FTX Outback 2 Ranger Hands-on Review

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FTX Outback 2 Ranger

The original Outback was a favourite with hobbiests and families looking for an inexpensive model to try out crawling. FTX are back with the Outback 2 Trail Truck with some subtle design changes and updates to enhance the performance. We take the Defender-inspired Ranger-bodied variant for a spin, to see how the new model drives.

Outback 2 At a glance

  • 4WD with front and rear locked axles
  • Twin rail metal frame chassis
  • Waterproof speed controller and steering servo
  • Brushed 390 sized-motor
  • Oil filled shocks
  • 1500mAH NiMH battery and charger
  • Oil-filled shocks
  • A low centre of gravity yet 76mm of ground clearance

Notably this is all available at a particularly low price for a hobby-grade RC car! The Outback 2 is also available with Toyota Land Cruiser or Ford Bronco ‘styled’ bodies.

Outback 2 unboxed

FTX Outback 2 Ranger with Transmitter

The model comes ready to run out of the box, fully built with its painted, trimmed stickered and detailed body. Its around the ‘standard’ 1/10th size, measuring 416mm long, 215mm wide and 230mm tall. The 250mm wheelbase sees the large tyres pushed out to the corners, maximising the approach and departure angles.

FTXOutback 2 Ranger with Transmitter rear

It includes the transmitter, NiMH battery and wall charger; requiring only 4xAA batteries to get crawling!

Chassis

The Chassis shares common design features with other crawlers and trucks, two large metal rails running the length of the model with plates bridging these to hold the electronics and drivetrain. The battery is mounted at the rear, the ESC/Receiver at the front and the rear-facing motor and transmission sit in the middle  to balance the weight distribution. The plastic shock towers sit low on-top of the rails and double up as the vertical body posts.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger Chassis Top

Underneath you can get a better look at the central chassis plate mating the multi–link suspension. The axle housings are hard plastic and double up as the diff casings. Simple sliding ‘telescopic’ driveshaft couplings maintain drive even at the extreme ends of the suspension travel.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger Chassis base

Thick hard plastic bumpers are mounted front and rear, the former with a large bash-bar hook and potentially space for a winch mount. These are on sliding body-posts front and rear that allow forward/aft adjustment, presumably  to make room for longer bodies. Drilled into these are a pair of ‘running light’ LED’s, white on the front and red on the rear, which are powered from a plug on the receiver box (thus the extensive wiring across the model) but can be easily disconnected.

Steering System

The steering linkage uses metal tubes with plastic ends to link the tops of the hubs to the servo as seen below. The servo is mounted to the top of the front diff housing on a metal plate, allowing it to ‘float’ with the extensive suspension travel, but it will make contact with the ESC mounting plate before the shocks bottom out.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger 3kg steering servo

The Outback 2 features a waterproof axle mounted 3kg steering servo. Despite the light weight of the model, we would have preferred to have seen something a little stronger (ideally with metal gears and a metal horn) as the steering system often takes some load when crawling.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger Front Wheel Hubs

The hub carriers are plastic mounted to metal axle mounts. Its clear that cost savings have been made here but at least metal bearings have been retained.

Wheels and tyres

The 105mm diameter rubber tyres are glued to the plastic wheels over memory foam inserts. The 5 bolts on the wheels are for aesthetics only, with only the central nut holding them onto the standard 12mm hex mounts. We like the basic steel wheel design they have opted for, it feels ‘truer’ to the original Land Rover Defender steel wheel design.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger Supersoft Tyres

The tyres themselves aren’t the grippiest, having no trouble with the dry rocks of the sea defences, but becoming stuck in the mud of the forest. These, alongside the steering servo would be our first port of call when it comes to upgrades.

Electronics

FTX have centrally mounted a small 390 size brushed motor to the to the Outback. It is a little on the weedy-side, even for a model as lightweight as this (we have seen customers who have modified the motor plate to accept a 540 can).

FTX Outback 2 Ranger 390 size motor

The included 3 channel receiver / brushed electronic speed controller all-in-one unit is NiMH and 7.4V 2S LiPo compatible. it has a separate covered power switch unit that is mounted aft of the ESC, thankfully in a position where you can reach up inside to turn it on and off without removing the body.

