Boat Review by: Jon Blaicher
With the cost of everything continuing to rise, it is nice to know you can still get a fun and versatile fiberglass runabout without remortgaging the house. Every boat is a compromise in one way or another, even when they are 70 feet in length – what, no hot tub? When prioritizing affordability, the big trade-offs are often quality and/or versatility. StarCraft has done a very good job of minimizing such compromise with their latest SVX line-up of deck boats.
First of all, deck boats are all about versatility and space, with the best designs rivalling a pontoon boat in space and a tow boat for watersports. This SVX 191 OB is all about space, with seating for twelve people! Unlike the dual console model, there is no wrap around windshield. The trade-off for wind protection is a roomier layout with unobstructed centerline access to both platforms. That’s right, SVX models provide a bow and stern platform, both with telescopic reboarding ladders so you can access the beach just as easily as the water.
Like a pontoon, there is storage under every seat. Let’s face it, you can never have too much storage space. Since stashing a cooler under a seat isn’t ideal, you will find a handy locker on the port side that can fit a medium size cooler, which will help keep the sun off during a long the day on the water. Skis and wakeboards tend not to fit under seats either, but not to worry as all SVX models from 17 to 23 feet have an accessible center locker below deck for stashing larger items when not in use.
SVX models have some impressive standard features. The soft touch EVA foam on the bow and stern platforms, steps, and console are standard and much more comfortable than non-skid gelcoat. The 4-speaker Jensen blue-tooth stereo and USB ports are standard, although you can upgrade to more premium JL Audio components if you wish. Hydraulic steering is standard on the 191, something truly appreciated by anyone towing a tuber or boarder around the lake. Even the bimini is standard equipment!
There are almost two dozen optional features to consider, depending on how you plan to use the SVX. This particular 191 has the optional snap-in EVA mats, which tend to be thicker than glued down foam and are easy to remove for fishing or a thorough boat cleaning. For me, this is a nice feature if you tend to get sand in the boat, which can be hard to remove around the edges of glued foam. This SVX also has the optional ski pylon, which is adequate for most towing, but if it were me I would consider StarCraft’s deck mounted ski tow. It is more robust, offers a high higher tow point, and doubles as a hand-hold when crossing the aft platform.
Max horsepower for the 191 OB is 150. Our test model was equipped with Suzuki’s latest fuel injected 140. Before you think a 150 might be the better option for maximum performance, consider this: Suzuki’s 140 is 125 pounds lighter than its 150. That’s like another person in the boat! To be fair that gap narrows to 60 pounds when compared to the 150 out of Fond Du Lac but don’t forget, that weight is right on the transom. The DF140A leaves some of that weight in your wallet too, costing up to $3,500 less in Canadian dollars compared to the heavier 150.
A lighter engine certainly helps with acceleration and handling. Bow rise is minimal and time to plane with the snappy Suzuki was just under 4 seconds lightly loaded with one person and a full tank if fuel. Top speed was a hair under 47 mph, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. This Suzuki exceeded my expectations. Not only is it very quiet, but the throttle is smooth and predictable making it easy to manage incremental speed changes. It is light enough not to upset the balance of the dihedral hull, yet still has the revs to make full use of the pad at full throttle. This is a fun boat to drive at speed. Handling is typical of this type of hull with limited roll when turning. Power steering takes all of the effort out of the wheel and you may want to warn your passengers to hang on before cranking a hard turn. Ride comfort is also surprising for a dihedral hull. I’ve driven more than a few that tend to pound in anything over a 2-foot chop, but I didn’t notice any pounding during the test, and it was not a calm day. Plus, the high freeboard really helps keep the spray away when it does get bumpy.
Even sitting low in the boat, visibility is fantastic with nothing but a few bimini supports blocking an otherwise clear 360-degree view. The helm is well laid out with a large speedo and tach in the centre above the wheel – right where they should be. Tilt steering and a flip-up bolster make it easy to drive standing. Wind protection behind the wheel is minimal, but the small windscreen does a decent job of deflecting most of the wind when sitting with the bolster down. The biggest surprise is just how roomy the cockpit is without the dual console and full-beam windshield. This is for sure my preferred layout.
If you have the chance to order your StarCraft in advance, you can customize the look of your SVX. With seven models from 17 to 23 feet, three colour packages in eleven different colours, there are over 230 unique variations possible. So, if you are looking for an affordable boat with space and versatility, one with a reputation for quality and a warranty to back it up, ask your local dealer about a StarCraft SVX.
|Dry weight:||2,378 lbs||1,078 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||45 US gal||170 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Suzuki|
|Engine HP:||Max 150|