Review - Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Portal RC Trail Truck

This truck has been 3 years in the making, and now it sits as one of the best-selling R/C trail trucks of the year, even though it was just released. What truck is it? Well, it can be 2WD or 4WD. It has an on-the-fly adjustable overdrive, on-the-fly DIG function, and so much more—we’re reviewing the one and only Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Portal.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Portal RC Trail Truck

About the Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Portal

Since its original release in 2018, the VS4-10 has been a premium truck, using premium CNC aluminum materials, and coming with a premium price tag, which made owning a high-end VS4-10 out of reach for many people. But with the new VS4-10 Phoenix, this changes because the Phoenix is the most affordable VS4-10 ever released and one of the most feature-rich trucks available, which we’ll talk about later.

Vanquish VS4-10 Origin Limited

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Portal

The first thing to know about the VS4-10 Phoenix is it’s a 1/10 scale trail truck kit, it’s not RTR, and all aspects of the truck need to be completed by the builder. That’s why, inside the box, you’ll find a clear precut lexan body, bead lock wheels, and tires, all the parts in labeled bags, and at the bottom, the steel chassis rails and instruction manual.

Building the VS4-10 Phoenix can take at least 10-12 hours to complete, maybe more depending on your skill level, because this is a pretty complex truck if you want it to be.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Kit

Vanquish VS4 10 Phoenix Kit Unboxing

VFD Twin Transmission Overdrive

Of all the features on this truck, one of the coolest is the new VFD Twin Transmission that features on the fly selectable overdrive, where the front wheels drive faster than the rear.

This overdrive function provides three different settings:

The 1st is a mild 6.5% overdrive to the front.
The 2nd is a neutral position, completely disengaging the front drive.
And the 3rd position is a more extreme 33% overdrive to the front

VFD Overdrive Twin Transmission

You’ll need an extra servo programmed to the transmitter to make these on-the-fly overdrive adjustments. Still, the nice thing about this OD system is you can program it to a 2 position or 3 position switch on your transmitter depending on if you want the neutral position, which is how the truck becomes 2WD, or rear-wheel drive, by disengaging the front using the overdrive.

VS4-10 Phoenix Manual Transmission Servo

VS4-10 Phoenix Selectable Manual Overdrive

If you don’t want to add the extra servo for this function, the overdrive can be mechanically selected with this lever on the transmission and locked in place with a set screw. This may take a few minutes to complete trailside, but it can be done.

VFD Twin 3-Position DIG System

The other significant standout feature on the VFD Twin is the built-in 3-position DIG system, which is based on the Hurtz DIG system. Hooray, it's no longer an option part—now it’s built-in.

The three positions of this DIG system offer:

A fully engaged and driving rear end.
A neutral position completely disengaging the rear.
And a completely locked up and unmoving back end.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix DIG System

Just like with the overdrive, the truck requires an extra servo to make these on-the-fly adjustments, and the DIG can be programmed to a 2 or 3 position switch, depending on if you want the neutral position.

Interestingly, if you can put the DIG system in neutral, you’ll have front-wheel drive only, not sure why you would, but it’s possible. You could also put the overdrive in neutral, put the DIG in neutral, and have the truck wholly disengaged from the drive. While still having transmitter functions, and I can think of one excellent application for this, that’s to use the ESS Sound System, so you can have the truck sit there while you rev and warm up. I don’t think this is what Vanquish had in mind, but it’s cool, and it could be helpful if you want to use this platform for making other custom R/C projects.

Team Associated Sense Innovations ESS-Dual+ Engine Sound Simulator System ASC29263

If you don’t want to add the extra servo for the DIG, it can be mechanically selected on transmission, just like the overdrive. So you essentially just put this DIG lever in the desired position, lock it down with the set screw, and you’re done.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix DIG System Manual Overide

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix DIG System Manual Overide Set Screw

Why do they call it the Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Portal?

Another equally important part of the Phoenix is the new F10 portal axles, featuring a plastic molded axle housing. Both the front and rear locations feature these new solid portal axles, and internally they feature locked differentials, integrated machined portal gears, and chromoly shafts. The front axle also features a more realistic offset pumpkin with universal driveshafts used, providing up to 49° of steering angle, which is one of the highest in the trail truck category. A machined aluminum red oil cap is used on the rear axle, and the installation tool is included.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Front Portal Axle

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Rear Portal Axle

These are some of the most robust plastic axles we’ve ever seen included with any trail truck, and we’re not surprised. For years, Vanquish Products has been making aluminum solid axles, which are heavy and nearly indestructible—everything plastic isn’t. So to compensate for this, Vanquish designed these F10 plastic axles to use heavy brass axle tubing internally, which add weight down low and help to stiffen up the design. The axle housings were also molded with a built-in truss that spans from end-to-end on the top of the housing, stiffening it up even more. Another robust area is the 6mm stub axles, and they require an 8mm wheel nut wrench. An adapter is included.

