2017 Yamaha VX Cruiser HO Review

High end features in an affordable package

With this year’s introduction of the EX line, Yamaha’s VX models have now truly taken their place as Yamaha’s midrange offering, a spot few would have imagined early on but one the increasingly upscale line has seemed destined for in recent years. Think of the 2017 Yamaha VX Cruiser HO as the high-end of that middle. With the addition of cruise-minded features and the VX line’s biggest available engine package, this craft combines comfort and power to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable high-end, yet still affordable ride.

Successful Base Platform

Fast Facts

Engine: Four-cylinder 1,812cc

Fuel Capacity: 18.5 gal.

Stowage Capacity: 24.6 gal.

Seating Capacity: 3

MSRP: Starting at $11,999

“Cruisey” extras and more power aside, the VX hull still arguably provides the basis for the craft’s appeal. Tweaked in 2015 to reveal a new keel, softer chines toward the bow, and remodeled strakes, it’s somewhat a jack of all trades. At low-speed, stability is perfect for multiple passengers, extended slow-speed zones, or novice driver and/or passengers. Throw it into rough water and those traits continue, displaying Yamaha’s long-standing prowess for big-water conditions. Use it as a tow vehicle and the boat tracks relatively true, rather than wander at each cut across its wake. Imagine yourself as Yamaha racer Chris MacClugage and you can nail that next buoy turn with a racer’s flair…and results.

The top deck also deserves mention. It evokes the masculine lines of the FX, with a pronounced forward triangle that incorporates the dual rearview mirrors into the design. The 2017 Yamaha VX Cruiser HO seat added for this model is tiered theater-style for improved passenger comfort and sight lines, and dramatically bolstered for the driver and aft-most passenger. Those bolsters not only provide lower-back support, but security. Forward of that saddle, a deep glovebox includes cupholders to keep refreshments within reach. Underfoot, two-tone deck mats combine function and form. A standard boarding step makes it easier to board from deep water.

2017 Yamaha VX Cruiser HO Front

Power…Without the Price

While no longer technically new, the engine below the saddle is still news…and still relatively new to the VX line. As the HO makes obvious, this is the High Output, 1.8-liter four-cylinder that serves as the building block for many Yamaha models. Its selling point is its massive displacement, still the largest in the industry. With the lightweight NanoXcel hull construction (total craft weight is 767 pounds), Yamaha is able to leave off the supercharger and still get their target results. Foregoing the supercharger also lowers cost, makes for a simpler powerplant, and stretches an owner’s fuel budget. Top speed remains at the benchmark of 65 mph. Acceleration can be as quick as 1.8 seconds from 0-30 mph.

2017 Yamaha VX Cruiser HO Speed

Cruise control and a no-wake mode harness that power in the 2017 Yamaha VX Cruiser HO. Lock in cruise with just a tap of a button, something you’ll want to do on extended cruises but also when towing to eliminate the “surginess” common to trigger-throttle-controlled personal watercraft. Save No-Wake for those lengthy 5mph zones.

Perhaps a greater harness of that power is a feature you’ll rely on far more often – RiDE. Yamaha’s dual-throttle control system, RiDE links the reverse bucket to a lever on the lefthand side of the handlebars. Use that lever at speed and the bucket drops into the flow of water leaving the pump and redirects it forward and to the sides to rapidly slow the craft. Use it at slow speed and it effectively puts the craft into reverse, with the ability to progressively increase power. Release both the RiDE lever and the throttle (like at startup) and the craft assumes a neutral mode. RiDE makes low-speed handling infinitely better and more intuitive. It will also allow you to wow the peanut gallery when pulling up to a crowded dock.

2017 Yamaha VX Cruiser HO Two-Up

RiDE’s power delivery is strong in reverse, giving the system a brief learning curve. With only a little time on the craft, however, it becomes second nature. Riders also tend to applaud the simplicity. One throttle makes you go forward, the other reverse.

Shades of Grey

If all this sounds like it adds up to a VXR with a cruiser saddle, that’s true. Power, however, isn’t just for speed junkies. It also pays dividends when hauling a full complement of passengers, or pulling a heavier skier or wakeboarder from a deep-water start. And that cruiser saddle can also make performance types feel more confident in high-speed corners, or when rocketing across a choppy straight. Fans of the VX hull, size, or style also get a more powerful version of the line, without going into supercharger/FX territory.

2017 Yamaha VX Cruiser HO Carving

Given the above, it’s almost ironic that the 2017 Yamaha VX Cruiser HO comes in what is essentially black (okay, carbon metallic) or white. Sure it exists on each end of the spectrum…but there’s also a lot of appealing grey area in between.