As Traxxas’ main entry into the crawler world, the TRX-4 is a proven favorite that has stood the test of time, not to mention many challengers. The venerable off-road crawler platform is incredibly capable out of the box and infinitely customizable, which makes it the preferred truck for custom builds and bashing, as well as competition. For quite some time now, we wondered how Traxxas could top the TRX-4. We recently found out—and it wasn’t what we were expecting.
Instead of going bigger, Traxxas instead did the opposite. They shrunk it. TRX-4M is a 1/18-scale version of the brand’s full-size 1/10-scale crawler. In keeping with recent RC trends, where smaller RCs are becoming more popular, Traxxas had the foresight to develop, from ground up, an all-new 1/18-scale crawler.
We quickly learned that this new pint-sized platform shared more than just the TRX-4’s name and likeness. In fact, it performs and drives much like its bigger brother. Traxxas intended the TRX-4M as a new way to experience all the fun, adventure, and scale realism of the TRX-4, but in a smaller size. The crawler aims to bridge the gap between small-scale crawlers and 1/10 scale quality and performance.
TRX-4M BRONCO RTR
Many of the great features we expect in the TRX-4 also appear in the TRX-4M, only miniaturized. You’ll find oil-filled shocks, a heavy-duty steel ladder frame, and a smooth-running drivetrain that give it true outdoor capability over not only rocks but also through varied terrain such as grass fields and flowing streams. We can vouch for the truck’s tight turning radius, and precise throttle control give it fantastic indoor maneuverability too.
READY TO RUN
TRX-4M comes as a pre-assembled, ready to run (RTR) vehicle right out of the box. It comes with a Traxxas TQ transmitter, a rechargeable 7.4-volt 750mAh 2-cell LiPo battery, and a 2-amp USB fast charger that is equipped with Traxxas iD. Traxxas’ iD technology makes it easier and safer to charge LiPo batteries. The only thing you need to do is plug the battery in to the charger and the charger does all the work of monitoring the battery’s charge. All the kit further requires are four AA batteries for the transmitter, and you’re ready for the trail.
COMPACT YET CAPABLE
To be clear, we love the TRX-4M’s diminutive size. It’s just the right size to fit in a backpack for quick and easy fun on the go. TRX-4M is currently available in two body styles, the Land Rover Defender and Ford’s latest four-door Bronco. The 10.3-inch-long Bronco is small, powerful and maneuverable, so just about any space becomes an instant trail or crawling course. You choose the terrain—a rock garden, tree roots, a pile of bricks, or a mountain of pillows—and the TRX-4M will deliver big fun from a small package.
We found that our TRX-4M Bronco was well-equipped for off-road performance. Its combination of grippy, soft-compound, licensed BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM3 tires, precision-engineered 4-link suspension geometry, and smooth oil-filled shocks replicates the larger TRX-4’s attributes and gives the smaller M-sized crawler plenty of crawling prowess. The Bronco’s high center ground clearance and generous approach angles allow it to slip over rocks that you wouldn’t expect it to make it over unscathed, but it does. Even with over an inch of ground clearance, it is designed with an overall low center of gravity that gives it impressive capability everywhere it rolls.
If you find yourself in tight spaces, the TRX-4M’s full 45-degree steering angle is capable of an exceptionally tight turning radius that allows it to be extremely maneuverable in cramped areas where every inch counts. A Traxxas heavy-duty 2065T steering servo delivers powerful steering force, even on terrain such as sticky mud and thick carpet.
A closer look at the truck’s 4-link suspension reveals TRX-4M’s oil-filled GTM shocks. These shocks offer smooth suspension damping to keep the wheels firmly planted on uneven surfaces. The smoother ride the shocks provide keeps the body from bouncing around on rough terrain for a more realistic-looking driving experience.
Speaking of body, Traxxas has been championing the clipless body mounting movement, and we’re all on board. We’re glad to see that its innovative clipless body treatment has been replicated on the TRX-4M. The tough, highly detailed ABS hard plastic Bronco body removes and installs in just seconds with no clips to lose or frustrating hook-and-loop tabs.
