7 Best Nitro & Gas RC Trucks

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This guide looks at the beasts of radio control with 7 excellent nitro and gas RC truck choices. Electric-powered RC has come a long way in recent years, but some still prefer engines to motors. Most fans of liquid fuels start their radio control journey with electric-powered vehicles. You don’t have to, but there are several reasons why you might want to (see next).

Budget
best-budget-nitro-gas-rc-truck
Exceed-RC Short Course Gas
4.8/5.0
Scale: 1/10
Engine: .18 (18 CXP)
2-speed transmission, high capacity fuel tank, metal disk brake system.
Check Amazon
Best Value
best-value-nitro-gas-rc-truck
Traxxas Jato Stadium Nitro
4.7/5.0
Scale: 1/10
Engine: TRX 3.3 Extreme
Insane top speeds, versatile, crash-resistant, TQi 2.4GHz Tx.
Check Amazon
Top Pick
top-value-nitro-gas-rc-truck
Traxxas T-Maxx Nitro MT
4.5/5.0
Scale: 1/10
Engine: TRX 3.3 Racing
EZ-Start, fast, TSM, Giant Maxx tires, Bluetooth module, telemetry sensors.
Check Amazon

Why Choose Motors Over Engines?

Electric RC cars, trucks, and buggies, etc., are much quieter than their gas/nitro counterparts. Some of the powerful brushless motors are now faster than engines. Battery-powered RC vehicles are easy to operate and need little maintenance. You can also drive them indoors as well as outside. However, there are some negatives to electric RC as well.

Brushless motors can be expensive, and they suffer from shortish run times. Most users invest in extra batteries that add further to the cost. Charging times can take a few hours with some models. And the cheaper brushed motors are slower, noisier, and have a shorter lifecycle than the brushless options.

Why Choose Engines over Motors

The summary above highlights the advantages and disadvantages of electric powered RC. Let’s now look at the side-by-side comparison for Gas Vs. Nitro RC trucks pros and cons.

Gas RC ProsGas RC ConsNitro RC ProsNitro RC Cons
Gas is less expensive than nitro fuelSlower than nitroOffers the most realistic experience for the driver (smoke & noise)Very noisy and dirty compared to gas
Large scale models available, e.g., 1/5Quite noisyLong running timesHigh cost of fuel
Easier maintenance compared to nitroHigher price tagOpportunities to tweak and fine-tuneNeeds skills to tweak and maintain
Longer running timesMost don’t have reverse

There are other, more subtle differences. Still, the ones outlined above are what influence buying decisions the most. So, which is right for you, gas, or nitro?

Nitro and Gas RC Truck Considerations

The table above should give you a reasonable idea of which type of truck best suits your needs. There are also shared buying considerations for either class, so let’s look at those.

  1. Assembly options
  2. Drive system
  3. Model scale
  4. Size (dimension)
  5. Weight






About My ‘Nitro and Gas RC Truck’ Guide

The 7 nitro and gas-powered RC trucks in this guide are current favorites with RC’ers. I chose them based on personal experience, user feedback, and the opinions of industry experts. There are others, but the ones here are excellent representations of what to expect. The first three are Editor’s Choice for Best Budget, Best Value, and the Top Pick. The remainder is in price order, low to high.

Nitro and Gas RC Trucks Comparison Table

1. Exceed-RC 1/10 Short Course Gas Truck | Best Budget

Exceed-RC 1/10 Short Course Gas TruckView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

The Best Budget pick goes to the Exceed-RC short course off-road 4WD gas-powered truck. It’s an affordable model considering its size and pedigree, but is it worth your money? Let’s take a look.

  • Best feature 1: New .18 (18 CXP) nitro-powered engine
  • Best feature 2: Ready to run (RTR) 100% factory assembled
  • Plus points: 2-speed transmission, high capacity fuel tank, metal disk brake system
  • Minus points: Parts not always easy to find

Exceed-RC Gas Short Course Truck Highlights

At the heart of this nitro-powered truck is a new, upgraded .18 engine and high capacity fuel tank. This model has a new crankcase, better cylinder, piston, and other upgrades on the older version. It arrives ready to run (RTR), and that means 100% preassembled and tested at the factory end. It’s also pre-painted, well-trimmed, and includes a quality radio system.

The 2-speed transmission delivers super-fast acceleration and a fast top-end for its class. Metal disk brakes provide drivers with safe deceleration and precise control over the vehicle. Access to both the front and rear of the truck is quick and easy. That’s great news as maintenance is all part of the nitro experience. It’s fair to say the Exceed-RC short course nitro truck punches well above its price tag.

