It seems only fitting that one of the first reviews for 2013 is of the Yamaha VX Cruiser. After all, this is the single most popular personal watercraft on the market, and has been nearly since its introduction. The fact that it returns for ’13 relatively unchanged doesn’t change that fact, but rather reinforces the contention that the VX Cruiser is simply a well-made, focused, popular machine.
One that has earned many a consumer’s money over the years...and just may be worthy of earning yours.
The Heart Of The Matter
The core of any successful PWC is a reliable, workhorse of an engine, and the VX Cruiser’s 1052cc, Yamaha MR-1 certainly fits the bill. In these days of pricey petrol, it’s incredibly fuel efficient, sipping as little as four gallons an hour at a comfortable 35 mph cruise. Like all Yamahas, it’s also designed to run on regular 87-octane fuel. In short, it’s one of, if not the least expensive PWC to operate over the course of a season.
Yes, you would be right to assume that engine is on the tamer side. Though manufacturers have now tossed horsepower numbers to the wayside, the VX engine produces approximately 110hp. That’s less than all of its competition, but the results that matter are on the water. Here, the VX tops out at about 54 mph, while recording 0-30 times in the neighborhood of three seconds. No, you won’t be winning any drag races, but you will be comfortably handling the basics, including pulling friends or family skiing, wakeboarding, or tubing. You’ll also feel more comfortable handing the boat over to newcomers or younger riders, as the response is manageable. Need more power? Better look elsewhere...this is obviously not your category.
Complementing the power is a versatile hull design. Forward, it features the sharper deadrise necessary to bust through choppy waters, long a Yamaha trademark. As you follow that angle aft, it softens somewhat to enhance stability. Chines are gently rounded to allow the boat to roll intuitively into a turn with a gentle inside lean. Crank the bars hard, however, and those with performance leanings will find a welcome surprise. While designed not to get you into trouble, the VX hull can actually carve a relatively tight, aggressive turn. This type of versatility is key for beginners, who will be best served by a boat that can grow with their skill level, rather than hold them back.
Low-speed handling is enhanced by an effective reverse. Its starboard location makes it difficult to operate throttle simultaneously, but the effect on the water is to put the craft where you intend it to go. The lever can also be feathered to mimic a neutral setting.
Like other manufacturers, Yamaha is well aware of the fact that introductory-priced boats don’t always go to introductory minded riders. That’s why price-point boats like the VX have become more upscale over the years. The Cruiser concept centers mostly around a change in seat styling. The seat is tiered to allow passengers a slightly raised perspective, as well as keep them from crowding together. Each segment is also nicely bolstered with back support to take the strain and discomfort out of extended rides. I find it ideal for two adults, or two adults and a child. Three adults are certainly possible, but not the most practical for any length of time.
Driver and passengers will appreciate real Hydro-Turf mats in the footwells. They provide superior traction and comfort. Yamaha’s handlebar position, though not adjustable, is also well suited for a variety of rider heights.
Whether it’s to the water or not, people inevitably bring stuff. Any gear brought along for the ride can be stowed in one of several areas. The largest is the tub under the bow. There’s also a glovebox, with cupholders. Total capacity is 15.1 gallons. Other features that receive the nod of approval include truly usable rearview mirrors, a handy reboarding step, and a basic ski-tow eye.
Security is handled by Yamaha’s familiar remote. Like a car remote, it can lock the craft’s ignition with the push of a switch. It can also govern the craft’s power to make the boat safer for younger, inexperienced riders, or even save fuel. It’s cool, but just don’t lose it, as it doesn’t physically attach anywhere on the craft.
The Sum Of All Parts
The last upscale touch is found in the Cruiser’s paint scheme. It’s an attractive metallic, in either silver or a “yacht” blue. It gives the boat a finished appearance that’s in keeping with many of the pricier PWC on the water.
And speaking of price, that’s one last piece of good news for the new year. Manufacturer’s suggested retail remains the same as it was in 2012 – $9,599.
Obviously Miss Popularity is intent on keeping her title...
|2012 Yamaha VX Cruiser Specs|
|Dry Weight||750 lbs|
|Engine||Four-cylinder DOHC EFI|
|Bore and Stroke||76mm x 58mm|
|Rated Horsepower||110 (estimated)|
|Fuel Capacity||15.9 gal.|
|Combined Stowage Capacity||15.1 gal.|
|Colors||Silver Metallic or Yacht Blue Metallic|