“Do it all” represents both the current mantra of watersports enthusiasts as well as the battle cry of watersports boatbuilders. With that as a backdrop, Malibu Boats hits the lake with the 22 LSV, the kid sister to its brawny 23 LSV model (by Malibu’s account, the best-selling tow boat of all time). What can you expect from this new jack-of-many-trades? We toured the factory, rode along as a pro rider shredded in our test boat’s wake, and put the 22 LSV through our rigorous boat-test regimen. Hop on, and we’ll share what we discovered.
One of the unique options on the 22 LSV is a choice between two different hulls—Wake Plus or Diamond MultiSport. Like it sounds, the Wake Plus is designed for those who just want to wakeboard or wakesurf, while those who also want to slalom-ski should opt for the Diamond MultiSport. The Diamond MultiSport has lifting characteristics that help it sit higher in the water, which reduces the wake for those who want to ski more aggressively.
With the Wake Plus hull, combined with Malibu’s proprietary Power Wedge III, Surf Gate and ballast-tank technology, the 22 LSV produced large and powerful wakes and waves, similar to those generated by the bigger boats in the LSV line. The shaping systems proved intuitive to use via the touchscreen interface, which Malibu calls Command Center. We also applauded the Sport Rotary Dial, a multifunction controller allowing the skipper to adjust the Power Wedge, Surf Gate, speed control and stereo by touch alone, so you never have to take your eyes off the water. Riders can also control Surf Gate, Power Wedge, speed and audio via the wearable Surf Band remote. The integration is as slick as that aboard a large cruiser or sport-fish boat, disparate missions notwithstanding.
I should state at this point that if you are shopping, there is not a lot of competition for the 22 LSV. But you might consider the 2020 Centurion Vi22—the sleek, lower-profile offering from the central California manufacturer. It is also capable of scratching multiple watersports itches, with wakes and waves on par with the Centurion brand. Powered by a 409 hp PCM engine, the well-equipped model we tested lists a suggested retail of $141,373.
Back aboard the Malibu 22 LSV, it’s notable that the Power Wedge III offers more set positions to select from than in the past, allowing for more fine-tuned customization of the wakes and waves. This is great for riders of different levels or abilities. If you’re a beginner and want a more mellow wave, you can decrease the angle of the Power Wedge and dial things back. If you’re advanced, you can fill all the ballast, increase the Power Wedge angle, and watch the wave grow. The wave has a nice-size pocket that’s easy to stay in, with plenty of push for all types of riders and board sizes.
Of course, some may fear that a hybrid boat, as good as it may be at keeping beginners and intermediates happy, and no matter how well-engineered and executed, won’t deliver a wave or wake with size and power enough to keep advanced riders happy. To see for ourselves, we took the 22 LSV out on the lake with champion wakeboarder Massi Piffaretti. Through a morning session, I watched “Piffa,” as the Lake Como, Italy, rider is nicknamed, just shred the waters of Fort Loudoun Lake. Piffaretti lauded the 22 LSV for its ability to dial in a wake to serve a wide variety of riders while still remaining compact. He also added this comment about the new Malibu Monsoon engines, such as the 430 hp M6Di model under the hatch in our test boat: “With the new Malibu Monsoon engines, I know I’m going to be up and riding in no time, thanks to the great torque it puts out. It doesn’t hurt either that it’s super-quiet, so I can hear my music to get pumped up to ride.”
Running the boat, I noted great visibility from the helm, and could monitor all engine and boat systems readily, thanks to the non-glare instrumentation. I loved the tilt wheel with thumb control for the stereo and Power Wedge III. The boat proved nimble and sure, even during high-speed, hard-over turns, and took off like a shot, planing in 3.3 seconds. Backing up Piffaretti’s claim, my decibel meter stayed below 80 (about as loud as a running dishwasher), which is quiet for a boat at all riding and skiing speeds, and the sound level didn’t crest 90 decibels until hitting the 38.5 mph top speed.
Every boat is a compromise, as the saying goes, but if you seek a tow boat for a crew that wants to ride, surf and even ski on occasion, and that’s not monstrous in size, Malibu’s 22 LSV should top your list.
- Compact size yet capable of carrying a crew of 17.
- Tilt wheel with thumb control for stereo and wake-shaping adjustment.
- Drop-dead good looks, and it comes in more color and graphics combos than most boats.
- No anchor locker. Like runabouts of old, one is expected to carry ground tackle in a bag or bucket stowed in the sole.
- We ding just about every tow boat for not having a compass. This boat is no exception.
Price: $112,000 (starting)
Available Power: V-drive
How We Tested
Engine: Single 430 hp Malibu Monsoon M6Di
Drive/Prop: Inboard/15″ X 14 1/2″
Gear Ratio: 1.76:1
Fuel Load: 24 gal.
Water on Board: 0 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.