right content

Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-)
(w/ 1 x 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3L TKS)

Now playing: 

Bayliner Trailering, Launch and Recovery

Captain Jim goes through the process of trailering, launching and recovering your boat
Text Size: AAA
185 Bowrider (2015-)
Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) Test Video

Bayliner's 185 Bowrider comes as a complete package with a factory-matched, single-axle painted trailer with disc brakes, tongue jack and swing-away tongue that makes it a likely fit for most family garages. The hideaway swim ladder on the transom makes it more convenient to get aboard when the boat is on the trailer.

Key Features

  • Motor box table on the standard seating configuration
  • Cockpit deep in-deck storage locker
  • Optional sport seating with swiveling 180-degree bucket seats
  • Hide-away, pull-down contoured steps on swim ladder
  • Optional Flight Series Package
  • Waterproof 120-watt stereo with iPod and MP3 audio input
  • 2 aft jump seats converts to sun lounger
  • Single-axle black painted with disc brakes, tongue jack and swing-away tongue
  • Port lockable glove box


Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) Specifications
Length Overall 18' 0''
5.49 m
Dry Weight 2,368 lbs.
1,074 kg
Beam 7' 7''
2.31 m
Tested Weight 2,855 lbs.
1,295 kg
Draft 3' 1''
.94 m
Weight Capacity N/A
Draft Up N/A Person Capacity N/A
Draft Down N/A Fuel Capacity 28 gal.
106 L
Air Draft N/A Water Capacity N/A
Deadrise/Transom 19-deg. Length on Trailer N/A
Max Headroom open Height on Trailer N/A
Bridge Clearance 7' 11''
2.41 m (max)
Trailer Weight N/A
Total Package Weight (Trailer,Boat & Engine) N/A
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.

Engine Options

Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) Engine options
Std. Power 1 x 135-hp MerCruiser 3.0L MPI ECT with power steering
Tested Power 1 x 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3L TKS
Opt. Power 1 x 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3L
1 x 220-hp MerCruiser 4.3L MPI ECT

Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) Captain's Report


Bayliner 185 Bowrider

The Bayliner 185 Bowrider Flight Series Package has a LOA of 18’ (5.49 m), a beam of 7’7” (2.31 m), and a draft of 3’ (.91 m). The overall weight with the trailer is just under 3,000 lbs. (1,360 kgs), making this an economical and easy boat to trailer with most small SUVs and light trucks.

With the 185 Bowrider, Bayliner is focusing on the first time boater, or one moving up from a smaller aluminum boat or fiberglass boat who wants more room and function. The boat is easy to launch , recover and provide family fun on the water. Most important, the Bayliner 185 Bowrider provides all of the standard features in an affordable package.

The Bayliner 185 Bowrider we tested was equipped with the Flight Series Package and is loaded with watersport amenities. However, also available is a Fishing Package and a Preferred Equipment Package.


The first and foremost question that we wanted answered had to do with the carbureted 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3 L TKS engine. Did she have enough raw power to get a wake boarder up? Further, if she could do that, what were the performance capabilities and handling characteristics?

The Numbers. It was apparent right from the start that the 190-hp 4.3 Liter MerCruiser TKS with the Alpha One sterndrive was up to the challenge. With less than half a tank of fuel, two people on board and test gear, we had a test weight of just under 2,800 lbs. (1,270 kgs.). We reached a top speed at 4400 rpm of 46.5 mph.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

We were impressed with the 3.8 seconds time to plane number and her ability to trim out quickly with minimal bow rise. The improved ride quality was apparent at speed, thanks to the increased deadrise angle that Bayliner has incorporated into the hull.

Unfortunately, our fuel flow meter chose this time to go on the fritz so we can not present best cruise and other fuel flow. We can report that at 3500 rpm, where most boats of this type typically see their most efficient running, we had a speed of 34.6 mph. She got on plane between 2000 and 2500 rpm.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Even loaded up with the whole family and all the gear for the day, the Bayliner 185 Bowrider is up on plane and well balanced.

Hole Shot. The time to plane of 3.8 seconds and her ability to trim out quickly with minimal bow rise was impressive to us. Because of the 19-degree deadrise angle that Bayliner has incorporated into the hull, the ride quality was apparent at speed. Frankly, this was a degree or two more than we expected, but her time to plane and the comfort of the ride, proved that Bayliner had made a good decision.

When we added a tube with a rider and a spotter to the boat, she handled the load with minimal effort and we were off and tubing.


