One of the reasons why RC cars are so awesome is because they come in all price ranges. You can get the cheapest ones for well under $50 and still have a ton of fun. Money is not a huge deal when it comes to RC cars, especially for models that have children as their primary targets.
But today, we will be focusing on a whole another specter of RC cars. Today, I am going to show you the best mid-range options for RC car enthusiasts and newcomers alike. These guys don’t require assembly but they do offer somewhat of an upgradeable environment. You can test out your DIY skills and have a ton of fun at the same time with these RC cars under $500! P.S. if you’re looking for a cheaper solution, you might be interested in our list of 10 RC Cars under $300?
Want to find out what is the best RC car under $500? Well, here’s the list so make sure you pay close attention all the way to the end and the number one pick!
Table: Best RC cars under $500
Keep in mind that, in most cases, these numbers don’t represent the “out of the box” experience. That’s because these vehicles are highly upgradeable. For instance, you can get double the initial top speed with a better battery that’s going to cost you less than your average restaurant meal.
|5. Traxxas Rustler
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|4. JBL Racing Cheetah
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|3. Traxxas Trail
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|2. Traxxas Crawler
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|1. Traxxas Trail Crawler
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The 4WD version of Traxxas Rustler is available for much less than $500. It’s one of the most affordable Traxxas models out there, but is no pushover when it comes to sheer performance. The key characteristics of Traxxas Rustler are excellent performance, affordable price tag, durable chassis, and more. Let’s talk about that…
Availability of Spare Parts
When talking about best RC cars under $500, you’d expect them to have a ton of spare parts available for purchase. However, that’s not the case with all models. Yes, the majority of devices that cost between $300 and $500 do have spare parts’ support for years on end, but you still might get stuck with one that uses proprietary stuff that ran out of stock a long time ago.
When it comes to Traxxas Rustler, that’s a thing you should not worry about. Traxxas is one of the biggest names in the RC industry and they sure as heck won’t stand to any nonsense in terms of spare parts availability. So, even if you end up crashing and breaking something, as long as you got the cash, Traxxas will provide you with all the spare parts you might need!
This beast comes equipped with a 3000mAh NiMh battery as well as a 4-amp DC charger. Most importantly, the driving combination is courtesy of Titan 12-Turn 550 modified motor coupled with the XL-5 ESC unit. These two little thingies make Traxxas Rustler a speedy little devil that handles the road pretty well. You’re looking at 2.8-inch wheels sporting Talon EXT tiers, but they aren’t good enough for prolonged off-road use. On the bright side, you can always upgrade this little bugger with something bigger. Something like the highly popular Velineon VXL brushless power.
JBL Racing might not be the most popular RC car brand out there on the market, but it sure as hell has (at least) one good model to its name. As you can see in the title above, I am referring to the Cheetah monster truck model which shows a glimpse of perfection at an incredibly aggressive price tag. With that said, let’s jump straight to business and see what’s this black and red beauty all about!
The first thing that I would like to get out of our way is design. We are talking about a black and red monster truck with huge texturized wheels and nicely stylized canopy that will impress your friends and family. It sports a metal shock absorber and a wheelie bar for the ultimate enjoyment.
Moving forward to the hardware found inside, JBL Racing Cheetah can brag with a powerful brushless motor that enables it to go up to 50mph with all stock parts. Not bad for the 10th spot on this list, right? Furthermore, it’s also noteworthy to add that it communicates with its controller via 2.4Ghz frequency and supports 4-channel controls.
As far as the battery is concerned, this speedy little devil runs on a 3S 4000mAh 30C LiPo which can squeeze out a lot of juice from its 3670 2500KV 4Pole motor and 80A brushless ESCs. But, if you are not satisfied with its stock performance, you can always up the C rating of your battery to something more appropriate and powerful.
Yep, there’s quite an abundance of Traxxas models in the under $500 RC cars market. And it’s nothing surprising – Traxxas is the dominant force across the entire market spectrum; just like DJI is in the drone world. The next three models we’re going to be talking about are pretty similar in terms of hardware, but deserve separate entries because of the sheer uniqueness of their driving style and design choices. Let’s roll!
Good Old Chevrolet K5
The design of this Traxxas Trail Crawler Truck has been borrowed from the iconic 1969 Chevrolet Blazer. A quick reminder – we’re talking about GM’s entry-level two-door SUV, the model they hoped would make an upset in what was then a highly flourishing part of the market. And it did succeed – which is why this Traxxas model borrowed the 1979 K5 Blazer design and paired it with awesome RC tech.
There are plenty of details on this RC truck, which is something many RC enthusiasts will come to appreciate. More importantly, though, Traxxas equipped this nice-looking RC truck with superb hardware that would put to shame even a lot pricier models.
Great Set of Hardware
Starting off with the motor, this feller runs on a potent 21-turn TITAN motor based on reversed rotation. It’s controlled by the XL-5-HV ESC. The controller is waterproof, which adds an extra layer of reliability to the device. Furthermore, this mini Chevrolet K5 Blazer by Traxxas is controlled by a TQi transmitter that comes with the package. Overall, a great purchase for roughly $500… especially if you’re a fan of the 1979 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
Next up we have the third Traxxas model on this list. Believe it or not – it’s not the last model. Yeah, I know it seems like I’m favorizing Traxxas models, but it’s just how it is. Traxxas is a really big player in this portion of the market… Heck, Traxxas is the biggest player across all portions of the RC cars market, which is why they’re so well-represented.