The Not So Good

Parts and upgraded components are not as readily available as they are with some brands. Finding and ordering items is getting better than it used to be, but it can still be an ordeal at times.

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Tech Specs
Brand Name: Exceed-RC
Model Type: Short Course Monster
Engine: New .18 (18 CXP)
Drive System: 4WD
Model Scale: 1:10
Start: Pull chord
Fuel type: Nitro
Dimensions: 15.8 x 9.8 x 6.3”
Product Weight: 2 lbs.
Maker’s recommended age: 14+ years
The Pros
Powerful engine
Ready to run (RTR)
2.5mm aluminum alloy chassis
2-speed transmission
Oil-filled shocks
High capacity fuel tank
Complete set of ball bearings
Lightweight suspension arms
Easy access to the front & rear
Metal disk brake system
Affordable price tag
The Cons
Parts not always easy to find

2. Traxxas Jato Nitro 2WD Stadium Truck | Best Value

Traxxas Jato Nitro 2WD Stadium TruckView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The Traxxas Jato makes the Best Value pick. It’s a nitro-powered 2WD stadium truck with incredible power. Despite that, the model is easy to control and comes with easy-to-follow instructions.

  • Best feature 1: TRX 3.3 extreme nitro engine
  • Best feature 2: Traxxas Stability Management (TSM)
  • Plus points: Insane top speeds, versatile, crash-resistant, TQi 2.4GHz Tx, EZ-Start button
  • Minus points: Needs upgrades for optimal performance, stock tires wear out fast

Traxxas Jato Nitro Stadium Truck Highlights

The stock model is perfect for anyone new to 1/10 scale trucks. It’s also easy to source upgrades when you’re ready to tweak the vehicle to match your driving style. The TRX 3.3 nitro racing engine is a beast that can exceed speeds of 60+ mph in just over 4 seconds. And the Traxxas Stability Management (TSM) helps you to keep the model steady on slippery surfaces.

Here are some of its other standout features at a glance:

  • Radio System: TQi 2.4GHz (included)
  • Telemetry sensors (factory installed)
  • EZ-Start® push-button
  • Tuned pipe: Resonator™ blue-anodized aluminum
  • Front/rear sway bars
  • Mandatory wheelie bar
  • Body graphics: aggressive style design
  • Charger: 2-amp DC peak-detecting

It’s an excellent RC stadium truck for nitro beginners and experienced drivers. There’s an impressive variety of aftermarket parts available too. Best of all is that most other vehicles in this class can’t touch the Jato for speed, stability, and ease of handling.

The Not So Good

Most RC’ers at this level expect to play around with their models. That’s just as well as the model needs tweaks and upgrades to bring out its full potential. What those are depend on how you intend to drive it. Lastly, the Anaconda™ stock tires wear out far too quickly.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand Name: Traxxas
Model Type: Stadium Truck
Engine: TRX 3.3
Drive System: 2WD
Model Scale: 1:10
Start: EZ-Start push button
Fuel type: Nitro
Acceleration: 0–60 mph in 4.2 secs
Top Speed: 60+ mph
Dimensions: 16.5 x 12.9 x 5.7”
Product Weight: 5 lbs.
Maker’s recommended age: 14+ years
The Pros
Traxxas Stability Management
TQi 2.4GHz radio system
Powerful nitro engine
Telemetry sensors
Aggressive body graphics
Wheelie bar
Insane top speeds
Breathtaking acceleration
Versatile
Crash-resistant
Electric starting
The Cons
Needs upgrades for optimal performance
Stock tires wear out fast

3. Traxxas T-Maxx Nitro Monster Truck | Top Pick

Traxxas T-Maxx Nitro Monster TruckView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

Traxxas makes the Top pick with its popular T-Maxx nitro-powered 4WD monster truck. It’s one of the best-selling nitro MT in the world right now, and there are good reasons for that.

  • Best feature 1: TRX 3.3 nitro racing engine
  • Best feature 2: Ready to race (RTR)
  • Plus points: EZ-Start, fast, TSM, Giant Maxx tires, Bluetooth module, telemetry sensors
  • Minus points: Quite expensive, no reverse

Traxxas T-Maxx Nitro MT Highlights

The T-Maxx comes ready to race (RTR). That means it arrives with an AA battery holder, EZ-Start and battery, charger, and fuel-filler bottle. There are a few precision tools in the box and even a spare glow plug. At the heart of this monster is the TRX 3.3 nitro racing engine that can take the beast anywhere. The incredible torque accelerates the vehicle from standing position to 45+ mph in seconds.