Let’s talk about the scale details for a moment. The Bronco comes with tinted windows, a spare tire carrier, rugged fender flares, side mirrors, and other molded body accessories that give the TRX-4M a truly authentic appearance. Extra bodies are available to match many of Ford’s factory Bronco colors as well.
Scratches aren’t a big deal either since TRX-4M’s bodies, both the Bronco and Defender, are molded in color with a deep glossy finish that won’t chip or scrape off. Don’t be afraid of diving deep into rough terrain. If you come across a water crossing, we say go ahead and dive in. As with other Traxxas vehicles, TRX-4M is rated for fully waterproof action. Drive through wet grass, puddles, and streams with confidence.
We’re truly spoiled in today’s RC hobby and Traxxas is guilty of doing much of the spoiling. TRX-4M comes pre-installed with LED lighting that allows us to explore trails even after the sun goes down—or in our case, before the sun comes up.
We hit the park before sunup in order to avoid the crowds and to get deeper into the hiking trail before the sun came out to bake us. TRX-4M fit in our backpack easily and its one-pound weight wasn’t felt as we hoofed it up the steep path. When we got to the more challenging part of the trail, we took our TRX-4M Bronco out to see what it could do.
It was still dark out, so the LED lights really came in handy. They lit the way ahead as we crawled along the rocky path. We found that the TRX-4M felt solid on the trail, more solid than we expected a truck of this size to look and feel. We then got into some tight spaces that were packed full of relatively tall rocks. The TRX-4M handled the obstacles without any issue, even in its stock form. Call us impressed. We know that Traxxas offers plenty of upgrade parts for the TRX-4M, and we’re excited to get ahold of some to see how it further improves the rig’s performance.
Traxxas has been great about providing its vehicle owners with upgrade choices. This is true of the TRX-4M as well. A quick look at traxxas.com shows that the TRX-4M’s menu of upgrades includes weighted brass parts that give the small crawler extra heft for weightier driving attributes. We also saw upgrades that cover tires and wheels, driveline parts, suspension hop-ups, and aluminum steering parts, too.
If you want a unique look, there are also color-molded Bronco and Defender bodies available as unpainted options for you to put your own spin on. If that wasn’t enough, Traxxas also offers a single-axle utility trailer that can be towed by the TRX-4M. The 1/18-scale utility trailer can be used to stow all your scale gear and attaches securely to your truck with its included hitch.
If you want even more light, both the Bronco and Defender have their own specific Traxxas Pro Scale lighting kits that add working headlights, taillights, brake lights, and hazard lights that respond precisely to your inputs. That’s right—in addition to the lights that already come on the TRX-4M, you can also add headlights, daytime running lights, functional brake lights, and functional reverse lights as well as hazard lights to your rig.
Traxxas TRX-4M Ford Bronco RTR Vehicle Specs
Length (overall): 10.3 in. (262mm)
Width: 4.9 in. (124mm)
Height: 4.6 in. (117mm)
Wheelbase: 6.10 in. (155mm)
Ground Clearance: 1.12 in. (29mm)
Weight: 1 lb., 4.8 oz. (468g)
Chassis: Steel ladder frame with nylon composite crossmembers
Body: ABS plastic with molded detail parts
Transmission/drivetrain: Configurable with optional gearing
Differentials: Fully locked; 2:1 axle ratio
Shocks: GTM shocks, oil-filled
Wheels and Tires: 1” wheels, licensed BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM3 tires
Transmitter: Traxxas TQ 2.4GHz 2-Channel Transmitter
ESC: Traxxas ECM-2.5 (Combo ESC, receiver, lighting control)
Motor: Traxxas Titan 180 87T
Battery: Traxxas 750mAh 7.4V 2-cell 20C LiPo battery
Charger: 2.0 Amp USB fast charger with iD
The TRX-4M is a mighty miniature TRX-4 that we’re uber excited about. It crawls and drives like a full-size RC crawler, but is compact enough to bring with you everywhere you go. At only $150, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another vehicle that provides this much fun and great scale looks for so little cost. We’re especially hyped about all the upgrades that Traxxas currently offers and look forward to all the enhancements that they will release in the future. In the meantime, you’ll find us out hiking the trails while driving our Bronco TRX-4M wherever we can.
Text and Images by Jerry Tsai