Pack out a typical 18-foot bowrider with four adults, two kids, a bunch of gear and water toys ... and see how long it takes for cabin fever to set in. Or worse, see who draws first blood.
That isn't the case with the Glastron GX 185. It's bruise-free, scratch-free ... and claustrophobia-free with a gang of six. It's also a breeze to drive and maneuver, making it one of the better entry-level runabouts on the market -- for around 20 grand.
Start with the padding. It's everywhere -- along the gunwales, in the walkthrough to the bow, around the edges of the helm station and at the driver's throttle elbow. Genmar's patented VEC construction also means you won't catch a finger on unfinished fiberglass inside any compartments -- it's all smooth.
There's enough room at the driver and passenger stations for a 6-foot-4 person to lock out his knees. One tester actually had to slide the seat forward to drive. That doesn't happen often on an 18-foot bowrider. (In his haste, he slide the seat too far and bumped his knees on the dash, which was not painful because the dash is padded too.)
Adding to the sporty image of the GX 185 is a wraparound windshield that stretches clear back to the rear bench seat. That also adds depth and security in the cockpit.
Safety features are evident at speed too. There's virtually no loss of horizon out of the hole and as the radar climbs to 50-plus mph in heavy chop the Super Stable V lives up to its moniker. It's solid on the water like a tri-hull, but turns crisply like a V-hull. The reversed chine knocks down spray and the resulting wake at 20 mph is, among recreational bowriders, as clean as we've seen for wakeboarding and kneeboarding.
Add one more comfort area around the GX 185: gripping a handle 75 feet back.
AM/FM stereo with CD player (standard) is positioned above the glove box for easy access
The completely finished feel of VEC construction is evident inside and out
Storage under bow seats is netted for conveniently stowing fenders or wet gear
Cupholders in cockpit are at foot level to make drinks less likely to spill and to maintain elbow room
Sunpad is broad enough for donning skis and boards with feet on the platform
Test Engine: Volvo Penta 4.3L GL
Test Prop: 14.25'' x 23''
Test Load: Fuel (22 gal.); people (405 lb.)
Top Speed: 52.1 mph @ 4,800 rpm
Time to Plane: 3.5 sec.
Time to 30 mph: 7.4 sec.
Speed at 3/4 Throttle: 35 mph @ 3,600 rpm
Noise @ Idle: 63 db
Noise @ 30 mph: 88 db
Length Overall: 18'
Dry Weight: 2,245 lb.
Seating Capacity: 8
Load Capacity: 1,275 lb.
Fuel Capacity: 29 gal.
Maximum Horsepower: 225
MSRP (test boat): $23,064
CONTACT: Glastron Boats; 320-632-8395; www.glastron.com