Some months ago we tested the same model powered by the boat's standard 135-hp 3.0 L MPI Mercury with a Alpha 1 lower unit, and it is interesting to compare the speeds at different rpm settings. Here's what it looks like--

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

So, when making a buying decision and faced with a choice between the carbureted 4.3L TKS and the 3.0L MPI engines, simply refer to this table. We have pulled wakeboarders with both engines. Clearly, the 3.0L engine needs to rev over 2500 rpm to get on plane, something that the 4.3L MPI engine can do easily at 2500.

We have found that most boats in class run pretty well at 3500 rpm and these two are no exceptions -- there is just about 7 mph difference in their speeds.


Applying full throttle, the boat responded quickly, the bow rise was approximately 12-degrees, starting to come down when she hit plane in 3.8 seconds and was firmly at her stable running angle of 5-degrees in 8.6 seconds.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Getting the wakeboarder up out of the water and jumping our wake was no problem for the 190-hp 4.3L MerCruiser TKS.

The Bayliner 185 Bowrider is an easy boat to trim, just get her up on plane and set the trim to approximately one quarter on the console trim gauge. If you should set the trim too high, the bow will start to bob up and down (porpoise) and the boat will begin to lose speed. Just lower the trim until the bow stabilizes.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

In turns in the higher speed ranges, the boat leaned into the turn and was responsive to the helm, providing the operator with a good sense of control and confidence. In our opinion, this hull is as good as any in this size range and operators should have confidence in it.

The boat handles excellently when pushed in hard-over turns at higher speeds. She is stable and predictable in her reactions to the hard turns in choppy water. I did not encounter any chine walking or oscillation from side to side. The boat will naturally shave off hull speed during these types of maneuvers, keeping everyone safe and on board the boat. It would be hard to get in trouble with this boat -- we tried!

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

The hull design provided a dry, comfortable ride at speed. Not even crashing through our own wake got any water on the windshield.

Forgiving Hull. Because this hull is so forgiving, it's easy to see why the 185 Bowrider is such a good fit for those new to boating. This boat has the ability to provide a confidence-building learning experience, safely, for young and old alike.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Even when maneuvering in reverse, the Alpha 1 drive provides relatively good directional response and the prop had plenty of pull to guide the boat easily to the dock.

Noteworthy Standard Equipment

Stereo. The Bluetooth stereo system that is located on the port side at the console. The system is a waterproof 120-watt AM/FM stereo with audio input for iPod and MP3.

Floor Liner. The fiberglass floor liner is designed to be a hose and go as a maintenance-free surface. This is keeping in line with Bayliner’s up time maximization goal for those new to boating and eager to get out on the water.

Tilt Wheel. The tilt wheel at the helm provided a good range of motion and settings to accommodate the operator, whether seated down in the bucket seat or propped up on the bolster.

Helm Seat. The helm bucket seat had a thigh rise bolster that when raised up, elevated the operator above the windshield. The helm seat and all the seats in the boat are well padded and made of a stain-resistant vinyl that is said to be easy to keep clean.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

At the cockpit, the wraparound windshield is set just right to protect the operator and passenger when fully seated and when the bolsters are raised on the bucket seats. The view was unobstructed and we could enjoy the wind in our face.

6 Cleats. Yes, all boats this size should have 6 cleats but some only have three or four.

Trailer. A standard painted trailer with disc brakes and a swing-away tongue.

Major Features

Engine Compartment. The molded fiberglass engine cover is well disguised under the stern sun pad and is assisted with a hinged gas strut when opened. The compartment is ventilated by a 12V blower and access to the bilge pump is through this compartment.

Beam Forward Design. This boat features Bayliner’s signature beam forward design, which increased the seating room in the bow.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

With the beam forward design, which provides more room in the cockpit and the bow, we measured an average width of 49” (124 cm) forward of the windshield.

Seating Design and Comfort. The seating design, comfort and stain-resistant weatherproof fabric throughout the boat had dual stitching and lots of padding in all the right places. The stern seating section could easily accommodate 4 adults, and the seat back is high, thanks to the deep cockpit, which averaged approximately 33.5” (85.09 cm).

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

The test boat was equipped with the optional Sport Seating. Look at all the room around and under the pedestal bucket seats, which conveniently swivel 180-degrees to face aft.

