*We rode this three-seat beauty along the Atlantic Coast near Key West in seas to four feet and found the boat to be solid and forgiving. It took the torture without creaks, groans or cracks. We couldn't say that about the driver.
But we could say it was a blast to drive. The STX-12F has a lot of torque and excellent acceleration, which is best enjoyed while standing up, flexing knees and elbows to absorb the shock. In this manner we jack-rabbited along in the mid-40s, goosing the throttle at the crest of each wave to enjoy the exhilarating hang time as we glided over the troughs.
While boaters have been trained to think four-stroke marine engines are heavy and sluggish, the STX models were among the quickest in the fleet at the 2003 Kawasaki press introduction --nearly as quick as comparable two-stroke DI models.
Though we didn't conduct sound level tests due to seas and wind,riders on the STX-12F caught boat to boat conversation without having to say "Huh?"
Here's a boat that sets itself apart from the pack in three notable ways. First, it's the least expensive "green" four-stroke watercraft on the market at $8,499. Second, it's the lightest on the market, which allows it to exceed 55 mph with a modest 125horsepower engine. Third, it earns the CARB three-star emissions rating, the highest possible, meaning it will be welcome on Lake Tahoe and other emissions-sensitive western waters.
To get the solid 24-karat ride, Kawasaki makes the hull in one solid piece, laminating stringers, engine mounts and strengthening features into the hull rather than gluing in a stringer assembly -- a third component in most watercraft hulls.
A water-jacketed exhaust system cools and quiets the engine, plus dual water mufflers and air box help make this watercraft among the quietest on the water.
A direct crankshaft-to-impeller connection with no gear reduction increases torque to the impeller while keeping rpms well within redline level.
Smart Steering assists greenhorn drivers in avoidance maneuvers. The engine's electronic brain monitors both throttle position and steering position. When it senses a sudden reduction in rpm along with a steering change, the system feeds in enough throttle to turn the craft away from danger. We got enough course correction to avoid a submerged log.
Kawasaki deserves honors for integrating full instrumentation into a stylish LCD panel in the dash with clear readouts and reliable waterproof construction.
Emissions: CARB 3-star rating
Off-power Steering: Kawasaki Smart Steering
Storage Capacity: 23.5 gal.
Special Standard Features: Tow hook, boarding ladder
Top Speed: 55.4 mph
Top Pick For: Pulling water sports. Walk-around stabilityis good and a flip-up ladder is standard, as are mirrors foroptimum skiing and riding.
Contact: 866-453-8754, kawaski.com