Bayliner struck gold with its 2013 launch of the Element, an economical, spacious and practical runabout that appeals to first-time boaters. In 2014 Bayliner came out with the XL version, which upped the standard horsepower from 60 to 90 and the length overall from 16 feet to 18 feet. Now the company is applying the Element’s signature M-Hull to a whole new concept, the new Element XR7: a fiberglass boat with the space and stability of a pontoon boat.
The M-Hull competes well against a ’toon because it has a few of the same attributes — predictability, ease of planing, and stability at rest. The M-Hull works like a trimaran, with the V running down the centerline and two V-shaped sponsons outboard with hard chines. Instead of tapering flat aft, the sponsons maintain their V all the way to the stern. It seems ideal for adapting to a pontoon-style layout, so that’s what Bayliner did, extending the centerline to 22 feet and widening the beam to 8 feet 6 inches. The bow and stern platforms extend the length overall to 25 feet, and provide fore and aft water access that’s hard to beat.
The fiberglass components allow Bayliner some advantages over traditional pontoons, including a better tow-sports wake and better durability in salt water. Plus, the M-Hull allows for two gigantic ski lockers set into the fiberglass sole. Also, whereas most pontoons employ a fold-out canvas “privacy” curtain, the XR7 has an enclosed head in the starboard console. The helm itself is raised 5 inches off the deck to give the driver a better view.
Forward seating includes opposing couches with forward-facing backrests and storage underneath. There’s an actual anchor locker in the bow, a rare commodity aboard a ’toon. The portside boarding gate helps at the dock, and there’s more great seating in the main cockpit, where the L-lounge sports a sun pad with an adjustable backrest.
We tested the XR7 with a 200 hp Mercury Verado and, with a crew of six and the Bimini top deployed, still approached 40 mph. We climbed onto plane in about four seconds, and felt safe and secure from every seat. (With the base 150 hp Mercury FourStroke, the XR7 sells for $39,799.) So for turning the Element into an entertainment platform that rivals a pontoon, we say to Bayliner, “Mission accomplished.”
*Helm console is raised 5 inches off the deck for great line of sight for the driver and more headroom for the head.
*The head in the helm console provides privacy.
*Swim steps around the outboard give ample space for water access.
*Stable M-Hull design provides great stability.
How We Tested
Engine: 200 hp Mercury Verado
Drive/Prop: Outboard/Enertia 15¼” x 19″ 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 2.08:1
Fuel Load: 20 gal.
Crew Weight: 1,200 lb.
$47,513 (as tested)
Bayliner Boats Knoxville, Tennessee; 360-435-8957; bayliner.com