It features two low voltage power outputs, one of which is wired to LEDs in the front and rear bumper bar (which is why the chassis is littered with thin gauge wiring). We were not a fan of these running lights, but at least they were easy to disconnect.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger 40A speed controller

The supplied 1500mAh NiMh battery is enough to feed the current motor, but we found the run-time quite short, even at the slow speeds the model moves. Other (even lower capacity) batteries are readily available for not a great deal of money.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger 1500 mAh battery

Thanks to the velcro retaining method, removing the inner stop on the flat battery tray will allow a ‘full size’ 7.2V stick pack (of a higher capacity) to be inserted whilst still clearing the gearbox. Bear in mind that the ESC is terminated with a ‘mini tamiya‘ plug that will need to be replaced with a full size one (soldering required) or you will be limited in  your selection of batteries.

As common with budget models, the included wall charger is of the slow/trickle variety, meaning even this small battery takes many hours to fill up. If you are looking to shorten your charge times, check our blog on battery charging.

Transmitter

The transmitter is the familiar two channel 2.4Ghz handset shared with other budget FTX models. It has reasonable range and all the usual benefits of a basic digital radio system.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger Transmitter

The ergonomics are found wanting with hard edges and hard plastics throughout, but this is to be expected at this price point.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger Transmitter in hand

We were not a fan of the chrome spoked steering wheel, the foam on ours already working loose after just a few hours driving.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger Transmitter adjustments

However It was nice to see a full set of dual/rate adjustments, trims and reverse switches for the two channels. Note the large power switch on the rear edge of the panel.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger Transmitter Batteries

Removing a panel from the base of the transmitter reveals the battery tray. As stated the package does not include the four AA batteries needed to power the handset. Overall the transmitter is perfectly adequate for piloting the model.

Defender Body

Whilst not as detailed as its more expensive brothers, the included ranger shell has some nice touches. Its clearly a Land Rover Defender clone, with FTX badging replacing the green oval and ‘RANGER’ replacing the DEFENDER badge found on the leading edge of the bonnet.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger stylish front bar All the visual details such as the windows, handles, grilles and lights are just simple stickers, with a raised border to simulate the vehicles recessed cluster mounting.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger side profile

The arch extensions are simply flared out from the shell, but finished in a matt finish black to give the appearance of chunky plastic arches. The body is simple to remove, held in place by the standard four body pins.

If you aren’t a fan of the faux-defender looks, FTX also offer a classic Toyota Land Cruiser (Tundra) edition as well as a Ford Bronco look a-like (Treka) body which should swap out without issue.

Crawling with the Outback 2 Ranger

FTX Outback 2 Ranger cresting a rock

We found the Ranger 2 to be reasonably capable in the soft dirt of the forest. The little truck could power its way over small logs and work its way through piles of leaves.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger issues wide

The high approach angle allows you to climb onto stones and tree branches just fine, the breakover angle such that we only got stuck on the sharp precipices of some rocks.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger rock crawling

It struggled a little on the smooth hard rocks of the sea defence. Here the lack of weight was actually a hindrance as the tyres were unable to get enough purchase to haul the model up. Whilst the majority of the weight was low, it suffered from similar issues as the defender when it came to tipping over due to the tall body, although this could be down to the short track more than anything.

Whilst the model has waterproof electronics, we held off the destruction-level submersion testing we put the TRX-4 through. That said, it handled the wet sandy beach just fine (although we were careful to properly clean the seawater from the model afterwards).

FTX Outback 2 Ranger extreme angles rear

Overall it handled our tests admirably for such a budget model.

Outback 2 Pros and Cons

We like

  • The price : It is really hard to beat for a crawler with metal chassis.
  • The looks :  although subjective, FTX has done a reasonable job of parodying a Defender 90.

We don’t like

  • The battery : You run out of juice too quickly, but this is easily rectified with more batteries.
  • The servo  : Which we would be upgrading along with the horn, pretty soon after purchase.
  • The power : Or lack thereof. Even with the gearing,  the motor does struggle up more serious inclines.

FTX Outback 2 Ranger crawling close

Overall this is a great scale truck and one that would make a great gift or entry point into crawling. It is robust enough to put up with some real abuse and yet costs less than some of our more expensive battery and charger combos!

FTX Outback 2 Ranger rear to the sea

RC Geeks : RC Crawler Specialists

If you like the sound of the FTX Outback 2 Ranger 4×4 Trail Crawler is available on our webstore here with free next-working-day courier delivery.

However if you intend to get ‘serious’ with your crawling, we’d recommend stepping up to the HPI Racing Venture Toyota FJ crawler which offers a better base. With its larger, more powerful motor and advanced chassis, it is capable of scaling more extreme climbs; Plus it has a much more detailed body. The Toyota FJ is also available on our webstore in gunmetal grey here or in sandstorm yellow here.

If you are in the market for the best crawler out there, look no further than the Traxxas TRX-4, which is hugely popular on our webstore with its fully licensed Land Rover Defender body.

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