The standard seating layout is with 2 aft jump seats that convert to a sunlounger. Our test boat featured the sport seating package, which provides dual swivel bucket seats in the cockpit and a bench stern seating area that will easily accommodate 4 people. The bucket seats will come around 180-degrees to provide a clear view of all the activities off the stern. The seats have a padded bolster that can be raised to increase height. The padding on the seats is comfortable and the double stitching all around the seat gives it a classy look.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Plenty of room in the bow to put feet up and enjoy the ride.

When seated in the bow, we liked the placement of the grab handles. It will give the parents some comfort to see the kids sitting up front while underway with a sturdy place to hang on.

Storage. There is a lockable glove box, on the port side console area. On the port and starboard side of the cockpit gunwales, there is not one, but two shelves built in. With a raised edge, we could put our gear or water bottle without any of it coming out while putting the boat through her paces. Great use of this space and the finish detail adds to the quality feel of the cockpit.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

When opening the console storage compartment, we noticed that the lid would inadvertently contact the stereo control panel power button and turn the system either on or off. Installation of a stop for the lid would probably solve this problem.

At the bow, under each of the seat cushions, are large storage boxes for the gear. The center box acts as the anchor locker. Just when we thought we had discovered all of the storage areas in this space, we discovered the port and starboard console storage located behind the bow seating rear supports.

The Abundance of Storage Areas Continues at the Stern. Across the entire stern seating area, under the cushions, there are a lot more storage areas. And with the cushions removed, the non-skid deck provides a safe step up to the stern.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

The stern seat can easily accommodate 4 people, is very comfortable to sit on and there is plenty of storage underneath the cushions.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

These compartments are large enough and deep enough to hold ski vests, life jackets, tow lines and safety gear.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Above this area, at the sun pad, to the left and right of the engine compartment, in the center…we discovered, more areas to stow the gear.

There is a large in-deck storage locker with stainless steel latching hardware for stowing the ski gear and water toys. The hatch cover is held open by not one, but two gas struts. No worries about this lid dropping down on our fingers.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Stow everything from life jackets to ski gear to water toys in the cockpit's deep in-deck storage locker.

Easy Launch, Recovery and Trailering

Bayliner has put together the boat and trailer package that will make it easy to get boating. The trailer is custom painted with the company logo. For fresh water, this steel trailer will perform nicely. If getting into the salt water, a galvanized trailer would be best. The trailer and boat combination is under 3,000 lbs. (1,361 kgs.), which means that most small SUVs and light trucks can pull it without any problem.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Custom painted steel trailer for freshwater.

The single axle black painted trailer with disc brakes is pre-wired, equipped with all the safety connectors and ready to hook up. And the fold-away tongue will make it easy to stow the boat in the garage.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Check out the fold away trailer tongue. Now the trailer should fit in the garage.

The launch and recovery process is aided by the hand winch, strap and safety lanyard. All are easy to use and connect features for securing the boat to the trailer. And the fact that the boat is easy to handle and responsive to the controls, it is easy to slider her off and on the trailer.

Features Inspection

Helm. The custom molded dash panels have a non-glare brow which made it easy to see the instrumentation without having to squint. The instrumentation is well laid out and easy to see.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

There is the usual array of gauges, fuel, oil pressure, speedometer, tachometer, trim and volt. I like the analog gauges in the black and silver layout.

The steering wheel is padded and comfortable to the touch. The boat is equipped with rack and pinion power steering, which is nice to have when maneuvering around the dock at slow speed and also when turning the wheel back and forth at speed with a skier in tow. And the standard tilt steering was nice to have to find that sweet spot when running the boat for an extended period of time.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

The tilt wheel comes standard with the Bayliner 185 Bowrider and is easy to adjust.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

The side mounted engine controls are set in a comfortable position with the trim and tilt switch mounted in the handle. Nice and easy to use while docking and when setting the plane for running or towing.

The helm bucket seat is on a pedestal and is fully adjustable. The seat can be rotated a full 180-degrees to face the aft. It has adjustments to raise and lower the height, which we found easy to operate and find just the right setting. The seat is well padded and comfortable to sit in. We also noted the double stitching and accent colors that gave the seat a nice high-end appearance.

Hull and Deck. From the sharp “V” bow entry to the lifting strakes running the length of the hull that lead out to a reverse chine. At the transom, the deadrise angle is 19-degrees.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

We measured almost 3” (7.62 cm) of reverse chine that should deflect the spray downward, further increasing stability at slow speed, and biting into the water during turns.

