|Deadrise/Transom||19 deg.||Water Cap||none|
|Max Headroom||open||Bridge Clearance||
|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.|
|Std. Power||Not Available|
|Tested Power||1 x 135-hp MerCruiser 3.0L|
1 x 135-hp MerCruiser 3.0L
1 x 135-hp MerCruiser 3.0L ECT
By Captain Steve
With a LOA of 17'6" (5.33 m) this 1,923 lb (872 kg) bowrider is a good entry-level boat that is towable by a wide range of vehicles.
The Bayliner 175 BR and the 170 OB (for outboard) are two different models built on the same hull. The length, beam, deadrise, and fuel capacity are all the same. Only the weight and the draft are different. If you are dead-set against a sterndrive boat and only want to consider an outboard, stop reading right now.
Here is a link to our Bayliner 170 OB test...
Our Bayliner 175 BR test boat was fitted with the optional extended swim platform which added 2' (.6 m) to the 12" (30.5 cm) molded platform. This platform not only reaches over the lower unit when it is in the down position, but it is also lowers to the water which makes a convenient staging area for putting boards on. If you like this optional platform, just remember that it is one of the aspects of a stern drive boat that you can't get with an outboard model.
A 3-step re-boarding ladder is recessed into the starboard side of the extended platform, which I like because it is on the same side of the boat as the helm and IO and I think it is easier to see for the skipper.
Notice the see-through port that allows you a view of the outdrive. I liked the stainless engine vents, and notice how the cleats are well above the trip zone. There's non-skid surrounding the entire cockpit.
One of the most notable changes to this year's design has been the engine box. I've always believed that a plain engine box could add a little bit of utility, and Bayliner seems to have adopted the same line of thinking. There's a large, flat non- skid surface on top, a lower recessed utility area for putting" stuff", two drink holders to either side, a fire extinguisher discharge port to the starboard side, and tie downs for both tubes and a carry-on cooler.
I also like the fact that the engine box has positive latches to keep it closed, instead of relying on gravity to do the job. When opened the lower portion of the box is cut low enough to allow easy maintenance access all around the engine.
Standard engine is a 135-hp 3.0L MerCruiser and there are no upgrade options.
The is the old 175 Bayliner engine box...
...and this is the new. We think it makes a world of difference. This shows what can be done when designers are given a mandate for improvement. The carpet is not snap-in/snap-out but permanently affixed.
Cockpit Seating and Helm
Perhaps one of the biggest differences between the new 170 OB and the 175 BR other than the propulsion and the optional swim platform is the seating in the cockpit. While the 170 OB has a wide bench seat big enough for four kids or three adults, the sterndrive version has twin jump seats on either side of the engine box. They seat two kids or two adults, and lift out if you wish for better access to the stern. The companion seat on the 175 BR is the conventional "back-to-back" design that we have seen for 40 years or so, which makes it ideal for spotting when towing and the seat will fold own for sun bathing or a nap. The 170 OB has only a swivel seat for the companion.
The helm seat on the 175 BR is extremely low and was not particularly comfortable for me. (I'm 5'8"/1.74 m with a popliteal measurement of 16"/40.6 cm.) Because of the low freeboard and the cockpit, there is little else the designer can do and still make sure that the skipper is looking through the windshield and not directly at the upper windshield frame. Given a choice between a higher seat and looking at the windshield frame, I'd go for the low seat as Bayliner has done.
While the seating remains largely the same as the previous 175 BR, the passenger gets a little bit of an upgrade at the console. I had found that the old passenger console had an open empty space that allowed for things to go bouncing around, and out, and I found it to be more than a little inconvenient. Apparently others agreed with that assessment. Now there is a closed compartment along with the stereo, MP3 player, and 12-V power supply.
The captain gets a seat that swivels and slides with an adjustment which I like. To port is conventional back-to-back seats that lay flat, albeit with a little effort. The cockpit has scuppers which drain into the bilge.
The new helm layout has been streamlined considerably from the older versions, and entry-level boaters may find it much more pleasing. Bayliner thoughtfully added two drink holders, one to either side of the helm, and that's a convenient feature as one inevitably gets used for carrying anything but drinks. Below, lighted toggle switches flank a standard tilt steering wheel.
