Larson 330 Cabrio: We Compare Her to the Competition - 04/21/2010

In the day express cruiser category, boats in the 30’ (3.1 m) - 33' (10.06 m) range are exceedingly popular, both for accommodations, and ease of handling. They’re easy to maintain, which makes them easy to own, and for taking a weekend away from the hassles of the office, easier is better. Today, we take a look at Larson’s entry into the field, the Cabrio 330. She’s got the looks and feel of an express cruiser larger than she is, and her layout can actually accommodate 6 adults. The Cabrio 330 also excels in fuel and water capacity, which means she’ll have longer legs than the competition. Step aboard with us as we take a video look at the features of the Cabrio 330 by Larson and compare her performance to the competition.

Complete video test on the Larson 330 series.

Larson Cabrio 330
Larson’s Cabrio 330 is running head to head with the competition in the battle of the 33 footers. – but does she nose ahead in any particular area? Read below and find out.

For many years, high-performance boat manufacturers have reaped the benefits of stepped bottom hulls. Some builders go as far as putting several of these steps or notches as air-entrapment systems on their boats to achieve maximum performance and increased fuel mileage. So the big news on the Cabrio 330 is her patented Duo Delta-Conic hull. Just like the high-performance boat builders, Larson has integrated their own version of this nautical magic, giving the typical lumbering and thirsty cruiser, a leaner, more athletic character.

Larson Cabrio 330
Notice the full beam step in the hull that injects air underneath the boat for less resistance and better speed with less power. The swim platform is standard and note that it extends beyond the out drives for safety when slipping into the water.

Performance

How well does she perform? That’s a good question, and the best place to find out is with BoatTEST.com’s comparison feature. Just go to the boat test of the Larson Cabrio 330 with the 5.7 L engines, and click on the “Compare” button at the top of the test page Then pick which boats you want to measure her against. We picked five of Larson’s most likely competitors. Unfortunately not all were powered by the same 5.7 L 320-hp engine, and when we tested the Larson we had four people aboard instead of the usual 2. Also, the conditions were different during every test which can make a difference in performance. So when using these comparison performance data you must be careful to make sure it is apples to apples. Usually it is not. Nevertheless an astute observer is able to see where a boat might be stronger or weaker than the others. Be that as it may, the comparison gives us a rough idea about how the Cabrio 330 stacks up when it comes to speed because she was loaded on a very hot day, so if anything she was at an unfair advantage.

On a steamy summer day in Florida, with the Larson 330 we reached a top speed of 48 miles-per-hour at 5100 rpm powered by twin Volvo Penta 5.7 L engines. That was 11 mph faster than the WOT we got of her primary competitor which was powered by a pair of 310-hp engines on a boat 1,300-lbs. lighter. That is impressive. In fact she ranked #2 overall at WOT, second only to a boat with a pair of 375-hp engines, or a total of 110-hp more.

At best cruise, which is even more important in our book, the Larson Cabrio went 36.3 mph in our tests, allowing her to rank #1 of the six boats we tested, but #4 in fuel economy as might be expected. Slow her down to the other boats’ best cruise speeds and she would burn about the same amount as most. But because the 330’s fuel tanks were the largest, she ranked #1 in range of all boats tested at their best cruise speeds.

Our take-away from all of this is: The 5.7 L Volvo Penta package is a good match for this boat. And while she will go slightly faster with larger engines these engines are probably the most economical all around.

Cockpit Features

The cockpit features wraparound seating that converts to a spacious dinette with a rectangular snack table, or a European-style sun lounge with optional filler cushion installed. And here’s where Larson separates itself from the pack. If you like to dive or use the boat for fishing, all the seats can be removed, which is a great feature. Larson also made a shorter portside wetbar and added an extra seat abaft that increases her entertaining capacity. The wet bar also has a sink and self draining cooler on top with an optional fridge or icemaker below.

Larson Cabrio 330
All the aft seats can be removed for converting the Cabrio 330 into a dive boat. Notice the dual hatches at the foredeck, which add more natural light and air into the cabin.

At the Controls

Up at the helm, the captain pilots the vessel from a dual helm seat with flip-up bolsters. Standard features include an electric anchor windlass as well as an engine synchronizer. We can’t say we’re big fans of the location of either the MP3 port, which runs a wire across the starboard side of the dash, or of the ignitions, which makes it difficult to start the engines while working the throttles at the same time. We’d rather the ignitions be moved to port and certainly off the valuable dash panel real estate. The anti-fog gauges are red LED backlit for better visibility, but again, the layout leaves a lot to be desired. Two electronics options are offered. The first level includes the 6.5" Color Multifunction Display with RayStar GPS, Ray VHF Radio, and ST60 depth. The second level adds a radar overlay.

Larson Cabrio 330

Swim Platform

Like all the Larson cruisers, an extended swim platform comes as standard equipment, and adds to the molded platform, creating large area for water activities. If it’s standard anyway, we’d rather see the platform extension also molded into the hull, rather than bolted on. The shore power hook-ups and a shower are concealed in dual stern lockers. The starboard side unit is huge and is perfect for stowing a set of large fenders.

Larson Cabrio 330
Two large lockers flank the cockpit entry. Notice how the gate is off the deck for added draining. The sport arch is standard, as is the extended swim platform.

Spacious Cabin

Down below, the cabin is open and airy. The wide beam provides space to relax and entertain with a plush, L-shaped dinette which converts into a berth for two adults, where most others fit two kids. Entertainment for the boat is handled with a flat panel TV with built-in DVD player located way up on the forward bulk head. A better place would be in the salon itself for all to enjoy this feature, along with the Clarion CD stereo equipped with Sirius satellite radio. Overhead, dual hatches aid in adding large amount of natural light and more breeze below when at anchor.

Larson Cabrio 330
We love the open layout of the aft cabin that allows it to be used as an additional sitting cabin. Note the grab rails around the galley to the right. We’d rather see the flat screen TV mounted in the bulkhead over the mid cabin.

Directly to port is a well-equipped galley for a boat of this size with enough room to work, and features ample storage space and long solid surface countertop. Appliances include a two-burner electric cooktop, microwave oven, dual voltage fridge/freezer combo and a coffeemaker. Also located to port is a roomy head and stand-up shower, vanity with sink and a porcelain toilet. Since it’s a wet-head, we’d like to see the toilet paper in a concealed compartment to keep it dry, and the drain in the deck should be re-located aft for better drainage.

Larson Cabrio 330
The galley is large enough to be functional, while still giving the salon the space it needs.

Sleeping Accommodations

All the way forward in the cabin, is a double berth set at an angle to provide maximum legroom for tall people. Cabinets on the port and starboard side help with storage of personal items. The Cabrio offers a sunken mid-cabin, large enough for two overnight guests – or, the space can be used as an additional sitting area with a table installed. For four adults, this is an ideal layout for a weekend on the water with adequate privacy. For climate control, a 5kw gas genset with a 12,000 BTU reverse cycle air conditioner/heater are both standard and will keep everyone cozy.

Larson Cabrio 330
The forward berth is angled for better leg room for taller owners.

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a thirty something cruiser, then you know the choices that are available. Many of the boats on the market all blend together after awhile, but where Larson differs from the rest is mainly on quality of her interior design and execution and on performance. Secondly, if you like to really travel some miles on your trips, then the Cabrio 330 will make you smile when filling her up at the gas dock, because you’ll gain plenty of range out of each fill up.



Complete video test on the Larson 330 series.


======================================