We don’t have to tell you guys just how rapidly the scale movement has taken off. In just a few years scale crawling has gone from obscurity to the point where nearly everyone has at least one crawler in their garage. A couple of months ago Traxxas decided to jump into the scene with their TRX-4 Scale & Trail Crawler, a truck that could potentially take the scale scene to even greater heights. The TRX-4 comes with a well detailed (and fully licensed) Land Rover body, loads of scale detailing, a 2 speed transmitter, remote locking differentials, and it even comes with cruise control. Does the TRX-4 have any glaring errors? Can it keep up on the trail? How durable is it? Will it entirely change the landscape of off-roading? Keep on reading below to find all those answers, plus much more…
Review By: Cubby
Photography By: Tim Mohr
RTR or Kit: RTR
2wd or 4wd: 4wd
Shaft or Belt: Shaft
Electric or Gas: Electric
Waterproof: Yes, very
Motor: 21 turn reverse rotation, 550
Speed Controller: XL-5 HV, 3S capable
Low Voltage Cut-off: Yes
Radio: TQi 2.4 GHz, 4 channels
Differential: Front & rear gear diffs, remote locking
Driveshafts: Plastic sliders in the center
Shocks: Oil filled, aluminum bodies, plastic caps
Servo Saver: None
Screws: Metric, hex
Spur/Pinion Pitch: 32 pitch
Tires: Canyon Trail 1.9″
Battery: Not included
Part Number: #82056-4
Warranty: 30 days on electronics
Front wheel travel (vertical only, axles level): 1″
Rear wheel travel (vertical only, axles level): 1.2″
Wheelie on demand: No
Backflip off ramps: No
Stability Control: No
Sound Module: No
Top Speed (measured by BSRC on 2S LiPo): 5 mph in low, 9 mph in high
Runtime (measured by BSRC): Ummmmmm, like a really, really, long time
Street Price: $449
Primary Competition: The scale crawler scene is certainly heating up. Some of the competitors for the Traxxas are the Vaterra Ascender, the Axial SCX10 II, and some of the RTR scale trucks from RC4WD.
What’s Needed To Complete: You won’t need to buy a whole lot to get the truck up and going. You will need a battery for the car, a charger, and four AA batteries for the transmitter.
Build Quality: After several members of our test crew gave the TRX-4 a once over, we could find no fault with the assembly of the truck. We found the gear mesh to be spot-on, the shocks were properly filled and not leaking, and all the screws were tight but not stripped.
Test Drivers: As always, we use a large number of drivers during our reviews to make sure we get a wide range of opinions for each vehicle. For the TRX-4 review our test drivers included Robbie G., Iron Mikeee, T-Mohr, Sam Da’ Noobie, and yours truly.
Test Venues: We got to run the Traxxas at a handful of parks as well as our local 8th scale off-road track. We used Greentree Park in Fenton Missouri, Arnold Missouri City Park, Cliff Cave Park in St Louis Missouri, and the St Louis Dirtburners off-road track for testing.
Set-up Notes: Per our normal, we ran the truck bone stock. For power, we used a 2S 5800 Traxxas LiPo and for extra juice we jumped up to a 3S 5000 Traxxas LiPo. Both packs used Traxxas iD connectors and a Traxxas EZ Peak Live handled all of our charging duties.
Turning: With remote locking diffs, the TRX-4 has two styles of turning. With the diffs unlocked it is extremely maneuverable. On pavement or high bite dirt, you can whip the truck around in no time flat. With the diffs locked it pushes like mad on “normal” surfaces, but allows the truck to get pointed exactly where you want it to while rock crawling. The extra range provided by the 45° front steering is a real blessing while rock crawling, although while bashing on dirt or pavement it can lead to increased traction rolling when turning the wheels too far. The stock servo is on the slow side, and while it has some torque, it isn’t powerful enough for the application when rock crawling.
Jumping: You aren’t supposed to jump a crawler! Well, we are Big Squid, it is a part of testing no matter what the vehicle might be. And yes, the TRX-4 jumps like most other crawlers. It doesn’t have a lot of tire speed to make mid-air corrections, nor enough speed to get much height, but we did find that its shocks did a well above average job of soaking up landings.
Bumps/Whoops: With a scale crawler you simply can’t pound whoop-de-do sections at 50 mph. With that in mind, and for what it was designed for, we found the Traxxas did an excellent job of soaking up road joints, small potholes, rain ruts, and other irregularities when trail driven. The stock shocks might be damped a bit heavy for its intended use, but still, we were able to cruise right though rougher sections on the trail without as much bounce as some of the other trucks on the market.
On-Road: Can you have fun with the TRX-4 when driven on pavement? You might not like it, but we had some good times. No, it doesn’t have a lot of speed but we had fun popping wheelies and seeing how fast we could turn without flipping over. If on-road is all you do the TRX-4 shouldn’t be your first choice, but when you come across a paved section during an extra long trail drive you can unlock the diffs, click the truck into high gear, and blow other trucks out of the water.
