Top 5 best budget Chinese RC cars on AliExpress

Whether as a fun attraction or a genuine hobbyist distraction, RC cars pack in enough thrill to drive kids and the kids in adults way past excited.

But there are so many options, more so on AliExpress. Buggies, race cars, monster trucks; four-wheel drive, two-wheel drive; electric, Nitro powered; if you’re new to this, it can get confusing.

That’s why I came up with this guide. To clear the confusion surrounding AliExpress RC Cars.

In it, I’ll outline the best AliExpress RC cars on sale right now and then top it off with an overview of what you need to know before purchasing an RC car from AliExpress.

A little about AliExpress if you’re new to this

People use AliExpress for the super affordable items on sale. My favorite description for AliExpress is ‘Chinese Ebay.’ Shopping on the platform is pretty much akin to shopping on eBay.

Like eBay, you’re going to be dealing with a well-moderated bunch of third-party sellers, and even better, you’re protected by the platform’s 75-day buyer protection.

I go into more detail about shopping on AliExpress in my Buying a phone on AliExpress guide – it’s about phones, but practically everything relating to shopping for phones on AliExpress applies to RC cars as well.

Enough chit-chat. What are the best Chinese RC cars you can buy right now?

The WLT 124017 – Best Chinese race car RC

Image showing the WLtoys 124017 RC car
The WLT 124017 is a fun and fast race-type RC car with an impressive top speed of 75km/h and a sleek yet highly durable build.

At a glance

20 mins drive time

Type Race Car

Top speed 75km/h

Brushless motor

Aluminum alloy chassis

Exquisite and sleek build

100-meter true control range

If speed is your thang, then the WLT 124017 is precisely what the doctor ordered. Built to last and designed to blaze through hot tarmac, this little machine will approach speeds of 75km/h.

Unlike many race-type RCs you’ll find on AliExpress, and even Amazon, the design of the WLT 124017 is exquisitely premium. It’s sporty, very contemporary, and with the massive signature rear wing, this thing will turn heads.

Massive threaded tires and a simple finish wheel give this RC car a mean vibe. The naked RC struts further adds to that ‘gangster’ look, and paired with the streamlined body, it’s a daring but pretty suave overall look.

The WLT 124017 ships with a brushless motor, an all-metal chassis, a specialized four-wheel ‘oil-balanced’ shock absorber system and a zinc alloy gear. Those are all premium, top-quality technicals for an RC at this price point.

The included brushless motor and all-metal chassis are particularly impressive. With the all-metal chassis, you get improved durability. The brushless motor, on the other hand, ensures that this RC car will last longer than you would care for.

Taken together, the WLT 124017 is a durably built machine. It will take a beating, and the 7.4v, 2200mAh battery on board ensures that you get enough power for long enough to drive this thing crazy.

Wltoys 124016 – best buggy RC car

Image showing the Wltoys 124016 RC car
You’ll love the WLT 124016 for its rugged build and range-topping specifications

At a glance

20 mins drive time

Type race car

Brushless motor

Metal chassis

Premium looking build

Top value for money

Four-wheel drive capable

Optional seating for extra battery

If you want a fast RC car that’s also capable of tackling the fun outdoors on some days, say hello to the 124016 buggy.

Buggy means this RC car packs both on-road and off-road capabilities. It will conquer hot tarmac at blazingly fast speeds while having enough ground clearance and engine torque to glide over rocky or muddy terrains. Call it an all-purpose RC car, and you won’t be wrong.

The design and build quality of the 124016 is excellent. You’ll love the eye-catching decals and the overall premium detailing and build quality. This RC car looks a lot more expensive than it costs – compare it to many brand-name RC cars retailing on Amazon for upwards of $500, and it’ll beat them squarely. 

Like the 124017, it is powered by a brushless motor capable of going the same 75km/h. That number drops in wet, marshy or rough terrains but expect this to still go fast enough for a maximum dose of fun.

The chassis is all metal too, and you get four-wheel drive as standard. Battery components and the motor system are housed securely, allowing this to function as an all-weather RC vehicle.

You get very robust suspension components made from premium brushed metal so that this buggy has all the manoeuvrability and toughness to tackle even the harshest RC road courses.

Everything is powered by a beefy 7.4v 2200mAh battery. There’s an option to add in an extra 3000mAh battery pack for extra track/offroad time, but that’ll bring the price of the 124016 up by another $10.

FMS Katana – best truck RC car

Image showing the FMS Katana RC car
One for the looks – the FMS Katana combines realistic styling with a premium build to be the ultimate head-turning RC machine.

