Capt. Steve’s Report
When I look at a boat that's designed to do multiple things, I immediately ask if she’s up to the challenge. It takes more than throwing together some aluminum and bolting on an engine, then creating some marketing hype. It turns out that the folks at Triton were way ahead of me. This boat has toughness in every corner, and that means she can take a beating and still perform as new. Let’s take a look --
For Hard Times
The first thing I noticed was the all-welded construction. This boat has strength written all over it. Its .100 gauge 5052 aluminum was rock hard, not only due to its thickness, but the 1 ¼” strakes and interior lining as well. Triton stopped short of calling that lining “Rhino” because it isn’t that brand, but if I say it, you’ll understand what I mean. It’s the same stuff that you spray on your pick-up’s bed liner, it’s rock solid and able to take all sorts of abuse. This is the same type of stuff, albeit under a different name. It’s all over the place here, and I do mean all over: The deck, all hatches, inside all the compartments... you name it. This is not a boat you worry about scratching. Humvees would be so lucky as to have this coating all over.
If the strength and solidity of the boat didn’t give enough indication that we’re on a workboat, then the layout will leave no doubt. The frills and fluff were left on the drafting table. Triton has kept the boat all business.
The bow features a small raised casting deck and it’s pre-rigged for an electric trolling motor. A glove box lid allows for entry to the bow area storage compartment, and it’s not really spacious enough for an anchor and line. No worries. Another platform just abaft the bow houses voluminous storage and a pedestal base. Put the anchor and line there.Moving aft, we step down to the working part of the cockpit, and by working, I mean sitting and driving. Two across seating lies aft with the center seat position being padded but meant for use as a step to the aft deck. All three seats are connected to a single bench, that tips forward to allow for access to another storage compartment below.
To the port side of the cockpit, is a cavernous storage compartment that Triton bills as a rod/gun locker and it’s large enough to hold a rocket launcher, if that’s what you’re into. The aft casting deck houses a 30 gallon (113.6 L) livewell and yet another storage compartment, this time occupied by the battery and rigging.
If you were to look at the helm you’d wonder why it deserves a section of its own in this report. It is a simple layout – heck, it’s only a steering wheel and fuel gauge. If you really give a hoot, you can add a speedo and tach ($69 and $97 respectively), but do you really need them? The cool part is how the console is mounted. There’s a track going around the inside of the gunwale, all the way around the boat, that’s used for mounting a myriad of things, including the helm console. The only drawback is that the console is about three inches too close to the starboard side. Sitting in the seat had the whole console off to my right side a bit, and the bulkhead that secures the port side to the deck, is right where my left leg was. Mildly irritating, but we’re not serving cocktails on this boat so deal with it. No self respecting hunter would ever mention this little complaint to his buddy in the next seat. Not while he’s holding a gun, anyway.Other options are available for mounting to this track. Things ranging from a drink holder or rod holder, to a separate livewell. The choices are as broad reaching as your wallet is thick.
Performance and Handling
While the Ambush 18 is strong, it’s also light. She tips the scales at 958 lbs (434.5 kg) so to balance things out when running, the 24 gallon (90.8 L) fuel tank lies athwartships ahead of the console. You’re not going to get sportboat handling here. It’s a relatively flat bottom with multiple strakes so it turns well, but flat. You’ll definitely want to slow down considerably when doing any hard cranking on the wheel. However, that’s a fair tradeoff for being able to run in skinny water, or even onto a rock strewn shoreline.
With two people onboard, test gear, full fuel, and a 90-hp Mercury OptiMax doing the heavy work, we had a test weight of 1,827 lbs (828.7 kg). We had a top speed of 44.3 mph reached at 5500 rpm which generated a fuel burn of 7.6 gph. As if that weren’t economical enough, pulled back to a best cruise of 3000 rpm had us running at 21.5 mph while burning only 2.3 gph. That’s 9.3 miles per gallon! Sipping that sort of fuel gives the Ambush 18 a range of 201 miles. Toss in a deer carcass and your performance may vary. If there was any boat well suited for getting abused in the back country while hiding in the bush, this one is it. Base price with a 25-hp Merc and black trailer is $16,200. Equipped with a 90-hp Merc, as our test boat, will raise the price up to $19,276. The base boat comes in OD green, but you can have your choice of camo applied for an extra $333. That spray lining that I was raving about (remember it’s NOT “Rhino” lining) will run you $799 and I think it’s a shrewd investment.
By the end of the test run, I was actually regretting that I couldn’t punish this boat the way it was intended. My docking was textbook gentle and I eased it onto the trailer and gracefully winched it home. I could tell the boat was ready and willing to take whatever I cared to dish out, but I didn’t write a check for the boat, so it was not meant to be. Looking back at it, with that tough as nails lining and solid aluminum build, I could almost hear the Ambush 18 laughing at me, saying something like, “Is that the worse you can dish out, Pilgrim?” Sadly, it was.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Triton Ambush 18 (Not in Production) is 44.3 mph (71.3 kph), burning 7.6 gallons per hour (gph) or 28.77 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Triton Ambush 18 (Not in Production) is 21.5 mph (34.6 kph), and the boat gets 9.33 miles per gallon (mpg) or 3.97 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 201 miles (323.48 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 90-hp Mercury Optimax.
- Time to plane for the Triton Ambush 18 (Not in Production) is 2.5 sec. seconds.
- Time from 0 to 30 of the Triton Ambush 18 (Not in Production) is 6.9 sec. seconds.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
(It's quick and FREE!)