Stingray Boats
Go Boating - October 2004

Stingray 185LX Bowrider Boat

At first glance, Stingray’s 185LX seems like a very simple creation, but there’s actually a lot of work that goes into it -- and it takes trained specialists to make sure the entire process is executed correctly. A water-jet cutting machine cuts the boat’s parts exactly to size; a unique overhead tram system is utilized to move parts under construction through the plant via computer control; and CNC routers make challenging cuts while at the same time reducing waste, which keeps down the cost of the boats. Those are just a few of the many steps necessary to create this "simple" bowrider.

The 185LX is armed with Stingray’s patented Z-plane hull, which has no added volumes or surfaces (strakes). This special design allows the hull to pass through the water without creating the bubbles or vortices created by a conventional hull, and the smoother flow of water allows the propeller better bite during both straight line speed and hard cornering maneuvers.

We had two adults and 3/8 of a tank of fuel on board for our test of the 185LX. The boat has a maximum capacity of seven people (1,065 pounds), which seems like a doable number on the bowrider.

Our test boat was powered by a 3.0L MerCruiser stern drive, which seems to be the engine of choice for boat manufacturers looking to have an inexpensive-but-competent bowrider in their lineup. A gas-assisted engine hatch makes the 3.0L stern drive easy to get to, and there’s plenty of access for maintenance, which is always an important consideration. Moreover, the pop-up dividers next to the engines let you stow important items without worrying about them getting into the engine compartment.

We had good visibility from everywhere, even before the 185LX hit plane at 2,200 rpm. Cruising speed with the 3.0L was about 31.5 mph at 3,500 rpm.

When we punched the throttle forward all the way, we were amazed to see our GPS telling us that we were traveling at 48.1 mph. That’s an amazing speed when you consider 1) the 185LX’s extremely low price and 2) that the 2,155-pound boat is being powered by a 135 hp base engine package. When we tested the Maxum 1750 last year, the 2,000-pound boat only hit a top speed of 40.8 mph with the 3.0L MerCruiser. The Princecraft 190, a deckboat weighing 2,432 pounds, only made it to 38.8 mph.

Our test boat made it to plane in 5 seconds, and we jumped from 0 to 30 mph in 10.5 seconds. There are sure to be some boats out there that could beat these numbers, but we doubt any of those models sell for just $14,742.

The 185LX was very maneuverable, and it did well in turns. There was no sliding through corners.

The boat felt very solid, with no cavitation or blowout. Stingray includes custom engine vibration dampeners, which make for a smoother, quieter ride; however, the onboard sound level still hit 107 decibels at top speed, which is acceptable but nothing to crow about.

It Gets Even Sweeter
The speed of the 185LX is about the only big surprise the boat has to offer, since its layout is your usual run-of-the-mill bowrider layout. A V-shaped settee is up at the bow, with storage underneath its seat cushions and a cooler hidden at the very tip of the bow.

A walk-through windshield was well built and sturdy, but otherwise, it was nothing out of the ordinary. A passenger console sits at the port side of the boat, and the helm console sits at the starboard side.

We tested the 185LX, but Stingray also makes a 185LS, which is almost exactly the same boat. The only difference is the layout of the two models. The LX has two adjustable bucket seats and a full-width rear lounge and sunpad; the LS version offers a driver’s bucket seat, an adjustable back-to-back lounge and aft jump seats.

The bucket seats on our test boat were very comfortable -- and equally attractive. In fact, the boat itself is easy on the eyes. We really liked the bright yellow color of our 185LX.

Whatever seating you choose -- LX or LS version -- you get a full sunpad that runs athwartship along the transom. An integrated swim platform is built into the stern, and the platform has a telescopic re-boarding ladder built into it.

The helm, we should mention, had a full set of instrumentation that was laid out in an easy-to-read fashion. The instrumentation is backlit and trimmed in faux burlwood paneling. The dash has a lower rake than previous models, for better visibility, and the skipper gets to rest his or her hands on a Dino Italian steering wheel when at the helm. Other features on the boat include a 500 gph automatic/manual bilge pump, an electronic fuel management system, a convertible sun top with boot, a Kenwood high-power audio system, deluxe throttle and trim control, a personal Web site and a 12v accessory plug. Overall, the boat is nicely appointed for a model of its size and price point.

The Stingray 185LX would make a terrific entry-level boat for buyers who want a boat that offers plenty of amenities, comes from a company with a good name and can be had for a very reasonable price. The boat does very well with its standard 3.0L MerCruiser stern drive, taking turns like a champ and hitting a top speed of 48.1 mph, which makes for one sweet ride.

Duncan McIntosh
Go Boating Magazine

Go Boating October 2004 - Test Results Chart
SIMMER DOWN — (Left) The Dyno Italian steering wheel gives the helm the feel of a high-end sports car. (Center) A built in bow cooler is great for those really hot days. (Right) The lockable glove box, stereo and oversized drink holder on the passenger side are standard.


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