Driving the T-Max

The T-Max is super stable thanks to Traxxas Stability Management (TSM). TSM is what keeps the truck straight and steady as it accelerates, even on slippery ground. It’s an invaluable feature as lesser vehicles lose control or suffer spinouts. The Giant Maxx tires give plenty of ground clearance and phenomenal grip over multiple terrains.

Fingertip Controls

T-Max owners also appreciate the TQi 2.4GHz transmitter and Bluetooth module. Bluetooth lets drivers use any regular mobile smart device as a functional tuning tool. And telemetry sensors collect real-time data from the performing truck.

Here are some of the other T-Max standout features:

  • Extended chassis
  • Polished resonator
  • Large dual-stage high-volume air filter
  • Tunable, front/rear differentials (sealed)
  • Digital high-torque steering servo
  • Servo saver w/ heavy-duty bellcrank steering system
  • Mirror-chrome 3.8-inch Hurricane wheels
  • 2-speed transmission (auto-shifting)

Consider the Traxxas T-Maxx if you relish the power, smoke, and the noise produced by nitro engines. The realistic experience provided by this incredible truck is its main attraction.

The Not So Good

Most fans of the Traxxas T-Maxx agree that it’s an excellent value nitro truck. It’s still expensive, though, and it needs regular maintenance and tweaks. Also, most users spend more money on upgraded parts to customize the car to match their driving style. There’s no reverse gear either. That’s typical for nitro-powered trucks, but it does dissuade some hobbyists from buying.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand Name: Traxxas
Model Type: Monster Truck
Engine: TRX 3.3 race
Drive System: 4WD
Model Scale: 1:10
Start: EZ-Start push-button
Fuel type: Nitro
Top Speed: 45 mph
Dimensions: 21.2 x 16.5 x 10.9”
Product Weight: 10 lbs.
Maker’s recommended age: 14+ years
The Pros
TRX 3.3 nitro racing engine
Ready to race (RTR)
Sturdy build
Electric start
Fast acceleration and top speed
Traxxas Stability Management
Giant Maxx tires
Bluetooth module
Telemetry sensors
The Cons
Quite expensive
No reverse

4. Earthquake 3.5 4×4 RTR Nitro Monster Truck

Earthquake 3.5 4x4 RTR Nitro Monster TruckView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.1/5

Meet the Earthquake 3.5 4×4 1/8 scale monster truck. This ready to run (RTR) nitro-powered vehicle boasts a powerful 3.5 cc.21 SH big block engine and a plethora of impressive features.

  • Best feature 1: 3.5 cc.21 SH big block engine
  • Best feature 2: 2-speed transmission
  • Plus points: Quick acceleration, fast top speed, disk brakes, adjustable components
  • Minus points: Not easy for beginners to tune, learning curve, needs space

Earthquake Nitro Monster Truck Highlights

The Earthquake is part of Redcat’s UltraLite Series. It has an attractive price tag and a considerable following. The 2-speed transmission lets users throw the beast into 1st gear for breathtaking performance. And its big block acceleration leaves plenty of flung up dirt in its wake.

The 2nd gear then takes and steadies the truck to its top speed of 50+ mph. And the composite disc brakes stop this monster with remarkable confidence.

Some of the off-road truck’s other standout features include:

  • 2 sealed differentials
  • Adjustable 2-speed auto transmission
  • Adjustable brake linkage
  • Adjustable camber
  • Adjustable ride height
  • Adjustable toe angle
  • Centrifugal clutch (tunable)
  • Oil-filled shocks (tunable)
  • Multiple shock locations
  • Tunable suspension system

The Not So Good

Less experienced users may find the breaking in and tuning tricky. There’s quite a learning curve, but the instructions are detailed and easy to follow. Most disappointment comes from impatience and skipping vital steps. The size and power of this beasts mean you need plenty of space to race it safe. Also, the noise restricts the places you can drive the Earthquake.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand Name: Redcat Racing
Model Type: Monster Truck
Engine: 3.5cc .21 SH big block
Drive System: 4WD
Model Scale: 1:8
Start: Pull
Fuel type: Nitro
Acceleration: 0-50 mph 2+ sec
Top Speed: 50+ mph
Dimensions: 20 x 15 x 10”
Product Weight: 12.15 lbs.
Maker’s recommended age: 14+ years
The Pros
Powerful engine
2-speed transmission
Quick acceleration
Fast top speed
Composite disc brakes
Adjustable parts
Huge soft compound tires
Oil-filled shocks
Tunable suspension
Sealed differentials
Attractive price tag
The Cons
Not easy to tune
Learning curve
Needs space

