Avid remote-control vehicle enthusiasts know that every part is crucial to the performance of a high-end machine. The suspension, motor, speed control, steering, and transmission must work in tandem to provide the best RC experience – whether your goal is speed, versatility, or a combination of both.
RC vehicles that are designed for off-road conditions must choose the parts they use carefully. Plus, the nature of trail-riding means that they should also be weather-resistant. However, the combination of durability and resistance to any conditions is somewhat rare, even among high-end machines.
If you are in the market for a ready-to-ride RC truck, one of the newer options is the Traxxas TRX-4. This is a capable rock-crawling machine that is based on the Land Rover Defender. If you have been eyeing one of these Traxxas trucks, there are a few things you should know about them. Read on to learn more.
Body and Chassis
The Traxxas TRX-4 boasts a 1:10, fully-licensed Land Rover Defender design. Every part of the full-sized vehicle has been painstakingly recreated by Traxxas – including the functional snorkel, grill and side mirrors. A rugged and functional steel roll cage has also been added to this truck.
The attention to detail on this model is a testament to the engineering talent at Traxxas. They have included tow hooks on the front bumper (alongside a replica winch). In addition, the rear of the truck includes a functional spare tire, as well as some injection-molded accessories to enhance realism.
This remote-controlled vehicle boasts respectable frame durability. The main part of the frame – that is, the frame rails – is created from 1.5mm thick steel. This makes the frame rigid and damage-resistant. Such features are crucial when you are driving the truck over the rough terrain of the trail.
Aside from function and durability, the frame on the Traxxas TRX-4 is also mostly adjustable. Four wheelbase positions may be selected, allowing you to tailor the set-up to your trailblazing needs. The positioning of the rear shock towers, bumpers, and rock rails can also be altered.
One of the biggest concerns that rock-crawling RC enthusiasts have is the rigidity and durability of the body-to-frame connection. Due to the multi-point mounting system offered on this vehicle, unrealistic body shake is ultimately mitigated. The body and frame function as a single piece when put together.
Power and Control
Every iteration of the SCX10 II will include a 35T Brushed Motor. It offers a characteristic combination of speed and power, letting the vehicle ascend rocks or race down a straightway with ease. Plus, it is quiet, pre-tuned, and requires no fuel other than electricity.
This particular Traxxas model has a hardy Titan 21T Reverse-rotation motor. This type of motor boasts an internal cooling fan, as well as a precision-engineered preset gear mesh. In addition, the motor retention brace is a separate piece, minimizing the risk of impact damage to the gears.
One of the best rock-crawling features on this truck is the two-speed transmission. The high-range gears are best used for speed, while low-range makes getting traction on a slippery surface a breeze. One user-friendly feature of this model is that the transmission can be easily removed for servicing.
The XL-5 HV electronic speed control included on this RC vehicle is a state-of-the-art waterproof design. It has five different modes of operation, each of which impact the power provided to the wheels and brakes. The patented “Trail mode” even allows drag braking in neutral.
Another feature of this control is the simple set-up procedure. You need only press a single button for the XL-5 HV to be ready to go. Plus, heat will not be a problem with the large, efficient heat sink. It also protects itself from overloads and short circuits with the included two-stage low voltage protection.
Of course, for a motor, transmission, and speed control to function, they require power. The battery compartment on this RC vehicle is quite innovative. It consists of a hinged strap that allows easy access to the battery. There are also no small parts involved, so you won’t need to worry about losing anything.
There is plenty of space as well. The battery compartment can accommodate many different heights, and will even accept full-sized battery packs. However, it can also accept smaller batteries for shorter trail runs. You may also consider keeping small batteries around as a backup in your trail bag.
Perhaps the most important part of an RC car is the transmitter. After all, without an efficient form of remote control, you would not be able to drive an RC car efficiently (if at all). The transmitter included with the Traxxas TRX-4 is a 2.4GHz 4-channel transmitter.
This TQI design is one of the best on the market today. It can store and load settings automatically for up to 30 different models of Traxxas vehicles. One of the most unique features of this transmitter is the cruise control function, which effectively allows throttle-free operation of the TRX-4.
Finally, the transmitter is also customizable. You can adjust the sensitivity and endpoints of the steering and throttle. No matter what settings you use, you will notice that the vehicle is quite responsive to the use of the controls. This is due to the near-zero-latency performance of this transmitter.
