The Q5i is the next step up from the entry-level Q4SS. LOA is 19'5" (5.92 m) and the beam is 7'7" (2.3 m) which means it's also easily transportable on the packaged trailer.
Every time I see a Tahoe, I do a double take. This Q5i is a case in point. At a boat show it's naturally easier to step aboard and take a look than at a marina or anchorage. So I stepped aboard to see how they can be so affordable, and if the "touch and feel" will equal my assessment of the looks.
Being familiar with so many boats, my eye quickly put this boat in the affordable class. Glue-on hull graphics, four cleats, low freeboard, narrow beam, no inner liner, etc., are those telltale signs we in the business look for. But there are also a lot of features that separate boats in this class -- that’s what makes my job so interesting.
The swim platform is a bit larger than usual and it's molded into the hull, basically as an extension of the hull. This has given Tahoe the ability to add to the LOA but not the hull length. This means that we can have room to play, a built-in cooler in the swim platform, a reboarding ladder well off to the side of the outdrive, and room to jump in without hitting the (lowered) outdrive.
The Q5i comfortably seats 7 people and has a large swim platform for a 19’ 5’’ sportboat. When the lower unit is down, it is covered by the platform.
Here's something you don't usually see in a boat in this class: A storage compartment/cooler built into the swim platform. Guests can cool down in the water and have an iced drink close at hand.
The sun pad over the engine gives a sun worshiper a place to lie out. A cushion to starboard lifts out to expose the walkthrough, and then the second difference comes up.
Rather than the typical seat cushion has to be pulled out, Tahoe has gone with a cushion that slides out of the way. Just give a push towards the engine compartment and it slides into an enclosed area just ahead of the engine. Clever, but it appears that this enclosure would be a good spot to collect water, either from rain or a wet swimsuit. I'd like to see drain holes drilled into the back of the box that receives the cushion.
Here's a clever way to expose a step under the seat cushion. Notice the roomy storage to the sides, and a deck drain at the back of the non-skid deck. I always like to see stainless grab handles rather than plastic. And Tahoe even includes cockpit courtesy lights, just above the drink holder as standard.
A cooler to port, a ladder to starboard, and two babes on a sun pad – what could be better?
Take a Seat
The seating is comfortable enough and a large, gently curving bench seat makes up the aft seating. In the center is a built-in 32 qt. (30.28 L) cooler. I can't think of a better place to put a cooler, and the only inconvenience is to ask someone to kindly stand so you can get at it. This built-in one also drains into the bilge, not overboard.
In the center of the aft bench is a built-in cooler. Notice the elastic under the hatch cover that hooks onto the pin below. This will help pull the hatch closed should you decide to overstuff with ice. Notice the hatch is hinged.
The port side seating has a storage compartment under a hinged hatch cover.
The two remaining seats are pedestal seats behind the consoles. Both swivel and slide, have open backs for improved ventilation, and wrap-around slightly to better secure you in position. I'd also like to see both seats with flip-up bolsters but only a driver's side is offered on the options list (add $400). The wood grained steering wheel and panel, as well as the side carpeting are part of the Elite Q package (add $265).
Tahoe has always had these oddly shaped sole storage hatches but they work just as well when you put your skis in. Wake boarders may want to consider the optional wake board tower and racks ($2500) though.
Notice the 12V supply right below the MP3 and Sirius capable radio.
Just Keep Walking
As I progress through the walkthrough windshield I notice two things. There is no lower air dam to block the wind on chilly mornings, and the windshield supports are a tube with balls inserted into them. I'd rather see these be single piece as I've seen the balls come out of the support tube, but not be too keen on going back in. Be that as it may, with these supports the windshield still held my weight as I did my 100 dips.
The depth gauge is optional (add $180). I'd like to see lighted versions, but remember this is a price-point boat. Tilt wheel is another $100 well spent.
Fully forward the Q5i presents the typical bow seating, only this time there are insulated coolers under the seats. This will still likely be used for storage, but it's nice to have a choice in the matter. The seat cushions in the bow aren't hinged and I'd like to see that changed. Sitting on the edge of a cushion causes it to flip open.
In this picture it is important to note that the helmsman is looking through the windshield and the frame is above his line of sight as it should be. You noticed that too, right?
The Bottom Line
The base engine is 190-hp and is likely plenty for this boat unless you plan on doing a lot of towing or carrying a capacity crowd. Then you may want to opt up to one of the 220-hp plants. Base price of the Q5i is $23,995 and most of the options have to do with covers, stereos, and towers which speaks volumes about the possible utility of this boat.
So yes, we can spot the areas of cutbacks, but this is what boats in this class and price range do, and that's why they sell. Tahoe is trying to build a boat that is affordable and gets families out on the water. In order to do that consumers must look at the truly important features of the boat: room, handling, and safety. And on these points I think the Tahoe Q5i speaks for herself.
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Tahoe Q5i (2011-) Price
Tahoe Q5i (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.
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