The name “Ranger” has long been synonymous with premium-level fishing machines, so when the company’s 50th anniversary rolled around this year, it was easy to envision that the design team had to come up with something spectacular… something that represents the culmination of everything Ranger has learned from 50 years of design and customer feedback. Well, never being ones to disappoint, it’s this mindset that gave birth to the crème de la crème, the Ranger Z521L Comanche. What does the “L” stand for? It’s the Roman numeral for 50.
|Length Overall||21' 7'' / 6.58 m|
|Length on Trailer||26' 5"|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||5.6 sec.|
|0 to 30||9.8 sec.|
|Load||2 persons, full load of fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of fuel|
|Climate||64 deg., 45 humid.; wind: 5-10 mph; seas: 0|
1 x 250-hp Mercury 250 Pro XS OptiMax
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ranger excellence, the company recently released the newest flagship of the line, the Z521L Comanche. Now to be clear, the term flagship doesn’t necessarily translate to biggest, but in this case, it’s more appropriate to say that it does mean top of the line as far as features go. It’s literally the latest and greatest. It takes all the lessons learned in 50 years of experience and customer feedback.
Most importantly, she maintains the legendary Ranger running surface that we’ve come to appreciate. This is a “minimum workload” ride in that there’s no chine-walk that we typically see in bass boats. Just hit the throttle and drive off to the weigh-in at top speed.
While at first glance, the layout may seem typical, it is in fact, all new. As the market and customers continue to evolve, so must Ranger. And evolve it did.
For starters, the need for larger and larger electronics is met here with a stunning 12” (30.5 cm) flush-mounted display at the bow. Digital switching is alongside that includes switches for lights and engine trim.
Just behind is a tool holder and stainless steel drink holder. And behind that is the foot control for the 112-pound-thrust trolling motor (50.80 kg), in a recessed pocket making it less intrusive.
Continuing aft, the casting deck is all-carpeted over padding so it’s soft and completely eliminates fatigue when standing for long hours. The console has been reconfigured to accommodate longer rods that can be stored on this deck with the retractable rod-straps fully forward.
There are three storage compartments for rods and we noticed that none of them were carpeted to protect the gear. This is by design. Carpets hold moisture and that moisture gets transferred to your expensive gear. So not only are we making the compartment drier, it’s also got a power ventilation system to further dry out the contents. Very slick. The port holds 10 8’ (2.44 m) rods, the center holds five 8’6" (2.59 m) rods in the first row and 5 9’ (2.74 m) rods in the second row while seven more rods go in the starboard compartment.
Further back are three more storage compartments, with two being able to be configured as coolers.
The hatches are all supported with gas struts so we can load and remove items with one hand. The turn-and-latch type latches are all lockable. Sorters are included to keep the gear separated, and all hatches are gasketed with a triple lip seal around a raised edge.
Center Work Station
If the bow is the office then this center area, adjacent to the helm, is the workstation that supports the office and it’s set up for exactly that purpose. Now, just as we need to accommodate the demands for more and more electronics, so do we need to accommodate more and more tools. Ranger placed tool holders to the right and left of the step/seat and it includes a pull-out measuring bar. In the center, at deck level, is a place for a landing net.
Port Console Position
On our single console setup, far and away the preferred setup of pro anglers, the left side held more running rod storage. The dash had the infinity stereo that is Bluetooth ready but still includes MP3 and USB connectivity just alongside.
Aft Casting Deck
At the aft deck, there’s plenty of workspace. And underneath the deck, the area is feature packed. For starters, Ranger has long been known as a company that continually makes improvements to its livewells. Here, two hatches in the center reveal a single 31-gallon (117 L) livewell with a divider, and redundancy in the form of two pumps and two oxygenators. Large dry storage compartments are to both sides of that livewell. And a single position pedestal base accommodates the second removable seat.
At the aft end of the rear casting deck is a re-imagined battery compartment that is among the best we’ve seen. It includes all batteries, a switch that includes a charge and parallel feature, the battery charger, and remote oil reservoir for the engine. On the lid is an electrical schematic for making short work of troubleshooting any problems.
How often do we ever include a section on the transom in a bass boat? Well we are here and with good reason. This model includes features, such as (A) a remote oil fill, (B) a remote drain plug, (C) an external battery charger, (E) pultruded fiberglass for greater strength and durability, and (F) a battery level indicator that advises when the batteries are low and in need of a charge plus it can be connected to your smartphone to send notifications. To both sides are (D) stainless integrated grab handles with one being used as a grab handle for the portside reboarding ladder.
The helm is not without it’s upgrades. Just as the bow accommodated larger electronics, so did the panel here, this time with a whopping 16” (40.6 cm) display. Gauges are below and Ranger utilizes multi-function gauges to cut down on the clutter. A modest windscreen is just above the console and we did notice that it did a fine job of deflecting the 67 mph winds while operating at speed.
The seats are unique to the L series. They’re wider, seatbacks are higher, and they’re better padded…. The helm seat has always been on a slider, now the passenger seat is as well. The center step between the seats is covered in non-skid. Inside is a great place for quick-place items like cell phones and wallets. It’s held open with a gas strut and closes on a lift-and-lock latch.
The Ranger Z521L Comanche has a LOA of 21’7” (6.58 m) and a beam of 8’2” (2.49 m). With an empty weight of 1,925 lbs. (873 kg), full fuel and two people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 2,663 lbs. (1,208 kg).
With a 250-hp Mercury Pro XS OptiMax turning a 24-pitch Fury propeller, we reached a top speed of 66.7 mph at 5600 rpm, and she could keep that speed up for 138 miles. Pulled back to a best cruise setting of 4000 rpm and 43.5 mph, her fuel burn was 9.7 gph which produced a range of 215 mpg while still holding back a 10% reserve of the boat’s 53-gallon (201 L) total fuel capacity.
From a dead start we hit the throttle and got up on plane in 5.6 seconds. She accelerated to 20 mph in 7 seconds, hit 30 in 9.8 seconds and 40 came and went in 12.9 seconds.
She’s got the legendary Ranger hull, so hit the throttle, then the trim to get that stern up on the pad, and the rooster tail kicks in and off she’ll go. No need to struggle with chine walk because there isn’t any, just go. Of course, as with any high speed bass boat, straight ahead is the way to go…. Turns at this speed aren’t a good idea. She’ll start to wobble over chop, and once through, it’s back to top speed.
The Z521L Comanche comes packaged with a standard trailer that includes matching fiberglass fenders and trailer step, hydraulic surge brakes, Ranger’s Cool Hub lubrication system, aluminum wheels including a spare, swing-away tongue, a swing jack, retractable tie downs, LED lighting, and Road Armor Equipped protectant.
If there were ever an argument for making a good thing better, the Ranger Boats Z521L Comanche is certainly making the point. In addition to all these features, she’s got the running surface we so appreciate, the foam-filled construction, a pultruded fiberglass transom and fiberglass stringers. The end result is a boat worthy of being noted for demonstrating all that Ranger has to offer, rolled into one legendary boat.