Axial SCX10 III Kit Jeep Wrangler Rubicon JLU Review

Axial SCX10 III Kit Jeep Wrangler Rubicon JLU Review

The SCX10 III Kit (AXI03007) is a 1/10 scale crawler with portal axles and a polycarbonate body. It has much of the body detail found in hard body or ‘class 1’ rigs.

SCX10 III Front & Rear

It’s A Kit, Bob

A few decades ago, if you wanted a hobby-grade RC truck, you could expect to have to build it before you could drive it. Over the years, there’s been an accelerating trend toward Ready To Run (RTR) models – unbox it, charge the batteries and go.

Today, Axial sells a considerable range of SCX10 III vehicles in RTR form whilst there’s only one option if you want an SCX10 III kit. Axial also offers the SCX10 II Raw Builders Kit if you just want a ‘slider’ on which to build your own custom rig. Both the SCX10 II and III ranges are considerably varied, with at least five models of each.

SCX10 III Kit Box

Experience Where It Matters

Axial have been in the game for many years and their expertise shows in the kit. On opening the box you’re greeted with labelled bags, neatly sorted beneath and within the clear polycarbonate body, some basic tools and fluids and a quality manual.

The company also offers a set of exploded parts diagrams for the SCX10 III kit, freely available online. In short, you’re in safe hands when attempting an Axial kit even if you’re a newcomer to the hobby.

SCX10 III Exploded Parts

Getting’ Prepped

Like many RC kits, you’re going to need to supply your own electronics. This means a 2, 3 or 4 channel radio system, depending on what you want to achieve in this build. Specifically:

  • 2-channel if you only want throttle and steering. You’ll lock out the DIG (DIsengageable Gear) and the two-speed transmission for constant low-speed 4WD operation; or,
  • 3-channel if you only want one of DIG or two-speed control (Axial suggests the Spektrum DX3 radio system); or,
  • 4-channel (or greater) if you want full-function from the SCX10 III kit: throttle, steering, DIG and two-speed (we recommend and used the Flysky GT5 radio system, available here).

You’ll also need an ESC (we recommend the HobbyWing WP-1060 brushed ESC), a motor (we recommend the Holmes Hobbies 15-turn 550 brushed motor), steering servo (we like the jx Servo WP5323LV), waterproof mini servos for DIG and two-speed control (we suggest the PowerHD TR4 units), and your own 2S LiPO or 6 or 7 cell NiMH battery (2000mAh to 5000mAh capacity as needed).

Tools required are 1.5mm, 2mm and 2.5mm hex wrenches, body scissors or hobby knife, needle-nose pliers, tweezers and polycarbonate paint for the body.

SCX10 III with Electronics

Hypoid Gears!

Axial supplies the new 6-bolt locker and hypoid gears from the Capra in front and rear axles. Hypoid gears are good for extra strength and have the added benefit of being quieter than straight-cut teeth. They always have contact with multiple teeth at once, giving that extra strength over the simpler straight-cut designs.

You do need to ensure there’s sufficient lubrication, but the grease you apply at build-time should last a couple of years in regular use. Also, hypoid gears just look cool – do a web image search for ‘hypoid gears’ to see what I mean if you’re curious.

Axial AR45 Portal Axle

SCX10 III Kit Axles

The build begins with the portal axles. You’ll start with the ‘A’ bag, which contains neatly organised smaller bags of parts, sorted by type for easier identification. You will be assembling bearings, gears, shafts, screws, plus larger plastic axle and portal pieces. Axial uses a coding system that guides you through applying lubrication, thread lock, direction of insertion and so on, with the actual build steps intuited by way of exploded parts diagrams.

That may sound intimidating if you’re new to this stuff, but take a look at this picture from the start of our build. Note how you’re only ever putting a handful of parts together at a time, and how subsequent steps follow logically from the previous ones. There will be some challenging steps in the build, but you will hopefully find yourself gaining confidence as you progress. This kind of build is great for building one’s experience and sense of accomplishment – plus you’ll know what’s inside your model, so future repairs, upgrades and maintenance will be things you’re confident to attempt yourself. It’s a great way to get started in the hobby.

SCX10 III Kit Axles

Shafts & Joints

Axial supplies the AR45P universal axles up-front. You don’t get a constant velocity speed at angle to the front wheels, but universals provide greater strength than CVD (Constant Velocity Drive) joins and this is a decision Axial has made consistently for many years: strength first, smoothness second.

