RE: HELP: First Nitro RC Car
Bottom line, you'll be fine with any of the 3. I've also ran all 3 many times - here's my thoughts:
Engine tuning: That F4.6 on the savage seems to be the easiest to tune. You can also have it decently "fat" (rich) and it still makes good power. It's also considerably louder than the Traxxas 3.3 engine. These newer 3.3's are also pretty straightforward to tune, and their starting system is great. Run Byron's Gen2 fuel - the 3.3's seem to like it.
Suspension: Here's the BIGGEST difference between those the vehicles. The T-Mass and Savage have somewhat similar suspension setups. The difference is that the Savage won't bottom out as the T-Maxx does. The T-Maxx has a flat bottom chassis, and will 'skip' off the chassis when landing large jumps (almost like a stadium truck.) Note - I'm talking stock here, not modified suspension setups. The Savage can be dropped while holding above your head, land on its wheels and not bottom out. The Savage also seems to 'pop' off jumps more than the other 2, resulting in a tad more air at the same speed. That said, the Savage rolls over the easiest out of all of them. Now.. the Revo.. AWESOME suspension setup. Almost impossible to blow a shock, handles like a DREAM, but, the Revo is also physically smaller than the savage, and because of it's suspension design, does not 'pop' off jumps nearly as much as the other 2 trucks. When I'm running the Revo at the bash session, I need to generate more speed than the other guys to achieve the same height typically. I'm talking dirt jumps here.. not smooth man-made ramps. Also out of all 3, the Revo can turn the sharpest without toppling over.
Servos: The servos that come with the new Traxxas models are pretty high torque and waterproof.. Traxxas win here. The stock servo on the 4.6 RTR is a dog.
Durability: Ok - Like I said before, they're all great. Here's my snapshot on the 3:
T-Maxx: Chassis see's more abuse due to the suspension setup. Front and rear bumpers could be sturdier. I personally feel it's a bit more of a dated design than the other two (granite, the Savage is dated too.) Durable truck - Parts not quite as beefy as the Savage.
Revo: The design lends to it's durability (inboard shocks.) More of a pain if you need to fix something in the driveline. I like the plastic shafts though (like the t-maxx) - not prone to twisting like the savage dogbones.
Savage (x 4.6): Beastly truck. If you DO break something, there's a cheap upgrade usually from the Savage XL or Brushless (engine mount plate, diff's, etc). I've gone through a few diff's on my savage, but they've got an 'indestructible" diff you can pick up for it. Savage also has the highest torque engine out of the 3, so watch the dogbones - prone to twisting in certain conditions (30 second replacement).
As with all the trucks, you're going to get stripped spur gears, shock caps that pop off (except the revo,) etc. That stuff is all a given and is easy to fix and low cost.
Speed: These all run about the same at top-end. The F4.6 has significantly more low-end power (duh), but the 3.3 can get there just as quickly on a good tune. Savage has a hard time putting all that power down without a wheelie bar. Also, that 3.3 revs HIGH.
Overall I really like the Traxxas system - the starting, built-in failsafes (new X with the 2.4ghz would have that as well,) waterproof servo's, etc. But, the Revo runs a higher price-tag.
I'd sum it up as:
Savage = Big, Loud, angry, beat it to death
Revo = "sporty" monster truck, good design, higher tech.
(I don't include the T-Maxx here as I feel the better decision you need to make is between a Savage and Revo. The two compliment each other very well)