Dry. When the boat was fully up on plane, it cut through the waves. The chines were effective on knocking down the spray and keeping the boat dry.

On the boat we tested, the combination of the stern bench seating area, the large sun pad, which is part of the transom platform, and the Flight Series extended platform, all came together to make this boat feel much bigger than its 18’ (5.49 m).

When the center section of the windshield is in the open position and the boat is underway, we noted that the windshield would bounce up and down a bit when getting into some choppy water. A strap or latch to fasten the windshield walkthrough when it is in the open position would be useful. On the other hand, when running, people should not be walking around the boat and the windshield could be closed.

Interior Design. Bayliner's beam forward design has given this boat a roomy cockpit and bow area for a boat this size. With an estimated average width of 49” at the bow seating area, there is plenty of room for several passengers to sit.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Check out the sidewall upholstery. It provides creative use of the space for additional storage and also lots of good looks.

The companion seat on our test boat was the optional bucket seat mounted on a pedestal -- with the ability to adjust the height and spin it completely around to face aft. This is perfect for the spotter when towing a skier, tuber or wakeboarder. The other added benefit to this seating set-up is the ability to slide a cooler, or any other gear and provisions, under the seat when taking the boat out for a long day on the water.

Anchoring/Anchor Storage. The forward bow compartment in the center serves as additional storage and the anchor locker. While we would like to see a dedicated anchor locker with all the features to properly secure and stow the line and anchor, there was plenty of room in this compartment to get all the ground tackle in and out of when needed.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

This is the just the beginning of all the storage space on this boat. Note the stainless steel cup holders, storage for the cold ones.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

These hatches are mounted on a stainless steel piano hinge and swing open to reveal more useable storage space.

Swim Platform and Sun Pad. The stern of the 185 Bowrider had molded stern seating, sundeck and swim platform. This made for a solid feel to this area that will get a lot of foot traffic during boarding and playing in the water. The stern seating is cushioned with storage area below. The sun pad measured 6’3” wide x 2’6” deep. On the starboard side, the cushion flips up to reveal a large storage area. Under the port side cushion is access to the batteries.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Above the stern seating area, is a huge sun pad, measuring 6’3” (1.9 m) wide x 2’6” (.76 m) deep. And underneath this area, there’s more storage on the left and right side of the engine.

The swim platform is molded into the hull. There are stern cleats on the port and starboard for tying off, a tow bit at the center of the stern for tubing and two speakers facing aft for cranking up the tunes.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

At the stern, the integral transom platform is loaded with some features: First, there is a stainless steel tow ring in the center for pulling the tube and the cleats on the port and starboard quarter.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Check out the tow pylon…it doubles as the anchor light.

Engine Accessibility. The center hatch of the sun pad opens wide to provide access to the engine compartment. It is easy to perform engine checks and routine maintenance from here. The hatch cover is held open by a gas assist strut.

Optional, Activity-Specific Packages

Our test boat had the Flight Series Packages which is designed for watersports, and is one of three packages available.

Flight Series Package. This upgrade gets the 185 Bowrider ready for watersports enthusiasts. Cost: $3,536.

Graphics. The package included the hull side flight graphics which gave the boat a sporty look.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

The swim platform extension which made it easy to gear up before hitting the water. The platform has plenty of room and has a skid-free surface, making it easy to stay on deck when the boat gets rocking.

The swim platform extension had the new SeaDeck design that has the Flight Series logo and provides a comfortable padded non-skid surface. The platform provided plenty of room for setting up the watersports activities and is low to the water. It measured 6’6” wide x 2’1” (1.98 m x .63 m) deep. Keep in mind that this is an extension off of the existing molded hull swim platform.

This made for an abundance of room and areas to sit while gearing up. This also made it easy for our wakeboarder to suit up and drop into the water. When the skiing was completed, the wakeboarder could easily put his gear back up on the swim platform and climb back aboard. The platform is equipped with a swim ladder off the starboard side, if needed.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

Plenty of head clearance is under the tower and it has a sturdy feel to it.

The wakeboard tower is made by Monster and has a sleek look to it. There are removable wakeboard racks on the port and starboard side. The racks have a quick disconnect latch and can be easily stowed when not in use. When the boards are in the racks, a bungee cord keeps them safely in place.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

There is also a Bimini top which installs around the tower. Installing the top is definitely a two person job, but for the amount of sun protection it provides.