Vanquish Products Currie Portal F9 SCX10 II Front Axle Kit VPS08350

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Brass Axle Tube

These portal axles are a huge part of the identity of this truck, which is why the technical name is VS4-10 Phoenix Portal, indicated that down the road, Vanquish will probably release this same truck in an alternate version including straight axles, which will also be plastic. We don’t know this for sure, but that’s how these things tend to go, and not everyone likes portals, so it makes sense.

News Flash - Vanquish has confirmed that these F10 plastic portals have been released for purchase separately.

Vanquish Products F10 Portal Front Axle Set

Vanquish Products F10 Portal Front Axle Set

Vanquish Products F10 Portal Rear Axle Set

Vanquish Products F10 Portal Rear Axle Set

VS4-10 Phoenix Features

Other notable features on the truck are the stainless steel links used throughout, which are much heavier than titanium, aluminum, or plastic and ideal in many locations. The pillow balls are also stainless, with a 4-link rear suspension and 3 link Panhard front suspension, and that Panhard mount is machined aluminum. The center driveshafts are the Vanquish ISD10 with metal joints and plastic sleeves. In the center is the skidplate, and it’s completely flat and smooth to slide on the terrain easily. Impressively, it provides different height positions for the links if you like to tinker and tune.

VS4-10 Phoenix Suspension

Here is something different, the Phoenix now uses molded plastic wheel wells for the front tires, not the lexan wheel wells used on previous trucks. This keeps them stiff, makes body mounting easier, you don’t have to cut them out, and the blacked-out look is way more realistic than without the wells.

VS4-10 Phoenix Hard Plastic Wheel Wells

VS4-10 Phoenix Blacked Out Wheel Well Design

VS4-10 Phoenix Body and Accessories

This is a top-down look at the wheel wells and the other molded plastic chassis components, and notice how the truck’s width is thickest in the center and narrows towards the front. This is a deliberate design to increase the front end clearance and give more freedom to the front tires. Not to mention, it is almost a perfect guide to align the body.

As many of you already know, the Phoenix uses this 3-piece lexan body, comprised of the cab, rear plastic cage, and rear lexan fenders. But you don’t have to use the rear fenders if you would rather have a truggy look.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Top Down View

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Clear Body

Either way, the body looks fantastic and features proper headlight and taillight buckets, hard plastic door handles, windshield wipers, and a complete interior piece, with seats, dash, shifter, and more. In addition, Vanquish is set to release an LED kit for the truck. It’s 2S and 3S LiPo compatible and a direct fit.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Headlight Buckets

Phoenix Headlight Buckets

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Tailight Buckets

Phoenix Taillight Buckets

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Hard Plastic Body Accessories

VS4-10 Hard Plastic Body Details

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Detail Interior

VS4-10 Phoenix Detail Interior

Mounting this body has been made easier on the Phoenix, with a post going through a front hinge that secures at the other end with a body clip, and at the rear of the body, two clips keep it secured. So if you need to access the chassis quickly, simply remove the two back clips and rotate up.

The clever thing about this body is that it secures the chassis in multiple spots, with posts that rest in retainer holes, including the rear shock tower holes and side guard holes. No body clips are used, the posts just sit in the holes, but the whole system keeps the body tight on the chassis with less flex for a more realistic, solid look.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Front Hinge Post

VS4-10 Hidden Body Mounts

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Front Hinge Clip

VS4-10 Front Hidden Clip

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Rear Hidden Body Clip

VS4-10 Back Hidden Clip

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Body Posts

VS4-10 Body Posts

If you don’t want to use the body, any 313mm wheelbase trail truck body should fit, but you’ll need to buy this Vanquish body mount set to do it (VPS10113), and you may need to flip the direction of the front shock towers.

What VS4-10 Phoenix electronics do we suggest?

Of course, the stock body comes clear, so painting is required, and all the other electrical components are not included. This is what we’ve spec’d out for our truck. For servos, we used the Protek 370TBL for steering with two EcoPower WP120T servos for the on-the-fly DIG and overdrive systems. These servos are waterproof, equipped with aluminum servo horns, and running at high voltage.

A four-channel transmitter is required to use all these functions, so we equipped the truck with a Sanwa MT-44 transmitter and receiver. We mounted the receiver up in the fuel cell, but it exposes the wires, so we’ll probably cover that up or move the receiver down the road to make it look cleaner.