Grass: We found the truck to be an animal in grass. Its tires and portal axles help the Traxxas cruise right through grass sections, even when the grass gets up to hood height. Once again, if grass is all you drive in there are better (much larger) trucks for the task, but for its design, the TRX-4 might be the best truck in its category when blasting through the green stuff.
Tires: Oh yes, those wonderful stock tires. First off, the stock foams are in the ballpark, not perfect, but not terrible. They are soft, definitely in the ballpark for the stock truck’s weight. Now, about those tires. Yes, they look sharp and perform much better than expected. The tires are molded from the softest compound we’ve seen come out of the Traxxas factory. They are not as soft as the softest aftermarket tires, but they aren’t far off either. In fact, when we sat the truck down on some small gravel, we came back a half hour later and picked the truck up off the ground and the tires were soft/sticky enough that the gravel came right up off the ground stuck to the bottom of the tires. On the trail we found they did a rather impressive job. On rocks they gave the truck above average grip, while on soft surfaces like sand or loamy topsoil, their deep lugs were equally impressive at finding traction. The tread design also extends partially over to the sidewall, helping to give the truck extra side grip when hardcore crawling.
Rock Crawling: After the first battery pack trail driving, several of our reviewers had one question- could the TRX-4 be the most capable RTR on the market? While we didn’t have fresh examples of other trucks to directly compare it to, the TRX-4 just kept on impressing us with what it could do. Yes, it does have a high center of gravity thanks to that gorgeous body, but then when you buy one you know that in advance. You don’t buy a truck with the TRX-4’s style of Land Rover body for the ultimate in performance, you buy it for looks and to make those rough sections more of a challenge. While a different style of body, like a pick-up truck, will help lower the center of gravity and give the truck more prowess out in the woods, scale crawling isn’t about all out performance, it is getting the best performance you can out of a preferred look. For the tall Land Rover body, the TRX-4 performed much better than we expected, and just how did that happen? Those wonderful portal axles, that’s why! Two of our testers had never driven with portal axles and they make a huge different in the rocks and on the trail. That extra bit of ground clearance simply allows the TRX-4 to breeze through sections that are a huge PITA with a normal truck. The portals worked well on our test unit and continued to amaze us the more we drove it. It also allowed us to fly by other trucks out on the trail who were constantly getting stuck on tree roots and such, which needless to say, was very cool.
Power: Like most crawlers, the included motor isn’t about throwing the tires off the beads, it is about having the right type of power at the right time. The XL-5 HV, combined with the 21 turn 550, never failed to have enough raw wattage for the crawling we were doing and its power delivery was buttery smooth and easy to use. There is never a surge of power, it starts off super soft at the first crack of the thottle then gradually builds until the truck runs out of gearing for more top speed. The ultra-soft power delivery made the truck incredibly easy to drive, which of course is a great thing when you are picking your way through a tight rock section.
Radio: The 4 channel TQi has the standard ergonomics of the other radios in the Traxxas line, but comes with a switch on top for the remote locking diffs and a switch on the grip for shifting from low to high gears. Our test unit never glitched, and while we never really tested it, we were never at a lack of range. The standard radio works as it should, albeit with a minimum of thrills.
Broken Parts: There is no doubt about it, we treated our test truck very poorly. We did no maintenance and everyone that grabbed the controller drove it like they stole it. That said, as complex as the TRX-4 is, we found the truck to be exceptionally durable. With all those servo, extra gears, and cables running to both diffs, we certainly expected at least something to stop working, but that time has yet to come. We’ve bound it up in rocks and pinned it WFO, we jumped it off of the tailgate of a full scale truck, and all the Traxxas did was keep on going. Yes, of course we were able to finally break it, that is our job, but we highly doubt many of you are going to roof jump yours like we did.
Here we go folks, here is where all the good information is supposed to be.
After so successfully integrating a no body clip system on the X-Maxx, we expected none on the TRX-4, but that was not the case. The Traxxas uses normal body clips, which is probably a good thing on this style of truck. Yes, it sucks from the aspect that you can still lose/bend the body clips, but on long trail drives where all you care about it making it back to base camp in one piece, old school body clips do a great job.
So… how was the cruise control feature? It worked perfectly for us. To set the cruise (very weird to say when talking about an rc car) you simple hold the throttle at the desired speed, press the set button on top of the transmitter, and cruise control is engaged. To turn off cruise, you simply hit the brake. Very simple, and we can tell you first hand that it came in extremely handy during a 3 mile trail run that we went on.
The battery strap is the same style that comes on the new Traxxas Ford GT. It doesn’t use a body clip and is exceptionally easy to use.
Speaking of the battery box, it is large, it accommodates a huge variety of different battery packs, and it even has holes in the bottom which can be used to run Velcro straps and to let water drain out.
About those shocks. The TRX-4 comes with aluminum bodied, oil filled shocks that are sprung and damped reasonably well. However, we felt like they were a bit on the short side as the truck didn’t have as much articulation as we expected. If you go to upgrade the shocks, certainly investigate going slightly longer.
