2013 Kawasaki Jet Ski STX-15F Review

Kawasaki's entry-level offering continues to play to its strengths

Story by Jeff Hemmel, Photography by Kawasaki, Nov. 20, 2012
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At 160 horsepower, Kawasaki’s STX-15F remains the most powerful entry-level craft on the market. That power can pay dividends. Entry-level craft always run the risk of being outgrown by their riders. With its added dose of horsepower, the STX-15F has the best shot of instead growing with an owner as his or her skill levels – and desire for more speed – increase.

Is that enough to make the sale? Let’s find out more.

More Power, More Speed

By comparison, Sea-Doo’s entry-level offering, the GTI, offers 130 horsepower in its base form; Yamaha’s VX about 110 hp. Kawasaki’s advantage is instantly notable in top speed. Unlike its competitors, which run around the 55 mph mark, the Kawi 2013 Kawasaki Jet Ski STX-15F Front Leftwill do about 62 mph. Perhaps not a huge difference, but it’s a notable one on the water. That same 1,498cc engine also boasts more power off the low end. Zero-to-30 times average about two seconds, but it’s the craft’s greater feeling of puling power that stands out most. Skiers and wakeboarders will likely have an easier time getting out of the water.

The Kawasaki matches that increased power with arguably more aggressive handling. This hull is possibly dated, but at one time it was the basis for Kawasaki’s race team boats. As such, it handles aggressively, with a confident, tenacious bite in the turns and a low-slung rider position that places the driver close to the water. That makes it thrilling for those with a little more experience, but also predictable for those more tentative in their ability. Downside? That tenacious, predictable bite comes at the expense of some playfulness. That low feel can also make taller riders feel cramped. Whether these traits are an acceptable tradeoff depends a good deal on what type of rider you are...or aspire to be.

2013 Kawasaki Jet Ski STX-15F Profile Right

Keep It Simple

Kawasaki keeps things simple and focused in terms of features. Again, it’s a strength or tradeoff depending upon your point of view.

2013 Kawasaki Jet Ski STX-15F Digital Display

Instrumentation has long been a high mark. The driver’s info display is easy to read, even in bright sunlight. The speed is displayed nice and large, with other key data lining the perimeter. The craft’s 23.5-gallon storage capacity is split between the large bow tub, glovebox, and a small underseat nook. Fuel capacity is 16.4 gallons.

Extras? Off-throttle steering increases engine RPM when the handlebars are turned hard over with an accompanying release of the throttle. This provides some level of directional thrust to initiate a turn. Kawasaki also uses its magnetic key system to lock out the ignition and prevent theft. Reverse works well, and makes life much easier around the dock and launch ramp. Unlike newer designs, however, it’s still located to starboard. That makes it nearly impossible to use throttle at the same time. Those into watersports will appreciate the rear grab handle on the aft seat, tow hook below, and spring-loaded boarding step.

2013 Kawasaki Jet Ski STX-15F Front Storage

Playing To Its Strengths

Obviously Kawasaki is not worried about keeping up with the Joneses, but is instead playing to its strengths. The 15F may not have an excess of features, but clearly the manufacturer doesn’t feel it needs to. Instead, the craft delivers that all-important combo of power, handling, and fun factor. That makes it an appealing candidate for buyers with performance leanings or those buying the craft for watersports duty.

As well as a machine that can grow...as you do.



2013 Kawasaki STX-15F Specs
Length 122.8 inches
Beam 46.5 inches
Curb Weight 844.5 lbs
Engine Four-cylinder DOHC EFI
Displacement 1,498 cc
Bore and Stroke 83mm x 69.2mm
Compression Ratio 10.6:1
Rated Horsepower 160
Fuel Capacity 16.4 gal.
Combined Stowage Capacity 23.5 gal.
Colors Jet White/Galaxy Silver
Price $9,699

Related Reading
2013 Kawasaki Jet Ski Lineup Preview
2012 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 300X Review
2012 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 300LX Review
2012 Sea-Doo GTI 130 Review
2012 Yamaha VX Deluxe Review

 
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