5. Losi 8IGHT 1/8 Scale 4WD RTR RC Nitro Buggy

Losi 8IGHT 1/8 Scale 4WD RTR RC Nitro BuggyView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

Losi 8IGHT is a 4WD ready to run (RTR) RC nitro-powered buggy. It’s a good looking 1/8 scale model and a worthy contender for anyone who wants to enter the world of nitro buggy racing.

  • Best feature 1: .21 Dynamite® .21 cu in (3.4cc)
  • Best feature 2: Spektrum™ DSMR® radio system
  • Plus points: Excellent beginners buggy, easy to upgrade, durable, pre-set suspension geometry
  • Minus points: Not suitable for under 14s, no reverse gear

Losi 8IGHT 4WD Nitro Buggy Highlights

Almost everyone who owns Losi 8IGHT 4WD Nitro Buggy loves it, and for good reasons. This puppy arrives ready to run (RTR), and that means it’s fully assembled at the factory end. Its Spektrum™ DSMR® radio system gives drivers ultra-precise response. All you need to bring to the party is some passion, 20–30% nitromethane fuel, dispenser, NiMH charger, and a glow igniter.

The stock model is exceptional for newbies. You need upgraded parts to release the buggy’s full potential, and there are plenty of those. That’s ideal because new owners can enhance the model to match their driving style as they gain more skills.

Here’s a quick list of the stock model’s features:

  • Chassis plate: 4mm T-6 aluminum
  • Radio tray: Gen III
  • Easy pull start
  • Pre-set suspension geometry
  • Metal-gear transmission & sealed differentials
  • Center & rear dogbones
  • 15mm oil-filled shocks (adjustable)
  • Waterproof SpektrumTM metal-gear servos
  • Dynamite 6V 1600mAh NiMH receiver pack

Nitro buggies need work, but this one’s easy to tame. Breaking the engine in and tuning the carb is straightforward even for beginners. It’s fast out of the box and handles well, but then it is a Losi.

The Not So Good

A lot of kids would love to get their hands on a Losi 8IGHT 4WD RC Nitro Buggy. The truth is it’s too powerful and complex for youngsters without supervision. The maker’s suggested age is 14 years and older, which feels about right. There’s no reverse gear, and that’s something hobbyists new to nitro-powered models don’t like.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand Name: Losi
Model Type: Buggy
Engine: Dynamite® .21 nitro
Drive System: 4WD
Model Scale: 1:8
Start: Pull
Fuel type: Nitro
Top Speed: 30+ mph (stock)
Dimensions: 25.6 x 15.6 x 9.6”
Product Weight: 10.48 lbs.
Maker’s recommended age: 14+ years
The Pros
Powerful engine
Spektrum™ DSMR® radio system
Excellent beginner’s nitro buggy
Fully upgradable
Race-proven durability
Waterproof gear servos
The Cons
Not suitable for under 14s
No reverse gear
Needs upgrades to release full potential

6. Redcat Racing Rampage 1/5 Scale XT Gas Truck

Redcat Racing Rampage 1/5 Scale XT Gas TruckView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.2/5

The penultimate review is for the big and noisy Redcat Racing Rampage XT. It’s a gas-powered RC truck with a powerful 30cc gas-powered 2-stroke engine under its hood.

  • Best feature 1: 30cc gas-powered 2-stroke engine
  • Best feature 2: Ready to run (RTR)
  • Plus points: Realistic experience, T6 aluminum chassis, protective roll cage, sway bars
  • Minus points: Not safe for kids, not as durable as it looks, issues with loose screws

Redcat Racing Rampage XT Highlights

This monster truck is a 1/5 scale beast with a huge body and massive tires. It’s ready to run (RTR), so all you need are transmitter batteries and 2-stroke fuel and you’re off. The noise it makes is music to the ears of RC petrol fans. Rampage XT enthusiasts love the realistIC experience the vehicle provides.

The truck shares the same heavyweight T6 aluminum chassis as the Redcat Racing Rampage XB-E. And the sway bars do an excellent job at stabilizing the chassis during heavy cornering. The durable plastic roll cage that protects the engine is also worth mention. It’s constructed in screwed-together sections that give users easy access for maintenance and upgrades.