What was our first thought when pulling trigger on the TRX-4? How incredibly smooth it was. The drivetrain is buttery smooth, and like the 4-Tec 2.0 Ford GT that we reviewed a few weeks ago, there is very little slop and no binding of any sort.
The TRX-4 is going to be the biggest “must have” truck of 2017, so don’t be surprised to see prices well above MAP on the first shipment.
Can you switch between low and high gears when pinned WFO? We wouldn’t recommend you doing it, but we did dozens upon dozens of times with no issues. We also flipped between locked and unlocked diffs all the time with zero issues.
Yay! The TRX-4 comes with a decent paper manual that makes it easy to find any part numbers that you might need.
The stock speedo lets you go from full speed reverse to full throttle forward. While not easy on the gears, it helps make the truck more fun. If you’ve got enough traction, the truck will easily wheelie while doing this.
Speaking of the ESC, while some trucks come with way too much drag brake, the Traxxas is a bit soft out of the box. It doesn’t have quite enough drag brake dialed in for serious crawling, but we suspect it was set that way on purpose to be friendlier to the masses. When you change over to rock crawling mode with the EZ-Set button on the ESC, the amount of drag brake was spot on! This is actually nice to see it shipped this way. For us basher types that have gotten hold of some rock crawlers out of the box, they can be painful to drive because taking your finger off the throttle you end up in a endo. We are glad to see the truck ship in this setup, and to see the truck come with multiple profiles for different settings all ready to go.
Our biggest complaint about looks was the solid black front windshield. In scaling, where true to scale looks is everything, the front windshield needs to be clear.
While not easy, yes you can turn the truck on and off with the body on. It is a tight squeeze, but you can get your hand on the ESC from the side of the truck. Otherwise, those inner fenders and other plastic pieces do a decent job of keeping dirt/rocks/sand/nastiness out of the interior of the truck.
Best Mod: If you are serious about the performance of your TRX-4, the first upgrade we would recommend would be hitting up Hitec for a faster and more powerful servo. An aftermarket servo with a lot more power will allow the truck to thrive in tough rock sections instead of constantly not having enough power to get the wheels turned when you need them to.
A = Outstanding/Best in Class, B = Above Average, C = Average, D = Below Average, F = Horrific
Time To Bash: B Set-up for the TRX-4 was just like most RTRs. Pop 4 AA cells into the transmitter, install a pack into the truck, and you are ready to start your adventures.
Workability: B While we didn’t have to do much actual wrenching on the truck, we did spin some wrenches to take things apart to get a look at internals. We found the TRX-4 to be a pleasure to wrench on. Most everything was out in the open and easy to get to, plus there was plenty of open space to use wrenches (or fingers) to work on the truck.
Car Show Rating: A Is the Traxxas the best looking RTR scale crawler on the market? That depends a lot on what you want your truck to look like, but all of our testers thought it looked super on-point. The licensed Land Rover body looked sweet, the tires had an aggressive look, the metal chassis was very good looking, and all those little scale touches and accessories worked well with each other.
Bash-A-Bility: A Like mentioned earlier in the review, while the Traxxas is quite a complex truck, ours held up like a champ. Traxxas did their homework and we had next to no durability issues.
Fun Factor: A Does the Traxxas bring more fun to the plate than its competitors? That is very hard to say without doing a full on shootout, but we do know our test crew had a fantastic time, even the drivers who aren’t into crawling. The portal axles allow you to fly by other people on the trail, its remote locking diffs give it more versatility, and that stock 2 speed transmission allows it to have more top speed than most crawlers. Our test crew had an absolute blast out on the trail with the TRX-4.
Handling: B Here is another category that really requires a shootout to determine exactly where the truck stacks up. During testing all the other trucks we drove with were modded in some way, shape, or form, thus making it impossible to make direct comparisons. What we do know for sure is that the Traxxas did an impressive job crawling and during trail runs. In fact, it surprised a number of people with its box-stock capabilities. No, we can’t wait for a shootout either.
Value: A At roughly a $450 price point the TRX-4 brings a ton of features and scale looks to the plate. If you were to have tried to build a rig like it, even just a couple of years ago, you would have spent a lot of cash. Because of that fact, we feel that the TRX-4 is an exceptional value.
Parts Availability: N/A The TRX-4 is an all new truck that has not been released to the public yet, therefore we can’t pass judgement on its parts availability. However, Traxxas is an industry leader for putting parts on the shelves, we don’t expect that to be any different with the TRX-4 once it is in full release.
BigSquid Rating: A- Plain and simple, Traxxas hit a home run with the TRX-4. The TRX-4 is incredibly versatile, it has stunning looks, and it is a solid rig with no glaring errors. It is obvious after testing the the TRX-4 that the Traxxas crew took their time to produce a vehicle that was not only done correctly, but also one that would be a pleasure to drive and own. Yes, after finally getting our hands on one, we can say that this vehicle has the potential to change the entire landscape of off-roading. Get your hands on one as fast as you can and let the fun begin, it is that good.
Check out the video below for some footage we shot during the review.