buying a remote control car is the age of the person (or people) who’ll be using it most. If the car is for a young child, you may not want want a feature-rich model with a high top speed. But if it’s for a tween, teenager, or even an adult, the option you select can be more complicated.

Battery life - There’s nothing worse than setting up a new piece of technology just to have it run out of batteries before you know it. That’s why paying attention to battery life (in addition to keeping a set of spares handy if its battery isn’t rechargeable) is smart. It’s also worth noting that a vehicle with more features will drain a battery more quickly.

Price - You’d be surprised at how much you can pay for a remote control car if you want one that’s fast, durable, and packed with features. That’s why it’s important to prioritize what’s really important to you and pay attention to the price tag.

Test Results: Top Race RC Monster Truck (Most Popular)

3.6

What We Like

  • Works on many surfaces

  • Great for kids

  • Good value

What We Don't Like

  • Not very durable

  • Slow

Top Race RC Monster Truck
Top Race RC
Top Race
Top Race RC Monster Truck remote control car
Top Race Monster Truck

Even though one of our testers thought that this car wasn’t very fast or durable, he thought it was still a good overall value: “I might wish it was a little more solid,” he explained, “but I'd bet that a ‘little more solid’ would equal ‘more than double the price,’ so no real complaints there!” Overall, our testers felt that it was a great car for kids because it was easy to use and can drive over many different surfaces including rocks, tree roots, sticks, and more.