At a glance

High torque transmission for outdoor navigation

Realistic detailing with functional lights and interior décor

Durable chassis and suspension framework

Picture perfect looks

The FMS Katana is a realistically built truck-type RC car complete with all the lights, interior design features, exterior elements and proportionate styling to pass for the mini version of your favorite truck.

In the RC car world, this thing is a proper offroader, and it most certainly has the looks to back up that reputation. You get the full list of offroad styling elements, including a lifted frame, some proper offroad tires, a front deflector, a rear-mounted extra wheel, a solid roof rack and, for my personal favorite, roof-mounted Floodlights.

The exquisite detailing continues to the interior of this car. While most other RC, certainly RCs in the truck segment, put up dummy not-so-realistic car seats, the FMS Katana spots a built-to-impress car seat all visible through its giant windows.

It makes this RC car look and feels genuinely premium, and that’s saying a lot considering the $156 asking price. Similarly priced RC car setups on Amazon and eBay don’t come close.

Power to the FMS Katana comes from a Brushed motor that’s capable of going 5km/h at full throttle. Not as impressive as the power performance on the former two RCs in this review, but remember, this truck was made entirely for rocky and other harsh terrains that the former two wouldn’t dare enter.

To that regard, the FMS Katana packs a high torque transmission system, so it gets enough downforce to grind through thick mud and rocky Mountains. The battery pack on this is a lowly 400mAh 7.4v lithium setup.

Again, Kinda down the numbers when you compare it to the other two RCs topping this list, but you still get up to 20 mins of fun time outdoors with this RC – which is similar to what you’d get with the former two RC cars.

Overall the FMS Katana is a solidly built RC Car, and you’ll love it for the extreme detailing. This thing was built to look and feel just exactly like the real deal. It is the real deal if you want an RC truck with working lights and premium detailing in and out.

If anything, this is one of the very few Chinese RC cars with functional fog lights, reverse lights and headlights as well.

XZ racing 4WD drift car – best Truggy

Image showing the XZ racing 4WD drift RC car
The XZ racing drift car is rough and tumble, just what you need for a fun day conquering the most rugged terrains

At a glance

Type Truggy

Drift capable

Extremely powerful 3000Kv drivetrain

Brushless motor

80Km/h top speed

20 mins usage time

Four-wheel drive capable

Metal chassis and overall solid build

If you wanted a cross between a fun offroader and a capable buggy, the XZ racing 4WD drift car is one of AliExpress’s hottest selling ‘truggy’ – get it? Truck + buggy = truggy.

This thing was built to effortlessly mow down the patchiest, most intimidating terrain with speed. Unlike the FMS Katana, which graciously glides through rocky mountains, the XZ RC conquers hilly terrains with brute force.

That brute force theme carries on with its design. It has a really mean look, all thanks to oversized tires and a lifted suspension system. And with its robust, visible linkages, the XZ Drift car completes the punk ‘mad max’ look with aplomb.

There are two functional headlamps up front o to make it look all the more realistic. It doesn’t beat the detailing you’d get on the FMS Katana but for the price and considering the other value adds, the XZ drift car checks out to be a decent-looking RC car.

A brushless 3000kv motor capable of a range-topping 80km/h drives all four wheels.

4WD support on an RC car in this price range is sort of a big deal, and performance-wise, it means better off-road capability. As I noted earlier, this truggy will eat up hilly and muddy terrains much like the FMS Katana, but unlike the latter, it’ll do so with speed.

It’s an enjoyable RC car to drive, and with the 4WD support, it’s the perfect companion for a fun day on the beach, at the creeks or on your favorite hiking trail.

There’s a 7.4v 2200mAh battery on board to ensure fun lasts for a while – expect up to 20 minutes of usage time on a full charge. If you like, XZ racing gives you the option to include an even beefier 2600mAh battery for an extra $20.

Arrma Mojave – Money no object pick

Image showing the Arrma Mojave RC car
Premium all round with no flaws

At a glance

Premium all round with no flaws

Premium build

Premium performance

Extremely durable components

Best in class design and finishing

Offroad beast

Brushless motor and ESC system

Four-wheel drive capable

If you’ve got a taste for the more premium things in life and want one of the best RC cars money can buy, very few things compare to the Arrma Mojave RC car. From bumper to fender, this thing screams premium all over.

Huge offroad tires and a signature body build give the Mojave a commandeering look. It looks and feels a lot like a Hummer, and departing from what you’ll get with many other RC cars, the detailing and quality of materials on the Mojave is absolutely off the hooks.

From the decals to the paint scheme and design elements, it is way ahead of any car in its league. Functional headlights up top paired to a signature ‘Don’t Just Bash. Blast’ decal feeds into the theme of realism on this RC car.

