Is this too good to be true? The new Stingray 180RX is an 18' stern drive-powered runabout
priced at a tantalizing $9,995. Buy one for the kids. Buy one for the lake house. Put it on
your credit card. At this price, how can you go wrong?
Well, the boat could suck. And it might not really cost $9,995. You know about the old
bait-and-switcheroo. So we checked it out. Good news. The boat is great, and Stingray is
adamant that its dealers will offer the boat at the advertised price. If you want a trailer,
you can put the new 180RX on dealer-supplied wheels for just $1,000 more.
The 180RX is designed to go head-to-head with the Bayliner 175, a 17'6" bowrider introduced
last season, offered at $9,995, and powered by a 135-hp four-cylinder MerCruiser 3.0L.
Similarly, the 180RX is powered by a 135-hp four-cylinder Volvo Penta 3.0 GL stern drive.
Neither company offers engine upgrades. In fact, Stingray doesn't offer any options at all on
the 180RX, except for the $425 Sunbrella Bimini top.
If you want to spend more, look at the 17'4" Four Winns 170 Horizon, which starts at $15,637
with a Volvo Penta 3.0GL, a trailer with brakes, a Clarion CD player with Sirius satellite
entertainment, and a fiberglass cockpit liner. The Glastron SX 175 is $14,833, also with a
Volvo Penta 3.0GL, fiberglass sole, stereo with cassette player, but no trailer.
PRICE POINT. What you get in the 180RX is an entry-level runabout that's pretty
typical in design and features. Stingray hasn't cut any significant corners to meet a low price
point. An integrated swim platform is 1'4" deep and has a two-step stainless-steel boarding
ladder, a ski-tow eye, and the fuel filler cap on center. A sunpad covers the engine bay, which
is secured by a latch and supported by gas struts when it's raised to reveal not just the bright
red Volvo Penta 3.0GL, the battery, trim pump, and fuel tank fittings but also carpeted areas
outboard of the engine where you could stow a cooler or a mooring cover. I say hurrah for
stowage but lose the carpeting. There are no bulkheads alongside the engine, however, so you'll
have to devise a way to keep gear stowed here from sliding into the engine.
The flat aft bench seat covers another stowage compartment that's reached by raising the
cushion on a neat bifold hinge, but the opening to the stowage area is just 8" wide. All of the
seat-base structure is carpet-covered, treated plywood. There is no inwale stowage.
Both bucket seats are mounted on stout pedestals, and each rotates 180 degrees. A ski locker
between the seats has a heavy liftoff plastic hatch that won't bounce around in rough seas. The
ski locker is only 7" deep, and it's carpet lined and thus likely to stay damp.
Both consoles have attractive vinyl-clad caps. There's a locking glovebox in the starboard
console, and the structure behind the cap is cut out for a stereo, although no stereo is offered
with the boat (but this should be an easy do-it-yourself job). The wood-grain instrument panel
holds a set of white-faced Facia gauges, and there's a 12-volt power outlet, plus the usual
electrical switches. Stingray should hit the bottom edge of each console with a grinder—I
found rough fiberglass shards just waiting to nick the fingers of anyone who grabs here to pull
the seat forward.
PROPERLY EQUIPPED. The bow area measures 4'-by-4'4", so there's room for two adults.
The seats are about 1'3" deep and offer some security for kids. There's a fiberglass step at
the bow peak, a 6" cleat on the bow, but no dedicated anchor stowage. That cleat is one of
five, a real surprise on a lower-priced boat, as is the curved-glass windshield and three-color
vinyl upholstery. The boat looks basic but not cheap.