2017 Yamaha FX Cruiser SVHO Review

Yamaha's long-distance cruiser gets it right

Enterprising PWC owners have long embraced the challenge of a long-distance ride, but early PWC models didn’t always make it easy. Today, however, “cruiser” is a common addition to a model name, an addition that indicates the craft has the comfort and amenities to make long hours in the saddle actually a pleasure rather than a pain.

The Yamaha FX Cruiser SVHO remains one of the best of these touring models for a number of reasons…not the least of which is a plush, powerful FX SVHO model at its core.

Come Cruise With Me

Fast Facts

Engine: Supercharged four-cylinder 1,812cc

Fuel Capacity: 18.5 gal.

Stowage Capacity: 33.2 gal.

Seating Capacity: 3

MSRP: Starting at $15,999

In reality, many features that make for the perfect cruise already come standard at this level of trim. Cruise control and no-wake mode are obvious enhancements, the former perfect for setting a desired speed and then comfortably holding it by just keeping the throttle fully squeezed, eliminating finger fatigue. Up/down buttons adjust the speed easily; releasing the throttle disengages the system. Cruise is also a great idea when towing, as it holds a much steadier speed than most drivers can duplicate on the throttle. No-wake holds the craft at about 5 mph with no throttle pressure; use it for extended slow-speed zones.

Yamaha’s RiDE system also comes in handy in cruise applications, as it allows for intuitive, heads-up handling around marinas, fuel docks, restaurants, etc. RiDE adds a second throttle to the lefthand side of the handlebars, a lever that activates the reverse bucket to rapidly slow the craft at speed or seamlessly put it into reverse during slow operation. Releasing both levers puts the craft into a neutral mode, the position which the craft also starts in.

2018 Yamaha FX SVHO Dock

The features which truly are unique to a Cruiser model, however, are minimal in number but boast significant impact. The most high-profile item is the “cruiser” saddle, a triple-tiered, well-appointed perch with notable bolsters for each individual passenger. The largest is reserved for the driver, and offers great lower-back support. Each bolster also keeps riders from getting pushed together, maintaining separate space while using the tiered elevation to give each passenger a better position over the rider in front. The cruiser saddle works in conjunction with the stock handlebar trim, fine-tuning the posture to rider size, or style of riding. Another Cruiser feature, pull-up cleats, come in handy when trying to secure your craft at the dock. They provide that much-needed tie-down spot when docking, but tuck away to a low profile when not in use.

The Power Within

2018 Yamaha FX SVHO Front

Cruising may be a good portion of the fun for this particular buyer, but so too is speed and power, a fact made clear by the four letters — SVHO — tacked on to the end of the model name.

Those letters stand for Super Vortex High Output, a reference to the version of the 1.8-liter Yamaha marine engine found below the saddle. Equipped with a supercharger and intercooler (the latter to cool that incoming air and further boost the supercharger’s power), the SVHO engine may technically produce one of the lower horsepower numbers of flagship models, but it runs with the best of them. Acceleration is brutally strong, with the craft easily passing 30 mph in under two seconds. Top speed is the magic 67 mph (a number I’ve reached in less-than-ideal hot and humid conditions) all day long. Savvy riders will likely stretch that number even higher. That performance benefits from two features, a top-loading scoop grate and Yamaha’s second-generation, lightweight NanoXcel hull material.

2018 Yamaha FX SVHO Right Side

That lightweight design handles the power beautifully. Stability at top speed is typical of a Yamaha craft, with the hull tracking straight and true in both calm and rough-water conditions with a firm, dry ride. Toggle down the nozzle via the electric trim, shift your weight inward as you dive into a corner and that hull handles with finesse, maintaining its line without hiccup. Raise that trim to reduce the wetted surface and squeeze the throttle all the way and the craft rockets forward at speed with authority. The FX may be big, but its power and agility rivals smaller craft.

That’s A Wrap

2018 Yamaha FX SVHO Action

Other features worthy of note include an expanded multifunction information center, control buttons for that info center located in a cluster just in front of the saddle, two security remotes that can also tame engine performance, a beverage holder in the dash, glovebox with dual cupholders, and storage access below the split saddle. FX models also include a handy wet storage area below the aft tip of the saddle, which is great for watersports towropes (there’s even a notch to keep the rope hooked to the stern tow eye), and clever boarding step with a flattened area for your foot.

Comparable models? Sea-Doo’s GTX Limited 300 boasts similar speed, features and handling at an identical $15,999. Kawasaki’s Ultra 310X SE ($15,799) does likewise, but lacks the enhanced control of an electronic reverse/deceleration system like RiDE or Sea-Doo’s iBR.