Traxxas TRX-4 Scale & Trail Defender Crawler RTR Review
1 - 5
Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
- Stock TRX-4
- Stock Radio
- 2s 5000mah lipo battery
- 3s 4600mah lipo battery
- Nice upgrades already installed
- Tons of upgrades already installed
- Realistic details
- Good tires for an RTR vehicle
- Lockable diffs
- 2-speed transmission
- Cruise Control... YES Cruise Control!!!!
- Handles very well
- Aluminum scale shocks
- Steel links
- Amazing performance right out of the box
- Fun, oh so fun
- Blacked out windows...why Traxxas?
- Steering servo a little weak
Let me start by saying, "I am not a Traxxas fanboy!" That is not to say that I haven't loved all the Traxxas vehicles I have owned. There have been weak points here and there, but overall, Traxxas remains one of my preferred brands. My first RC car was a Rustler, and though I have branched out, I definitely keep up with what Traxxas does. In the last few years, gas engines have gotten smaller and scale vehicles have gotten extremely popular. While this was happening, I wondered when Traxxas was going to throw something in the mix in either of those two categories. A few months ago, my thoughts were answered when Traxxas announced their new TRX-4 Land Rover Defender. Of course the Traxxas haters immediately started talking about how bad it was going to be, and how it was going to fail...all without ever having seen, held, or driven one. I know I was sure as heck excited as were the guys at my local hobby shop who are big into the scale world.
As the TRX-4 started shipping in small quantities, I must have placed orders at 3 different online retailers. I ended up canceling each of those orders as I saw the ship date get pushed back. A little discouraged, I talked to my guys at the local shop and asked them to place me on whatever waiting list they had. As my luck would have it, within a few days someone canceled their pre-order on a red one and the shop called me to ask if I wanted it! Naturally, I said yes!!! My shop doesn't sell online, so I am linking the product page at Tower Hobbies. They are always a great place to buy Traxxas products (thought TRX-4 is backordered until July on their site).
Unboxing and Features:
Unboxing the TRX-4 was fast and desperate. I just wanted it open and turned on! In typical Traxxas fashion, you have your RTR vehicle with the plastic cover protecting the body, a box for the transmitter, and a bag with manuals and some tools and spare parts. I just wanted to get her opened and take a look inside as I prayed that the rain would stop. First thing I noticed was how shiny, and metallic looking the body is. It really looks like a 1:1 paint job. You also have a usable spare tire pre-mounted on the back along with a jack and a fuel can. There is also a snorkel installed on the front of the vehicle. I confess, it definitely did bother me that the TRX-4's windows are just blacked out. Leaving them clear or tinted would have been AMAZING! It's not a deal breaker for me, it just sticks out a bit considering all of the other scale details on the TRX-4.
With the body off, you see how wonderfully planned and executed the TRX-4 is. The wheel wells on the body are almost flush with the chassis. That should ensure you don't splatter any mud onto the guts of your vehicle. Another thing that looked cool were the 3 servos that you see in addition to the steering servo. You have one for each diff (front and back) and one for the 2-speed transmission. I won't get into deep technical aspects of the vehicle, as those hard core crawler guys know everything about this already, and those new to crawling won't know what I'm talking about. What you should know is that each diff is lockable, that you have a 2-speed transmission, and the portal axles with reduction gear give you better ground clearance and also reduce torque twist when accelerating. One feature I wasn't aware of until I read the manual is that the TRX-4 has cruise control!
Disclaimer, I am not a hardcore crawler guy, nor do I go on long complicated trail runs. I don't generally spend much on upgrades after I've built a kit or bought an RTR. I usually go all stock until I start breaking parts or I find a part is not performing well. I live in the very populated DC suburbs in VA so finding cool spots to run RCs can be a challenge, so I usually just try to find cool spaces to drive in my neighborhood. I am going to assume that many of you reading this review are in the same boat.
Anyway, when the weather finally cleared and I got my truck out, I wanted to mess with all of the switches and driving features. I drove around with the diffs unlocked and found that it certainly had the best steering that way, but when it came to climb curbs and stumps, it was a bit lacking. Locking the diffs make climbing a breeze with help from the grippy tires. I have seen grippier in my life, but never on a stock RTR. As I am used to my other crawlers that have upgraded steering servos, I did notice the Traxxas steering servo was on the weaker side of things. Newbs won't notice at first unless they have something to compare it to, but crawler guys will definitely feel it. I'm not doing anything too hairy with my TRX-4 so I doubt I'll replace the servo unless I break it. The next thing I messed with was the 2-speed transmission. I don't know of any other vehicle that comes stock with a 2-speed other than Traxxas's own Summit. The Summit doesn't really need the 2-speed as it is big and strong enough to just power over anything in it's path. With TRX-4 however, the 2-speed really allows you to finesse the hell out of getting through tough terrain. I was really happy with how smoothly the TRX-4 runs in both speeds. On the subject of speed, if you want a boost in wheel speed, the TRX-4 is fully equipped to handle a 3s lipo. I've driven a fair amount on both 2s and 3s and I feel like both have their place. If you are going to be on a lot of rough terrain, 2s will probably suit you best. If you are going to be in a lot of open or smooth areas, 3s is pretty great. You can get where you are going a fair amount quicker.
