2021 Yamaha VX Limited HO Review

This midrange WaveRunnner sees some welcome updates for 2021

Fast Facts

Engine: Four-cylinder 1,812cc

Fuel Capacity: 18.5 gal.

Stowage Capacity: 28.4 gal.

Seating Capacity: 3

Price: $13,549

So, the 2021 news is out from all three major OEMs, the first looks have long been digested by personal watercraft enthusiasts and it’s time to take those deeper dives into individual models. First up? The newly feature-packed, reimagined 2021 Yamaha VX Limited HO.

Change Is Good…

While a new four-stroke Super Jet may have captured the initial spotlight for 2021, it’s the VX Limited HO that will likely prove one of the most popular WaveRunners for ’21. And Yamaha is giving the craft a nudge in the right direction with a slew of upgrades designed to offer consumers more comfort, more features and simplify ease of use.

Viewed in profile, the 2021 Yamaha VX Limited HO isn’t drastically different than the 2020 version, but new molding pieces at both bow and stern corners nudge the craft in a more aggressive direction, as do tweaks to the forward storage hood cover and handlebars. Function, however, carries the day. Footwells have both deepened and widened, and include drains to prevent water from pooling. The saddle is also slimmer by 1.5 inches, a welcome addition for smaller riders who may not have liked the wide spread of their thighs on the previous model. The new saddle also, thanks to the taper at the knees, lets riders use their legs even more in the corners and on rougher straight-line runs and take some of the strain off the upper body. Of note, that saddle now mounts to a removable base that allows greater engine compartment access if necessary.

2021 Yamaha VX Limited HO 5

In front of that saddle, a large new glovebox promises to be watertight and is actually lit with cool blue LED lighting thanks to the included USB/12-volt charging outlet combo. Overall storage capacity gets an almost four-gallon increase, split between the front tub with molded-in cooler storage, glovebox and water-resistant box below the rear removable section of the saddle. Controls have also been simplified, with a single button now used for both stop and start. If you’re searching for it, it’s now on the right side of the handlebars along with the safety lanyard and up/down speed control adjustment, leaving No Wake and Cruise Assist buttons to relocate to the left.

2021 Yamaha VX Limited HO 7

Turning aft, the swim platform of the 2021 Yamaha VX Limited HO is also larger and includes a wide spring-loaded step, with foot pads at each corner to ease reboarding.

The most notable topside additions, however, deal with sight and sound. The former comes courtesy of a 4.3” Connext LCD multi-function display, controlled by a touchpad below the handlebars. Though not the touchscreen version, the display includes all pertinent info like speed, rpm and fuel level, but also can show real-time fuel consumption, set acceleration profiles along with a governed top speed and activate a four-digit pin code to prevent unauthorized use.

2021 Yamaha VX Limited HO Speakers

The sound aspect comes via a sleek new upgrade to Yamaha’s former take on the VX audio system. The Limited package now includes twin, factory-installed 4.5” waterproof speakers neatly integrated into housings at the forward end of the footwells. Paired with a two-channel, 50-watt per channel amplifier and control pad below the left handgrip, the system is far more streamlined than the former EcoXGear speaker package that sat atop the console on RAM mounts. Yes, those mounts still exist but they’re now reserved solely for accessories like a GPS, action camera or fishing rod holder.

Familiar Engine, Handling

2021 Yamaha VX Limited HO 6

Less obvious but greatly impacting the overall (lowercase) ride experience is the (uppercase) RiDE system, Yamaha’s one throttle for forward, one throttle for reverse approach that is intuitive and greatly simplifies low-speed handling around tight quarters like dock or launch ramp. Applied at speed, RiDE also provides rapid deceleration.

Further influencing the ride is the Yamaha High Output engine, a naturally aspirated, 1,812cc four cylinder rated at 180 hp. It’s got a little more weight (27 pounds) to contend with in 2021 compliments of the sound system, tilt steering and aforementioned deck modifications, but continues to deliver powerful acceleration. Top speed of the 2021 Yamaha VX Limited HO? We clocked 62.3 mph. Handling is aggressive but confidence-inspiring, with nice agility in the corners and plenty of stability at top speed.

Translation? This is still the midrange, family-pleasing VX but don’t forget it shares the same hull design/engine combo as the GP1800R, just in a slighter heavier NanoXcel (versus NanoXcel 2) construction.

Extra, Extra…

2021 Yamaha VX Limited HO 4

As to that Limited designation, it includes the aforementioned sound system as standard equipment. Other additions are part of the Limited Accessory Package, which includes watersports extras like color-matched tube and towrope, tube inflator, tube holder, rope bag, two Yamaha-branded fenders and a color-matched cover. Handy pull-up cleats also make life easier at the dock.

Competitive models? Sea-Doo’s GTX 170 ($13,099) and GTX 230 ($14,099) offer a respective 170 or 230 horsepower, a modular seat design that can open up a large aft swim platform, LinQ accessory mounts and front storage that opens to the driver. The sound system is optional, and no Limited package is available (save for on the $17,999 GTX Limited flagship). Kawasaki is further split, with the Bluetooth sound system-equipped, 160hp STX 160LX at $11,899 and 310hp Ultra 310X at $15,499. Of course, keep in mind you can put together your own accessory package on any of these craft.

Ultimately, however, it’s the consumer that speaks loudest…and with the VX Cruiser HO holding strong as the best-selling model in the industry for three years running, the 2021 Yamaha VX Limited HO ($13,549) — and all its extras — certainly seems worthy of consideration.