If Ford can make the Fiesta with 2500lb curb weight and sell it for $14,000, which comes out to about $6 per pound, certainly it would be possible to buy a relatively good RC car that weighs 3lb for less than $100, right?
The answer is a resounding yes – it is entirely possible to buy a fun RC car for less than $100, way less than $100 even. At this price point, you are not going to get a very fast car which is why we prefer monster trucks and buggies. These types of RC cars are slower in the first place so you’re not going to feel the lack of speed as much, as compared to driving a sub-$100 F1 or touring RC car.
As for brands, you can still get a top brand at this price. However, we will not exclude lesser and unknown brands from our consideration. In other words, we are more concerned about the quality of the RC car itself than its brand.
RC cars under $100 are all battery-powered. They’ll need 4 or more AA batteries and the batteries should last close to 20 minutes of continuous driving. You’ll need 2 more batteries for the controller. 2.4GHz pistol grip controllers are the standard these days.
Click N’ Play
The Click N’ Play 8425 rock crawler meets our description of obscure brand but the car itself is mad fun. It’s a 1:18 scale monster truck replica. You can invest in a set of rechargeable AA batteries and charger for this car and controller and still come way under $100.
Don’t let the 4-battery requirement fools you, the Click N’ Play 8425 rock crawler is equipped with twin powerful motors for a top speed of 10kmh. Equipped with 4-wheel drive and Hi-Q rubber anti-skid wheels, it can drive on anything: indoor flooring, cement, road, dirt, gravel, grass, snow, trails, rocky beaches, and so on. The shockproof suspension system protects this RC rock crawler on bumpy rides. It is suitable for both children and adults.
The 24GHz pistol grip controller has a tri-channel transmitter so you can switch channel to not interfere with other RC cars. We tested this RC car on rechargeable lithium batteries and they lasted over 20 minutes per charge. It can climb things as tall as itself or 5 inches tall.
The Click N’ Play 8425 rock crawler is very lightweight. The build quality isn’t the greatest but good enough for the price. It is available in 3 colors: blue, green and red.
Tamiya is a well-known Japanese brand which has been around since 1948. The Tamiya 58346 Grasshopper is a replica of the one-seater buggy from the 1980s known for its performance on dirt tracks all over the US.
We guarantee that this is the best-performing RC car that you can get for under $100 but there is a catch. This is an assembly kit so you will have to put it together. We did and it was straightforward enough. The plastic body screws onto the chassis, no messing with glue. You will have to invest in the following to make it work: 2.4GHz transmitter and receiver, steering servo, TS plastic model paint, and of course batteries (9 of them, 7 for the car).
If you’re willing to spend the effort putting this kit together, you will have an RC car that can compete with ones selling for more than twice the price. What’s more, the Tamiya Grasshopper is upgradeable. It comes with a 380-type motor which you can upgrade to a 540-type motor in the future. The ball bearings can be upgraded as well.
Needless to say, this is not an RC car for kids, unless you’re willing to assemble it for him for her. While the Tamiya Grasshopper runs well on both flat and off-road tracks, it really shines when going off-road. The rear-mounted sealed gearbox is impervious to dirt. The suspensions are independent swing axle for the front and rigid axle for the rear. The coil spring dampers ensure durability on off-road tracks.
Maisto has grown to become one of the top RC car brands for their faithful reproductions of licensed vehicles and affordable RC cars that outperform their price.
The Maisto 83022 rock crawler comes with a 2.4GHz pistol grip controller with tri-channel transmitter. This RC car requires 6 batteries and if you think the performance must be alright, you will not be disappointed. With twin motors and low gearing, the 7-inch tall Maisto 83022 rock crawler will climb rocks slightly taller than its height.
The TPE tires have excellent grip and the articulated front and back suspensions can withstand rough off-road driving. It’s rare to find fully articulated multi-link suspension system on RC cars under $100. It’s incredibly fun sending this RC car down stairs and rocky inclines.
The flat surface performance is fairly good too. As with all monster trucks, the Maisto 83022 rock crawler is not a champ at cornering but it handles and turns better than we expected on cement. This RC car comes highly recommended, and a no-brainer purchase if you’re looking for a cheap RC rock crawler. It is suitable for adults and children.
The Tamiya 58346 Grasshopper can be the best RC car under $100 if you’re willing to assemble this kit. However, the cost will go way over $100 after purchasing the required radio transmitter and receiver, steering servo and batteries, not to mention the optional paint. What you will is easily the best performing RC buggy under $100. In addition, the motor and ball bearings can be upgraded.
We understand that most people shopping for an RC car don’t want to bother with a kit, so our choice for the best RC car under $100 is the Maisto 83022 rock crawler. It is good-sized at 12.5” long and 7” tall. Taking the Maisto 83022 rock crawler off-road is a hoot. The twin motors and gearbox are built for climbing, not just up but down also. We’ve sent this Maisto down stairs and rocky inclines with no problem.
If you prefer a faster RC cars, the Click N’ Play 8425 rock climber is a reasonable compromise. At 5”, it will not climb rocks as tall the Maisto 83022 but it is faster (up to 10kmh).