So now onto my suburban trail, I decided to test the cruise control. You activate it by simply driving the speed you want, then tapping the SET button on the transmitter. Your vehicle will continue in that speed until you either hit the brakes or adjust it with the multifunction knob to the right of the steering trim knob. This is definitely one of my favorite features with this truck. I found it so handy when walking the longer straight lines on my trail or while cruising out in the open grass.
As I explored other areas of my neighborhood, I encountered some anti-erosion rocks in a few drainage areas and the little creek close by. While the TRX-4 handles most rocks with ease, anything taller than the bumper will have to approached at an angle because the bumper will hit before the wheels do. Despite the TRX-4's tall body, I didn't find myself tipping over as I traversed the rock structures I found. This is definitely not a comp crawler, but it handles itself well. It easily plowed through shin-high grass, and climbed some pretty steep packed dirt hills. I didn't find anywhere I wanted to put it that it didn't handle like a champ. I found myself loving this vehicle more and more with every minute that I drove it. I also kept marveling at how damn nice it looks. Outside, I found the blacked out windows were less noticeable.
The last thing I tested were the driving modes pre-programmed in the esc. They are as follows:
Sport Mode: 100% FWD, 100% brakes, 100% REV
Race Mode: 100% FWD, 100% brakes, no REV
Training Mode:* 50% FWD, 100% brakes, 50% REV
Trail Mode: 100% FWD, 100% Brake, 100% REV, Trail-Tuned Brake on Neutral
Crawl Mode: 100% FWD, 100% Instant REV, 100% Brake on Neutral
It was interesting messing around with the trail and crawl mode, but I have never been a fan of drag brake. I know a lot of guys love using it on their crawlers, but I prefer not to use it. I really like just staying in Sport Mode. Check out my video below to see some of my clips I threw together. Excuse the camera work as it was shot with a GoPro on my head and a camcorder in one hand. Also, please subscribe to my channel, it'll give you a heads up on the new RC products I am reviewing.
One more note...when I get an RTR I usually pull the receiver out and replace it with a receiver that binds to my fancier transmitter. I didn't want to do that with the TRX-4 because I didn't want to figure out each of the servos and their travel etc. It was driving me nuts not being able to make adjustments aside from trim on the fly like I am used to. A friend advised me to get the Traxxas blue tooth module that connects to your transmitter and pairs with your smart phone. Wow, what a game changer! The APP is feature rich and allows you to change almost anything having to do with your vehicle. I personally wanted to add expo to the steering and also crank up the TSM a bit to help me keep a straight line when I am driving with one hand. I definitely recommend you get one if you plan on using the Traxxas transmitter for the long run.
I kind of feel like I could have skipped writing the rest of the review and just written the conclusion. For that matter, I really just wanted to type, "I love the TRX-4, go buy one, you'll love it...thank you!" but I didn't figure it would go over well. The fact is, I do love the TXR-4. It is a freakin' awesome vehicle and an AMAZING RTR. I have built kits and bought other RTR crawlers, but I don't think any of them come even close to the feature set of the TRX-4. I feel like the folks at Traxxas heard people hyping some of the big names in the crawler world and said, "Here, hold my beer!" and designed the baddest ass RTR scale vehicle around. Some of the other companies are going to have to scramble to play catch-up now that the TRX-4 is out in the wild and everyone is loving it. The TRX-4 is not a cheap vehicle by any means, but nothing about it says cheap either. By the time you fully outfit a kit, or upgrade a different brands' RTR, you are spending well over what you are with the TRX-4. This truck has all of the upgrades I have wanted to make to my other crawlers, but never bothered to. The only thing I want to add at the moment are some LEDs and some other scale accessories to throw in the roof rack.
If you are on the fence on buying this vehicle, it's time to hop off and nab yourself a TRX-4. I paid every red cent of the retail price, and I get nothing out of you guys actually buying it. It is just my humble opinion that if you are looking for which RTR crawler is right for you, that answer is the Traxxas TRX-4. Simple as that. No go, order one or get your name on a waiting list!