Crestliner 2185 Escape

As economical rides go, you won’t find much better this side of electric power. You could cruise all afternoon at 10 mph (1.5 gph) on a 20-dollar bill.

With all the razzmatazz now available on every form of boat — including pontoons — a model like the 2185 Escape reminds us of the ultimate reasons we started boating in the first place: to get on the water, have room to roam and carry no second thoughts about the cost of the experience.

Our test model with the standard 23-inch tubes and a 50-horse Mercury BigFoot is listed just north of $17,000. It isn't bare bones, either, with a changing room under the sun pad, boarding ladder behind the aft gate and Jensen sound system. As economical rides go, you won't find much better this side of electric power. At 18 mph (top speed is 19.5 with our motor setup) the 2185 Escape burns only 3.6 gallons per hour. You could literally cruise all afternoon at 10 mph (1.5 gph) on a 20-dollar bill.

In playing up the functionality theme, Crestliner kept the floor plan open. The driver's console is slender, allowing it to be nudged forward. Crestliner has also stretched the deck farther aft to accommodate the motor well so it doesn't eat into as much usable space as we see on other models this size. These decisions, and going with twin lounge seats instead of full couches, give the interior double-wide traffic areas when moving from any of the three boarding gates — which, by the way, are much broader than the norm, allowing easy access for wheelchairs or passengers carrying two armloads of gear.

With the low base cost of the 2185 Escape, we'd strongly consider opting up to 27-inch tubes and a 90-horse motor, which still keeps the package under $20,000 while allowing additional versatility for pulling tubes and roaming a bit farther from home.

Extra Points
• Seat bases are recessed like toe kicks, so you can stow shoes or a small bag out of the way.
• Sloping armrests on the lounge seats are a step up from the boxy look of some others.
• Cross members are secured to the bottom of the deck, and spray deflectors give better hydrodynamics.
• Helm has ports for MP3 players and any 12-volt gadgets.

Test Drive * Test Engine: Mercury 50 HP Bigfoot * Test Prop: Black Max 14" X 10" * Test Load: People (190 LB.) Fuel (10 GAL.) * Top Speed: 19.5 MPH @ 5,600 RPM * Most Economical Cruise Speed: 14 MPH @ 4,000 RPM, 2.2 GPH Vital Stats * Length Overall: 21'6" * Beam: 8'5" * Dry Weight: 1,725 LB. * Seating/Weight Capacity: 11/1,988 LB. * Fuel Capacity: 25 GAL. * Max HP: 90 (or 115 w/ 27-inch tubes) * MSRP: $17,342 (as tested) * NMMA Certified: Yes