Review: LaTrax Rally 1/18 R/C Rally Car

Review: LaTrax Rally 1/18 R/C Rally Car
Time flies when you’re busy. So busy, in fact, that you forget to post your thoughts on an incredibly fun to drive, bash, spin, and drift radio-controlled car. Thankfully, the fun that this vehicle is equipped with doesn’t fade from memory. The car in question is the LaTrax Rally.
The overriding factor that I look for in an R/C car is quite simple. Is it fun? Fun to drive, fun to look at, fun to work on (those vehicles do exist), the list goes on. If one of these “toy cars” isn’t fun, then that will negatively set the tone for how I will view it and ultimately, how much I will use it.  I can say without any hesitation, that the LaTrax Rally may be one of the most “packed with fun” radio-controlled cars that I’ve driven. Part of that feeling stems from my interest in rally cars in general (though I’m not a “huge” fan of rally car racing). The appeal of a compact car with a sleek appearance, low center of gravity, and ability to stick the ground when being slung to and fro is hard to deny. Take that kind of performance and put it into a small, 1/18 scale package and you’ve got an amazing machine that you can take with you and at any time, have a blast with.

The Rally Rundown

Scale 1/18
Motor Brushed
Radio System 2.4GHz
2-wheel or 4-wheel Drive 4-wheel drive, shaft driven
Extras Water-resistant/waterproof electronics
Price $119.99

Stock LaTrax Rally Overview

Out of the box, this is an attractive car to look at. I’ve recently moved this vehicle from my workbench a back room of our house to an area of my home office that gets more “eyeball traffic”. Partly due to space constraints and partly due to the fact that this is such a nice, compact machine to admire, even when it sitting idle, it now has a new showcase spot. If appearance appeals to you, mark that down as a plus.
Under the hood, you find a neat, compact arrangement of electronics and mechanical parts that make this machine go. Leveraging design traits and skills from Traxxas, this spin-off brand drips with DNA from the Texas R/C manufacturer. That’s not a bad thing. My first hobby-grade radio-controlled vehicle was a Traxxas Slash, and it was, for the most-part rock solid. Seeing that same durability passed through to the Rally was a welcome sight.

The overall chassis construction is what you’d expect from an on-road racer. The foam front bumper is useful when you encounter immovable objects or other R/C cars that happen to wander into your path. The stock shocks are decent and provide a good amount of crisp handling, though I quickly swapped those out for plastic-bodied, oil-filled shocks that give an added level of performance.
A deeper dive into the inner-workings will reveal a bounty of bushings that help to make the movable components flow. While these aren’t ideal (by causing unwanted friction in the moving parts) an upgrade option is available in the form of metal bearings, a path that I also opted for while purchasing my shock upgrades.  While the friction and performance reduction isn’t immediately noticeable when simply turning the wheels or driving it, you’ll get a performance boost by swapping these bushings out and will also extend the longevity of the internal parts in the process.
Taking a look at ergonomics, the transmitter feels great when holding it, and the steering knob/wheel provides good feedback when driving. The foam padding that covers the wheel provides just enough grip to give you confidence that your fingers won’t slip while under frantic, focused situations.

First Drive: Hitting the Road

Having surrounded myself with rock crawlers and trail rigs, I was happy to have a quick, nimble R/C car back in my garage. The LaTrax Rally is fast right off the bat and the low-slung profile helps it stick to the ground and respond to steering input with crisp results. There is a slight drawback, however.

Because of the low ground clearance, any minor imperfections in the surface that you’re driving on seem to be magnified and the smallest of bumps can upset the Rally as it’s zooming around. I had an instance where I drove over/into the outer lip of a storm drain cover and it sent the car into the air. Thankfully, it landed rubber-side down and no damage was done, but the moment did provide for a bit of pause. Final verdict after the first battery run; Fun, very fun.

Time to Upgrade

I’ll admit that I was satisfied with the handling and overall performance of the LaTrax Rally after my initial shakedown, but I had a new set of shocks and bearings burning a hole in my workbench, so I quickly set off to perform some upgrades.  While the shock upgrade was straightforward, the bushing-to-bearing enhancement took a bit of time. A bit more than I had anticipated, to be honest.

Without looking at the “blown apart” view in the manual, you might not think there are many bushings within the makeup of this car. If that’s your thought, you’re wrong. Quite wrong, in fact. There are bushings throughout this vehicle and getting to them (not to mention swapping them out with bearings) can be a time-consuming task. After you’ve invested the time, however, the results are well worth the effort. While I don’t have any hard data to back this up, the Rally seems to have a slight handling and performance (roll on and off-throttle) improvement over its stock setup.

Final Thoughts

For a car that is features compact styling, is fast enough to get competitive in a group setting, and sized “just about right” to take anywhere, the LaTrax Rally is an unbelievably fun radio-controlled car to own. At just over $100 ($119.99), it hits a sweet spot that your wallet will appreciate and will provide hours of enjoyment and entertainment, whether you’re the one driving it or are a spectator. Who am I kidding? At that price, you could get a small fleet of them and race just about anywhere.  In short, if a small-scale R/C rally car is what you’ve been looking for, the 1/18 LaTrax Rally might just have everything you’d ever want, all in one tidy package.