If there’s one thing we need to emphasize right away – it’s the appearance. As many of you may know already, I’m a big fan of the Traxxas Rustler design. However, I’ll dare to say this Sports Crawler model is damn near it. It’s pretty high, wide, and features unique bumpers, wheels and body canopy. Not only are all those things easy on the eye, but they also increase the overall performance.
All-Terrain RC Truck
Last but not least, we should really focus on the off-road performance this bad boy delivers. It’s based on the same platform as the aforementioned Chevrolet K5, meaning we’re talking about the same hardware. However, this little bugger features fully-locked rear and front differentials as well as a lightweight chassis. The ground clearance is somewhat similar, but the driving dynamics are outright superb. To top everything off, this bugger runs on Canyon Trail tiers which brings forth increased performance on demanding terrains. It’s really great across a variety of scenarios; on road, off-road, and crawl-based scenarios, to be more precise.
We’re looking at one of the best affordable RC trucks out there. When talking about RC cars under $500, we just can’t leave Traxxas Trail Crawler out of the equation. Yes, I know that’s not the official name – but it fits damn near perfectly!
Land Rover Defender Body
Do you guys love Land Rover Defenders? Oh come on, of course you do! Who doesn’t? Well, if you haven’t noticed by now, this Traxxas model is based on Land Rover Defender build, packing brilliant performance and stylish (but at the same time extremely sturdy) design. The unique appearance is coupled with innovative portal axles, locked differentials, and sealed ball bearings.
Not only is this thing drop-dead gorgeous, but it’s also pretty speedy and delivers an attractive (read entertaining) driving experience. The driving mechanics aren’t as stiff as you’d come to expect at the first glance, but will still surprise you with the handling and versatility in terms of terrain.
Nearly Identical Performance
As mentioned above, all of these TRX-4 models are based on the same platform. They run on the exact same motors, Titan 21-turn 550s, coupled with the exact same ESCs, XL-5 HV. There are no bad remarks about this combination, though – it’s superb, provides excellent top speeds, and has relatively high low-RPM torque that can get it out of sticky situations and/or rough terrain. Generally speaking, even though it’s nearly identical performance, the price tags are nearly identical too, meaning you are free to choose which of these awesome Traxxas models you’re going to pursue!
Types of best RC cars under $500
Realistically speaking here, you can get pretty much anything you want for $500! With this amount of money, you are basically at the entrance of the high-end RC cars market which has an abundance of class A models. But, not all of them are meant for the same things. Some can reach neck-breaking speeds, some can climb mountains and some can drift… It is up to you to find the perfect balance and decide exactly what you plan on doing with your RC car!
I am afraid I cannot be of much help to you with this since everyone is tailoring their decision towards their needs. But, what I can do is give you an objective run through the most notable types of RC cars that can be bought for $500 or less. So, without further adue, let’s jump straight into the action!
What can I expect from the best RC cars under $500?
Even though we’re not talking about the high-end portion of the RC cars market, these are still potent machines that can develop pretty high speeds. It’s difficult to pinpoint any exact numbers, since it all depends on the model, type, motor, esc, and the batteries used to power everything up. Still, you can expect more than 60mph, which is outright ridiculous. I don’t want to make any assumptions regarding the runtime sine it depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to your style of racing, battery, and internal electronics.
Can the best RC car under $500 be used off-road too?
I’d say yes; yes, you can! You see, all aforementioned models feature pretty massive ground clearance as well as grippy tiers, and they possess a good set of shocks capable of dealing with more demanding terrains. However, don’t expect these things to act like pro-level rock crawlers. While they will be able to traverse across a small(ish) obstacles every now and then, they won’t be able to deal with anything much bigger.
What to do when something breaks?
The answer is fairly simple – you need to fix it. How do you do that? Well, it takes no genius to figure out what broke. Once you pinpoint the culprit, you simply order a replacement part and you’re good to go. As for the availability, Traxxas and other mid-range companies like JLB are known for having a ton of replacement parts available online. Your safest bet is Amazon, although I’m sure you’ll find plenty of them across a multitude of RC hobby shops.
Speed vs controllability
Another particularly demanding decision you’ll be put up against (at some point) is surely the speed vs controllability ratio of your RC car. While it might sound like an easy decision to make on paper, in reality, it’s much harder since you can see the advantages and drawbacks of each trait. So, in order to decide which one to go for, you first need to set something straight inside your own head by answering this one simple question:
What’s the average speed I want my RC car to achieve?
If your honest answer to this question doesn’t exceed 30mph, then you should focus on getting an RC vehicle with good controllability and traction. These 2 traits are of utmost importance for rock crawlers and other types of off-road vehicles.
However, if you are focused on reaching the maximum speeds with your ride, then say goodbye to precise controlling mechanisms and focus solely on the raw power of the motor. Go for either high KV brushless motors or nitro-powered ones. You cannot go wrong with them.
As you could see for yourselves guys, there’s really a lot to choose from. With Traxxas and Redcat Racing holding the front line with their awesome models, Kyosho and others are doing their best to pick up what’s left of the market share. They’re enjoying quite a blast whole year around as well as their buyers who can’t wait to test their new RC cars’ limits.
In the end, thank you for reading and I hope you get an awesome RC car that will suit your needs perfectly!