One of the most popular hobbies of all time is radio controlled car racing. This might come as a surprise to you but RC cars have been around since the 1960s. Back then, only very few companies manufactured RC cars but the hobby quickly caught on. It did not take long before public demand encouraged more innovators to produce more improved RC cars. One of the is the RC 4 Wheel Drive.
Best RC 4-Wheel Drive Cars – Summary
Quest for the Best: RC 4 Wheel Drive
By the early 1980s, the trend of RC cars exploded so monumentally. What was once just a simple backyard hobby, has started an even bigger trend: RC car racing. The competitive sport gained widespread attention that sparked a new era for RC hobbyists. The first international radio controlled car racing championships were organized in the eighties. This was considered by many as the golden years for RC hobbyists.
No longer was their passion for radio controlled vehicles a mere whimsical pastime, it became a legitimate sport. It is where they could get the opportunity to find and meet those who shared their passion.
The first RC 4 wheel drive also debuted in the eighties. It was the first truly off-road RC car and people fell in love with it instantly. Unlike 2 wheel drive, the RC 4 wheel drive was faster and more stable. It quickly gained popularity amongst professional racers. This is because it has afforded them an aggressive control of their RC car better than before. The RC 4 wheel drive still continues to dominate in popularity in competitive racing to this day!
With the rapid development of technology and popularity of RC racing, remote controlled cars are more high-tech, faster, and durable. But, best of all, RC 4 wheel drive cars are more affordable than before. Unlike in the early days of RC cars, there are now countless reliable manufacturers of these hobby cars. Beginners to the sport have better access to a variety of high-quality RC cars.
Speed and Accuracy
It should be emphasized that RC cars should not to be confused with “toy” race cars. These are RC cars found in your local toy store. A toy car can only afford the user the most basic controls. Meanwhile, hobby quality RC cars offer more accurate steering, speed control, and the like. RC cars are much faster than toy cars and have replaceable parts. Furthermore, toy cars are flimsy things compared to proper RC cars.
That being said, how does a beginner go about choosing the best RC 4 wheel drive cars? There are just so many models to choose from. In fact, it can prove a challenge just finding the right one for you.
What You Need To Know
Well, before we start listing our recommended beginner RC 4 wheel drive vehicles, let us first learn more about the different ways to categorize RC cars and what you need to consider. This way, you can choose what kind you believe is right for you and will narrow down your search.
Electric vs Gas Powered
Generally, there are two ways an RC car is powered; either by electricity (battery packs) or by a special fuel.
It is commonly recommended for beginners to get an electric powered RC car. This is because they require less maintenance and are much easier to understand. After all, if your RC car runs out of power, there is an easy and quick solution. You can just recharge the battery for a certain amount of time then you are good. Electric powered cars are easier to clean too and cost considerably less than gas powered cars.
Pros of Gas Powered RC Car
However, gas-powered cars do have their advantages as well. They power the engines of your RC car much longer than an electric car. And, once you do run out of fuel, you can just refuel which takes only a few minutes. You do not have to wait a few hours to continue running your RC car. Gas cars are also faster and provide a more realistic feel to racing, which can be pretty cool.
Cons of Gas Powered RC Car
On the other hand, gas cars have quite a number of downsides. For one thing, they are not as environmentally friendly as electric powered RC cars. When you race a gas powered RC car, there will be exhaust fumes. The engines are also much louder. Although, for some hardcore racers out there, that can be a plus. Maintenance and cleaning the engines are also required regularly.
Although, a beginner can get either electric or gas car. If you prefer a more low maintenance and eco-friendly car, you better get an electric powered RC car.
Ready to Run (RTR) vs Kit
In the early days of RC racing, the cars were always bought unassembled. Many considered building the car from scratch as part of the fun and allure of RC cars.
However, beginners do not need to fret about figuring out which part goes where because manufacturers sell pre-assembled RC cars. These are known as Ready to Run (RTR) cars. This type is fully assembled and need only to be charged or fuelled before you can start racing.
For more competitive racers, RC car kits are usually their preferred choice. Since they can customize them as much as they want.
On-road vs Off-Road
When choosing whether you want an on-road or an off-road RC car, it has to depend on something. And that is where you prefer to drive your RC car. If you are the type who likes racing on smooth and even race tracks, an on-road RC car is for you. But if you prefer to rough it out and want a more all-terrain RC car, an off-road RC car can handle basically any kind of track be it grassy, rocky, or sandy.
Is an Off-Road RC car for you?
Beginners will do better with an off-road RC car since they are more durable than on-road cars. Plus, with an off-road car, you can still race on a paved track. So long as you replace it with the appropriate wheels.
On-road cars might look more sharp and stylish. But, when it comes to versatility and ruggedness, it can’t beat an off-road car. And think of it this way, an off-road car can handle a lot of damage. Therefore, it makes for a great beginner’s RC car. You can practice anywhere and not have to worry about ruining or permanently damaging your RC car.