ProTek RC 370TBL Black Label Waterproof High Torque Brushless Crawler Servo (High Voltage/Metal Case) (Digital) PTK-370TBL

Steering Servo

EcoPower WP120T Coreless Waterproof High Torque Metal Gear Digital Servo (High Voltage) ECP-120T

Dig Servo

Sanwa/Airtronics MT-44 FH4T/FH3 4-Channel 2.4GHz Radio System w/RX-482 Receiver SNW101A32161A

Sanwa Transmitter & Receiver

Castle Creations Copperhead 10 Waterproof 1/10 Sensored Combo w/Slate (2280Kv) (Crawler Edition) CSE010-0166-06

Castle Motor & ESC Combo

Last but not least, the motor and ESC we used is the Castle Creations Copperhead 10 with the Slate 2280kv – and as a note, this is a 4S LiPo compatible, brushless, sensored system, and that’s precisely how we’re going to use it.

What batteries do we suggest for the VS4-10 Phoenix

On the scale, our completed truck weighs 2,874 grams, or about 6.3lbs, without the battery. As you see, we have a heavy front bias with about 57% and left, and right are 50/50.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Portal RC Trail Truck

Battery examples:

First, is the Protek 3S 1800mah pack, and it’s only 135 grams, and it removes 1% of the forward weight bias. Next, is the Protek 4S 1800mah, and it’s 40g heavier at 175g, but the results are about the same.

ProTek RC 3S 90C Si-Graphene + HV LiPo Battery w/XT60 Connector (11.4V/1800mAh) PTK-5572

ProTek RC 4S 90C Si-Graphene + HV LiPo Battery w/XT60 Connector (15.2V/1800mAh) PTK-5573

Here is the larger 4500mah 3S shorty crawler pack from Protek, and it’s 60g heavier than the previous battery at 236g, and it knocks off 2% of forward weight bias. Last but not least is a full-size 5000mah 3S LiPo from Pit Bull, and this 357g battery adds weight, but the front weight balance percentage is virtually the same as the other three batteries.

ProTek RC 3S 120C Low IR Si-Graphene HV Shorty LiPo Battery (11.4V/4500mAh) Crawler Pack w/T-Style Plug PTK-5116-20

Pit Bull Tires Pure Gold 3S 50C Softcase LiPo Battery (11.1V/5000mAh) w/Battery Life Indicator & XT60 Connector PBTPBB5A50C3S

Since the Castle Motor & ESC is 4S LiPo compatible, we’re using the Protek 4S 1800mAh LiPo battery. Using the stock gearing, the absolute low-end power delivery is relatively slow. The power on the maximum top end is about 7mph.

We are definitely using the stock Phoenix body, and it’s sporting a custom paint job created by Will, an R/C enthusiast in our area. And he’s also a VS4 Phoenix owner, so it only seemed right he joined us to crawl the rocks.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Portal Custom Paint Job

So, what’s it like driving the Phoenix?

Performance in this terrain is excellent, and the first thing we noticed with the Phoenix was how well planted and stable it is and how well it steers. The truck includes wide and narrow wheel hub offsets, and we’ve used the wide, which likely contributes a little to its stability. Another contributor to this is the brass axle tubes included, adding weight down low. Yet another Phoenix feature that we think is important and not talked about enough is that even though this is a “plastic truck,” the chassis is extremely stiff. Second only to an aluminum VS4 truck, so the truck chassis stays solid when you’re traversing rough terrain. At the same time, the suspension is forced to work.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Stability

Stiff VS4-10 Phoenix Body Little Flex

Another pro to performance is the Phoenix’s surface clearance and how little the truck gets hung up. The portal axles provide much of this clearance, but the slim front and rear bumpers are also to thank. They are plastic, but they provide tons of clearance for ascending and descending.

Lastly, the real joy of the Phoenix was using the on-the-fly functions, especially the DIG function, which, as long as you have traction, the truck can turn on a dime or descend sketchy terrain with control. We used this function a lot, and it’s super helpful on the trail. It’s tough to go back to driving a truck without a DIG once you’ve used it.

We used the overdrive function very little and left the truck at 6.5% for most of the crawling. The 33% overdrive setting feels like oversteer, where the truck’s front end is driving the rear, so we preferred the 6.5%, complemented by the DIG.

Vanquish VS4-10 Phoenix Portal RC Rock Crawler


The VS4-10 Phoenix is a remarkable truck, and it is highly recommended, including an impressive list of features that it can do right out of the box, and it’s the least expensive Vanquish VS4 ever released and we think it’s the best, with a price tag of $500 for the kit.

*Prices subject to change without notice - last updated December 15, 2021