Axial AX24 RC Review: Hobby-Grade Performance Meets Toy-Grade Quality
“Fast, cheap, good: Pick two.” That’s the saying in the world of full-size performance cars. Repurposed for the radio-controlled (RC) rock crawler space, it could be changed to picking two of the “Price, quality, and performance” options. Axial’s AX24 has a lot going for it on the performance side, what with its long-travel suspension, four-wheel-steer (4WS), and reasonably priced on Amazon, but the quality leaves something to be desired.
1/24 scale crawlers are a hot commodity these days, still enjoying the pandemic’s popularity boom that turned into a perpetual motion device of renewed love for harmless childhood fun, now just applied to the scale realism that time and technology helped build. Axial’s SCX24 is perhaps the dominant force in the 1/24 crawler space, so it was a natural evolution of the brand when it jumped deeper into the hardcore wheeling pool with the AX24.
The little rig is designed to look and act more like a competition rock crawler than a streetable off-roader that you can get at your local dealer, and it comes with goodies like three-channel-operated four-wheel-steer, front and rear locked differentials, four-link front and rear suspension, long travel coilover shocks, LED rock lights, a Dynamite 88T motor, and oversized tires. It certainly talks the talk, but can it walk the walk?
Out of the box, the AX24 is an impressive performer. Kudos to the long-travel suspension, which flexes spectacularly for a stock rig of this size, class, and price. This combined with the almost impossibly tight turning radius that comes by way of the 4WS makes for an incredibly capable rig, let down only by an excessive tendency to roll over and mediocre low-end torque. Even so, the AX24’s performance punches above its price point.
The real hero here is the four-wheel-steer (4WS). It’s a novelty in this size and price bracket and deserves recognition as an important inclusion that sets the AX24 apart. The AX24 has three steering modes: Normal (in which only the front tires steer the vehicle), mirrored mode (in which the rear tires turn opposite the fronts), and crab walk (in which the rear tires turn the same way as the fronts).
As expected, playing with the different modes reveals hugely different characteristics across the three. We found crab walk to be a novelty more than anything while mirrored mode quickly became our go-to, reserving normal mode only for full-throttle milling about. The effectiveness of 4WD is enormous, cutting the turning circle in half; we measured a change from roughly 35 inches in normal mode to a hair over 17 inches in 4WS mode on our makeshift test track (i.e., a corner of yours truly's office).
Does the performance make it fun? Well, yes and no. It does in the sense that the 4WS and massive flex allow for a tiny machine to tackle obstacles that most its size wouldn’t dream of conquering. However, this means that it lives in a bit of a gray space; it’s too small to handle obstacles that 1/18 scale crawlers have the wheelbase and weight for, but its capability makes for a machine that’s effectively bored by obstacles geared towards its own “class” of 1/24 scale rigs. This leaves for a crawling experience that can be either fun or frustrating depending on the line you choose, so choose wisely.
As much as we love rigs this size, we haven’t been smitten with the AX24. Part of that comes from multiple problems and/or concerns. One of our issues with the AX24 is in the quality and quality control, or perceived lack thereof. Note that this reflects our experience and isn’t necessarily indicative of the entire model run or of Axial as a whole (our Axial Yeti Jr has been flawless), but both of the AX24s that we tested displayed some kind of problem.
The first AX24 that arrived (the black and green one seen here) had severe driveline lash from the front end right out of the box. It was so much so that it chattered like an old train even when milling about at half-throttle on flat surfaces. Its rear steering servo was extremely loud, more so than the front, though it did its job without qualm. The second AX24 that we tested (the orange and black/gray model) felt like a somewhat different machine. The rear servo was nearly silent, which was interesting to say the least considering how loud the first test truck’s unit was. Also, despite our best efforts to get the body lined up properly (it attaches via Velcro), the fenders continually made contact with the tires. The first one didn’t have this problem in the same circumstances.
It’s worth mentioning that neither of these issues hampered the usability or capability of the AX24s at hand, but they were slightly bothersome. Newcomers to the hobby might not feel as strongly about these aspects, though more seasoned hobbyists will likely notice and in turn find these problem points as opportunities for upgrades. Which, it should be said, there are a fair amount; the aftermarket has taken decently to the AX24, though sadly not on the body side of things. In that regard, you’re on your own in changing up the looks of the AX24.
Needless to say, our feelings towards the Axial AX24 are mixed. We’re big fans of the suspension travel, four-wheel-steer and subsequent turning radius, rock lights, Spektrum SLT3 transmitter, and aftermarket support. However, the variations in quality across two test models and cheap appearance has us wondering where to go next with it, which inevitably lands us at the crossroads where loving its factory performance kit and need for upgrades meet.
Ross hosts The Off the Road Again Podcast. He has been in the off-road world since he was a kid riding in the back of his dad’s YJ Wrangler. He works in marketing by day and in his free time contributes to Hooniverse, AutoGuide, and ATV.com, and in the past has contributed to UTV Driver, ATV Rider, and Everyday Driver. Ross drives a 2018 Lexus GX460 that is an ongoing build project featured on multiple websites and the podcast.
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