In the hearts and minds of many boaters, there is no boat style more iconic than the family bowrider. It’s trailerable, sporty, and versatile enough to handle tow sports or a jaunt around the local lake. One drawback, however, is that the style known as the bowrider isn’t always so accommodating in the bow.
The new Bayliner VR5 aims to remedy that with its BeamForward design that carries the 8-foot width up through the bow’s seating arrangement. In addition, Bayliner moved the swim platform farther aft to free up additional space in the main cockpit, a process the builder calls AftAdvantage. That means this 20-footer has room up front for folks to stretch out. That combined with the high-freeboard design makes this a small family boat with the space and security you’d want on the water. And it sells for the price of other builders’ 18-footers.
For entertainment, the standard stereo system features MP3 and iPod inputs so you can bring your tunes from home. Six cup holders adorn the boat, along with six grab handles. The full wrap-around windshield keeps the driver and co-pilot, as well as any passengers on the L-shaped lounge in the cockpit, protected from the wind. An insole ski locker swallows up any toys you want to bring out for the day. The sun pad on the engine hatch makes a great area to stage tow sports or to just to kick back and catch some rays. A segment to starboard flips up to reveal the transom walk-through. The portside cockpit seat adjusts to face aft, making it the perfect seat for the spotter to sit while engaging in tubing or water skiing.
As for performance, the 200 hp MerCruiser 4.5L engine in our test boat helped the VR5 climb onto plane in 4.5 seconds and race to 30 mph in 9.2 seconds. With two adults on board and a full tank of fuel, we pushed the boat to 46.1 mph. More importantly, the V-hull — which tapers to 20 degrees of deadrise at the transom — felt predictable in tight turns at 30 mph and handled a light wind chop on the lake without any uncomfortable pounding. To aid in hosing down the boat, or should water get into the cockpit, Bayliner built in a self-bailing liner to quickly whisk the water overboard. Safe, secure and spacious — three words that help to define the VR5.
*High freeboard keeps passengers safe and secure.
*Portside cockpit seat adjusts to face aft, which helps spotters keep an eye on tubers, skiers and boarders.
*BeamForward design creates extra space in the bow.
*AftAdvantage moves the swim platform aft to add interior space.
How We Tested
Engine: 200 hp MerCruiser 4.5L sterndrive
Drive/Prop: Alpha Drive/14¼" x 17" 3-blade aluminum
Gear Ratio: 1.95:1
Fuel Load: 33 gal.
Crew Weight: 420 lb.
$26,999 (with test power)
Bayliner Boats Knoxville, Tennessee; 360-435-8957; bayliner.com