Whenever we take a look at a small bowrider, we consider that not only will this be a good boat for just about anyone, but more than likely, an adult owner will be handing the keys to a first timer, probably a kid. Thus, the question then becomes, “can a kid handle this boat and do so safely?” If the answer is yes, then it’s a good boat for everybody. So to explore the capabilities of this 17’1” (5.2 m) bowrider, we sent Capt. Steve to explore it from a parental point of view. If it passes that test, it’s anybody’s boat.
Instrument panel includes: speedometer, tachometer & fuel gauges; plus switches for bilge pump, navigation/anchor lights, panel lights, horn & accessories
AM/FM Sirius satellite-ready stereo with 2 speakers & MP3 adaptor
Bow seats with molded storage & seat latch
Built-in cockpit side storage
Custom non-directional woodgrain steering wheel
Drink cup holders
Dual cable steering
Fiberglass floor with built-in footrests & floor drain
We recently tested the Glastron GT 180 and found her to have a top end speed of 42.2 mph while burning 11.7 gph with a 115-hp outboard.
Capt. Steve Says...
This was a pretty fun boat to operate on a number of levels. I needed to get that statement out of the way because everyone thinks that a test captain would be bored on a small boat like this, but the reality is quite the opposite. There’s no air conditioner or waste systems to deal with... the electronics aren’t popping circuit breakers, and anyone with a small level of finesse can get it into the dock or onto the trailer. Yes, simple is good, simple is fun. Now let’s discuss the specifics of how this boat handles.
Performance and Handling
So as we discussed, if this is a boat that kids can handle, then anyone can feel comfortable with it. So I drove it like a kid. What does that mean? Well, for starters, I wasn’t too gentle or careful. More to the point, I figured that a kid would be cranking and banking this thing at full throttle and risking life and limb of everyone onboard. But the thing is, when I tried to do that, the boat had other ideas... namely, keeping me out of trouble. I was able to turn well enough, but when I put too much into the turn, the speed would bleed off to the point where it was very manageable. If I tried to add power to keep up the speed, then the prop would ventilate and again, we slowed down. There was just no way I could cause trouble.
Glastron has put seatback cushions in two places for sitting two different ways -- either facing forward or athwartships.
As for more docile maneuvers, they were a breath of fresh air. I could turn hard enough to keep any skier or kid on a tube screaming with glee, but not too much to send them into orbit at the end of the whip.
We had terrific acceleration, getting on plane in 3.2 seconds, and reaching 30 mph in 9.8 seconds with an Evinrude E-TEC 115. Top speed was a respectable 42.2 mph with an 11.7 gph fuel burn. Best cruise came in at 3000 rpm running 20.5 mph. That brought a 3.8 gph economy getting 5.39 mpg. That is a very good mpg number.
If could feel the feedback from the propeller torque in the wheel, that served to tell you that you don’t have the boat trimmed right. Start adding up-trim and the bow comes up a bit, you feel the boat accelerate more, and the wheel starts to stay centered. Now it’s a comfortable, easy handling boat. If you do any hard maneuvers, you’ll have to drop the trim back down to reduce the ventilation (you won’t eliminate it in aggressive maneuvers).
The layout of the GT 180 is very straightforward, as with most boats of this class. Storage, as expected, is very limited, so I have to make a pitch to wear a life jacket rather than take up the valuable storage space, and that advice goes double for the kids. If fact, it’s probably illegal in your state not to have a kid wearing one, if that makes a difference.
The storage space that is on the GT 180 starts in the bow. Under both side bow seats you will find storage, and to give credit where credit is due, both are self draining, so go ahead and toss wet bathing suits or towels in there. Because the boat is made with a full fiberglass liner, the entire storage area is glassed, as opposed to open with the deck carpeting at the bottom. It was easy to tell that this was a well-made boat even though it is generally considered to be in the "affordable" category.
Because the storage is self draining, you can put just about anything in it. Notice the socket that a pin will drop into to hold the lid in place. We found this a little hard to deal with. You can also see that the entire compartment is fiberglass due to the full cockpit liner.
But as good a job as the builders did, there were little things that I didn’t like. Specifically, the cushions over the storage compartments were held in place with a beefy pin and socket arrangement. This was too hard to lift unless you had strong fingers, and it looked like an invitation for the setup to pull the pin right out of the cover itself. This also negated the ability ofthe elderly to use it, and I see that as a solid market for this boat. Heck, if I were retired, I’d be towing this boat everywhere I went.
