"The big feature that really sells our boats is the ride." That's what we were told when we met with reps from Envision to test out the company's 2006 2900 Combo DLX mid-cabin bowrider.
Saying that the look and performance of the 2900 is "racing inspired" is putting it lightly. It might be better to say that this is a boat that handles and shines in a way that allows a go-fast guy with a family to have his cake and eat it too. While the spear tip of a bow and cleaver-like deadrise point to a craft made to churn and burn in frenzied offshore and lake conditions, the spacious bow, large cabin and U-shaped conversation pit in the cockpit point at increased fun with family and friends.
In fact, this boat reminded us a lot of how many fishboat builders work to include the family in the equation with features that allow Dad to show the family a good time and still have a hell of a fishing rig. In this case, however, high-performance cruising and handling replaces fishing for a boat that's a scream to drive yet still pampers the family with practical features common to many of today's family-oriented craft.
In the stern you'll find an integrated swim step with a boarding ladder and a stainless ski tow ring, all of which points to a craft made with watersports in mind.
Instead of a large swim platform and bench seat, which is standard on Envision craft with twin-engine power, our 2900 had a large U-shaped rear cockpit area that really opens up the cockpit for comfort. This kind of room to relax will make big points with your wife, kids and friends.
You'll find the same notion of room in the bow with long forward-facing lounges that allow you to stretch your legs all the way out and a deep footwell that will prevent knees and feet from banging into each other.
Between the bow and the cockpit is the mid-cabin, which features a pair of facing couches and room to actually lie down by extending your legs forward into the forward storage areas. There's also a portable head in the cabin that slides out from its own compartment on rollers, so it's not in the way of anything when it's not being used.
From a family point of view, we really can't point out anything the 2900 is lacking compared to other craft that are built for family fun.
If the family likes to go fast and rail in the corners, however, the 2900 definitely has a leg up on traditional bowriders and sportboats. With a knife-like 23-degree variable deadrise, plenty of power and robust controls, the 2900 offers you a ride that's more like Six Flags than the little county fair.
We had two people aboard for our test and about a half tank of fuel (about 68 gallons or 426 pounds). For power we had a 375 hp 496 MAG MerCruiser with a Bravo I drive spinning a 21-inch Mirage Plus three-blade stainless steel prop. On the dash we had Livorsi gauges, and to our right we had Kiekhafer throttle controls. Even before putting the beast in gear we knew we were in for a treat.
The 2900 powered out of the hole with good speed for an on-plane time of 4.9 seconds and a 0- to 30-mph time of 9.5 seconds. With the throttle mashed all the way forward and the drive trimmed up for speed, we posted 53.1 mph on our GPS with 91 dBa for sound. You can expect more than 200 miles in range at top speed thanks to the 137-gallon fuel tank. Dropping back we found an optimal cruising speed of 35.9 mph at 3,500 rpm, yielding a cruising range of 289 miles and a sound level of 87 dBa, which is actually quieter than many of the traditional family boats we've tested.
We were blown away in terms of handling. We didn't hesitate to crank the wheel from lock to lock at wide-open throttle. With the bolster dropped down to the standing position the seats will hug your entire body close, giving you the support you need to hold the corners with confidence. Even though the conditions were calm, we're told the 2900 will cleave through 3- and 4-foot seas without complaint.
In order to endure this kind of treatment, all Envisions are built tough as nails. In a word, they're "overbuilt." This relates directly to a craft that feels like one solid entity in the water with no flex, rattles or vibrations. When Envision says "racing inspired," it's talking about the construction as well as the performance and handling.
We obviously had fun putting the Envision 2900 Combo DLX through the motions. Envision builds fewer than 100 boats a year, so we're not surprised with the quality of craftsmanship, materials or performance we observed in the 2900. Such attention to detail and fine work doesn't come cheap, but you'll be glad to know you get what you pay for with the 2900.
If you want a boat that keeps you close to the go-fast scene without sacrificing family functionality, the 2900 will allow you to enjoy a healthy measure of what you're looking for. Just be prepared to hold on tight.
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Manufacturer Contact Information
Envision Boats, Inc.