Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Whether you're shopping for a toddler or an older child, finding toys to entertain them can be a challenge. If the child is particularly curious, active, or both, ride-on toys are a great option that'll them.
Designed to be either self-propelled or electric-powered, these larger-than-life toys are great for fostering motor skills and hand-eye coordination, says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist in New York City. Some of these toys—like the ones with different levers, knobs, and switches—can also help children learn about cause and effect. Even older kids who just want to zoom around will be stimulated by ride-on toys.
Here, the best ride-on toys for kids.
Best Overall: Little Tikes Cozy Coupe 30th Anniversary Car
You'd be hard-pressed to find a household with children that don't have this classic toy at home. For 30 years this car has been delighting children with its easy to maneuver style and open and close doors. Built for children 18 months and up, this toy will have them racing around the backyard with their feet (think Fred Flinstone). It also has storage space for bottles, cups, and snacks and is easy to wipe down and clean when messes happen. And don't think this will only be fun for little ones. As your child grows up they'll still get a kick out of rolling and pushing this car around. Their older sibling may even want to take a spin!
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Radio Flyer Deluxe Steer and Stroll Trike
The Radio Flyer wagon is an American icon, and this three-wheeler matches its classic design with the easy-riding fun of a tricycle. Perfect for kids from 2 to 5, the Radio Flyer Deluxe Steer and Stroll Trike is easy to customize to fit your child’s age and level of riding confidence. A rear-mounted handle allows the parent to steer and push, but it can be removed when your young one is ready to take to the pedals and handlebars themselves. An adjustable seat can be raised as your child grows, and an attached storage bin makes it easy to bring some favorite toys along for the journey.
Parents love that you can guide your child’s ride using the handlebar, and then eventually remove it as they grow and develop their motor skills—it gives the toy an unusually long lifespan. While some write that assembly can be challenging, the brand’s customer service is stellar, and once it’s constructed you can’t beat the bright red look and classic sense of Americana.
Best for Truck Lovers: Peg Perego John Deere Ground Force Tractor with Trailer
If your child is obsessed with all things trucks, he or she will love the Peg Perego John Deere Tractor. This electric tractor is perfect for ages 3-7 and can hold up to 85 pounds. It features two speeds, 2.5 and 5 miles per hour, and can even go in reverse. Plus, it has a built-in FM radio so your kid can blast his favorite tunes as he does all that much-needed yardwork. An adjustable seat with armrests makes for a comfortable ride and the rechargeable 12-volt battery allows for hours of fun. The detachable trailer lets your child haul his or her favorite toys all across the lawn while “helping” mom and dad with chores.
While it does require a good deal of assembly, it’s worth it. Children of all ages and genders love riding on a John Deere tractor that looks like the real thing.
Best Two-Wheeler: Costzon Ride-On Motorcycle
While a true two-wheeler is too difficult for most toddlers, but the Costzon Ride-On Motorcycle gives the illusion of riding on two wheels while providing the stability of three. With an authentic motorcycle look, this battery-powered bike runs via a foot pedal and reaches speeds up to 1.8 miles per hour. The third wheel is tucked away in the back, so from the side and front, the toy really does look like it’s running on two wheels. It’s even got a built-in music and horn button and working headlights.
The motorcycle-inspired design is very cute, and kids love playing with the music button to set the tone for the perfect afternoon ride.
Best Horse & Carriage: Little Tikes Princess Horse & Carriage
If your child is obsessed with everything princess, check out the Little Tikes Princess Horse and Carriage. This ride-on toy can be maneuvered by both children and adults, and features realistic horse sounds to carry your princess wherever she desires. A steering wheel, detailed carriage doors, and two beverage holders all add to the fun of being a real princess.
Best for Babies: Step2 Whisper Ride II
This push car from Step2 is perfect for babies 18 months and older. This ride-on plastic car features a fold-down handle, four easy-to-push wheels, and two cup holders for the ultimate riding adventure. It comes in blue or pink, and even has a kid-powered horn that honks. It can hold up to 50 pounds and measures 45.5 x 19 x 34 inches. Easy to push or pull, this car is a load of fun for children and can be assembled without a massive time investment.
Best Playset: Step2 Up & Down Roller Coaster Ride On
This playset from Step2 combines the fun of a traditional ride-on toy with the excitement of hopping on a roller coaster, all in your own backyard. A colorful riding car with a high back and handrails sits atop a three-piece plastic track with 10 feet of gentle slopes to the finish. The design of the track holds the car in position as it makes its way toward the end, and ensures it stays in place when your child climbs in at the top. The whole playset simply snaps together, and non-slip steps provide access to the car from either side. All in all, it offers a fun, exciting ride your child will want to take again and again.
The Step2 Up & Down Roller Coaster Ride-On provides hours of enjoyment and is great for kids from as young as 2 all the way up through 8 or so.
Best for Toddlers: Fisher-Price Harley-Davidson Tough Trike
Give your little biker the hog of his or her dreams with the Fisher-Price Harley-Davidson Tough Trike. Decked out with the Harley-Davidson logo and some gnarly flame graphics, this three-wheeler is perfect for pedal-powered trips around the block. The wheel-base is wide and stable, and the handlebars are easy to grip. A storage compartment under the seat fits some toys or treats for the road, and the large-size foot pedals make it easy for your toddler to propel themselves without fear of slipping.
Customers write that the Fisher-Price Harley-Davidson Tough Trike is a favorite of their toddler—it’s just the right size and provides hours of pedaling fun, with a streak of rebellious Harley style. It’s easy to put together, and a breeze for little ones to scoot around on.
What to Look For in a Ride-On Toy
Ride-on toys come in two styles: The kind that requires a power source to make them go and the kind that requires manual effort like pedaling. Typically, the latter is more appropriate for toddlers, while the former is more engaging for older kids. If you’re unsure whether a ride-on toy is age-appropriate for your child, look at the age recommendations on the packaging—it’s a good gauge of safety and engagement, says Kristin Morency Goldman, senior advisor of strategic communications for The Toy Association.
Because some ride-on toys are often powered, safety is of utmost concern. Children should always wear a helmet when using these types of toys, says Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in South Overland Park, Kansas.
Durability and Longevity
Ride-on toys are often kept outdoors, so for longevity's sake, it’s important to look for toys that are built to withstand the elements. They should also be safe to operate outdoors. Because ride-on toys tend to be on the more expensive side, it’s smart to look for options that evolve as your child grows—like options with adjustable handlebars or seats, for example.