The cockpit area was totally comfortable. At the helm Glastron mounted the Faria gauges into a faux burl wood panel. The chrome bezels were accented nicely by the chrome of the wood rimmed three-spoke steering wheel.
Our test boat was equipped with the XL Package that included these comfortable bucket seats.
There was plenty of leg room under the panel, and the seat... well, let me talk about the seat for a moment. Normally, this class of boat has a basic roto-cast molded seat with a thin vinyl cushion snapped in place and no options. Not so with Glastron. While it was an option, this was a full wrap-around bucket seat, open in the back for ventilation, and it swiveled and slid fore and aft. Plus, it had a flip up bolster. High marks for Glastron.
The Glastron GT 180 has a simple, clean cockpit that is functional.
The windshield was mounted to a flat panel that served as a comfortable armrest, and my hand fell perfectly to the engine control. Visibility was excellent whether sitting low, up on the bolster, or standing. When doing a hole-shot, there was a 17-degree bow rise, but because Glastron builds their boats with a gradually sloping sheer line to the bow, you lose no visibility. Another plus that makes this a boat for everyone.
The stereo is in the large glove box -- a great place for "stuff."
Off to the passenger side, you have a deep glove-box held open with a tension spring. Again, this is self-draining, and a stereo is mounted at the back with an MP3 port just to one side. Oh, the passenger also gets the same seat as the captain.
In between the two seats is deck storage for skis and wakeboards with a hinged lid. Moving back there is three-across bench seating. Under the bench seats is more storage, open to the front so you can see what’s there without having to open a compartment. A cooler, in a slide out tray with stainless steel tracks, is in the middle. In the sides of the cockpit there is built-in storage, too.
Behind the bench seat are two aft-facing seats for watching the action off the stern while not underway. An optional ski-tow pylon lies between these two seats. The outboard motor is between two half-swim platforms with a three-step boarding ladder mounted to the starboard side, right in line with the view of the helm. Glastron also recognizes the need for six cleats instead of the typical four.
Power Choices and Options
Glastron powered the GT 180 with a Mercury 90-hp ELPT as standard. Upgrades are available to take you to 150-hp from Mercury (add $3,124 for the 150L OptiMax), Evinrude (add $3,825 for the 150 DSLSE), or Yamaha (add $4,893 for the F150 TLR).
For options, you might want to consider going straight to the most desired ones all lumped together in one. It’s called the XL Package and includes a 3-step ladder, snap-in carpet, tilt steering, full glass windshield, flip-up bucket seat, SS rubrail/drink holders, forward bow cleat, and chrome speaker covers… all for $1,751.
In my opinion, Glastron has a serious player in the entry-level field with the GT 180. It was such a fun boat to operate, is easy to tow, safe for anybody, and easy to handle. Considering its features, quality of construction, and ss hardware, I had to question how they manage to sell it with a base price of just $22,886 including a custom EZ Loader trailer. I guess it’s living proof that competition is a good thing, and Glastron is going to make it tough on the competition.
Glastron GT 180 BR (2011-) Test Result Highlights
Top speed for the Glastron GT 180 BR (2011-) is 42.2 MPH (67.9 KPH), burning 11.7 gallons per hour (GPH) or 44.28 liters per hour (LPH).
Best cruise for the Glastron GT 180 BR (2011-) is 20.5 MPH (33 KPH), and the boat gets 5.39 miles per gallon (MPG) or 2.29 kilometers per liter (KPL), giving the boat a cruising range of 112 miles (180.25 kilometers).
Tested power is 1 x 115-hp Evinrude E-TEC.
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels go to our Test Results section.
Standard and Optional Equipment
Glastron GT 180 BR (2011-) Standard and Optional Equipment
= Standard = Optional
Glastron GT 180 BR (2011-) Warranty
Glastron GT 180 BR (2011-) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to insure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
Glastron GT 180 BR (2011-) Price
Glastron GT 180 BR (2011-) Price
Base Price (MSRP)
Price as Tested
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
Speeds measured with Stalker ProSports radar gun. Fuel consumption (gallons per hour) measured with Floscan digital fuel-flow meter on gas inboards, sterndrives, and outboards, TechMate electronic scan tool on gas EFI inboards, Caterpillar digital fuel-flow meter on diesel engines, or permanently installed fuel-monitoring equipment. Range is based on 90% of published fuel capacity. Sound levels determined using Radio Shack digital decibel meter on A scale. 68 dBA is the level of normal conversation.