Four Winns is serious about advancing its position in the market, and it introduced the 190 Horizon as well as four other new boats for 2006 to further that goal. In fact, the Cadillac, Michigan, boat builder, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, has announced that it intends to ramp up in order to give boating behemoth Sea Ray some head-on competition. This can only be good news for those of you looking into buying a boat, because increased competition can lead to better products at lower prices.
The 18-foot, 6-inch 190 Horizon is a small bowrider that is just slightly above the entry-level mark of $20,000, depending on how much power you choose (it has a base price of $21,613 with a 190 hp 4.3L MerCruiser). It's a small boat that would make an excellent choice for a first-timer, and the final cost will still be low. But because it is a little bigger than some other entry-level craft, you have the option to up the horsepower to as much as 225, which will give you a sportier ride than you would get with a 135 or 190 hp motor.
Unlike many other runabouts of this size, the 190 Horizon actually allows you to swap it between a couple of different cockpit seating options. The standard seating includes a bucket seat for the driver and a back-to-back passenger seat that can be flattened out to make a sun lounge. In the rear you'll find a pair of jump seats outboard of the engine cover. The seats can be positioned for regular seating, they can be flipped over to provide a nonskid step to help you get over the transom onto the swim platform and they can be positioned level with the top of the engine compartment to create a full-beam sunpad.
The other seating configuration is the Sunsport layout, which is a $431 option. This layout replaces the driver's bucket seat and back-to-back passenger seat with a pair of bucket seats with flip-up bolsters. In the rear the full-beam bench seat and sunpad replace the jump seats. This is a very inexpensive option that elevates the craft to something more in line with upscale bowriders.
In the bow itself you'll find seats that lift on hinges, which makes them easy to access and will prevent them from being shaken loose or flying out of the boat. The small seat all the way forward covers a small anchor locker that has fasteners made to hold the anchor in place and keep it from rattling or banging around. The backrests and seats are all made of Four Winns' durable Aquaflex vinyl, which can be found throughout the rest of the boat as well.
Our test craft had the optional Sunsport seating layout, and both our driver and observer appreciated the flip-up bolsters on the sporty bucket seats. In the sole of the craft you'll find a large ski locker with room for all your water toys.
All the way at the stern is an integrated swim platform with a boarding ladder and a stainless steel ski tow ring. An optional wakeboard tower with Bimini top ($2,977) will allow to you get even more out of your tow sessions.
We recently had a ball testing a brand-new Four Winns 180 Horizon equipped with a 135 hp Volvo Penta, so our collective trigger finger was itching to get at the 190 Horizon and see what 225 hp would feel like in a similar, but larger hull.
Like other boats from Four Winns, the 190 Horizon is centered on the company's patented Stable-Vee hull. The main focus of the Stable-Vee hull is to eliminate any uneven feeling due to lateral instability associated with slow speeds, which can be a concern on smaller boats with relatively narrow beams. The hull also takes advantage of a variable deadrise hull ending with a 19-degree deadrise at the transom. This allows the craft to handle choppy lake conditions and even bay and nearshore coastal conditions with confidence.
We had two people aboard our test boat and about a half tank of fuel (about 17 gallons or 106 pounds). For power we had a 225 hp 4.3 GXi Volvo Penta with an SX drive spinning a 14.35x19 three-blade aluminum propeller.
Acceleration out of the hole and onto plane was quick at 3.7 seconds. Our 0 to 30 mph acceleration time was 6.8 seconds, another impressive number. With the throttle all the way forward we posted a top speed of 48.1 mph on our GPS, which would give you a top-speed range of about 93 miles. Our sound meter registered 94 dBa at top speed, which is normal.
Our most efficient cruising speed was 32.1 mph at 3,500 rpm, yielding a cruising range of about 128 miles, which is a respectable range for a small boat with a 34-gallon fuel tank. Our sound meter read 86 dBa at cruising speed — anything close to 85 dBa is good.
The 190 Horizon handled well and definitely had more pep than the 180 Horizon with the 135 hp motor. The 190 would hold the corners well, especially thanks to the no-feedback steering. It can take a little muscle to put the craft in a hard-over turn, but once there the steering will hold it until you're ready to release. Straight-line tracking was also good, which will be appreciated when you pull out the tube, skis or wakeboard.
The new Four Winns 190 Horizon is a good example of how companies work to create boats that resonate with boaters' specific wants and needs. The 190 would be an excellent choice for the boater who wants a small, affordable bowrider with some impressive punch.
Because it's a little larger than some entry-level bowriders, it's able to take up to 225 hp, which is a nice bump compared to the 135 or 190 hp many of the smaller boats have. It'll cost a little more, but you'll get the power and performance you want along with a slightly larger boat. And the increase in cost is very small in the larger scheme of things.
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