Who says a small boat with a small engine can't handle a whole family's
needs or can't give its skipper the exhilarating sensation of speed? Stingray's
180 LX may be compact-size, but the fun it provides is definitely
The smallest boat in Stingray's line of sporty 18- to 24-footers, the 180 LX
can take up to seven people on day cruising, waterskiing or fishing
adventures. While it comes equipped with a fuel efficient four-cylinder, 135
hp stern drive, it can take its passengers on some fast-paced rides,
approaching 50 mph.
Weighing in at 2,133 pounds, the 180 LX is easily towable by most midsize
vehicles. It carries a 7 foot, 1 inch beam — and, at 18 feet, it is
small enough to fit inside the average garage.
This is an especially affordable sportboat, with a base price of just
$14,000, but it is well-built and well-equipped. Like other Stingray models,
it is not only sporty-looking, the 180 LX boasts an ergonomic design for
maximum comfort and ease of operation. All seating, gauges and controls are
in natural positions — not just wherever a computer decided it would be
most cost-effective to put them.
During our test, there were 14 knots of wind on the lake and small whitecaps
were beginning to form. We put the boat through a variety of turns and
maneuvers, then did several speed runs. The boat offered lively performance
and good cornering.
We tested the 180 LX on South Carolina's Lake Robinson, with two adults
aboard and a full tank of fuel. Our test boat was equipped with a 135 hp
Volvo Penta 3.0GS SX stern drive. The boat is also available with a 135 hp
MerCruiser 3.OL Alpha stern drive.
Our boat took just five seconds to reach plane — at 17.4 mph, at 2,600
rpm. We were able to fly along, feeling we were on the edge — or, we
could trim down just a tad to have the feeling of more control.
While all the Stingray boats we tested on the lake that day were extremely
dry-riding, because of the conditions during our test of the 180 LX, we were
finally able to get some spray on the windshield.
The 180 LX gave us a truly exhilarating, fast-paced ride in total comfort
— and with no pounding. Our top speed during the test was 49.8 mph (at
4,800 rpm) — in real world conditions, with a full tank of fuel. However,
Stingray's own performance tests have proven that in the right conditions, this
boat can easily top 50 mph.
One reason for that impressive performance — even with a small, fuel
efficient engine — is the boat's patented Z-plane hull, with 19 degrees
of deadrise. The hull's pronounced horizontal strakes, or "Z-planes," provide
increased lift and knock down spray. Once they hit the water, the outside
edges of each strake act as a spray release system, so the hull planes
without catching bubbles — giving the propeller increased "bite."
Aft, the boat's "performance-notched transom" puts the prop higher in the
water, reducing drag.
In the 180 LX's engine compartment, housed under the boat's large aft
sunpad, there's ready access to the powerplant — and you can easily
reach all major components for maintenance. In fact, the compartment is so
roomy, separate storage compartments are provided on each side of the engine
— and there's room to store the boat's Bimini top.
One especially nice feature, a remote oil change system, is included as
standard equipment. If this were our boat, we'd add Stingray's optional
automatic fire extinguishing system ($411) in the engine compartment, for
Forward of the sunpad is an upholstered bench-style seat with space for
three adults to ride comfortably. Big swiveling bucket seats are positioned
behind the helm and passenger consoles, which are behind a raked-back,
wrap-around safety glass windshield.
The windshield's side sections protect the entire forward portion of the
cockpit from spray. Optional side vent windows ($105) can be added to the
windshield for maximum airflow through the cockpit - and they are ideal if
you like to Go Boating on the hottest summer days.
The 180 LX's helm comes with a full array of custom backlit instrumentation,
which is nicely arranged and positioned for maximum readability. Single-lever
controls are within easy reach.
The skipper will appreciate the standard four-spoke ergonomic steering
wheel, but he or she will probably want the power steering option ($395).
Other available options we would also add at the helm are a tilt steering
wheel ($138), a magnetic compass for navigation ($112) and a digital depth
finder with depth alarm ($304).
Between the helm and passenger seats, there's a large in-floor locker for
skis and wakeboards. It has an oversized door, for easy access to everything
In the passenger console, to port, you'll find a glove box and a Clarion
high-power stereo system. For an extra $137, you can upgrade the system to
include a CD player.
Forward, the bow seating area offers stainless steel grabrails, beverage
holders and under-seat storage. A fiberglass bow cover is available
optionally, at $486.
Stainless steel hardware is standard equipment — including spring
line cleats, a ski tow eye and a two-rung swim ladder, for boarding from the
integrated full-width swim step.
The 180 LX is a great, basic sportboat — but it isn't for everyone.
If you're looking for something different in the deck plan, but want the same
basic boat on the outside, the 180 LX has an attractive sister: the 180 LS.
Stingray's 180 LS offers the same size boat with a passenger side adjustable
lounge seat (or optional dual lounge seats) instead of bucket seats. Instead
of the sunpad and wide bench seat, this model offers two rear high-low jump
seats that convert to a full-width sundeck and a fiberglass-insulated motor
box console with an upholstered pad and four beverage holders. This
configuration makes for a slightly more spacious cockpit, but a different
Whichever model you choose, Stingray offers a five-year hull protection plan
and a three-year warranty against hull blisters, for added peace of mind.
As someone once said, very good things often come in small packages.