Get ready for a revival of the outboard-powered runabout. Glastron is looking to the future with the introduction this spring of its new SSV 170, a 17-foot bowrider designed to sell for $14,000 on a trailer with a 90-hp Evinrude E-TEC outboard on the transom. Like many builders Glastron http://glastron.com dropped its last outboard-powered runabout several seasons ago, for a number of reasons but primarily because the escalating cost of emissions-legal four-stroke and direct-injection two-stroke outboards made them an unattractive option on price-sensitive, entry-level boats. In this market, a price difference of even a few hundred dollars can be a deal-breaker, and outboards just could not compete with the low price of the ubiquitous, made-in-Mexico, 3.0-liter 135-hp sterndrive engine sourced from GM PowerTrain.
That price equation, however, will change in 2010 when new emissions regulations from the EPA will make fuel injection and an exhaust catalyst standard equipment on the 3.0-liter. EFI and a cat are already required on 3.0-liter sterndrive engines sold in California and New York, and the upcharge ranges from $1,700 to $2,750, depending on the boat builder. Everyone will pay that added cost in 2010.
So when Glastron set out to design its new 17-footer, an outboard version was in the plan from the beginning. This year you can get the SSV 175 with a 135-hp sterndrive, or the SSV 170 with the Evinrude 90, for the same price: $13,999. But next year the SSV 175 will probably cost more than $16,000. Suddenly, an outboard looks like a good idea again.
I had a chance to run the SSV 170, and it's a great little boat. It's manufactured with the VEC closed-mold system that forms the hull and stringer system with flotation as a single part. This is a solid foundation that produced no creaks and groans in rough water. The one-piece deck is a traditional fiberglass part and includes the aft seating area and consoles. Carpeting is glued to the sole. The standard, low-profile wind deflector is made of dark polycarbonate, but can be replaced with an optional full-glass windshield ($453).
The aft bench seat has three separate bottom and backrest cushions - which are also used in the bow to cut costs - and stowage below that's open to the cockpit. There's no glove box in the port console, no stereo, and the instruments are mounted directly to the flat face of the helm console. The boat is clearly built to a price point, but it never looks cheap.
The motor well is big enough to handle an outboard larger than the Evinrude 90. The boat is rated for up to 115 hp, but a V4 115 Evinrude adds $2,300 to the price. The motorwell is flanked by flat platforms that extend forward to double as steps into the cockpit. There's a boarding ladder to starboard. A ski pylon is a $257 option.
I ran the SSV 170 with two people aboard at a recorded a top speed of 37 mph. Acceleration to 30 mph was a little pokey at about 11 seconds. But at 30 mph cruising speed, the little Glastron gets a notable 5.7 mpg. How does it compare to the sterndrive-powered SSV 175? The sterndrive-powered SSV 175 was quicker to plane and faster, with a top speed of 40 mph. No surprise given its 45-hp advantage. Power steering is another benefit of the sterndrive power choice. But this ancient engine (orignally designed for the Chevy II) is coarse and noisy compared to the outboard and got 4.6 mpg at 30 mph, 20 percent worse economy. The sterndrive-powered boat also weighs 390 pounds more than the outboard-powered SSV 170, and that weight caused the SSV 175 to bob and weave its way across a stiff lake chop, while the better-balanced outboard-powered SSV 170 stayed steady and on course.
Glastron had two key goals when it designed the SSV 170: meeting a price point and being light enough to tow with a compact truck, SUV or van. On its custom EZ Loader trailer with a full 23-gallon tank of fuel, the SSV 170 scales in at 2,350 pounds. We already know the price is on target. If you've been wondering what ever happened to the affordable, outboard-powered runabout, I suggest you check out Glastron.
|Weight (w/o power)||1,200 lbs.|
|Fuel capacity (gal.)||23|
|Maximum Load||1,750 lbs|
|Maximum Power||115 hp|
|Price (w/Evinrude E-TEC 90)||$13,995|