Captain's ReportLarson 180 Sport
By Capt. Rob Smith
Larson’s 18-foot runabout is anything but an entry level boat and that is what they intended. Long known for building lake boats (and now saltwater boats too), they know that many lakes are small and cannot safely accommodate a larger boat. Rather than inhibit a long time boater’s style, they added the type of luxury and amenities you would typically find on larger boats. When you consider that there is more access to lake waters for the general boating public, it truly makes sense to provide “more than an entry level boat.”
Aside from the standard features, they do have a selection of options for the sports minded, or the boater that wants to extend their boating season into the cooler weather with canvas. Color selections are simple, either basic white with a splash of hull side color graphics or a wide band of color that looks pretty snazzy with the graphics.
One of the first things I noticed as I ambled up to the 180 Sport was six, yes six, cleats. These are of sufficient size and placed such that you can properly moor your boat in just about any condition you may be faced with and feel secure that it will be there when you return. All too often, cleats are too small, mid cleats are non-existent and the single bow cleat doubles as the anchor cleat. Larson gets big points for that one!Bow seating and amenities
Bow seating was typical of the space an 18-footer normally provides. The children will be more comfortable up there relaxing with a board game at anchor than two adults, which will be a stretch to have both relax, but one adult certainly can sit back and enjoy. The bow has aggressive grip surfaces to allow someone to climb aboard from a sand bar and the grab handles are beefier than just about any I’ve seen. Usually small bowriders have a few drink holders, usually plastic. On this model they are good grade stainless steel with two to a side inset in the seat back.Moving on back
I am seeing more and more builders going retro with the windshields with various iterations of it. I prefer the sport windshield with rounded front and side wing window glass like Larson has stuck with. It seems more aerodynamic and, unless the rest of the boat is designed retro, it looks better. I found visibility at the helm through the windshield very acceptable and I easily looked over the frame when up on the bolster for a hole shot. I found the primary instruments were well positioned for visibility underway while only one of the smaller gauges was partially blocked at some positions of the wheel; certainly something you can deal with. Between the two 5” gauges up top is a space to install a small GPS unit.The bucket seats were very comfortable. After a long day of testing, the seats proved their comfort. I was not sore, beat up and tired. Well, I was tired, but not from the ride on the seat. The seats had slide and swivel adjustments and plenty of foot room. The shifters were upgrades from basic shifters with stainless back plates for an upgraded look and smooth operation.
The standard deck surface is an integrated fiberglass liner, but I really like the optional snap-in carpet for a more comfortable look and feel. The deck and dash can be reinforced for an optional wakeboard tower if you want some of the more extreme water sports. Larson has also upgraded to the Sony Stereo system on their boats. These stereos have larger face dials that are easier to read, especially for us older, more experienced mariners. Entry level boats usually only offer a basic stereo as an option. I appreciated the standard sole locker mat that protects the gear and helps wick water away from the canvas. That’s also usually an option. Interior freeboard is about 28” which is several inches more than many basic bowriders. The higher the safer! The seating at the stern is a full bench, not a couple poorly padded jump seats. Now you will not be embarrassed to take the neighbors for a ride. Under the hood and the stern
Under the sunpad, you may either have MerCruiser or Volvo Penta power from 135 hp to 190 hp. There is space to either side for general storage. I like to keep the wet life jackets in here to use engine heat to help dry them. I believe you have enough room to do daily checks and basic maintenance without scraping the skin off your knuckles or doing a headstand in the box.
Off the stern, you have a standard integrated platform of about 18”, but you can opt for an extended swim platform with mats that will protect your boards and gelcoat. There is a two step swim ladder that appears to be ok, I prefer a minimum of three steps, but that is my opinion.By the numbers
Driving the 180 Sport was easy and she responded well to every turn. I only lost the horizon momentarily out of the hole and was quickly on plane in 3.3 seconds. The 190 hp 4.3L TKS MerCruiser had the 180 passing through 30 mph in 7.5 seconds for a top speed of 48.7 mph! That kind of get up and go should make you happy! At 3000 rpm, a comfortable cruising speed of 29.8 mph, the full tank range is 95 miles with a fuel burn of 6.5 gph.
The 180 Sport measures 17’7” length on centerline with a beam of 7’4”. She weighs about 2375 lbs. with base engine and has a fuel capacity of 23 gallons. She is rated for up to 8 people, maximum total weight is 1150 lbs.
The Larson 180 Sport delivers the performance and the feel of a boat 20 feet in length. If you are living on a smaller body of water and want to enjoy the time with more than the basics, the Larson 180 Sport deserves your attention.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Larson 180 Sport (2009-) is 48.7 mph (78.4 kph), burning 14.0 gallons per hour (gph) or 52.99 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Larson 180 Sport (2009-) is 29.8 mph (48 kph), and the boat gets 4.58 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.95 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 95 miles (152.89 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3L TKS.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|