Rebecca Isaacs is a writer and an educator. She covers all sorts of products, from video games to e-readers and light therapy alarm clocks to standing desks.
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Lifewire / Rebecca Issacs
Small, compact design
Bright colors make it easily visible
Long battery life
Hard to see from greater distances due to size
Small wheel bearings cause easy flips
The Top Race RC Rock Crawler will give kids and adults a fun RC off-roading experience with its bright, friendly colors, excellent handling, long battery life, and waterproofing.
We purchased the Top Race RC Rock Crawler so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The Top Race RC Rock Crawler is a car that stands out from other affordable RC cars on the market. It has a small, compact design that’s easy to pack, bright, child-friendly colors, excellent handling—and most significantly—waterproofing. All of this makes it an affordable and durable RC car that can handle rougher terrain. Read on to see how it fared during our testing.
Measuring 12 by 5 by 6 inches (LWH), the Top Race is a miniature model of a monster truck, with a 1:18 size ratio. A red body makes it visible against grass and blacktop, while the hard plastic shell, screws, and PVC tires give it a sturdy design. The car comes with four included AA batteries, which go in the car’s undercarriage, and three AAA batteries for the accompanying remote.
The transmitter, or remote, is similar in size to the car. Bright red, it has a handy On/Off switch so we didn’t waste battery life. We liked how the remote grip felt in our hands—big, but not clunky—and we also liked the large wheel on the transmitter, which is used for the Top Race’s front steering. This would fit nicely in a child’s hands as well, and comes with a rubber wheel handle for an easier grip on the front and rear acceleration.
When we pulled the Top Race out of the box, it took us a few minutes to loosen the wires and remove the zip ties keeping the car attached. While we understand why it’s packed so securely, an easier method of getting the Top Race out would have been preferred.
Surprisingly, we discovered that the AA batteries lasted a couple days with heavy usage.
Once it’s out of its packaging, setting up the Top Race is very simple, but does hold some challenges. The undercarriage is secured with a small lever and a screw. In order to insert the batteries into the battery compartment, we needed to grab a screwdriver and unscrew it. We found this part somewhat time consuming and unnecessary.
Finally, we popped the AA batteries into the battery compartment, closed the lid, and repeated the same process with the remote. Once we switched both the remote and the car on, it was ready to go.
Steering the Top Race left us a little disappointed. While the car is small, the four-wheel drive and wheel bearings give it a wide turn. Wider turns give it better control and help avoid crashes, but that means you can’t race it indoors, where furniture and pets make sharp turns necessary. However, the oversized PVC wheels made it easier to maneuver the car around objects or over outdoor terrain, which feels like a reasonable tradeoff.
Indoors, the car drove over wood, tile, and carpet without issue, but the wide turns made it difficult to drive around indoors. When we took it off-roading over rough outdoor terrain, like over tree roots, and uneven grass, we noticed that it sometimes struggled to move or stay upright. This was despite the four-wheel drive, and anti-collision and shock technology implemented into the car.
It also struggled to get up and down curbs despite a claim of strong torque. We thought it would survive bumps rather easily, but in fact, it was fairly easy to flip due to the oversized tires giving it a higher center of gravity. On sidewalks and fairly even grass, it handled like a charm. Most notably, it could drive through puddles and other wet surfaces without breaking, which was a nice feature to provide an extra bit of durability.
Where the Top Race really excels is with distance. We drove the car down a city block, making it over half-a-block before it became difficult to see.
But where the Top Race really excels is with distance. We drove the car down a city block, making it over half-a-block before it became difficult to see. That said, we wouldn’t recommend driving it much further than half of a block.
One important thing to note is that the Top Race doesn’t go any faster than average walking speed. While the slow speeds might deter some users from purchasing it, we felt that it was a plus for young children who’ll have an easier time driving.
The Top Race claimed that it would only last 20 minutes of playtime. Surprisingly, we discovered that the AA batteries lasted a couple days with heavy usage. While the car does come with rechargeable batteries, we recommend getting your own—the stipulations for maintaining their batteries make it sound like they’re worried about a fire. We didn’t have any problems with recharging them, and the recharge time was right on point (60 minutes), but it might still be a good idea to grab rechargeable batteries from a reputable third-party company.
At $32.99, the Top Race is a very reasonably priced car for a basic RC car model. For the size, child-friendliness, and waterproofing, it’s hard to ask for much more. We also liked the large remote that was included, making it easier to control.
Because they’re similar in price, we tested the Top Race RC Rock Crawler against the Maisto RC Rock Crawler. Both run about the same size, and both go the same, slow walking speed. What really sets the two apart are the controls and the steering. The Top Race doesn’t really show any lag between the remote and the car, whereas the Maisto suffers from lag at times, especially as the distance lengthens between the remote and the car.
On the other hand, the steering on the Maisto is tighter than the Top Race. Because the suspension sits lower on the model and the wheel bearing is slightly wider, the Maisto is harder to flip. But when it comes to day-to-day usage, the Top Race’s lack of lag really sets it apart. If you don’t want lag, pick up the Top Race, if you’re more concerned with steering, Maisto could be a better option.
Good, but not great
While not for serious RC car fans, the Top Race Rock Crawler has a lot that will appeal to children. Its long battery life, waterproofing, and brightly-colored compact size makes it the perfect RC car for families. It’s also a decent option as a starter vehicle, letting you learn the controls before upgrading to something faster.
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