A lot of us get into this hobby because the full-sized alternative is way out of reach. We sit at our workbenches, dreaming of building the ultimate off-road machine—one that can go anywhere, do anything and take on whatever the world puts in its way. Axial had the same thing in mind when it set out to build the all-new EXO Terra Buggy. The EXO combines the worlds of scale realism, ultimate off-road performance and RC to lay down a dream machine like no other before it, a four-seater take on a prerunner buggy. Four-wheel drive, high ground clearance, long travel suspension and a truckload of features, scale goodies and performance design, the EXO Terra Buggy may just be the next big thing that defines our hobby. Does it have the right stuff to conquer the desert and lift you and three of your friends to the top of the Class 1 podium? Put on your helmet; the dream sequence starts now.
My fist introduction of the Terra Buggy was at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. The SEMA show is all about full-size cars and their accessories. I’m never surprised to see RC cars there but when I came across the EXO Terra Buggy I looked it over and while I was still drooling I made a call to Axial to find out what was going on. They informed me that it was a new vehicle being released that day and that it wasn’t the only one the show. After a few days at the show, I found all but one and made it my mission to be the one to review this trick buggy. When my kit arrived, I went to work and got it built as soon as I could so I can get in some quality time outside. My first run was in front of my house; after all, it is a basher and that’s where I like to bash. With the steering and throttle trimmed out, I put the buggy down and drove it down the walkway to my driveway. Along the way, I hit a few cracks and uneven surfaces and the buggy’s suspension moved right along with them without disturbing the chassis too much. On the pavement, the Terra Buggy showed great acceleration; I mashed the throttle and off it went, down the driveway and into the street. I noticed a slight amount of diffing action from the center diff where the front tires spun slightly more than the rear when doing this. That’s something a quick change in fluid will fix at a later time, but since I won’t be running the buggy on the street that often, I wasn’t overly concerned. On the street, high-speed passes were fun and controllable but more fun came when I decided to jump the curb in front of my house. Since I’m more of a racer than a basher, I took my Terra Buggy over to Pin Shop Hobbies in Oakville, CT, for a few laps on their off-road track. I know this isn’t a race buggy, but what I was looking to see here is how it handled the dirt. In the loose dirt sections on the track, the tires did a great job of digging in and propelling the buggy. However, the large lugs on the tires didn’t like the hard-packed stuff as much and there was a lot of tire slipping going on in those sections which to me, added to the fun of the buggy. It was really easy to pitch it sideways in those sections and the steering was responsive enough to pull the buggy out of trouble when I pushed it too hard. I took the Terra Buggy over to one of the larger jumps on the track and sent it sailing. When hitting the jump in while going in the right direction it flew with a good level attitude. I turned around and hit the jump from the back side and that sent the front end up in the air but a quick tap of the brake was able to pull it back down and I was able to quickly get on the throttle and tear out of there. There was a section of the track where the guys had some dirt piles and I headed over to see if the buggy could handle the rough stuff. I found that the low ground clearance of the EXO caused it to get high centered a few times and I had to rescue it. If I kept the speed up, the peaks in the dirt didn’t affect it as much.
Getting the battery strapped in while the roll cage is in place can be challenging and Axial took that into consideration when designing the battery strap for the EXO. It uses two rubber straps to hold the battery and a pin on the open end of the strap latches into a molded plastic clip once the battery is in place. The strap can be adjusted to fit any shape pack and it can even fit two packs standing on their sides if you want to add more power. The simple hinge and latch pin design makes for easy installation and removal of your packs between runs.
Adjustable Motor Mount
A two-piece adjustable motor mount holds the EXO’s motor in place and makes short work of gear mesh adjustments. Once you set the gap between the pinion gear and spur gear, you can fine-tune the gear mesh by adjusting the screw on the outside edge of the mount. The aluminum motor mount will help dissipate some of the heat buildup in the motor and because it’s made out of aluminum, you won’t have to worry about flex which could cause a change in gear mesh and blown spur gears because of it.
ESC Mounting Plates
The speed control in the EXO is mounted using a special speed control mounting plate. Three plates are included and two are designed to fit today’s popular speed controls. The third mount is a standard flat plate that you can mount your speed control to using double-sided tape. All three mounts are attached to the EXO’s chassis with two screws. Axial includes molded clips that screw in place to keep your speed control motor and battery wires tidy and away from any moving parts like the center driveshaft.
Axial is well known for producing awesome scale rock crawlers and applied that knowledge to give the EXO an awesome scale look. Full-size off-road buggies have a full roll cage and Axial has spared no expense to include a super scale-looking cage for the EXO Terra Buggy. The plastic cage not only protects the chassis, but it also resembles the cage on a full-size car. Axial kicked it up in the scale department by also including a realistic-looking radiator with fans, a scale V8 engine, fuel cell and full interior. A light bar is mounted to the front of the roll cage and it isn’t just there for looks; it can be outfitted with five LEDs for nighttime driving.
The EXO will be run on a lot of different surfaces and for that you get awesome scale all-terrain tires. These are officially licensed Dynapro MT tires which means that you have the same tread design used on full-size trucks. Internal ribbing stiffens the sidewalls of the tires and keeps them from folding when under a load in the turns. The Raceline Renegade wheels to which the tires are glued are also officially licensed.
The EXO Terra Buggy instills the same type of excitement I felt the first time I drove a RC car, but takes it to a whole new level. Its cutting-edge design lets you take it anywhere, anytime and off anything you can find. The EXO Terra Buggy not only puts you in the driver’s seat of the one of the best desert racers the dunes have ever seen, but its 4WD system also plugs the power down until you’re convinced you’re behind the wheel of a full-sized racer with three of your closest buddies riding shotgun. This isn’t the end for my EXO. I plan on building it up as a project to make it look even more realistic. I’m thinking a lot of lights, a driver figure and a few Pro-Line scale accessories to finish it off.