Bayliner 175: Sea Trial

Bayliner's 175 proves that a little boat can go a long way.

29th October 2002.
By James Corns

The 175 felt very solid for a boat its size.

The 175 felt very solid for a boat its size.

There’s an old saying that you get what you pay for — but that’s a lie. While it’s true that you almost never get more than what you paid for, in today’s world, you often get much less than what you paid for. However, on Bayliner’s new 175, you can see all $9,995 of its selling price on display — plus, some might argue, a good deal more.

When we heard the price of the new Bayliner 175 — $9,995 — we were surprised, to say the least. Sure, there are boats that sell for less money, but those models don’t include a 135 hp MerCruiser stern drive and a galvanized trailer as part of the package.

“This is revolutionary,” we thought to ourselves — at first. However, after pondering it a bit longer, we realized that maybe this new boat package wasn’t as revolutionary as we had initially surmised.

After all, Bayliner was selling entire boat packages for less than $4,000 back in the early 1970s. That bold adventure in pricing had expanded the boating market and brought many new boaters to the water. This new boating package promises to do the same.

Therefore, while the 175 may be revolutionary by today’s standards, if you look at it in a historical context, Bayliner is really just going back to its roots.

How Do They Do It?

How can Bayliner offer this boat at such a low price? What’s the secret?

First, the 175 is being built in Mexico. The Bayliner plant in Reynosa, Mexico has been designed to maximize manufacturing efficiencies and take advantage of the area’s inexpensive workforce and great supplier base.

American automakers have been building various models in Mexico for many years, so Bayliner would appear to be borrowing a page from their playbook. Cadillac, for instance, is building its new Escalades across the border.

Second, there are very few options on this boat. This isn’t Burger King: You can’t have it your way. You get what you get. Keeping the options at a minimum keeps the costs at a minimum.

The list of standard equipment is quite impressive, though, so there are very few options to miss. The helm instrumentation — which is all analog — includes a speedometer, a tachometer, a voltmeter, a trim gauge, a temperature gauge, and oil pressure and fuel gauges.

The layout of the instrumentation is straightforward and unornamented — but this simplicity also translates to operation. Items like blower switches are well marked, so novice boaters won’t feel overwhelmed.

The port console across from the starboard helm includes a beverage holder and a storage niche. The storage niche has a drain hole in it, but that hole just empties onto the cockpit deck.

A wrap-around windshield runs athwartships. It serves as the dividing line between the fiberglass-decked bow section and the carpeted cockpit. Two small tabs pivot to lock the hinged section of the windshield.

The bow’s fiberglass deck has a molded-in skid-resistant surface, and the cushions on the bow settee conceal storage areas. You’ll also find a pair of cup holders and assist handles in the bow section.

Back in the cockpit, there are two sets of back-to-back seats. These seats sit on notched tracks that let you adjust the angle of the backrest or flatten the seats out entirely, converting them to sun lounges.

Two aft jump seats look forward from the transom. The small engine compartment is located between them. When you remove the fiberglass cover, the engine and bilge pump are very easy to get to.

The tasteful color palette that runs throughout the boat does a lot for its aesthetics. Cream and taupe run throughout, with touches of vibrant blue sprinkled here and there.

The 175 has seven-person (855 pounds) carrying capacity, so an entire family could fit on board the boat. There’s plenty of seating.

If you or your friends are into waterskiing, you’ll be happy to hear that a ski tow eye is standard. Plus, the telescoping ladder at the transom swim step makes it easy to crawl back into the boat. A ski/wakeboard locker is built into the cockpit deck.

Inexpensive, Not Cheap

Most people will run the 175 in protected waters and on lakes — however, we tested the Bayliner 175 out on the open ocean.

We first stopped by Olympic Boat Centers, in Newport Beach, California, and hitched the boat to the back of our van. We then headed to Newport Dunes Resort Marina, where we launched the boat.

It was a calm, gray summer day. When we exited the harbor, we were met with 2 foot seas.

We immediately accelerated to plane and started tackling the waves. The first thing we noticed was that there was very little shuddering. The 175 felt very solid for a boat its size. There was no flexing of the hull.

Going down swell, the bow didn’t bury. In fact, throughout the entire test, the boat’s bow never had any intentions of going under.

We had a very dry ride. A small bit of spray was kicked up onto the windshield, but it was more of an aberration than a habit. The 175 tracked straight, too — and it was even more impressive during turns.

At a little over 3,500 rpm, we hit the boat’s cruising speed of 32 mph. The 135 hp MerCruiser 3.0 liter stern drive can take the boat to a top speed of 43.3 mph at approximately 4,800 rpm. When we were running through the no-wake zone, the engine was running at 750 rpm and 3.9 mph.

Overall, we were very happy with the ride. This boat isn’t really meant for open ocean cruising, but we were pleasantly surprised by the way it handled in the 2 foot seas.

Until now, if someone had come to you and said you could buy a capable 17 foot, 6 inch runabout with a stern drive and full trailer package for under $10,000, you might have thought he or she was joking. However, the Bayliner 175 is a serious contender that is sure to find a devoted following. Our test established that this boat is no joke — but that doesn’t mean new owners won’t be laughing all the way to the bank.

Bayliner 175 Specifications

Length 17’6″
Beam 7′
Draft w/drive down 2’10″
Dry weight 1,900 pounds
Fuel capacity 18 gals.
Maximum power 135 hp
Price with 135-hp MerCruiser stern drive and trailer package $9,995

Performance

Top speed 43.3 mph
Cruising speed 32 mph
Miles per gallons at 320-mph cruising speed 4.6
Fuel cost for 100 miles $32.61
Range at 32-mph cruising 82 miles

(Estimated fuel cost based on a fuel price of $1.50 per gallon.)

Standard Features

Three bow/stern eyes, four mooring cleats, concealed horn, custom graphics package, rigid vinyl gunwale molding, folding two-step swim ladder, bow storage, helm seat/sleeper seat, ignition safety switch with lanyard, non-glare dash panel, speedometer, tachometer, voltmeter, trim gauge, temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge, fuel gauge, aft jump seats, hull side storage, ski/wakeboard locker, bilge pump, 12v navigation lights, rack-and-pinion steering, ski tow eye, galvanized single-axle trailer.

For More Information

Bayliner Marine Corp.
(800) 443-9119
www.bayliner.com


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