Starting with a blank sheet and decades of proven modeling experience and techniques, Yamaha sought to completely redesign its bread-and-butter VX Series. The difficulty in doing so meant jeopardizing its position as the single highest-selling personal watercraft ever. The gamble was hedged on the fact that enthusiasts were gravitating towards other models (either within the Yamaha WaveRunner lineup or to other brands) for a greater variety of riding characteristics, advanced technology options and creature comforts.
Storage (like everything else) is bigger too, with 24.6 gallons total including a wrist-deep glove box and a screw-top watertight storage bin tucked beneath the rear passenger, yet another feature previously only found on the FX and FZ series. Yamaha also split the previous one-piece seat into two, making accessing the rear cubby all that much easier. The hood opens and snaps into place, revealing a shallow but wide bow stowage. The aforementioned two-piece Cruiser bench is comfortable, broad at the seat and narrow at the knees.
Obviously, the biggest addition to the VX and the whole Yamaha lineup is the addition of the brand’s new RiDE dual-throttle control system. Unlike Sea-Doo’s iBR, which employs the left trigger as a sort of gear lever, having the driver toggle through reverse bucket positions, the RiDE system is literally a throttle unto itself. Without ever touching the right-hand throttle, a driver can back off of a trailer, spin around and pull alongside a dock using strictly the left-hand RiDE throttle.
Thankfully, Yamaha engineers have balanced the RiDE’s traction-controlled thrust to respond in respect to each vehicle’s weight and power output, meaning the engine’s ECU and BCU will not respond as abruptly as it might with a SVHO-equipped FX Cruiser on a VX Deluxe, and vice versa. Of course, if initiated simultaneously, the left-hand will bring the WaveRunner to a halt by deploying the dual-exit bucket and eventually engage reverse if held down. But, if only gingerly deployed, the reverse bucket can gradually decline, acting more as a buffer than a brake.
Of course, the other side of the Cruiser coin is the inclusion of Yamaha’s simple-to-navigate Cruiser Assist and No Wake modes. Toggling through speeds is a simple enough task, and although a little slow to respond to initial inputs, setting the cruise control on the fly is easy enough. The new LCD screen is wide and easy to read at speed. And don’t forget the wide and contoured folding swimstep that folds flush to the bond rail.
Par for the course, the VX Cruiser is comfortable, economical and fully-equipped, rightfully earning its place at the top of Yamaha’s Versatility lineup. Priced at $10,299, the VX Cruiser is a marked increase from the outgoing model, but arguably, you’re getting much more machine in exchange for the slight bump in price tag.