Practically Perfect: 2019 Yamaha FX Cruiser HO WaveRunner (Video)

For 2019 Yamaha found itself in a bit of a conundrum; the problem was, how to you improve upon a watercraft that is already so popular? Prior to 2019, the FX Cruiser HO WaveRunner was one of Yamaha’s most popular watercraft.

A particular favorite of riding clubs and long-distance tourers, the nine-year-old FX Cruiser HO enjoyed consistent sales, glowing reviews and some of the highest customer satisfaction in the industry. So how do you essentially fix something that simply wasn’t broken?

First, Yamaha engineers listened closely to its loyal customer base; people wanted more storage, better instrumentation, and most importantly, superior handling – particularly in rougher water conditions.

In developing the all-new hull for the FX, Yamaha borrowed heavily from the resoundingly successful GP1800 – and now GP1800R. Integrating the GP’s large, rounded bow chines and tiered lifting strakes running along its hull, the new FX – like the GP – can track a straight course through some of the ugliest, windblown chop without wandering, hunting or requiring extra rider input. It’s as predictable in stormy waters as it is on glass.

What fans of the previous version of the FX might find interesting is the full-sized 3-seater’s newfound ability to execute corners like a craft half its size. The new hull is stepped with its outermost chine very similar to the GP, giving the FX a very natural inside lean, allowing it to naturally roll inward on its rail during a particularly sharp turn.

This new characteristic gives the otherwise staid WaveRunner a far sportier feel. Maneuvering around obstacles at speed is no longer a issue; just goose the throttle and flick the handlebars and the FX will whip around smartly and predictably.

This emphasis on traction and handling does put a particular focus on the hull’s fore section; meaning the craft naturally favors its nose. If you’re looking for top speed, we recorded a respectable 58 miles per hour at 7,400rpm. While some will note the previous generation fared slightly better, personally, we’d happily trade a mile or two off the top end for far, far better handling in all water conditions. And we think most of you will too.

Of course, it wasn’t just the hull that got a complete redesign. The new 2019 FX Cruiser HO enjoys a new, giant front storage bin. Featuring a wide recess, it’s roomy enough to safely stow a cooler or gear bag; the opening is far wider, making loading and unloading less of a chore too. In fact, the leap in storage is considerable: 30-percent! From just over 33 gallons to 44.

Yamaha cleverly redesigned its glove box with a new rubberized latch that gives the massive glovebox a waterproof seal, the first of its kind in the industry. Above, near the redesigned dashboard, Yamaha has integrated it’s new Multi-Mount system; where a cup holder or RAM mount can be fitted. This gives the FX runabouts a designated place to mount a GPS, GoPro camera or a fishing rod holder.

Of course, the big news is the aforementioned dashboard. For 2019, Yamaha introduced its ConNext digital display; the first touch-screen, full color dashboard in the industry. Here, control settings can restrict top speed for “less experienced” riders, set a security PIN number, or even manually adjust the background colors.

Of course, the FX Cruiser HO comes equipped with the standard features you’ve come to expect, including pull-up cleats in the gunwales, the innovative “No Wake Mode” that sets the WaveRunner’s speed to a manageable 5 miles per hour (with the option to bump up or down one mile per hour); and Cruise Control. Cruise Control is easily set once you’ve maintained a predetermined speed. And Yamaha gives you up to five miles per hour of play (either up or down) to adjust your chosen speed.

For 2019, Yamaha redesigned its folding swim step with a thick pad making reboarding far easier; and all of the two-tone laser-cut traction matting comes from industry leader, Hydro-Turf. Beneath the rear passenger’s seat is the wet storage bin, ideal for holding dock lines, a tow rope or just a pair of flip flops.

Another great bit of innovation is also one of the FX’s most unsung: the industry’s first footwell drains. We found that these work best when the craft is sitting out of the water while on the trailer or at home, allowing standing water to leisurely drain out of a port in the pump tunnel. The drains’ pin holes are easily clogged, so make sure to keep an eye open for debris.

Famously powered by Yamaha’s 180-horsepower and nearly-bulletproof 1,812cc (1.8-liter) High Output 4-cylinder four-stroke, the Yamaha FX Cruiser HO conservatively sips from its 18-and-a-half gallon fuel tank, averaging about 5.8 miles per gallon (under general use) according to our in-dash calculator.

All of these changes swelled the new 2019 FX ever-so-slightly over its predecessor; picking an inch in length, two inches in width and an added 7-pounds – up from 831 to 838-pounds. Our Cruiser came to us in Carbon Metallic with Blue, but a Pure White with Carbon coloring is also available at no extra charge.

The tiered seat is made with grippy-yet-comfortable material, and yes, is easily cleaned. The FX Cruiser HO’s many white surfaces (seat, rub rails, etc.) may scare some, but rest assured are not as high maintenance as you may fear. Priced at $13,999, the 2019 Yamaha FX Cruiser High Output offers much more machine than its prior namesake and a welcomed evolutionary step forward in rider comfort, control and enjoyment, making this WaveRunner practically perfect.

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Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.


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  1. Paul 4 August, 2019 at 19:58 Reply

    I have a 2019 FXHO and have been really happy with it so far (60hrs) – EXCEPT for what seems to be a very fragile gel coat. I have been getting scratches so easily on the white parts above the waterline that I don’t even know where they are coming from! The biggest issue I guess is that underneath the white gelcoat lies a black base, meaning every chip or scratch really stands out. Why did Yamaha use a black base? As a jetski fishermen, you do tend to get a few scratches over time, but this model seems exceptionally prone to them. I also got some sort of a scrape on the rear corner of the hull that I don’t even remember getting! It took off a chunk of the entire blue gelcoat and left the dark grey core exposed. This is my second ski, and I am veteran of some 500 hrs on a ski now, so it’s not like I mistreat my new 2019 ski. It’s been handled very carefully. Is there anybody else out there experienced similar with scratches and chips with this model? I am starting to wonder if the coating was applied improperly on my ski..

  2. Wayne 10 August, 2020 at 15:06 Reply

    I have two 2020 Yamaha HO and HO Cruiser. I have just over 10 hours on each and I agree with Paul.. I can scratch the paint off with my finger nails. Very cheap.. Otherwise it is great machine. You would think for 14K you would have a nice coat of paint similar to a car?

  3. Matt 2 January, 2021 at 17:31 Reply

    Great performing ski! Had my 2020 Fx cruiser ho out in several lakes and the bay to open ocean here in Maine. I had a scratch appear out of nowhere between seat & foot well… so it’s interesting to hear from others. No kids, or other drivers either & due to COVID we’ve been alone. I only use soft footwear & am barefoot often? Hope it’s not a flaw, keep an eye out. Ride safe & have fun!

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