Typically it’s the top-of-the-line models that get the most media attention in a boat builder’s lineup, like the X26 in the case of MasterCraft, because it’s always fun and interesting to talk about the best of the best. Conversely, tow boat builders also have been focusing down-market on their entry level products (such as the NXT20, from this same builder) to entice first-time buyers to experience their product, their brand and, they hope, create a repeat customer. Maybe lifelong. The mid-range sometimes gets neglected, so it’s important to point out that MasterCraft has been sparking some innovation in that segment, too, particularly with its new XT23.
“The XT23, and all models in the XT-Series, are designed for the enthusiast that has interest in varied tow sports activities,” said Jay Povlin, Global MasterCraft vice president of sales and marketing. “The boat is designed to do many activities very well, great surf and wakeboard wakes, very good recreational ski wake, and an enjoyable, comfortable day boat for cruising. The boat fills the gap between the entry point of our brand, NXT, and the pinnacle of luxury and performance in the X-Series.”
Designed as a crossover boat, the XT23 is a V-drive setup to pull skiers, wakeboarders and surfers, or a bunch of kids on a tube. At 23’ 4” the XT23 is about as large as a tow boat can get before it gets too heavy to pull skiers, who enjoy nice flat wakes. Slow the boat down and fill its ballast tanks to their 2,600-pound capacity, however, and you’ve got a salient platform for wakeboarding and wakesurfing. MasterCraft’s Gen 2 surf system features a center-mounted trim plate with linear fins and contoured wake plates on either side of the boat. The driver can use the touch-screen display to the right of the steering wheel to fine-tune the wakes to a rider’s needs and store them for future use.
Because all the action is behind the boat, MasterCraft set up the interior to let more passengers see the action without having to crane their necks. The port-side observer seat is wide enough for two. What’s more, the aft lounge flips up and forward to create a rear-facing bench. The starboard side doesn’t offer a rear-facing lounge design, so that’s a bit of a shortcoming there. A boat at this price should have that.
In terms of engine power, MasterCraft has something no other tow boat manufacturer does: Ilmor Marine power. The base engine is the 5.7-liter 5000MPI, a multiport injected old-school Chevrolet small-block good for 320 horsepower at 5,200 RPM. Buyers also can opt for the 7.4-liter, a General Motors LS architecture V8 that cranks out 522 HP at 5,800 RPM. More important, the 7.4-liter makes a stump-pulling 524 pound-feet of torque at a lowly 4,400 RPM.
Convenience and longevity items include double-hinged seat cushions that hold themselves up while you search for gear, and rotocast seat bases that are lightweight and immune to rot or fungal growth. Stern stowage compartments are hinged at the sides so you can access them from the interior or the swim platform, and the sunpad over the engine has a SeaDek foam “walk-through,” more of a walk-over, that leads to swim platform. The platform also has a small bench for gearing up for a run.
“We have benchmarked against similarly positioned products and are extremely confident that once a comparative demonstration is given, we win every time,” Povlin said, “not only in performance for any of the tow sports activities, but especially in quality, fit, finish and attention to detail.”
As much fun as it is to talk about the top shelf tow boats, MasterCraft’s new XT23 is proof that the middle of the market is pretty exciting, too.
Other Choices: Shoppers will find a slightly less expensive option in the Supreme S238. The Malibu Wakesetter 22 MXZ, another V-drive tow boat, will be another to look at. Same goes for the Enzo 244.
For more information, visit MasterCraft.
See MasterCraft XT23 listings.
|Fuel capacity||55 gal.|