Ranger Z518 Comanche

It gave us a test ride like a million bucks, topping out at 67.5 mph. It stepped up on pad early in the 60s and held its ground easily.

When competitive bass boats break the $50,000 mark, everyman's dream of making it big on the tournament trail dries up. But at under $40,000, the Z518 Comanche brings Ranger's quality and competitive edge to more hopeful anglers.

We looked for shortcuts on our test boat, but it was fully equipped with dual livewells and redundant circulating pumps for the weigh-in. Tackle storage includes dedicated systems for utility boxes and rods. The helm is designed to accommodate Lowrance sonar or an optional Lowrance HDS chart plotter/sonar unit.

While you might think Ranger must compromise in other ways, we found the same SRS soft-ride seat package and remote oil fill so you don't drip oil in the bilge, an onboard charger and a padded foredeck for comfortable fishing — all found on the higher priced 21-foot Ranger. What we couldn't see was even more impressive. The foam-filled hull exceeds NMMA and Coast Guard requirements for flotation and safety. Ranger's patented pultruded composite transom is rot-proof, and to ease electronics upgrades or maintenance, wire chases are built into the hull from bow to stern. We found the storage compartments equipped with pricey Southco locking latches and underneath, LED lighting.

Even with upgrades like the transom jack plate for added performance, a Lowrance HDS chart plotter, a recessed trolling-motor pedal pocket, dual bucket seats and a custom trailer, the boat holds its comfortable price. And it gave us a million-dollar test ride, topping out at 67.5 mph. The boat's shaped for stability, and components on board are balanced for a secure ride. Like the Z521, it stepped up on pad early in the 60s and held its ground easily, conquering wakes and winds without the slightest chine walk.

Extra Points
• Livewells feature Venturi aeration for cooling and oxygenating your catch.
• Minn Kota Maxxum 80-pound trolling motor and an onboard charger are standard.
• Suspension SRS seating absorbs the rough water, allowing comfort in all conditions.
• Boarding ladder at the transom makes it safer and easier to get into the water and back into the boat.

Test Drive * Test Engine: Optimax 200 Pro XS * Test Prop: Tempest 25 * Test Load: People (400 LB.) Fuel (35 GAL.) * Top Speed: 67.5 MPH @ 5,500 RPM * Time to 30 MPH: 8.5 sec Vital Stats * Length Overall: 18'8" * Beam: 8.5" * Dry Weight: 1,550 LB. * Seating/Weight Capacity: 4/1,250 LB. * Fuel Capacity: 38 GAL. * Max HP: 200* * MSRP: $38,700 (as tested); $37,500 (base) * NMMA Certified: Yes