Their WB8 HD Wildboar driveshafts are the latest design with larger diameter cross-pin than previous models had. Though they’re plastic, the drive shafts are some of the best plastic units in the hobby and they will be good for everything up to high-level competition (and even then, they’re quite good. We had the previous version Wildboar shafts on a 2.2 Sportsman at the 2018 Worlds in Perth and they were utterly reliable in the harshest conditions this writer has ever experienced – surface temperatures nearing 50 degrees C, long days, tough rocks. Epic!)

WB8 HD Wildboar Shafts

Clicking in Reverse?

Our unit made a weird clicking noise in reverse if under any load. There was also some movement on the pinion shaft from the diff. The pinion was able to move too close to the crown wheel, so a diff between the drive shaft and the base of the pinion shaft cover was needed. We discuss this in our video review (further down the page).

The below image shows where the shim was needed. We put 2x 0.3mm shims on the front shaft and 2x 0.2mm shims on the rear. Note, yours may vary as the need for shims is determined by inaccuracies in the moulding or cutting process at manufacture. Some units may be much better than others and you may not need any shims at all.

SCX10 III Diff Shim

Fenders & Side-Boards

The SCX10 III JLU body’s inner fenders and floor give welcome visual cover to the internals. It can really break immersion to look sideways at a vehicle and see right through the wheel wells into the chassis rails and motor and wires within. The quality plastics on this kit give good cover to that and should be compatible with most bodies of suitable wheelbase.

There are holes ready for rock lights if you so desire, too. A great way to brighten up the rig for evening driving – highly recommended.

SCX10 III Fenders

Shift & DIG

The SCX10 III transmission has all-metal gears throughout and gives you four configuration options:

  1. Most basic, run full-time 4WD, single-speed;
  2. As above, but with DIG (DIsengageable Gear);
  3. No DIG, but now high and low gear selection in full-time 4WD; and,
  4. High/low speed in full-time 4WD, plus DIG.

As it’s a kit, you’ll need to supply your own electronics. Here are the differences in what you’ll need in the above list, depending on how you set it up:

  1. 2-Channel radio system and a steering servo;
  2. 3-Channel radio system, a micro servo and a steering servo;
  3. 3-Channel radio system, a micro servo and a steering servo; and
  4. 4-Channel radio system, two micro servos and a steering servo.

In our unit, we went with option 4. This way we have both a high and low speed selection as well as the DIG component. On that point, here’s how the DIG works:

SCX10 III Transmission

Transmission & Gears

Axial’s transmission design puts the motor up-front, next to the steering servo. The DIG and 2-speed linkages are at the mid and rear points, situated at about the middle of the vehicle, over the skid plate. There are outdrives to front and rear both rotate in the same direction, so torque twist could be an issue. Thankfully, portal axles help minimise the effect, but it’s something to be aware of.

All gears on this model are of cut steel. No cast metal in sight and even the spur gear is steel! This means more noise in the drive-train, but utterly reliable moving parts, electronics aside. This is a good thing.

There are 8 motor mount positions for pinion sizes from 11-tooth to 18-tooth, with the Axial-supplied AX30725 (14-tooth, 32p) pinion being the recommended size to match the recommended 35-turn 540-size motor.

SCX10 III Transmission Ext

Attractive & Adjustable

Even though most folks won’t see it when you’re out wheeling your rig, there are numerous scale features on and around the chassis. In particular, the replica V8 engine (well, most of one), attractive transmission housing and transfer case all cover your motor and look great doing it.

The side boards we mentioned above are adjustable via pre-tapped holes along the chassis. There’s overlap from the fenders, too, so if you lengthen or shorten the vehicle to match whatever body you want to use, you don’t have to sacrifice the attractive finish to do so.

There are also two battery trays, allowing you to fit those larger 4A to 7A packs in the rear or a smaller competition pack on the left side. You’ll find space on the side rails, too, so you have room to fit additional electronics like light controller or an additional ESC for a winch.

SCX10 III Engine Cover

SCX10 III Kit Geometry

The suspension geometry is based on the SCX10 II but refined slightly for the new chassis layout. Here, the front suspension has been optimized to reduce bump steer, while the rear 4-link reduces torque twist. It also helps with steep off-camber climbs by having the proper amount of anti-squat and roll characteristics. The 4-Link system also aids against suspension wrap-up in high power applications. Strong 6mm stainless steel links with high grade plastic rod ends for durability.

Chassis-Mounted Servo (CMS) has become a standard in scale RC and the SCX10 III is designed with that expectation in mind. The servo is mounted in the chassis. CMS brings with it the potential problem of ‘bump steer’. That is, undesirable steering caused by bumps interacting with improper length or angle of suspension and steering links. Axial designed the front suspension in such a way that bump steer is minimised without compromising a decent turning angle of 45 degrees.