Now we should talk about how big (or small) you want your RC car. A scale basically means how small a certain RC car is then its real-life counterpart. The RC car scale ranges from as small as 1/27 to 1/5. Newbies often choose RC cars that are 1/10 (ten times smaller) or 1/5 (five times smaller) scale. These two are relatively bigger than professional cars but they are much more practical to have and maintain.
There are smaller RC cars (1/18 to 1/27). And although they are lighter, they are harder for beginners to work with because of their smaller parts.
Repairs and Maintenance
Lastly, and probably one of the most important aspects of choosing the perfect RC vehicle is this. You need to consider how much regular maintenance you are willing to take on with your RC car. Some models require more maintenance than others. For example, gas powered RC cars need their engines cleaned properly if you want to prolong its lifespan. Kits also need more attention. Since the vehicle was not preassembled in a factory and might catch a few glitches over time.
At some point, you will also need to repair your RC vehicle. Crashes and bumps are inevitable to happen with RC cars. And, it can only take so much before something inside or outside the vehicle breaks. It is important to know some basic repairs.
Best RC 4-Wheel Drive Cars – Detailed
We have listed here some of the best entry-level RC 4 Wheel Drive Cars for you. Hopefully, these will narrow down your search so you can start having fun right away!
This one has a breathtaking max speed of nearly 30 mph and extra strong grip tires. The HOSIM Large Size RC Electronic Monster Truck is hell on wheels in any rugged terrain. This RC 4 wheel drive and full four-direction control allow it to race in any direction. It has the option to go backward, forward, left, right, you name it.
This Electronic Monster Truck is a hulking beast with heavy duty wheels that are suited off-road as well as on-road. The huge wheels have anti-skid properties that make them really stable to race with. The HOSIM RC Monster Truck is 1/10 scale which makes it quite bulky and ideal for beginner RC racers.
Under the hood, this RC truck has two strong and independent motors. These motors give it more power than your average RC car. Each of the heavy duty wheels have independent suspension springs that make the truck more flexible and durable. Not to mention, these also protect the internal electronic components during rough races.
The HOSIM RC Monster Truck is powered by a rechargeable battery pack. So, newbies will not have too much to worry about in terms of maintenance. However, running time is only ten minutes (at full speed), and charging time is two and a half hours.
All in all, the HOSIM RC Monster Truck is tough, fast, and versatile. It is a solid starter RC car for just about anyone.
Now here’s an RC 4 Wheel Drive car you can’t possibly mistake for as a toy. The HPI Racing Trophy Buggy is a beast of an RC car that looks as tough as it drives. It’s got it all: power, agility, style. Your competitors will eat dust with this incredible RC car!
The HPI Racing Trophy Buggy is 1/8 in scale. So, it is quite heavier and bigger than other similar models out there. However, its over-the-top features make it incredibly resilient as well as really enjoyable to race. And with a maximum speed of 50 mph, this bad boy is meant to be out on the race track.
This RC buggy is gas powered so you’ll need to purchase a suitable 20% Nitro fuel separately. A single can of fuel isn’t all that expensive though and can power your RC car much longer than an electric battery pack.
The HPI Racing Trophy Buggy’s chassis is made from strong aluminum, coupled with oil-filled shocks, and HB Proto design tires that are enveloped around chrome Edge 7-spoke wheels. Its Nitro Star F3.5 HPI is monstrously powerful so you’re guaranteed an incredible drive. This RC marvel is perfect for bashing, stunts, as well as racing.
Furthermore, the Trophy Buggy has an aerodynamically designed body shell and a rear wing made to give this RC car downforce and impeccable air control.
The only hitch to this otherwise perfect RC 4 wheel drive car is that it is quite pricey. It is great for beginners and experts alike but only if their budget can reach up to four digits. However, it is an RC car meant for long term use so some might consider it a wise investment worth taking.
For a more budget-friendly yet still quality RC 4 wheel drive car, we have the extremely popular Traxxas Rustler. This RC 4 wheel drive car was made to withstand all kinds of terrain, even wet and muddy grounds. The Traxxas Rustler RTR is completely waterproof so you can race it in all kinds of weather.
This 1/10 scale RC car has a maximum speed of 35 mph and is powered by an 8.4V rechargeable battery. The Traxxas Rustler even offers a quick 4-amp peak detecting charger that is ten times faster than other brands’ charger. This way, even if you only have a relatively modest run time, charging is quick and easy so you’ll be back on the track in no time!
The Traxxas Rustler’s Titan 12-turn modified motor is just as impressive too. This incredible motor has a built-in cooling fan. This is to make sure the engines do not overheat and preserve the RC car’s motor life. This RC car’s motor also provides incredible torque that speeds up acceleration and allows the car big air jumps.
Best of all, the Traxxas Rustler’s eye-catching six-color ProGraphix bodyshell design and mirror chrome wheels will impress everyone in the track.
All of that for a reasonable price that will entice any beginner. The Traxxas Rustler is one of the more durable RC 4 wheel drive cars in the market and might just be your perfect match.
If you are looking for a more low key design, perhaps this miniature rally car will be more of your speed.
The Redcat Racing Rampage XR Rally Car will really make you feel like you are racing with its large 1/5 scale and incredible horsepower. This RC rally car is gas powered too so you can race it for much longer than average.
