Tahoe's continued successful effort to refine its value models is obvious in the Q7 SSi. First, the running surface gives an even more satisfying ride than last year, balancing stability and handling with a new top speed just exceeding 54 mph with the Merc 5.0-liter engine. Table Rock Lake in Southern Missouri had steady chop on our gray test day, and our test boat stepped through it easily. We would have been walkin' in tall cotton on any boat-busy weekend.
Interior refinements include a molded-in dash that's solid and sleek. We preferred its new toggle switches to rockers for electrical functions. A fiberglass floor gives the boat added durability and easy cleaning qualities. We stepped aboard via the transom walkway with removable cushions. Boarding from the bow is easy on the upholstery, because the center cushion can be removed to expose a boarding step beneath it.
Tahoe's factory-installed optional wakeboard tower adds sporty utility to the runabout at a reasonable upcharge. Board racks are available, though at an additional cost. While the sleek, brushed-aluminum tower was connected solidly, we noticed the mounting points extended beyond the rub rail on both sides, requiring additional care when pulling the Q7 SSi between the supports for dock roofs so popular in most southern impoundments. Hang fenders before you slip the boat to avoid jarring impacts to the tower and hull.
Tahoe's trademark hull styling includes an extended transom platform that covers the stern-drive and it's one of the many standards in this value boat.
Key Note: Tahoe keeps getting better in our book, and this one showed that Tracker Marine is still refining a solid hull while selecting quality fittings and electronics.
• Dual bucket seats give the top two passengers royal treatment and conserve deck space.
• Kenwood's stereo is standard with an MP3 port and four speakers.
• Center bow cushion snaps out to reveal a boarding step.
* Length Overall: 20'6"
* Beam: 8'
* Dry Weight: 3,031 lb.
* Seating/Weight Capacity: 9/1,700 lb.
* Fuel Capacity: 45 gal.
* Maximum HP: 320
* MSRP (test boat w/ MerCruiser 5.0 w/ Alpha): $28,045
* NMMA Certified: Yes
* Test Engine: MerCruiser 5. w/ Alpha
* Test Prop: 14.5 x 19, aluminum 3-blade
* Test Load: People (235 lb.); Fuel (45 gal.)
* Minimum Planing Speed: 17.3 mph @ 2,200 rpm @ 78 db
* Top Speed: 54.0 mph @ 5,000 rpm
* Time to Plane: 3.0 sec.
* Time to 30 MPH: 8.0 sec.