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Now reading: Axial SCX10 II Jeep Cherokee Scale Crawler Review : Does it live up to its reputation?
With its officially licensed Jeep Cherokee body and evolutionary chassis design, the Axial SCX10 II has been on the tip of every enthusiasts tongue when we have spoken about RC Crawling. We felt it was time we ripped one out of the box and tried it out ourselves.
Included in the box is the factory-assembled truck, the body, transmitter, body pins, spares, spare stickers and a detailed setup and repair manual.
Factory built from the kit, Axial include all the spares that the kit would normally include such as suspension components, chassis plates, a wheel wrench and much more. They even throw in two odd looking lime-green rubber items that are apparently 'gate markers' for marking out your trail start/finish.
Included with this kit is a year 2000 Jeep Cherokee body in a battleship grey colour. It comes pre-painted, trimmed and stickered up (with spare stickers). The rear 'glass' stickers are tinted with a host of decals in the rear windows.
Plastic trim details are restricted to the wing-mirrors and the front grille/light buckets, everything else you see is just simple decals.
No its not the most detailed body we have seen (Traxxas' models taking the crown there) but it still 'looks the part'. We'd say that most of the models budget went into its function over its form, for instance the body features oversize arches to maximise wheel clearance.
We love the inclusion of rubber grips on the body pins. Yes they do kill the 'scale looks' of the truck, but when you need to whip the body off to disconnect the battery (there is no power switch on this model) this makes life so much easier!
As with many of our more serious models, the Axial SCX10 does not include batteries or a charger. The included ESC will accept up-to 3S (11.1v) packs terminated with a deans/t/star connector.
The crawlers' battery tray can accommodate cells up to 32x44x147mm in size. Axial include lugs to add to the battery tray to hold smaller batteries in place, plus a velcro strap to hold them firm should you invert the truck. Remember that on top of this you will also need four AA batteries for the transmitter.
The Tactic TTX300 transmitter is an odd 'stealth' styled, robust unit. It feels well built (its smooth curves make it comfortable in the hand) and it is fine for driving the truck. The four AA batteries (not included) that power it are held in the base of the grip and add some weight balance.
Its adjustment dials are small and fiddly and split over the sides of the transmitter with power and reverse switches one side, and the steering dual-rate/trim and throttle trim pots on the other. It sadly lacks the throttle bias adjustment (70:30 switchable split that we love on Traxxas' transmitters) that allows for even finer throttle control, but you can program end point adjustments following instructions in the manual.
The system features a programmable third channel actioned by the buttons on the stem. This could be used to operate a gearbox, turn on lights or activate a winch. The range on the unit is great, which offers confidence when you are trying to do something dumb like crawling on the roof of a building.
The included Tactic TR325 3 channel receiver isn't waterproof but Axial have housed it in a box with twin silicone seals to protect it.
The included Axial AE-5 ESC is waterproof and LiPo ready. It will take a 5-9 cell NiMH battery or a 2-3 cell LiPo terminated with a deans-compatible plug as already mentioned, thus if you are a seasoned RC enthusiast its like that you already have a battery that would work.
The unit has a label depicting its configuration on the side so ensure you move the jumper over before inserting your batteries. Changing the drag brake from 50% to 100% in the field via just one jumper (no tools required) was really helpful, especially for trying to drive a controlled descent whilst taking photos!
Axial have put their heart and soul into this chassis, their website going into great detail about the strategy and design employed. From the top it looks pretty plain with the large empty plastic deck and tall body posts the first things you notice.
However look deeper and you will begin to see where the time and money went. The chassis can be built for three different wheelbase lengths (11.4, 12 or 12.3in as stock) thanks to the multi-mounting points on the stiff c-channel steel chassis rails. It features a 4-link rear end, adjustable coil-over shocks and adjustable rock sliders.
Extensive use of cast (and in some cases hardened) metal parts and links in both the suspension and drive-train, ensure the chassis can deal with the stresses involved in crawling.
Big plastic bumpers at the front a winch mounting point and cavities for LED lights , whilst the rear have tow mounts and even a position-adjustable tow hitch.
The real magic is in the downsized differentials, so lets work backwards from the wheels. The new AR44 solid axles are slim scale-looking units.
Despite their small size their red-painted caps are instantly recognisable peeking out from under the body. These are a 'high-pinion' design, using spiral cut gears to allow the input shaft to sit above the level mating point that a traditional setup would have, allowing for greater ground clearance.
