Bayliner 185

Bayliner has put a premium on space, both for passengers and the stuff they bring along for the ride.

Bayliner 185
Bayliner 185
Bayliner 185
Bayliner 185
Bayliner 185
Bayliner 185
Bayliner 185
Bayliner 185
Bayliner 185
Bayliner 185

An 18-foot bowrider represents the entry point into boating for many families. The Bayliner 185 that greeted us at the dock looked like anything but a stripped-down economy model. Instead, the Flight Series Package ($3,536) added a wakeboard tower with integral Bimini top, extended swim platform, and smart graphics. Add the optional fiberglass liner, and you’ve got a boat that goes beyond bargain-priced special.

Bayliner has put a premium on space, both for passengers and the stuff they bring along for the ride. A new deck mold provides the security of deeper gunwales, and positions the windshield forward about two inches to increase cockpit space; that same change has added six inches of extra legroom below the consoles. Standard layout includes a back-to-back convertible lounge to port and jump seats flanking the engine box. Pop up those seats to form a sun pad. There’s even a handy table hidden below the engine box pad that can extend into the cockpit.

Base power in the 185 is a MerCruiser 3.0 TKS, a package we suspected would be underpowered. Instead, it surprised us by peaking at 43 mph, a respectable number given the boat’s target audience. Time to plane was a quick 3.9 seconds, and the boat hit the 30 mph mark in 9.4. Turn the wheel and you’ll find nimble, responsive handling.