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Much has been written about Kawasaki’s Ultra platform. Known for its amazing power, handling – and now, even an industry-first sound system – Ultras have flagship written all over them. And often, the price tags to match. There is, however, a more affordable, less powerful Ultra in the line. No, the Ultra LX doesn’t get the publicity of its more brutish siblings, but it also doesn’t carry their premium MSRPs, power that may intimidate the family, nor lust for fuel. That makes it a sweet match for the midrange buyer…as well as appealing model for the touring crowd.
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Before you consider what’s different about the LX, first consider the many things that are the same. That includes the infamous deep-V hull, a design that handles the biggest waters in confident, predictable fashion. On many watercraft, you’ll be tempted to stay home when the winds and waves don’t make for ideal riding conditions, but on an Ultra you’ll have a feeling of security that lets you venture out for more fun. The hull slices predictably through the waves, never veering from its line or throwing in a surprise that will leave the driver white-knuckled at the controls.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 310LX
And yet, that big-water prowess doesn’t come at the expense of flat-water fun. The hull – complemented by a grooved ride plate and integrated sponsons – still handles with an agility that will please the performance-minded riders in the bunch. Approach a corner, lean your weight to the inside of the turn, and the Ultra responds like the aggressive racer it is at heart. No, you won’t get the electric trim of its pricier siblings, an addition that really brings the craft’s handling to life. But unless you’re really pushing the craft to its limits on a regular basis, let’s be honest here – you probably won’t miss it.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2013 Sea-Doo GTX 215 Review
Riding style skew toward touring? With its massive 60 gallons of storage capacity and 20.6-gallon fuel tank, the Ultra LX was born to cruise long distance. Bring your gear, head out for the horizon, and you won’t immediately worry about where the next gas dock might be. Driver and passengers will appreciate the plush, touring-oriented seat, with bolsters that offer low back support and ascending tiers that elevate each passenger a little higher than the last. We also like the five-position tilt steering, which accommodates a variety of driver sizes as well as eliminates much of the hunched-over position for riders who prefer to frequently stand.
Other Ultra amenities shared across the board include a spring-loaded boarding step, nice LCD information display, and a portside reverse lever, appreciated as it allows the driver to use both reverse and throttle simultaneously.
As to what’s different, we’ve already touched upon it in the intro. Rather than a beastly 310 hp, the Ultra LX foregoes the supercharger and intercooler to push out about half that power, or 160hp to be exact. That’s a big difference, obviously, but this is still Kawasaki’s familiar 1,498cc engine. Without the supercharger, it’s capable of pushing the boat to about a 54 mph top speed. Perhaps more importantly, the displacement and 155mm jet pump still keep much of the Ultra’s satisfying punch out of the hole. That means activities like skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding won’t be compromised.
Fuel consumption, however, will be greatly reduced. Without the thirsty supercharger aboard, the Ultra LX drops not only in price, but also costs less to use.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Yamaha FX Cruiser HO
And for the right buyer, that will equal more overall enjoyment.
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