Burgeoning fast food chain Five Guys Burgers and Fries is quickly ruining us from enjoying any other burger chain because ordering a standard cheeseburger automatically gets you a double cheeseburger, and even if you opt for the smaller portion, ordering french fries rewards you with a brown paper sack filled nearly twice the delicious fat fried goodness. In fact, over-delivering has become the restaurant’s motto, and for those lucky enough to patron a franchise know this fact intimately. Nobody leaves that place hungry.
In recent months, we’ve come to feel much of the same way towards Yamaha’s VX series. The lineup of seven models offers the potential buyer a veritable buffet of choices, ranging from the most affordable, stripped-down VX to the built-to-the-hilt VX Cruiser, from the frills-free, nothing-but-performance VXR to the one-stop-shop, family summer starter pack VX Limited, and everything in between. New for 2016, Yamaha decided to go one better with their redesigned VX platform, and offer a fully-loaded version of the VXR, in the form of the VX Cruiser HO.
The VX Cruiser HO most notably comes with Yamaha’s dual-overhead-camshaft, four-valve-per-cylinder High Output 1,812cc four-cylinder 4-stroke powerplant, equal to the VXR/S, and the larger naturally-aspirated FX models. This gives the lighter (767-pounds) 3-seater a superior power-to-weight ratio than the larger FX Cruisers, particularly in no small part due to its use of Yamaha’s proprietary NanoXcel hull and deck material. The rest of the running gear (including a 155mm axial pump) is also identical to the VXR/S, so you’re truly getting the best Yamaha offers.
Although the VX Cruiser HO does not include the brand’s electronic trim control found on the VXR/S, it does trade out for the easy-to-navigate Cruise Assist toggles an No Wake Mode, allowing cruising through marinas and No Wake zones far easier. And as with all Yamaha models (besides the FZR/S), the VX Cruiser HO features the traction-controlled brake-and-reverse RiDE system. Of which, we found its best application when it comes to gently approaching a dock. Other brake-equipped models are slightly “clunky” when it comes to changing gears between forward, neutral and reverse, as the small VX does so handily.
The 2016 VX Cruiser HO comes in Yamaha’s Black Metallic livery with brilliant white highlights and seat, giving the machine a striking profile. Yamaha’s use of automotive-grade metallics really stand out when the sunlight hits the VX HO just right, and even their (albeit conservative) use of decals and chrome are able to give each of the VX models its own unique look and feel despite being so physically similar. The deep cove Cruiser seat provides some pleasant lower back bolstering while it elevates the second and third passenger to see above and past the driver’s shoulders.
As is with all VX models, the steering neck is fixed (no tilt), but is nicely equipped with pistol grip handlebars, light-to-the-touch electronic throttle controls that don’t fatigue your hands like traditional cable-operated systems, and responsive buttons. We did find setting the Cruise Assist at speed a little bit of a stretch for our thumb to reach without either chopping or pegging the throttle in the process, but once set, the up-and-down toggles work masterfully. Steering response is on point – particularly in reverse – and there’s absolutely zero slop, something we’ve found more common than we care to admit.
Despite its small(ish) size, the VX Cruiser HO comes with Yamaha’s largest fuel cell (18.5 gallons), and although its larger plant would caution one to stay out of the throttle, we scantily made a dent in our supply despite flogging on the machine for half the day. (Some owners are reporting over 130 miles on a single tank of fuel when operated at cruising speeds!) Storage isn’t sacrificed either, as the VX Cruiser HO includes 24.6 gallons worth in the form of a watertight storage bin beneath the passenger seat in addition to a bow storage and glove box (with Styrofoam dual cup holders).
On the water, it behaves on par with the VXR/S, and looks just as good doing so. Obviously being unable to adjust the trim settings handicaps the ski’s ability to lean in low and execute a neck-snapping turn, but a little bit of body english is really all you need to make the VX Cruiser HO obey your every command. Being taller than average (6’2″), we found the Cruiser seat to be a little too close for comfort, but again, building a “one-size-fits-all” craft is all but impossible. The LCD digital dashboard requires no interaction and is easy to read even at speed.
As other final features include two-tone Hydro-Turf mats (black and gray) and a folding swim step, which is common to the brand’s Cruiser designation. But again, despite all of the bells and whistles, the VX Cruiser HO comes in below the $11,899 asking price for the VXR. Listed at $11,099, this machine tickles 65mph without the use of a supercharger or turbo, sips fuel, seats three and stores more than you’re likely to take with you. And while we think this machine over-delivers and is more than enough to suit anyone’s appetite, we can’t help but pine for a truly top-of-the-line VX Cruiser HO replete with trim control and maybe some form of tilt steering sometime in the future.
Additionally photography provided by Andrew Cullen