There is also an integrated Bimini top that goes with the tower and we installed it while at the dock. It was a bit difficult to install on test day, but well worth it on a 90-degree day. And once installed, it provides good cover and an unimpeded view both fore and aft from the helm and companion seating area.

Preferred Equipment Package. (This package is included with the Flight Series Package) Bayliner bundles this package with the Flight Series Package or it can be ordered separately. It includes a Bimini canvas top with boot, color choice (blue, black, or red) and the deck gel stripe.

Stainless Steel Trim Upgrade Package. The test boat was also fitted with this upgraded package. The extra amount of stainless steel trim and accessories in this package make the boat look up-market and are well worth the money for people who care about such things. These are the accessories that are upgraded: horn, fuel fill deck plate, thru-hull fittings, beverage holders and gunwale molding.

Fishing Package. For the fisherman, Bayliner has put together a package which includes a 24 Volt trolling motor, bow/aft casting platform and seat, livewell, rod storage and tackle bag. And at the helm, the requisite Garmin Fishfinder to get into the action.

Options to Consider

Bayliner always provides an array of color choices, interior and exterior and some matching hull graphics and deck gel stripe.

Some other options to consider, depending on the intended use of the boat:

• Bimini top with boot (Not available with Preferred or Flight Pkg)

• Bow filler cushion (Not available with Fish Package)

• Bow well/cockpit cover

• Digital depth indicator (Not available with Fish Package)

• Trolling motor delete (Not available with Flight Series)

• Sport seating – dual buckets with sun pad

• Swim platform extension

• High Capacity trailer upgrade

• Motor box table (only with standard seating)

• Fiberglass liner with carpet runner

• Track storage system


Base Price: $21,799.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider

The combined package of boat and trailer that Bayliner has put together with the 185 Bowrider should definitely appeal to the first time boater.


Bayliner has always made it its goal to get people on the water. And with this 185 Bowrider, it should appeal to the first time boater as well as to veteran boaters who know what they want and how much they want to spend. With its boat and trailer combination and a base price of $21,799, it is a competitive package.

Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) Test Result Highlights

  • Top speed for the Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) is 46.2 mph (74.4 kph), burning 0 gallons per hour (gph) or 0 liters per hour (lph).
  • Best cruise for the Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) is 27.9 mph (44.9 kph), and the boat gets 0 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 0 miles (0 kilometers).
  • Tested power is 1 x 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3L TKS.
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels
go to our Test Results section.

Standard and Optional Equipment

Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) Standard and Optional Equipment
Marine Electronics
Fishfinder Optional
CD Stereo Standard
Trailer Standard
Exterior Features
Carpet: Cockpit Optional
Outlet: 12-Volt Acc Standard
Swim Ladder Standard
Swim Platform Standard
Bimini Top Optional
Cockpit Cover Optional

Standard = Standard Optional = Optional

Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) Warranty

Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure 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!

Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) Price

Bayliner 185 Bowrider (2015-) Price
Pricing Range $21,799.00
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.

Test Results   (Printer Friendly Page)

Test Power: 1 x 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3L TKS
RPM MPH Knots Total GPH MPG NMPG Stat. Mile NM   KM    KPH    LPH    KPL   dBA
600 3.2 2.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 5.10 0.00 0.00 70
1000 4.8 4.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 7.70 0.00 0.00 75
1500 6.8 5.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 10.90 0.00 0.00 81
2000 8.6 7.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 13.80 0.00 0.00 81
2500 19.7 17.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 31.70 0.00 0.00 84
3000 27.9 24.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 44.90 0.00 0.00 88
3500 34.6 30.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 55.70 0.00 0.00 94
4000 40.0 34.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 64.40 0.00 0.00 95
4500 46.2 40.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 74.40 0.00 0.00 96

All fuel consumption numbers are the total for all engines in the boat. Speeds are measured with Stalker ProSports radar gun or GPS. Fuel consumption (gallons per hour) measured with Floscan digital fuel-flow meter or by on-board factory-installed diagnostic instruments. 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. Time to plane is measured from start of acceleration to formation of rooster tail behind boat.

Performance Chart

There is no performance chart currently associated with this model.

Test Conditions

Test Power: 1 x 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3L TKS
Time To Plane 3.8 sec.
0 to 30 10.9 sec.
Test Power 1 x 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3L TKS
Transmission Alpha 1
Ratio N/A
Props N/A
Load 2 persons, 2/5 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear
Climate 88 deg., 62 humid.; wind: 0-0 mph; seas: calm
Elevation 815

Already a member?