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The increasingly upscale looks and metallic paint have hinted at the VX series taking a new role in the Yamaha lineup for years, but with the introduction of the EX models for ’17, it’s now official. The VX platform has matured beyond its “entry-level four-stroke” status. What remains to be seen is if the new EX models, or even the VX’s higher positioning, will do anything to stop the VX line’s incredible momentum as the best-selling platform Yamaha produces.
Let’s look at the best-selling models in PWC history, the VX Deluxe and VX Cruiser.
Engine: 1,049cc three-cylinder
Fuel Capacity: 18.5 gal.
Stowage Capacity: 24.6 gal.
I won’t bury the lead. Yamaha hasn’t really changed anything for 2017. A lot of that has to do with the fact that in 2016 the platform got a completely new engine. The TR-1 HO, a 1,049cc triple cylinder, pushed out the MR-1 last year, in the process trimming a massive 40% of that engine’s physical size. The 160-pound TR-1 doesn’t require the reduction gear necessitated by the high-RPM MR-1. It also integrates the oil tank and attaches both ECU and air filter directly to the engine.
According to Yamaha, the TR-1 holds a 13hp advantage over the MR-1. I haven’t really noticed that difference on the top end; the VX Deluxe still peaks at about 53-54 mph. The delivery of that power, however, is more crisp than in the past, with a clean, linear power band that improves the boat’s fun factor. Thankfully, it continues to boast impressive fuel consumption. Last year I hooked up a fuel-flow meter to the newly minted engine. What I found was a mere 3.7 gph consumed at 30 mph and only 8.3 gph at full throttle. It’s one of the VX line’s continued strengths. The engine is reliable, displays the type of power appropriate for its target audience, and makes the most of the fuel you purchase.
As to the hull, that too got a fairly recent refresh. The deck now features modern, aggressive lines similar to the FX series and a larger, 11’ x 4’ presence. Softer chines, a rounder keel and tweaked strakes further improved the boat’s overall ride and stability. A new rideplate and intake area contours also benefitted. End result, the VX is better in rough water than its predecessor, as well as quickly planes and corners sharply with an intuitive inside lean.
Both Deluxe and Cruiser models feature RiDE, Yamaha’s electronic dual throttle system. Use the normal throttle as you always have. Use the RiDE throttle to apply thrust in reverse. You can use that thrust to maneuver around a tight dock area, carefully pick your way through a crowd of boats, or with more force, to rapidly slow the craft while running at speed. The RiDE lever’s input is relayed to the reverse bucket, which redirects thrust to perform the appropriate action.
And speaking of appropriate action, RiDE channels that water out to the sides. That keeps the boat level during hard deceleration.
As to Cruiser-specific amenities, expect a comfortable tiered saddle. Bolsters provide back support, nestling driver and passengers into one of three pronounced spots in the saddle’s length. The movie theater-style tiering allows each passenger a better view forward over the passenger (or driver) directly in front.
The Cruiser model also gets cruise control and no-wake mode. Cruise holds a speed set via a handlebar-mounted button, and can be adjusted up or down in minimal increments to dial in the perfect pace. Cruise also benefits towing, as it holds speed steadier than most of us can do with a finger on the throttle. No-wake has similar benefits during lengthy slow-speed zones, not requiring any throttle input under 5 mph.
Both models get Yamaha’s remote transmitter to prevent theft or activate a low RPM mode, spring-loaded boarding step and grippy traction mats from Hydro-Turf. Find a screw-top waterproof storage container under the aft section of the removable split seat. With the forward storage compartment, total capacity sits at 24.6 gallons.
For those looking to compare, the VX Deluxe is priced at $10,299, the Cruiser $300 more. The EX Deluxe, in turn, goes for $8,599. Engines are the same between models. The VX models have a size advantage, 11’ vs 10’ 3” in length, 4’ vs 3’ 7” in width. The numbers don’t indicate the VX models larger “presence” on the water. They feel better for towing duties, as well as more comfortable for longer-distance cruising. VX saddles are more finely finished. EX models are made from Sheet Molding Compound (SMC), the VX models from Yamaha’s lighter weight NanoXcel material. VX models feature more upscale metallic paint, EX colors are pleasant, but flat.
Ultimately, the VX models just feel like a more substantial boat…while the EXs feel more like, well, the VXs of yesteryear. Both are good things…for people of a variety of needs and budget.
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