Go Boating Magazine Cover - April 2001
Stingray Powerboats
Put to the Test - Compact Comparison

Go Boating - April 2001

Stingray's 180 LX puts big fun into a small boat package

Who says a small boat with a small engine can't handle a whole family's needs or can't give its skipper the exhilarating sensation of speed? Stingray's 180 LX may be compact-size, but the fun it provides is definitely maximum-size.

Stingray 180L

The smallest boat in Stingray's line of sporty 18- to 24-footers, the 180 LX can take up to seven people on day cruising, waterskiing or fishing adventures. While it comes equipped with a fuel efficient four-cylinder, 135 hp stern drive, it can take its passengers on some fast-paced rides, approaching 50 mph.

Weighing in at 2,133 pounds, the 180 LX is easily towable by most midsize vehicles. It carries a 7 foot, 1 inch beam — and, at 18 feet, it is small enough to fit inside the average garage.

This is an especially affordable sportboat, with a base price of just $14,000, but it is well-built and well-equipped. Like other Stingray models, it is not only sporty-looking, the 180 LX boasts an ergonomic design for maximum comfort and ease of operation. All seating, gauges and controls are in natural positions — not just wherever a computer decided it would be most cost-effective to put them.

Test Flight
180 Bow We tested the 180 LX on South Carolina's Lake Robinson, with two adults aboard and a full tank of fuel. Our test boat was equipped with a 135 hp Volvo Penta 3.0GS SX stern drive. The boat is also available with a 135 hp MerCruiser 3.OL Alpha stern drive.

During our test, there were 14 knots of wind on the lake and small whitecaps were beginning to form. We put the boat through a variety of turns and maneuvers, then did several speed runs. The boat offered lively performance and good cornering.

Our boat took just five seconds to reach plane — at 17.4 mph, at 2,600 rpm. We were able to fly along, feeling we were on the edge — or, we could trim down just a tad to have the feeling of more control.

Bow Storage While all the Stingray boats we tested on the lake that day were extremely dry-riding, because of the conditions during our test of the 180 LX, we were finally able to get some spray on the windshield.

The 180 LX gave us a truly exhilarating, fast-paced ride in total comfort — and with no pounding. Our top speed during the test was 49.8 mph (at 4,800 rpm) — in real world conditions, with a full tank of fuel. However, Stingray's own performance tests have proven that in the right conditions, this boat can easily top 50 mph.

One reason for that impressive performance — even with a small, fuel efficient engine — is the boat's patented Z-plane hull, with 19 degrees of deadrise. The hull's pronounced horizontal strakes, or "Z-planes," provide increased lift and knock down spray. Once they hit the water, the outside edges of each strake act as a spray release system, so the hull planes without catching bubbles — giving the propeller increased "bite."

Aft, the boat's "performance-notched transom" puts the prop higher in the water, reducing drag.

Total Access
180L Sunpad In the 180 LX's engine compartment, housed under the boat's large aft sunpad, there's ready access to the powerplant — and you can easily reach all major components for maintenance. In fact, the compartment is so roomy, separate storage compartments are provided on each side of the engine — and there's room to store the boat's Bimini top.

One especially nice feature, a remote oil change system, is included as standard equipment. If this were our boat, we'd add Stingray's optional automatic fire extinguishing system ($411) in the engine compartment, for added safety.

Forward of the sunpad is an upholstered bench-style seat with space for three adults to ride comfortably. Big swiveling bucket seats are positioned behind the helm and passenger consoles, which are behind a raked-back, wrap-around safety glass windshield.

Floor Storage The windshield's side sections protect the entire forward portion of the cockpit from spray. Optional side vent windows ($105) can be added to the windshield for maximum airflow through the cockpit - and they are ideal if you like to Go Boating on the hottest summer days.

The 180 LX's helm comes with a full array of custom backlit instrumentation, which is nicely arranged and positioned for maximum readability. Single-lever controls are within easy reach.

The skipper will appreciate the standard four-spoke ergonomic steering wheel, but he or she will probably want the power steering option ($395). Other available options we would also add at the helm are a tilt steering wheel ($138), a magnetic compass for navigation ($112) and a digital depth finder with depth alarm ($304).

Between the helm and passenger seats, there's a large in-floor locker for skis and wakeboards. It has an oversized door, for easy access to everything inside.

Cupholders In the passenger console, to port, you'll find a glove box and a Clarion high-power stereo system. For an extra $137, you can upgrade the system to include a CD player.

Forward, the bow seating area offers stainless steel grabrails, beverage holders and under-seat storage. A fiberglass bow cover is available optionally, at $486.

Stainless steel hardware is standard equipment — including spring line cleats, a ski tow eye and a two-rung swim ladder, for boarding from the integrated full-width swim step.

The 180 LX is a great, basic sportboat — but it isn't for everyone. If you're looking for something different in the deck plan, but want the same basic boat on the outside, the 180 LX has an attractive sister: the 180 LS.

Stingray's 180 LS offers the same size boat with a passenger side adjustable lounge seat (or optional dual lounge seats) instead of bucket seats. Instead of the sunpad and wide bench seat, this model offers two rear high-low jump seats that convert to a full-width sundeck and a fiberglass-insulated motor box console with an upholstered pad and four beverage holders. This configuration makes for a slightly more spacious cockpit, but a different overall look.

Whichever model you choose, Stingray offers a five-year hull protection plan and a three-year warranty against hull blisters, for added peace of mind.

As someone once said, very good things often come in small packages.

Stingray Powerboats: The people behind the company Stingray Powerboats has managed to become one of the nation's leading independent boat builders in just 20 years. Al Fink founded the company in 1979, with two molds and a passion, and the quest for excellence continues to this day.

Stingray's product line has grown to over 21 models, all of which represent a fine mixture of performance and value. That list of models goes beyond simple changes of size and features; Stingray manufactures several types of boats, including run-abouts, sportboats, a deck boat and a 24 foot cruiser.

The entire Fink family takes pride in their understanding of the boating community. As avid boaters themselves, Al, Debbie, Todd, and Chad are always seeking new ways to satisfy their customers' needs.

With over 225,000 square feet of manufacturing facilities on 46 acres, the company's South Carolina plant is a state-of-the-art force to be reckoned with. Every Stingray boat is designed, built and tested using advanced computer design and manufacturing programs. Stingray uses the latest technology — such as multi-axis milling equipment and computer-controlled water-jet cutting machines — to aid its bevy of skilled craftsmen.

- James Corns

The Go Boating Test Team
Go Boating Magazine


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