From the sides, you get painted to match metal alloy wheels that further accentuate the bold look of this RC car.

Looks and feel of the Mojave is excellent but where the difference in quality is light and days ahead is in the performance department. Arrma has fitted the Mojave with the most top-of-the-line motoring components as far as RC cars are concerned.

Under the hood, a Firma 2050Kv brushless motor mated to a 150A Brushless ESC provides much-needed power to the Mojave. The chassis uses a full metal anodized plate that connects to a whole new line-up of custom fabricated and similarly anodized linkages and struts.

This is one of the most solid and robust RC car frameworks in the entire market.

All that solidity and the associated premium build, however, come at a correspondingly solid price. The Arrma Mojave costs a handsome $808 excluding shipping.

Compared to the price of the other RC cars in this review, that checks out to be a lot – but it’s by all means justified by the unmatched quality of the Mojave.

You’ll need to shop for your own battery pack if and when you do buy this RC car, but that’s normal practice in the enthusiast RC car segment, which the Mojave was made to serve.

How we made this pick – what matters in an RC car

Motor performance

KV ratings

The KV rating of a motor is a measure of how many revolutions it will produce per volt applied in ideal settings. For instance, a motor with a 3000Kv rating will produce more revolutions per minute (RPM) than another rated 2000Kv.

And the more revs per minute, the faster an RC car can go, so ideally, you want an RC car with a higher KV rating.

This is all true when you’re dealing with race-type RC cars. For trucks and other RC car types meant to do serious offroading, another metric comes into play – the T rating.


The T-rating is a measure of how many turns of coil is in any given motor build. The more the coils, the higher the T – rating and also the higher the resistance.

Higher resistance means motors with a high T rating cannot go as fast as those with lower ratings in the same class. So, in theory, higher T – ratings translate to lower RPMs and speed.

But a higher T – rating provides more grit or ‘torque,’ if you like, granting a motor the power it needs to overcome obstacles. You can see how this is important for an offroad vehicle where you’ll be dealing more with bumps and rough terrain compared to the smooth tarmac race cars are designed for.

Notice how the KMS Katana, our recommended truck for offroading, has what’s seemingly a very low Kv rating? It makes up for that by having a concurrently high T rating which is what matters most for a fun offroader.

Brushless vs brush motor

Without getting too technical, you want your motor to be brushless because, though costlier, they require no maintenance and are less prone to fail.

Brushed motors have mechanical components that degrade over time, and with some motors, especially those you’ll see on cheaply priced RC cars, the degradation time can be as short as six months.

Frame type

You’ll notice that most extremely cheap RC cars come with plastic chassis, linkages and suspension parts. While plastic does have great tensile strength, it’s not exactly durable.

All things equal, you want an RC car that has at least its linkages system + suspension parts or its chassis forged from metal. Higher-end RC cars like the Arrma Mojave have an all-metal frame built with high-end steel, aluminum or, in the case of the Mojave, anodized metal.

Battery type and capacity

Back in the day, you had to choose between Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and Lithium polymer LiPo batteries. LiPo batteries are by far better, with greater efficiency and durability. These days, many high-end manufacturers are even transitioning to Lithium-ion batteries with even better efficiency.

NiMH batteries have been pretty much phased out in modern RC car development, so it’s unlikely that you’ll find a quality RC spotting an NiMH battery.

Nevertheless, you should check – right now, it makes no sense to go for an RC Car with a NiMH battery, even though they’re cheaper.

Build quality

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to the build quality of an RC car. To keep things simple, let’s split the build of the average RC car into the frame (which we’ve talked about earlier) and the body.

For RC car frames, a metal chassis paired to metal linkages and struts is the ideal option. However, most affordable RC cars will use plastic for one or more of the three. You’re good if at least one component subtype is metal-based.

RC car bodies could be made of a simple shell, as is the case with the XZ racing drift car or a sophisticated body complete with detailed interior design elements as you’d find on the FMS Katana.

Which is better depends on the use case of the car. For something that’s meant to get down and dirty, like the XZ racing Truggy, detailed looks are kinda counterproductive. For an RC car that’s made to graciously stride along at slow speeds, like the FMS Katana, then details matter.

To conclude

RC cars have come a long way from their humble beginnings, and if you were to delve deeper into enthusiast-level RC cars, you’d get to see some really sick setups – many like the money-no-object Mojave we talked about earlier.

Nevertheless, there’s still something for the average consumer, which is what I’m assuming you are here and which is why this guide is populated by not-so-cheap but also affordable RC cars. As a final word, you don’t want the overly cheap RC cars – they might look flashy, but very few of them ever make it past a year.