2021 Charger 198 Elite

The 198 Elite flattens waves, executes twisty and speeds to a 70-mph top end.
Charger 198 Elite running on the lake
The 198 Elite is a high-performance fishing machine. Gary Bogdon


Charger has been building quality bass fishig platforms for decades. This test boat is a modernized version of the Charger’s  19-foot hull that,  in 1987,  set a new 1,039-mile New Orleans-to-St. Louis Mississippi River endurance speed record at 20 hours, 16 minutes. That effort beat the previous record set in 1982 by Mike Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan in an offshore racing hull. In addition to its heritage, its chock full of modern accouterments. While Charger hulls and interior layouts have changed with the times, the focus is still on a balance of quality, performance and price. Join us for a test ride!


At just under $74,000 equipped with a Mercury 225 Pro XS high-performance outboard, our Charger 198 Elite showed why the boatbuilder has been in business so long. Quality, handling, excellent ride and a good turn of speed combined with excellent build quality gives this Charger a solid showing. Speed-hungry anglers who need to get back to weigh-in quickly but don’t have much fuel left in the tank will love best cruise speed; a heady 48 mph at 4,500 rpm, where the big Mercury FourStroke 225 was sipping fuel at just under 10 gallons per hour. At that rate, we recorded 4.2 miles per gallon. The Elite is a driver’s hull; it runs like it’s on rails in the mid-sixties, but edging it up to 70 takes a fine touch with the steering, throttle and trim. When the 198 ran on pad, the combination of rigidity and strake design kept the engine stable even as it negotiated wakes and chop, common to fishing impoundments such as Lake of the Ozarks.

Charger 198 Elite fishing
Wide casting platforms are found in the bow and stern. Courtesy Charger

Interior and Accessories

The Charger 198 Elite really is built for rough operation; a 4-inch-thick composite transom, tied directly into a composite stringer system and floor, make up the boat’s skeleton; the hand-laid hull and deck show off brilliant metalflake gel finish—color choices abound. The fit and finish shows the assembly team is clearly on the ball and Is demonstrated by an arrow-straight rubrail, organized wiring and plumbing and secure engine rigging.

Charger 198 Elite bow storage
The 198 Elite is packed full of rod storage. Courtesy Charger

The 198′s hull is designed for handling and speed while carrying a load. The design cues date back to the high-performance racing V-pad hulls of the 1970s; it’s easy to see the delta-wing setback transom and multi-strake V-hull with dropped running pad. These features are proven by years of experience and improved by the use of modern resins, adhesives and composites in place of wood. Together, these building techniques eliminate oscillating running surfaces and transom giving the easy handling we experienced at top speeds.

Charger 198 Elite helm
The helm is outfitted with modern electronics. Courtesy Charger

How We Tested

  • Engine: Mercury 225 Pro XS V-6 FourStroke
  • Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury Fury 14″ x 23″ 3-blade through-hub stainless-steel
  • Gear Ratio: 1.75:1 Available Power: Outboard Fuel Load: 29 gal. Crew Weight: 275 lb.

High Points

  • Starboard and center rod stowage plus port and starboard deck rod bungees ensures plenty of rod selection for both anglers aboard.
  • Heated bucket seats make cold-weather fishing a bit more comfortable.
  • 50-gallon fuel supply gives a near 200-mile range at best cruise speed of nearly 50 mph at 4,500 rpm.

Low Points

  • When flying solo, 70 mph full-tilt boogie makes for a tricky balance up on the pad, especially when a rapid deceleration is necessary (in wakes or to alter direction, for example); best to trim down first, then chop the throttle.
  • An (optional) hydraulic jack would assist in easing into top-end performance and help compensate for different loads and conditions.

Toughest Competitor

Skeeter’s ZX225 is 19 feet 11 inches long and 7 feet 11 inches wide and runs in the 65- to 70-mph range with a 225 hp Yamaha VMax SHO; this rig retails for $63,140 and comes standard with a 12-inch setback manual jackplate and SeaStar Pro hydraulic steering.

Pricing and Specs

Price: $73,900
LOA: 19′8″
Beam: 7’11”
Draft: 1′0″ (max)
Displacement: 1,800 lb. (hull only)
Transom Deadrise: NA
Fuel Capacity: 50 gal.
Max Horsepower: 225
Available Power: Mercury and Yamaha outboards

Speed, Efficiency, Operation

Charger 198 Elite performance data chart
Charger 198 Elite Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

Charger, Inc. – Richland, Missouri; 573-765-3265;