This is the instrument panel on the old 175 BR...
...and this is the new one. The new panel features two gauges and four instruments: one for speedometer which also includes fuel and volts, and the other dial for the tachometer -- sort of like in your automobile.
To the Bow
The two consoles are separated by 16" (41cm), and while the sole storage is roomy I'd like to see a rubber mat on the floor of the storage as well as having the compartment drain overboard rather than into the bilge, if at all possible.
The walkthrough windshield is gasketed on both sides so that when it is in the closed position the annoying rattle I have heard on some boats is eliminated. The windshield opens against a rubber stop but I'd like to see a snap and strap to hold it in the open position.
The bow seating is comfortable enough, and while I was in the lounging position I had more than enough room to stretch out my legs. The usual storage accommodations are underneath both seats.
The bow offered enough room for me to stretch out without feeling cramped. There are two large storage lockers under the cushions, either one of which is large enough to hold the anchor and rode that all boats should have. We'd have our Bayliner dealer add a bow cleat on the flat spot abaft the nav light in the picture above just to make it easier to tie off the anchor line.
Performance and Handling
The 175 BR had a 17-degree bow rise upon accelerating, but because the bow is so close to the helm I lost no visibility of the horizon. Trimming is very basic and straightforward: when you get up on plane you begin adding trim. You will see the spray move from below the helm area back to the stern quarters, as well as an accompanying boost in acceleration, followed by a loosening of the steering.
When you experience these three things you'll know you have hit the sweet spot for trim. If you advance the trim up even further, you will begin to ventilate the propeller. At that point, just bring in a couple of down clicks and you'll be set.
With the 175 at correct trim, the spray coming from the sides becomes almost non-existent.
Turns are calm and docile. As it happens, the 175 bleeds off enough speed as you enter the turn to keep things comfortable for your guests. Some may view this as a downside for watersports, however, I am not one of them. If you find yourself towing, then when you enter a turn you just simply add power to maintain your speed.
Towing or Fishing?
There are two notable options available for the 175 BR. One, is a fish and ski package that consists of a casting platform, pedestal seat, trolling motor, fish finder, and 88 gallon livewell. The other option, which was fitted to our test boat, was the "Flight" series package consisting of the extended swim platform, a wakeboard tower, and cool hull side graphics.
You can view the entire performance specifications by clicking the test results tab at the top of this page, but for the highlights…
I reached a top speed of 41.4 miles per hour at 4500 rpm. At that speed I measured a 10.7 gallon per hour fuel burn for a range of 73 statute miles. Best cruise coincided with the best feel at 3000 rpm and 26.5 miles per hour. Now I was measuring a 4.7 gallon per hour fuel burn for a range of 108 miles. Now I was getting 5.7 mpg.
Since there was no engine option above our 135 horsepower test engine, I questioned whether this boat would be able to tow a wakeboarder. To find out, I decided to tow a wakeboarder.
This is the cool Flight Package of tower, swim platform, and hull side graphics.
The 175 proved that she was more than capable to the task. I was able to get the 200 pound waking dude on top of the water before our prop wash reached him. As he began carving turns from side to side I was able to maintain a straight and true track.
Additionally, the 175 was able to generate enough of a wake for him to get decent air under the board. As it turns out the 175 BR is quite a capable watersports platform.
The 175 was more than able to get our guy on top and give him a nice wake to jump from. Note the position of my left knee.
Bayliner has built its reputation and following by offering good boats for a low price. It is able to achieve the low-price point with efficient manufacturing, eliminating the frills, closely monitoring the hardware that is put aboard, avoiding some interior fiberglass liners and otherwise not lavishing money on amenities that many people will never use or appreciate. That is why it has an extensive option list, so consumers can pick and chose just the add-ons needed, and not waste money on things not wanted.
Over the years that has proved to be a winning strategy and the brand is probably held in higher regard today than ever before. If you are looking for your first boat, or if you are buying a boat for your kids or grandchildren, then we think the Bayliner 175 BR should definitely be on your short list.
= Standard = Optional
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|Years||Limited Lifetime Structural|