Here are the truck’s other standout features:

  • 500cc capacity fuel tank
  • Chrome plated tuned exhaust
  • Steel gears
  • Large scale steering servo
  • Easy-to-tune gas engine with choke
  • Centrifugal clutch (tunable)
  • Adjustable brake linkage
  • Adjustable camber
  • Adjustable ride height
  • Adjustable toe angle
  • Multiple shock locations
  • Suspension (tunable)

You always know when there’s a Rampage XT around by its angry growl and aggressive presence. It’s an incredible monster that can handle anything, but can you handle it?

The Not So Good

Kids love the Rampage XT, but it’s too big, powerful, heavy, and dangerous for preteens. The makers recommended age is 14+ years. Even 14-year olds shouldn’t be at the controls without the supervision of an experienced adult. The other downside is that the stock Rampage XT is not as durable as it looks. The engine’s well-protected, but some exposed parts are prone to breakage with moderate impact.

There are also reports that some screws come loose due to the vibrations. New owners should always check them for tightness as part of routine maintenance. Loctite thread locker is worth considering.

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Tech Specs
Brand Name: Redcat Racing
Model Type: Monster truck
Engine: 30cc gas-powered 2-stroke
Drive System: 4WD
Model Scale: 1:5
Start: Pull
Fuel type: Unleaded gas w/ 2-stroke oil
Top Speed (Stock): 30+ mph
Dimensions: 29.8 x 21.2 x 12.8”
Product Weight: 23.1 lbs.
Maker’s recommended age: 14+ years
The Pros
Powerful gas engine
Ready to run (RTR)
Realistic experience
T6 aluminum chassis
Protective roll cage
Sway bars
Metal components
Adjustable
Tunable clutch and suspension
The Cons
Not safe for younger fans
Not durable in a hard crash
Potential issues with loose screws

7. Losi K&N DBXL 4WD RTR Gas-Powered Buggy

Losi K&N DBXL 4WD RTR Gas-Powered BuggyView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

The last review goes to the 1/5 scale Losi K&N DBXL. It’s a powerful 4WD ready to run (RTR) gas buggy. This model is decorated with officially licensed K∓N body graphics.

  • Best feature 1: Dynamite™ 23cc gasoline engine
  • Best feature 2: Rigid injection-molded protective roll cage
  • Plus points: K&N graphics, long run time, 4mm chassis, dual disk brakes, sealed differentials
  • Minus points: Subpar front bumper, no battery charger, high price tag

Losi K&N DBXL Gas Buggy Highlights

The Losi® K&N desert buggy XL™ has a powerful Dynamite™ 23cc gasoline engine under its hood. The 740cc gas tank should give you around 40+ minutes of driving pleasure with a full load. Tweaks and maintenance are a snap thanks to the removable injection molded protective cage. All you do is remove a dozen clips to gain instant access to the car’s engine and its running gear.

Losi built this puppy for serious off-road, multiple-terrain driving in mind. The buggy handles well with its 4WD drivetrain, 4mm aluminum chassis, dual disk brakes, and authentic K&N air filter.

Here are some of the vehicles other noteworthy features:

  • Oil-filled, coil-over shocks
  • Fully independent suspension system
  • Integrated servo saver (adjustable)
  • Rugged all-terrain tires
  • Completely sealed differentials
  • Spektrum™ DX2E radio

The Not So Good

The front bumper is too skinny to provide adequate protection and a design flaw, IMO. A wider one would do a much better job at protecting the front wheels. It’s an expensive buggy, yet there isn’t a battery charger included for the receiver pack despite the high price tag.

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Tech Specs
Brand Name: Losi
Model Type: RC Desert Buggy
Engine: Dynamite™ 23cc
Drive System: 4WD
Model Scale: 1:5
Start: Pull
Fuel type: 87-93 octane gas, 2-cycle oil
Top Speed: 30+ mph
Dimensions: 30.8 x 19.1 x 12.2”
Dry Weight: 29 lbs.
Maker’s recommended age: 14+ years
The Pros
Dynamite™ 23cc gasoline engine
Rigid injection-molded protective roll cage
Smart K&N graphics
Long run time
Large capacity gas tank
4mm aluminum chassis
Excellent grip all-terrain tires
Dual disk brakes
Sealed differentials
The Cons
Skinny front bumper
Battery charger not included
High price tag
0/50 ratings