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Engine: 1,498cc, Four-cylinder
Fuel Capacity: 20.6 gal.
Stowage Capacity: 56 gal.
Seating Capacity: 3
At a retail price of $17,999, the Kawasaki Ultra 310LX continues to be the most expensive personal watercraft on the market. It also continues to be little different than the previous year’s model, which was little different than that previous year’s model, which was…well, you get the idea. Love it or hate it, that’s just kind of been Kawasaki’s modus operandi in recent years. The product is strong, it’s not dated in appearance, and it still delivers beastly performance on the water so Kawi is sticking with it.
Sure, colors have been tweaked to signify the 2020 model. Last year’s version had a green cowl and black and silver saddle; this year’s variation has a black cowl and black-and-green saddle. Yeah, not earth shattering. But the 2020 Kawasaki Ultra 310LX still has a lot going for it, different or not. The competition, however, just hasn’t stood still.
All Ultra 310 models share the same strong suit — the hull is an ocean-ready favorite, the engine is a screamer, and the craft’s size and ergonomics equate to a pretty plush, comfortable, and yet very performance-oriented ride.
That hull is famous for its rough-water worthiness. With a chop and wave busting 22.5-degree deadrise, it knifes through the waves with ease and rarely if ever gets pushed from its intended path. Offshore racers have long been big fans, but more everyday riders can also appreciate the predictable nature and impressive stability in less-than-ideal conditions. Above, a nicely bolstered, stepped saddle locks in driver and passenger(s) and provides the confidence to take on conditions that would send some craft running for port. It’s no slouch, however, in calm conditions. Drop the nozzle heading into a corner and you’ll rail through the turn with the feel of a much smaller, more agile craft.
Raise that trim as you head off toward the sunset and top speeds will flirt with more than 67 mph. Chalk that up to the hull, but more so the engine. Boasting 1,498cc of displacement, a powerful Roots-style supercharger, high-volume intercooler and the biggest horsepower rating of any current model, it easily plays in that top tier of the 60 mph range. It also delivers its power in abundance off the bottom end, allowing the 2020 Kawasaki Ultra 310LX to scream out of the hole both literally and figuratively. Performance types not worried about the warranty will note a simple aftermarket goodie or two will rapidly push those numbers even higher.
In short, the Ultra 310LX will rarely come up short in the performance department. It still, however, comes up short in features, especially considering the continuing innovation found elsewhere.
Yes, the basics are there. The aforementioned saddle, ideal for touring or performance, features a heat-resistant cover material so no one burns their buns. Cruise control and no-wake mode, along with a fuel-saving ECO setting, are also par for the flagship course. (Hint for less experienced riders in rougher waters? Activate ECO to smooth out the engine’s awesome power for a smoother ride.) All Ultras continue to do without electronic brake/deceleration and reverse, however, systems that Sea-Doo and Yamaha use to great success. That leaves reverse operation an old-school, manual lever which does the trick, but is hardly seamless and intuitive. Rapid deceleration is also not possible unless you want to manually try to lower the reverse bucket at speed…which is not a wise idea.
And while Kawasaki was first to market with a nicely integrated sound system, it’s now somewhat dated by comparison. Sound quality is excellent but without Bluetooth riders will still have to make a manual connection in the glovebox. The head unit, mounted in the handlebar pad, however, offers smooth control and is literally right at your fingertips. As to that cutout right next to it, it’s for a handheld GPS, a nice addition when touring.
Don’t overlook the fuel and storage capacities, at 20 and 56 gallons respectively.
As to head-to-head competition, the 2020 Kawasaki Ultra 310LX is impressive but again has its hands full in several aspects.
Yamaha’s flagship FX Limited SVHO lists for $400 less, yet offers the RiDE dual throttle, reverse and deceleration system, a Bluetooth sound solution, touchscreen display and accessory packages that include Garmin GPS fish finder and watersports tube and inflator. Sea-Doo’s GTX Limited 300 (even less at $17,199) likewise features electronic braking and reverse, a Bluetooth sound system, some luxury trimmings and a clever cargo system that allows riders to bring along items like coolers, fuel tanks and storage caddies.
In terms of performance and handling the Kawasaki Ultra 310LX shines, but when it comes to features and price, the competition is tough.
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