Princecraft Ventura 190 I/O LE: Performance Test

Princecraft Ventura 190 I/O LE: Well-equipped deckboat makes financial sense.

25th September 2003.
By Keith Burton

The Ventura 190 was very stable, both at speed and while at rest.

The Ventura 190 was very stable, both at speed and while at rest.

Deckboats are popular with boaters who are looking for a lot of space but want more speed and style than can generally be found on a pontoon boat. However, if you have shopped for a deckboat and most models seem to be out of reach for your budget, you are in luck; Canadian manufacturer Princecraft has come out with the affordable, rugged, all-aluminum Ventura 190 I/O LE.

We stepped aboard our Ventura 190 I/O LE test boat on a stunningly beautiful southeast Tennessee morning on Telleco Lake. Our first thought was that it sure didn’t look like an aluminum boat.

“Where are the rivets?” we wondered. The painted finish and smooth welds perfectly conceal that the hull is aluminum, with the rivets only appearing on the bottom, when the boat is out of the water.

The boat (complete with its MerCruiser 3.0L stern drive) weighs in at just 2,799 pounds, yet space abounds, with room for 10 passengers. Aluminum is about half the weight of fiberglass, which means better fuel mileage and shorter time to plane.

Aluminum V-hull boats can sometimes handle more awkwardly and be a bit noisier than their fiberglass counterparts, but our ear sound-o-meter detected no outrageous noise and handling was unexpectedly smooth. The Ventura 190′s large padded sundeck above the engine compartment effectively muffled engine noises, but credit also goes to the stiff aluminum construction of the boat. The Ventura 190 is made from 5052-H36 marine-grade aluminum alloy, and it is stoutly constructed. You almost don’t realize that the hull is made of aluminum, because the sides of the hull are as smooth as what you would see on a fiberglass boat.

We also found that the hull effectively muffles the slapping noise that is often associated with boats running over choppy waters. This, along with the quiet engine noise, makes conversation easy to hear while under way.

On Board

Getting aboard is easy. The Ventura 190 has two access doors: one at the stern and another to port. Once aboard, passengers have plenty of seating choices. As you would expect with any deckboat, even one at only 19 feet, wrap-around seating is available at the stern and bow.

Marine-grade carpet covers a pressure-treated wood floor, which also helps muffle noise. The carpet is durable, but we would have liked a plusher appearance befitting a family deckboat.

There is plenty of storage under the seats, and we liked the molded plastic bins instead of just a space that is exposed to the deck. A central floor bin offers room for skis or fishing poles, but the deck bin is quite shallow and is not for bulky items.

The control console is all fiberglass and offers a low windscreen. A complete set of instruments fills the panel, but there’s not a lot of style here — just good, durable functionality.

In many ways, that seems to be the Ventura 190′s greatest asset. Here is an affordable deckboat, with all the versatility and durability you need in a boat of this type, without the frills. That is not to say that the boat is Spartan or unattractive; just don’t look for faux-gold-trimmed instruments or a steering wheel made of fake wood.

What you do get is a nice tilt wheel, a comfortable captain’s chair and a rather weak-sounding AM/FM cassette stereo system with radio. We would recommend that you ditch the radio and get a high-power aftermarket unit. At the stern, the sundeck can be lifted to expose a dressing room, or it can be used as a head when equipped with an optional portable head.

At Speed

For any boat, how it performs on the water is a BIG part of whether the boat is something to enjoy. In this case, you’re in for a good time. The economical 135 hp MerCruiser 3.0L stern drive offers adequate performance for this boat.

Time to plane is short (about 7 seconds), and the ride is smooth without any dramatics. You will have to be careful to trim out the boat, depending on the load, as some porpoising will occur at speed if there is no one at the bow — but that is not an unexpected issue.

We saw a maximum speed of 38.8 mph with two people on board and a full fuel tank. While that speed won’t win records, it is plenty fast enough to pin flies in your teeth and keep the wakeboarders happy.

The best cruising speed was at 3,000 rpm. This speed offered the best fuel use and would be more comfortable for talking with passengers while sipping on sodas.
Our boat had a rather stiff throttle, but this is something we have observed on other boats and it usually just takes some adjustment at the dealer to smooth it out. Power steering is standard, but it is not over-assisted. The boat handles smoothly, cutting sharply when requested. It also easily tackled moderate wakes without drama or undue pitching.

The Ventura 190 was very stable, both at speed and while at rest. Moving around does not unsettle the boat, and if you want to do some fishing, you have all the space you need.

The Utility of It All

Access for servicing the engine is adequate. You can reach everything, but it is a stretch if you can bend deeply at the waist and have long arms. Folks of larger girth should leave any engine work to the gymnastically blessed.

The battery is accessed from the stern cover on the port side, and it is not hard to get to. The boat’s electrics were fairly easy to get to, in case emergency repairs are needed.

Standard equipment includes two automatic bilge pumps, stainless steel fittings, a stowable table, deck lighting and a full color-coordinated Bimini top. An optional full deck tent ($1,500) turns the Ventura 190 into a cabin on the water. Also optional is a table for the bow section, which is available in either an oval or rectangular shape.

A standard single-axle trailer is included in the Ventura 190 package. The trailer comes with spoke wheels, brakes, a swing-away tongue, carpeted bunks and boarding guides.

Overall, the Princecraft Ventura 190 is a nice package. It offers a lot of boat for a good price and Princecraft’s reputation for building durable aluminum boats means years of painless ownership and reliability. We like the value the Ventura 190 represents in fun space, but especially we like its affordability when compared to other deckboats.

Princecraft Ventura 190 I/O LE Specifications

Length 19′
Beam 8’6″
Draft 2’5″
Dry weight 2,434 pounds
Fuel capacity 40 gallons
Maximum power 220 hp
Price as tested (w/3.0L MerCruiser stern drive) $21,995

Engine

Model MerCruiser 3.0L stern drive
Propshaft horsepower 135
Cylinders I-4
Displacement 181 c.i.d.
Gear ratio 2.0:1
Compression ratio 9.3:1
Maximum engine speed 4800 rpm
Fuel system Carbureted
Weight 365 pounds

Performance

Cruising speed 22.1 mph at 3000 rpm
Top speed 38.8 mph at 4750 rpm
Miles per gallon at 22.1-mph cruising speed 3.68
Gallons per hour at 22.1-mph cruising speed 6
Range at 22.1-mph cruising speed 147 miles

Standard Features

Bimini top and boot, cabin lights, composite roto-molded seating, rear table, 50-watt marine AM/FM cassette radio, seat storage compartments, built-in deck storage (including cooler), stern and port access doors, power steering, stainless steel fittings.

Optional Features

Half camper enclosure w/front cockpit cover, mooring cover, bow lounge sun cushions, stainless steel ski tow bar, pedestal-mount bow removable snack table w/drink holders (oval or rectangular), removable privacy enclosure.

For More Information

Princecraft Boats Inc.
2600 Sea Ray Blvd.
Building #2
Knoxville, TN 37914
(865) 522-4181
www.princecraft.com


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