Car customization is an integral part of the video game racing experience

Car racing games are fun, and one of the reasons why they’re fun is the realism that comes with playing these games. It’s not enough to get immersed in the incredible graphics that these games provide; there also needs to be realism in how these cars drive and how much wear and tear they get on their bodies.

For that reason, car customization has become an important aspect of a good car racing game. Not only does it add to the realism of the entire video game racing experience, but more importantly, it gives us a chance to put our tuning hats on and work on our cars as if we actually own and care for them. These 10 games take car customization to a whole new level.

Assetto Corsa

Assetto Corsa not only boasts a generous amount of cars and race tracks, but it’s also home to one of the best customization experiences of any car racing game. Mods are the key to the game’s customization efforts. That and a creative imagination on the gamer’s part. You can create cars and race tracks and get to play around with them in the game. Any option that a specific car could have in the real world, there’s a good chance that you can find those options in the game. It’s available in several consoles, but Assetto Corsa works best on the PC. That’s where you can enjoy the mods to the full extent.

Richard Burns Rally

Some of you might not be familiar with Richard Burns Rally — the game rose to prominence in 2004 — but those who do remember the game will tell you that it remains one of the purest rally racing games around. It doesn’t have the best graphics out of all the games on this list, and that’s largely due to its age. Still, you can’t compete the way you want to in this game without working up some mods on your cars. The physics is incredible, and, extending to that, so is the actual gameplay. Lose control of your rally car and there’s no bonus that’s going to magically restore it back to racing condition. That’s part of the challenge of Richard Burns Rally. You need to know how to customize your rally car before you race it.

Project Cars 2

Tuning your cars correctly is important if you want to make the most of their potential as video game racers. In Project Cars 2, you won’t have any problems kitting out your cars the way you like them.

There are almost 200 cars to choose from in {Project Cars 2}, and each one can be customized to the hilt.

If you’re a newcomer to the game, you can use the Race Engineer option to tune your cars for you. Once you get the hang of the game and all its intricacies, you can do the customizing yourselves. Whether it’s choosing the right set of tires or customizing your car’s gear ratios, Project Cars 2 will turn you into a full-blown car tuning wizard by the time you’re done playing the game.

iRacing

iRacing is one of the most detail-oriented racing simulators in the market. It also happens to be one of the most difficult racing simulators in the market. While some games are generous and forgiving to newbie racers, iRacing is the complete opposite.

If you’re not up to the task of competing in your current class races, your Safety Rating will take a nosedive, keeping you planted in the Rookies class longer than you probably want.

Fortunately, the game comes with robust customization and tuning options that will allow you to choose the proper setup in your cars so you don’t always have to be one bringing up the rear. Once you understand the intricacies of the game and the setups it demands, you’re going to enjoy iRacing like no other racing simulator in the market.

F1 2019

Formula One is without question the most technical racing series in the world. It’s a sport that relies heavily on in-race, on-the-fly modifications. It’s a bit of a surprise, then, to know that customization options in the sport’s official racing game, F1 2019, isn’t as extensive as you’d like them to be.

The good news is that the game is competitive; if you’re not up to it, you’re going to get smoked.

Another bonus: story mode. Yes, you can put yourself in the shoes of an up-and-coming F1 racer and see how you fare as you rise up the ranks to become a full-fledged Formula One driver.

rFactor 2

Have you ever heard of the rFactor video game racing franchise? I’m not going to blame you if you haven’t. rFactor doesn’t get the recognition it deserves since it’s actually one of the best racing games you’ll get to play these days. rFactor 2 is a lot like iRacing. It’s incredibly realistic, and it boasts a streamlined customization tool that allows you to setup your cars in a variety of ways.

Pay close attention to the tire simulation. The slightest wear and tear will have an effect on how your car drives.

If you’re looking for a racing simulator that simulates real-world racing surprisingly well, give rFactor 2 a look. You won’t regret it.