It has a powerful 2-stroke gasoline engine and a well-tuned exhaust pipe that allow the engine to breathe properly. It also lends the Rampage XR a more authentic race car appeal.
This Redcat Racing Rampage XR Rally Car can race on any terrain. With its dual disc brakes and aluminum oil filled shocks, it can withstand all kinds of race tracks from smooth asphalt to rocky dirt roads. Its chassis is a heavy duty 4mm T6 aluminum too so it can survive any rough adventure.
This gas powered RC 4 wheel drive might come at a high cost but its fully capable, fully reliable, and super fun to drive. The Redcat Racing Rampage XR Rally Car is definitely worth looking into.
Kids deserve to learn RC car racing too so why not give them a quality RC car that’s easy enough for them to control? The Novcolxya Model RC Car is an excellent choice for beginners as well as younger racers.
This RC 4 wheel drive car has actual rubber tires that can drive on essentially all types of terrain. This is definitely the perfect RC car for those who want to race anytime and anywhere. It is even safe to use indoors. The Novcolxya Model RC Car will not leave skid marks on the floor so you or your kids can drive it at top speed without having to worry about clean-up.
Speaking of top speed, this 1/18 scale RC car can reach up to 20 mph and has a GP brushed 380 motors with an overheat protection feature.
The Novcolxya Model RC Car has a bumper guard that protects it from potential damage during collisions. It also runs on a rechargeable battery that has a run time of about twenty minutes.
Unlike other models, the Novcolxya Model RC Car is quite affordable, less than a hundred dollars. Its low cost and reliable features make it an ideal starter RC 4 wheel drive car for beginners and kids alike.
Finally, we have yet another incredible gas powered RC model from Redcat Racing. Only this time, it is a truggy, a combination of a truck and a buggy. The Monsoon XTR Nitro Truggy takes the best of both worlds: the streamlined body of a buggy and the heavy duty tires of a truck.
The Redcat Racing Monsoon XTR Nitro Truggy is 1/8 the scale of the real truggy it is modeled after. So, it is a bit bigger and heavier than other models. Bulky it may be, its stature gives it a great advantage.
It is stable and performs amazingly on any terrain. Much has been said about the Monsoon XTR Nitro Truggy driving like an actual 4WD vehicle. This RC truggy has a .28 SH P3 engine which is powerful and can get you a top speed of 40 mph.
With oil filled shocks and modern pivot ball suspension, you will be able to drive over obstacles easily and without damaging the truggy’s inner components.
You will need to fuel this bad boy with 20% Nitro fuel and once you do, you can race the Monsoon XTR Nitro Truggy to your heart’s content.
As fun and exciting as this RC 4 wheel drive truggy is, some experience is recommended by manufacturers so perhaps not the most beginner friendly model. But if you are the type who loves a challenge and want a unique RC 4 wheel drive vehicle, the Redcat Racing Monsoon XTR Nitro Truggy might just be made for you.
Beginner’s Guide to RC Racing
Once you get your hands on your own RC vehicle, you will probably want to engage in some casual (maybe even competitive) racing. And why not? It is a popular sport that might have even been the first thing to have appealed to you about RC cars. However, there are some things you need to learn first before you go to your first RC car race. Here is just a very basic rundown on what you should keep in mind while you are on the race track.
1. Don’t go looking for trouble
There is this false assumption that RC racers should actively try to crash their vehicles to their competitors’ vehicles. Well, unless you want to spend most of race time aggressively bashing against your competition and eventually falling behind the course, then you should not get involved in skirmishes. Besides, quality RC cars are expensive and maintenance of them is a whole different expense altogether. Is it really worth spending (or wasting) an extra buck for an intentional car crash?
2. Keep calm and slow down
If you do find yourself in a crash and your RC vehicle loses stability, do not panic. Steering it back to stability will not work and might even just worsen your condition. Instead, slow down your RC car. Reduce your speed until you regain stability. Only accelerate once you have ascertained that your RC vehicle is good and steady.
3. Drive smooth, drive smart
While it is true that an exceptionally fast RC car can come first in a race, not even the fastest of them all can win if the racer does not drive carefully. Think about it. Just going fast will not ensure victory if you are constantly toppling over when you hit a corner or bumping into walls or your competitors. Your competitors will outsmart you and use your heavy handed driving against you. Speed just is not going to cut it without some ingenuity.
Instead of just gunning it the moment the race starts, try driving as smoothly as possible, avoiding any hurdles that could slow you down. You might think you are going slower but you are actually driving much more efficiently. Steering clear from trouble requires strategy and street smart. You will find that racing is much more fun and challenging this way.
4. Practice, practice, practice
Just like in any sport or hobby, you just can’t improve your performance without serious and regular practice. If you do not have quick access to a proper race track, you can practice at a parking lot (at a respectable hour, of course). Study how your RC 4 wheel drive car operates so you can prepare strategies for your next race. You can also practice how to properly do turns, how to avoid obstacles, and the like.
As clichéd as it sounds, practice does make perfect.