By Jeff Hemmel
Tracker, Sea Ray, Ranger, Mercury, Yamaha, and Others Recognized By Consumers Digest
Consumers Digest has announced their Best Buy picks, and highlighted new technology in boats and outboard engines for 2012.
Tracker, Sea Ray, Ranger, Mercury and Yamaha are among the marine brands to reveal they have received recognition from Consumers Digest in its current issue. Tracker racked up a total of three of the magazine’s heralded Best Buys, while Sea Ray was singled out for the brand’s innovative Quiet Ride technology. The Consumer’s Digest article was penned by Boats.com Senior Editor Lenny Rudow.
Of Tracker Marine Group’s multiple awards, the Nitro Z-6 was recognized as the least expensive model bass boat that could nonetheless deliver professional-level performance and features; Sun Tracker’s Party Barge 20 DLX was singled out for offering more real estate for less price; and MAKO’s Pro 17 Skiff CC was dubbed “the most impressive new boat-motor-trailer package to hit the water in decades.”
Ranger was honored with two Best Buy selections for the Z520 Comanche and Z119. Both models were praised for their performance and construction features, as well as overall value compared to other boats in their class. It was a repeat performance for the Comanche, which the article noted “delivers the best value among powerboats that are designed for serious bass fishers.” The Ranger Z119’s extruded and heated transom construction, suspension seats, and tandem, swing-tongue trailer were highlighted as features normally not available in the boat’s price range.
Much of the focus of the Consumer’s Digest article was on how powerboat manufacturers are using new technologies to deliver a more comfortable ride to the consumer. Sea Ray in particular was lauded for its Quiet Ride, which attempts to minimize noise and vibration through varying methods. They include positive-locking latches on all doors and hatches, routered-in gaskets which compress when a compartment is closed, and redesigned bulkheads that seal off the engine to prevent noise from traveling throughout the boat, a feature normally reserved for the priciest luxury models. Quiet Ride also incorporates sound-deadening foam insulation under the deck, and a redesigned transoms that absorbs, rather than transmits, noise and vibration. There’s even a unique, paper-like fabric added between layers of fiberglass that reduces vibration throughout the boat.
As of now Quiet Ride is only available on select models, but individual features, including added insulation and improved bulkheads, are being incorporated into other models and could be added throughout the line in the future.
Mako’s Pro Skiff line was also recognized for its smooth ride. By changing the shape of the hull to an inverted V, with a tunnel in the middle, Mako is able to compress the air trapped in the tunnel so that it acts as a cushion when crossing waves. Pontoon manufacturers in general were also recognized for refining running surfaces, adding nose cones reinforced with thicker aluminum, lifting strakes, performance foils, and center pontoons to improve ride characteristics. This combination of features has also allowed manufacturers to increase horsepower. The article notes today’s models can handle up to 300hp outboards, and travel at speeds in excess of 50 mph.
Speaking of outboards, both Mercury and Yamaha also received Best Buy designations. Mercury’s newest 150 FourStroke, 9.9hp Bigfoot, and 75hp OptiMax made the grade, as did Yamaha’s V MAX SHO(R) VF200, V MAX SHO(R) VF225, and V MAX SHO(R) VF250.
The full article is available to subscribers st Consumers Digest.
- Jeff Hemmel writes for boats.com, Boating, PersonalWatercraft.com, and Powersports Business. The former Senior Editor at Watercraft World, Jeff is a multi-time award winner as well as a 2008 inductee into the IJSBA Hall of Fame. His first book, "The Anti-Pirate Potato Cannon...and 101 Other Things For Young Mariners To Try, Do, & Build On the Water," received a bronze medal in the 2010 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. For more info, visit Jeff Hemmel's website.