Bayliner 185 BR
By Capt. Rob Smith
Bayliner is doing a good job of helping more people get into boating with prices, value and packages to meet most demands. With the 185 BR, Bayliner focused on choice. While the 175 BR is designed to get you into boating with a single package in practically no choices, the 185 BR opens up the list to making choices. The 185 BR offers choices in seating arrangements in the cockpit, choices in power beneath the engine cowling, exterior color choices, fish, ski or watersports and family fun packages. Responding to feedback from customers and dealers, they have directional speakers to improve the sound, easily convertible walk-throughs and hinged bow seats so you don’t have to find a place to stow them while you rummage around looking for that bottle of sun screen.
The 185 BR offers more room at the stern to hang out, whether that is to put on the skis or just dangle your feet in the water at anchor. With the integrated and attached swim platform, you should have all the room you need. The swim ladder is tucked under the platform, although I like the ladder to be nested on top or under a cover on the top for easier access and stowing.
One of the big improvements Bayliner has made in the engine box is the gasketing around the engine box to help eliminate the chatter of raw fiberglass to fiberglass. Engine vents are tucked under the aft edge of the sunpad/engine cover to also help reduce engine noise in the cockpit. A clever walk-through system uses the seat bottom of the jump seat. Flip it over and you have a step complete with anti-skid surface and no cushion to stow. Flip it back over and slip it into slots level with the sunpad and you have extended the sunpad to a more useful size for laying out.
The cockpit is quite spacious and should fit a growing family or lots of buddies well. My test ride had the helm bucket with a back-to-back ski seat of all composite material, although a matching bucket seat is available. The dash has an eyebrow protecting the gauges making them easier to read in harsh sunlight. The 185 BR includes a standard stereo system for your on-board enjoyment. Speakers now are directional, an improvement over the ones that pointed to each other and tended to cancel out too much of the tunes. Checking out the bimini fittings, I noticed they have gone to stainless steel fittings rather than the lower grade metal or plastic fittings so these should last far longer. I would love to see them move on up to the push-button release style for even more ease of use. Storage under the gunwales and in the sole locker should manage boards, paddles and other large items well. Interior freeboard measured out to be around 31” meaning it is tougher for the little ones to lean over the gunwales and risk falling overboard unexpectedly.
Moving up to the bow, I noticed a small, yet significant change; instead of the lounger backs being hinged at the top where you have to keep two hands free to grab stuff out of the deep storage, they now are hinged along the inboard side and will stay open on their own nicely.
When I took the 185 BR for testing, I found she handled well with three guys on board. I like testing with more than most other testers do so you will have a better idea of how she should do with a more typical load aboard. She is on plane in about 3.7 seconds and up to 30 mph in 8.3 seconds. At a comfortable rate of 3000 rpm, she clocked a speed of 23.2 mph which should deliver a range of about 99 miles on a full tank. Top speed reached 41.7mph at 4800 rpm which impressed me.
The 185 BR measures 18’ 0” length overall. Her beam measures 7’7”. Standard engine in this model is the 135-hp 3L MerCruiser, but you can boost that to a 4.3L MPI. No V-8 is offered, but after driving it, I can’t see a real need for one. Hull draft is 21” and total draft is about 37”. This model has a sporty 19 degrees deadrise.
So, as you can see, the 185 BR does have choices and value. Total cost; around $16,341 base price, leaving room for adding your favorite options. Check it out today!