Telescopic prop-shafts feed the axles with a big step-down ratio from the prop to the 3-piece driveshafts thanks to that clever diff, with the intention of minimising torque twist.
Finally a 35T brushed motor (with an integrated cooling fan) is mated to a metal plate on a compact transmission featuring a heavy-duty dual-slipper clutch.
Axial mounted the included metal gear servo to the chassis to mimic the layout of the real truck. This has required them to design a complex steering linkage system offering proper suspension geometry and supposedly eliminating bump steer.
The steering provides 45° degrees of lock resulting in a turning circle of around 130cm. The 8° degree kingpin angle improves on the older mk1 design pivot point, resulting in less tyre scrub and load on the steering servo.
As you can imagine this setup is a lot more sophisticated than the plastic setups that come on models like the Carisma SCA-1E. It's a shame that the included Tactic metal-gear 10kg/cm unit is only water-resistant but it is a standard-sized servo that could be easily switched out.
The BF Goodridge styled tyres offer great traction on everything bar really loose surfaces. They measure 118mm by 42mm are an 'S30' compound and are glued onto the rims.
For the loads and speeds involved, this glue mounting of the tyres is just fine, we'd recommend trying crawling with this combination before jumping on a 'beadlock' upgrade.
Axial include 1.9in 'Method' style wheels that fit to the truck via the standard 12mm hex hub.
We try to test these crawlers on as many different terrains as possible (although snow is becoming difficult to find in the UK right now) to assess how successful they are at crawling.
The break-over angle of this truck is impressively high, allowing you to clamber over some sizeable hurdles before you run out of clearance between the wheels.
With short and high overhangs, the truck benefits from great approach and departure angles. This enables you to take on really 'steep challenges'. Remove the bumpers front and rear will extend these further but at the cost of the scale looks.
The traction provided by those soft compound tyres combined with the low-centre-of-gravity enables it to cling onto rocks where the bodies of other vehicles would leverage them off.
Even when the going got wet, the SCX10 had no issues trucking through rock-pools and clambering over seaweed covered boulders.
The tyre/insert combination is well matched to the weight of the vehicle and makes it pretty much unstoppable.
Indeed the only terrain where the SCX10 II struggled was the same that thwarted TRX-4, loose fine gravel or sand.
Without the weight to compress the material, or large tread blocks to spread what load it has, it gets churned up digging the truck down into the surface.
Otherwise on hard surfaces it would climb up and away with minimal fuss.
Long grass and pebbles are dispatched comfortably but be careful not to get too much of it wound up in the propshafts or hubs.
Dirt and sticky mud is no problem for the SCX10 II either, but really boggy conditions might have you reaching for some sort of paddle tyre.
In our opinion, this truck is fantastic. Its substantially cheaper than Traxxas' TRX-4 and whilst it lacks its high-tech remote locking diffs and portal axles, it matches and sometimes even beats the more expensive truck in terms of on-trail performance.
As one of the most popular trucks on the market there is a plethora of aftermarket upgrades available. From performance parts like portal axles and bumpers with winches, to cosmetics such as rear tyre mounts and swing out bumpers, the list of additions that be thrown at this chassis is seemingly endless.
There isn't much as capable for the same or less money. If you can't quite stretch to the this model, consider picking up the Carisma SCA1E classic Range Rover but be prepared to take a performance hit.
We stock the Axial SCX10 II in several different flavours with variations of the body, tyres and some other details. The Grey 2000 Jeep Cherokee edition you see reviewed here, the rugged paired-back olive green Deadbolt version, the beige trail honcho extreme truck, a red 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and a retro blue 1969 Chevy blazer.
As mentioned you will need a battery and charger. We tested the model with Absima's 2S 3000mAh LiPo battery and a basic balance charger but we'd suggest picking up a couple of high-capacity hardcase batteries and a smart fast charger if you have the budget.
All qualify for our free next-working-day delivery (to uk mainland addresses) so order now and you could be crawling tomorrow!
The RC Crawling hobby has really grown in the past couple of years and we have quite a few crawler reviews for you. See this article on FTX's Outback 2 Ranger, check out our review of HPI Racing's awesome Toyota FJ Venture, browse our recent review of Carisma's Classic-Range-Rover-bodied SCA-1E and of course we have reviews of both the Mercedes G500 bodied and Land Rover Defender bodied Traxxas TRX-4's!
If you have any questions about the Axial SCX10 mk2 or there are any models you would like to see reviewed, please leave your comments below.