SCX10 III Underside

SCX10 III Shocks

This kit includes oil-filled shocks have hard anodized, threaded bodies, a single coil over spring, plus an emulsion-style cap with screw for easier rebuilds. The shocks are tuneable for achieving the best dampening rate. Their increased bore size also creates more fluid volume for better performance.


Wheels & Tires

The wheels are officially licensed KMC XD Machete bead lock units. They are  made of plastic and have a matt-chrome finish. Quite detailed, they’re 3-piece bead lock wheels, so your tires can be swapped out without worrying about glue. The wheels are lightweight, solid enough and reliable.

Tires are Nitto Trail Grappler in R35 compound. They’re 4.74” x 1.7” wide. Our past testing has shown these are quite good on dry rock, but struggle a bit on dirt and especially poor on wet rock. They’re attractive and they suit the vehicle and the included foams are nicely balanced. Use these until you’re ready for an upgrade, basically. Here’s a bit about the tire performance – the second half of this video goes into comparison with other options:

SCX10 III Tires & Wheels

JL Wrangler Body & Interior

One thing that sets this kit apart from other crawler kits is the attention to detail on the body. The interior is quite complete, cleverly done from a mix of plastic pieces and paintable polycarbonate mould. Stickers are included to help finish the look, so even a simple plain paint job will be enough to look quite nice under the stickers. The interior features a functional roll cage, full dash and steering wheel, 4 seats and even a driver.

The details keep coming on the outside. Axial’s under-body, hidden body clip system is tidy, if a little finnicky to attach. A polycarbonate exterior body comes clear, ready for paint which you must include yourself (grab the Tamiya PS series rattle cans for this job). There are many included pieces: front radiator and light buckets, front hood vents, a front cowl, front windshield wipers, side mirrors, door handles and fuel door. The end result is very smart.

SCX10 III Kit Painted

Vital Statistics

Here are some basic numbers to give you an idea of the size of this thing:

  • Length: 125″ (485mm)
  • Width: 25″ (234mm)
  • Height: 5″ (241mm)
  • Wheelbase: 3” (312mm)
  • Ground Clearance: 3″ (76.2mm)
  • Weight (no electronics): 5 lb (2.9kg)
SCX10 III Kit Unpainted

Rock Crawling Ability

The suspension and geometry of this rig is good. It’s detailed body works against it on the rocks with a higher center of gravity than is ideal. The tires are fine in the dry.

This all adds up to a reasonably capable crawler out of the box (or in this kit’s case, with basic electronics). The best way to give you an indication of this vehicle on the rocks is to refer you to our review video – check that out here:

Trail Characteristics

Things are a little better for the Jeep on the trail. Yes, the tires aren’t the best compared to others, but they’re still absolutely ample and our advice would be to use them until they’re worn and you’re ready for something better. The gear ratio between low and high is too small, or close. Low should be slower and high should be faster. This will be a frustrating point on the trail. You’ll also want to get some lights installed to enhance the realism, if you’re into that sort of thing.

It’s absolutely capable. You can expect to push the car quite hard and it’ll stand up to hard driving, time after time. The SCX10 III kit brings you a very useable trail rig and you’ll be able to keep up with other models – particularly with better tires. It’s fun, durable and handles nicely. That high/low speed issue is really the only sticking point for us.

SCX10 III Side

Decisions, Decisions!

The Axial SCX10 III kit is a worthy unit. If you want to build a kit that can be driven hard and has room for upgrades and modding whilst looking great from day 1, this should on your shortlist.

You might also want to consider these models if you’re looking for a 1/10 scale crawler kit:

GMade BOM TC: Our Review

Vanquish Phoenix Portal: Our Review

Traxxas TRX4 Sport (video)


All models have their pros and cons, so keep in mind that subjective element of what speaks to you the most. We’re spoilt for choice these days – even doing a ‘what crawler to buy’ article is tough! (Check that out here).

The Axial SCX10 III JL Wrangler kit is a perfect example of just how good we have it in 2022. If you like this one, grab it. You’ll love it!

SCX10 III On Its Side

More Info

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Axial SCX10 III Jeep Wrangler JL Kit

Manufacturer’s page:

Related: our SCX10 III Gladiator RTR playlist.

Craig Veness

Craig Veness


Craig has been into radio control since the 90s and into RC crawling since about 2010, when a Losi MRC started the obsession! Now it’s all rocks this and crawl that and upgrade all the things! …You know how it is, right? Welcome home 🙂