This combination of power and precise control is a tremendous achievement by Traxxas. Not many ready-to-ride RC vehicles can boast the same performance right out of the box. In addition, this model is truly waterproof – a feature often promised, but rarely delivered to quite the same standards.
Steering and Drivetrain
All the power, efficiency, and responsiveness in the world is useless if paired with inadequate steering. However, this RC vehicle has a chassis-mounted metal gear digital steering servo. It also provides a 45-degree steering angle, helping to correct the steering geometry and reduce bump steer.
The drivetrain on this RC truck is a work of art. It has full-time, shaft-driven four-wheel drive. Plus, each of the axles and shafts are made of reinforced metal – including hardened steel. The cherry on top is the remote-activated, cable-actuated locking differentials on the front and back axles.
Key Notes: The Drivetrain
This part of this vehicle is important to examine more closely, as some of the engineering feats accomplished here are what makes the TRX-4 so revolutionary. For example, the remote-activated locking differentials are crucial for efficient trail runs by skilled RC drivers.
Another important feature is the hardened steel U-joints attached to the front and rear driveshafts. By their very nature, they are unlikely to break in this lifetime. These joints are also precisely engineered to ensure smooth, reliable power delivery from the motor to the wheels.
Key Notes: Portal Axles
The single most important aspect of the TRX-4 is the portal axle design. This type of setup allows the truck to ride higher without increasing the size of the wheels or tires. Plus, portal axles improve axle geometry, which always leads to a reduction in driveshaft strain.
Portal axles also prevent torque twist. Essentially, the high torque of an RC vehicle with regular axles will transmit energy to the chassis, which generally causes the entire vehicle to flip. Due to the reduced gear ratio offered by portal axles, torque twist has been all-but-eliminated in the TRX-4.
Suspension, Wheels, and Tires
The front end of this vehicle has a 3-link suspension, and even includes a track bar. Paired with the triangulated 4-link suspension in the rear of the vehicle, as well as the steel ball rod ends, these suspensions are hardy. They can even survive jumps (but don’t try this with your own vehicle).
This chassis design also boasts an exclusive set of custom aluminum GTS shocks. They are oil-filled, coilover shocks with silver-anodized aluminum bodies. They can be adjusted easily, as the spring collar on the shocks is responsible for setting ride height.
Wheels and Tires
This model of RC truck has 1.9” tires that even contain trail-tuned foam inserts. The tires and inserts are glued and mounted to some tough, black wheels (of perfect scale to the real Defender, of course). The tires also make use of S1, one of the strongest, grippiest compounds available to the public.
The suspension, wheels, and tires have clearly been designed with aggressive off-roading in mind. The suspension is durable, and the S1 compound used to create the tires (along with some mega-deep treads) helps a lot with maintain traction on surfaces such as rock.
– Rugged, durable construction
– Excellent trail performance
– Respectable power
– Easily adjustable
– Waterproof design
– Many possible applications
– Licensed Land Rover design
– Uses standard body clips (which can easily bend or come loose)
– The main package does not include a battery or a charger
– Has a naturally stiff ride, and may need some adjustment out of the box
– Not everyone will like the blackout windows
– Steering servo is a bit underpowered
– It is possible that some parts may come with insufficient oil
The Verdict: Is the Traxxas TRX-4 Worth Buying?
As long as you are not bothered by the relatively minor drawbacks that you may experience after purchasing this car, the TRX-4 will make a good choice. It is one of the best options on the market for a mid-range, ready-to-ride RC vehicle meant for off-roading.
If you keep the cons in mind – and remember to buy a battery and charger – this RC truck could make a fine addition to your collection. They are powerful, dependable vehicles that have a timeless design. Plus, these vehicles have an attractive look and an aggressive stance, two desirable vehicular traits.
Some potential buyers could find themselves on the fence, having a small conflict between what they may prefer and what the RC truck offers. Potential upgrades could include improved batteries, stainless steel suspension links, better wheels and hubs, and even brass parts for your TRX-4. This upgradeability and customization-friendly layout will ensure that your RC vehicle stays up-to-date for years to come.
All-in-all, the Traxxas TRX-4 is one of the better choices for an off-road-capable RC vehicle. With great durability, weatherproofing, and performance, any RC collector would do well to add one of these to their collection. The minor flaws with this vehicle are more-than-offset by the considerable benefits. Also be sure to check out our full top 10 rc rock crawler guide.