Forza Horizon 4

Obviously, Forza Horizon 4 is on this list. As one of the most detailed games in the entire Forza Motorsport video game franchise, Horizon 4 provides an unrivalled level of customization that will test your knowledge of vehicle tuning.

You can skip through the whole process and just use the auto tuning option, but where’s the fun in that?

If you really want a full-blown customization experience that includes adjusting a car’s downforce, choosing the kind of springs, and tweaking the suspension setup, Forza Horizon 4 provides those opportunities — and then some. Just make sure that you know what you’re doing; the wrong tweak could spell the difference between a blazing fast racer or a clunky lemon.

RaceRoom

This is another game that you probably haven’t heard about, even if you should’ve already. RaceRoom boasts more than 100 race cars, 40 realistic racetracks, free content items galore, and enough features to keep you entertained for a long time.

One of the game’s features is car customization. You can dress up your car in the color you want. You can set it up to run the way you want it to. You can even take the wheel of WRC cars that bounce around like nobody’s business or F1 race cars that’s as difficult to control as the real F1 racers. There aren’t that many people who play RaceRoom, but the small player base can be looked at as a blessing. You can enjoy the game — it’s free to download, by the way — without having to worry about losing your racing cred if you mess up a turn or two.

Grid 2

What’s there to say about GRID2 that hasn’t been said already? One of the most balanced racing games in the market — it’s balanced in the sense that it does a great job marrying simulation racing with arcade racing — GRID2 will challenge your video game racing mettle. It has realistic details, a challenging online mode, and a career mode that you can use to sharpen your racing and customization skills.

Sure, it’s not packed on features as much as any of the Forza and Gran Turismo titles, but in its own capacity, GRID2 can deliver the kind of video game racing experience that you normally don’t get to enjoy.

Gran Turismo 6

Arguably one of the best car video games of all time, Gran Turismo 6 still holds weight as a video game despite its PS3-exclusive status. It’s also proof that just because a game is old, it doesn’t mean that it loses its playability. Gran Turismo 6 has a lot going for it that still stands to this day.

It still boasts one of the biggest collections of playable cars — around 1,200 cars! — among all car racing video games.

That includes all the titles from the Need for Speed franchise. Gran Turismo 6 also holds the distinction of being the first game ever to have certified FIA content. With so many games these days boasting this content, it’s easy to forget to pay homage to the first one to ever do it. And as far as game play goes, GT6 still holds up.

It doesn’t have the kind of crisp graphics that today’s games have, but the details are still there, including its in-depth customization tool that allows you to change every little setup in your car. As far as car simulators go, Gran Turismo 6 is still the standard-bearer.

What Need for Speed games have car customization?

Top 10 Most Realistic Car Tuning & Racing Games
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The Need for Speed franchise boasts a lot of titles, but as far as car customization goes, Need for Speed: Heat boasts a massive assortment of customization options. Whether it’s paint finishes, aerodynamic components, or sets of tires, NFS: Heat has all of them for you to play around with. Other Need for Speed titles that come with car customization include Underground, Underground 2, and Payback.

What mobile games have car customization?

Top 10 Most Realistic Car Tuning & Racing Games
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Hill Climb Racing is often mentioned as the best mobile game when it comes to car customization. The 2012 game managed to succeed in that regard despite using 2D graphics for its gameplay. Another mobile game that’s noted for its car customization is Asphalt 9: Legends. Released in 2018, it was lauded for its impressive graphics, nifty playability, and a customization option that was suited for console games.

What racing games have the best car customization?

Top 10 Most Realistic Car Tuning & Racing Games
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While there are a lot of possible answers to this question, the answer is Forza Horizon 4. The game offers the kind of car customization that would make real-world tuners and automakers blush in envy. Of course, car customization plays a big role in succeeding in Forza Horizon 4 so it’s no surprise that it boasts one of the best and most expansive customization options of any racing game that’s in the market.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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