Nobody expects an 18-foot runabout to carry a family comfortably, pull skiers and wakeboarders with pizzazz and have enough styling finesse to turn heads like a flashy convertible. Nobody, that is, except the design team at Caravelle. Their new CX18 Bowrider embodies the spirit of fun that brings new families, couples and singles to boating like few others.
The CX18 has a razor-sharp profile with hard reverse chines drawn forward and upward to the broadened bow seating area. Standing on the dock, we immediately saw the benefit of the wide stance — spacious seating in the first-class section with thick upholstery for comfort. We could see that, but we had to step into the boat and slap the throttle forward to really get the point.
Boarding was easy thanks to the two-step walkway at the transom — yep, we’re still in that 18-footer. I slipped into the captain’s flip-up bucket seat and the matching passenger seat, then glanced toward the open lake before turning the key. My arm was comfortably placed in the molded-in armrest before I wrapped my fingers around the throttle. When I pressed it forward, those hard reverse chines lifted the boat quickly onto plane (3.5 seconds). Once on plane, I turned the wheel hard over and doubled back on our course for a crisp skier recovery, thanks to the power steering. The chines knocked down spray for a dry ride.
We tested the CX18 with the low-profile black windshield that had a super-sporty look. But for a more-stately ride, get the full-size windshield, safe from the wind.
Key Note: This sleek, sexy, 100-percent wood-free 18-footer is easily trailerable, watersports capable and economical.
• The uniquely styled bow gives the boat a pickle-fork look and feel while adding secure footing for entry over the bow.
• Impressive standards include flip-up bucket seats, tilt steering and a Kenwood CD player with an MP3 port.
• The extra-large molded-in transom platform with a three-step ladder is unique for an 18-foot boat.
* Length Overall: 18’2″
* Beam: 7’2″
* Dry Weight 2,500 lb.
* Seating Capacity: 8 people
* Fuel Capacity: 21 gal.
* Maximum HP: 190
* MSRP (text boat w/ 3.0L MerCruiser): $17,995
* NMMA Certified: Yes
* Test Engine: MerCruiser 3.0L, Alpha
* Test Prop: Mercury 21-inch, aluminum, three-blade
* Test Load: People (400 lb.); Fuel (5 gal.)
* Top Speed: 40.9 MPH @ 4,800 RPM
* Time to Plane: 3.5 sec.
* Time to 30 MPH: 9.5 sec.