Capt. Steve Says...
This was a pretty fun boat to operate on a number of levels. I needed to get that statement out of the way because everyone thinks that a test captain would be bored on a small boat like this, but the reality is quite the opposite. There’s no air conditioner or waste systems to deal with... the electronics aren’t popping circuit breakers, and anyone with a small level of finesse can get it into the dock or onto the trailer. Yes, simple is good, simple is fun. Now let’s discuss the specifics of how this boat handles.
Performance and Handling
So as we discussed, if this is a boat that kids can handle, then anyone can feel comfortable with it. So I drove it like a kid. What does that mean? Well, for starters, I wasn’t too gentle or careful. More to the point, I figured that a kid would be cranking and banking this thing at full throttle and risking life and limb of everyone onboard. But the thing is, when I tried to do that, the boat had other ideas... namely, keeping me out of trouble. I was able to turn well enough, but when I put too much into the turn, the speed would bleed off to the point where it was very manageable. If I tried to add power to keep up the speed, then the prop would ventilate and again, we slowed down. There was just no way I could cause trouble.
As for more docile maneuvers, they were a breath of fresh air. I could turn hard enough to keep any skier or kid on a tube screaming with glee, but not too much to send them into orbit at the end of the whip. We had terrific acceleration, getting on plane in 3.2 seconds, and reaching 30 mph in 9.8 seconds with an Evinrude E-TEC 115. Top speed was a respectable 42.2 mph with an 11.7 gph fuel burn. Best cruise came in at 3000 rpm running 20.5 mph. That brought a 3.8 gph economy getting 5.39 mpg. That is a very good mpg number.
If could feel the feedback from the propeller torque in the wheel, that served to tell you that you don’t have the boat trimmed right. Start adding up-trim and the bow comes up a bit, you feel the boat accelerate more, and the wheel starts to stay centered. Now it’s a comfortable, easy handling boat. If you do any hard maneuvers, you’ll have to drop the trim back down to reduce the ventilation (you won’t eliminate it in aggressive maneuvers).
The layout of the GT 180 is very straightforward, as with most boats of this class. Storage, as expected, is very limited, so I have to make a pitch to wear a life jacket rather than take up the valuable storage space, and that advice goes double for the kids. If fact, it’s probably illegal in your state not to have a kid wearing one, if that makes a difference. The storage space that is on the GT 180 starts in the bow. Under both side bow seats you will find storage, and to give credit where credit is due, both are self draining, so go ahead and toss wet bathing suits or towels in there. Because the boat is made with a full fiberglass liner, the entire storage area is glassed, as opposed to open with the deck carpeting at the bottom. It was easy to tell that this was a well-made boat even though it is generally considered to be in the "affordable" category.
But as good a job as the builders did, there were little things that I didn’t like. Specifically, the cushions over the storage compartments were held in place with a beefy pin and socket arrangement. This was too hard to lift unless you had strong fingers, and it looked like an invitation for the setup to pull the pin right out of the cover itself. This also negated the ability ofthe elderly to use it, and I see that as a solid market for this boat. Heck, if I were retired, I’d be towing this boat everywhere I went. The cockpit area was totally comfortable. At the helm Glastron mounted the Faria gauges into a faux burl wood panel. The chrome bezels were accented nicely by the chrome of the wood rimmed three-spoke steering wheel.
There was plenty of leg room under the panel, and the seat... well, let me talk about the seat for a moment. Normally, this class of boat has a basic roto-cast molded seat with a thin vinyl cushion snapped in place and no options. Not so with Glastron. While it was an option, this was a full wrap-around bucket seat, open in the back for ventilation, and it swiveled and slid fore and aft. Plus, it had a flip up bolster. High marks for Glastron.
The windshield was mounted to a flat panel that served as a comfortable armrest, and my hand fell perfectly to the engine control. Visibility was excellent whether sitting low, up on the bolster, or standing. When doing a hole-shot, there was a 17-degree bow rise, but because Glastron builds their boats with a gradually sloping sheer line to the bow, you lose no visibility. Another plus that makes this a boat for everyone.
Off to the passenger side, you have a deep glove-box held open with a tension spring. Again, this is self-draining, and a stereo is mounted at the back with an MP3 port just to one side. Oh, the passenger also gets the same seat as the captain. In between the two seats is deck storage for skis and wakeboards with a hinged lid. Moving back there is three-across bench seating. Under the bench seats is more storage, open to the front so you can see what’s there without having to open a compartment. A cooler, in a slide out tray with stainless steel tracks, is in the middle. In the sides of the cockpit there is built-in storage, too.
Power Choices and Options
Glastron powered the GT 180 with a Mercury 90-hp ELPT as standard. Upgrades are available to take you to 150-hp from Mercury (add $3,124 for the 150L OptiMax), Evinrude (add $3,825 for the 150 DSLSE), or Yamaha (add $4,893 for the F150 TLR). For options, you might want to consider going straight to the most desired ones all lumped together in one. It’s called the XL Package and includes a 3-step ladder, snap-in carpet, tilt steering, full glass windshield, flip-up bucket seat, SS rubrail/drink holders, forward bow cleat, and chrome speaker covers… all for $1,751. In my opinion, Glastron has a serious player in the entry-level field with the GT 180. It was such a fun boat to operate, is easy to tow, safe for anybody, and easy to handle. Considering its features, quality of construction, and ss hardware, I had to question how they manage to sell it with a base price of just $22,886 including a custom EZ Loader trailer. I guess it’s living proof that competition is a good thing, and Glastron is going to make it tough on the competition.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Glastron GT 180 BR (2011-) is 42.2 mph (67.9 kph), burning 11.7 gallons per hour (gph) or 44.28 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Glastron GT 180 BR (2011-) is 20.5 mph (33 kph), and the boat gets 5.39 miles per gallon (mpg) or 2.29 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 112 miles (180.25 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 115-hp Evinrude E-TEC.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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