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Review: 2015 Bayliner Element XL-gctid617996

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    Review: 2015 Bayliner Element XL-gctid617996



    I can't contain my affection for this boat, so I won't even try. Of all the boats that were on hand at Bayliner's press event this past September, this was the one I was most excited about. It resides in a very nice place in Bayliner's lineup - it's priced well, it's powered well, it's in one of the most popular and family-friendly sizes, and it has just enough features to make it a sensible choice for a day on the water. In short, this takes everything great about the original 16 foot Bayliner Element, and solves the main concerns we had with it by adding size and power, but without a significant amount of cost. I loved it.

    The XL is, quite simply, an 18 foot version of the 16 foot Element. We're all familiar with this concept, Bayliner just took a good thing and added more roomy goodness. Most of the added length was placed in the aft cockpit. There's now plenty of room for two adults to lounge in comfort in addition to the standard seating amidships and up in the bow. To that end, it will come as no surprise to learn that the boat could be described as "roomy". Bayliner has a rich history in maximizing interior space, and the XL does not disappoint here. Where the 16 footer feels like an 18 foot boat inside, the XL feels like it's nearly a 20 foot long boat. Nobody is going to feel cramped in this thing.



    Aside from the extra room, there's no overt tipoff that you are in anything other than an Element. The seating plan and helm station are exactly the same, and the equipment and options are the same as well. The XL is literally what it implies...a bigger Element. I obtained a leggy brunette model to show off exactly what I mean:





    This fact raises an interesting question - performance. There were two main concerns of the original Element when it debuted - one was that it was a smidge too small, and the other is the power, or lack thereof. There are two engine choices with the Element - a 90 hp Mercury Four Stroke, and a 115 hp Four Stroke. Bayliner had both of those Element XLs for sampling. One was a black hull'ed 90 hp with a fishing package, and the other was a totally loaded red Sport with a 115 on it. Naturally, we grabbed the keys for the Sport and hit the water.

    Once out in the channel, the XL wasted no time in competely destroying our original impressions of the Element. Recall that the original Element was....well, how can we put this...."okay". It was able to plane, it had a top speed, it was fast enough to put a breeze through your hair, and that was about it. "Acceptable" comes to mind. The XL with a 115 on it is a veritable rocket ship. Advance the throttle quickly and occupants are pinned to the seats. The threshold to plane is dealt with in under 3 seconds, and the low seating position and center of gravity combines to make the boat feel extremely racy. The XL will stretch all the way to 42 mph, while being highly sensitive to trim. Handling is light, quick witted, and very easy to handle. Turn the boat hard over at speed, and it will slide and ventilate the prop, in a very safe manner. After spending an hour at the wheel, I kept feeling that a 15 year old (or a 15 year old at heart?) could have a really great time at the wheel of one of these boats. I know I was ready to bolt it to the back of my car and try to take it home with me.

    A good measure of any boat is how well the base boat does the job. If the base boat is satisfying, the uplevel power option will generally just be more of a good thing. So once we docked the red XL, we immediately switched to the base 90 hp XL, expecting to possibly be underwhelmed. But a funny thing happened. What surprised me most was just how well the 90 performed. Time to plane was only half a heartbeat behind the 115, and top speed was just shy of 40 mph. The difference between them deals primarily with the greater torque of the 115, making it generally more responsive across all RPMs. Here's a boat where you could easily justify staying with the smaller engine, and still get an absolutely thrilling little sport boat. Unlike other boats where the smaller engine option is merely okay, here we have a situation where the base package provides more performance than expected for pretty much everyone.

    Build quality continues to impress, especially for the price. A solid fiberglass floor and only one well designed layout is available. Seat bases appear to be composite and not wood based. Rather than putting in a fully adjustible captain's chair, Bayliner provides a "Wedge" snap-in cushion that performs the function of moving the pilot forward without the components or complexity of an adjustible helm chair. My complaints with the helm station remains the overly simplistic gauge package, and also the fuel tanks continue to be carry on, portable units. While I can understand the business reason for doing so, an 18 foot boat really should have a built in tank.

    Speaking of price, this boat hits right at the sweet spot of the market. Load the XL up with the Sport package and the 115 and you will be right around $25,000. Skip the 115 and you will pocket a few grand and still get a thrilling little boat. Its a solid value, and a lot of testers with us were all thinking this was literaly a perfect bullseye for the emerging Millenial demographic.



    Bayliner is trying very hard to appeal to newer, younger boating families. The XL is another in many steps towards that journey.
    Matt Train
    BOC Site Team
    Chicagoland, IL

    #2
    Excellent, mine (115HP sport) is being built at the factory as we speak. Spring can't get here fast enough.....

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      #3
      "StormPanic" post=618031 wrote:
      Excellent, mine (115HP sport) is being built at the factory as we speak. Spring can't get here fast enough.....
      I promise you will love it. Very spirited little boat.

      I practically begged Bayliner to let me have the red one. Actually, I literally did beg them for it.
      Matt Train
      BOC Site Team
      Chicagoland, IL

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        #4
        Mine's the black with the desert tan interior + every other option my wife saw in the brochure Can't wait....

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          #5
          Nice review and we all can tell you love the boat.
          Rick Grew

          1981 Carver 3007 Aft Cabin

          2004 Past Commodore
          West River Yacht & Cruising Club
          www.wrycc.com

          Comment


            #6
            Interesting vessel

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              #7
              Nice review

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                #8
                Thanks for the review..a big advantage with the new models is the folding tower for us garage owners..

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                  #9
                  Got a good look at the folding tower this weekend at the NE boat show plus the family finally got to see the xl up close. Had to convince the wife previously with her having only seen the 16 footer.

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                    #10
                    I have the Red sport package and my family and I love it. Fit 7 people comfortably. Top speed was about 28 on a choppy lake with all 7. Have all the filler cushions and they make a great lounge area.

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                      #11
                      Does anyone know what is make and model of the trailer the element xl seats on I would like to how much the trailer weights and what kind of spare should be bought for it.

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                        #12
                        I purchased an Element Xl with a 115 hp this May for use in South Florida. I couldn't find many good reviews of the boat before purchase but we are thrilled with it. We have 3 kids from ages 4 - 7 and have had 4 adults and 5 small kids on the boat at one time.

                        The boat pulls a tube or skier out of the water very quickly even when its full of people. It's also great for parking at the sandbar in shallow water where bigger boats can't go.

                        We have had it out in the ocean in 2-3 ft seas at 20 - 25 mph and it handled it WAY better than I expected. It was a little wet ride but we didn't feel unsafe at anytime. The only problem in 2-3 ft seas at 25 mph is it occasionally hits a wave hard and if you have a bad back it would be a little uncomfortable.

                        If you get an element, learn the boat, its limits, and how it handles the wakes of the cruise ships going out of the port and you'll have a great boat.

                        I will say the boat, like all boats, comes with its compromises but our personal goal was to get a simple low maintenance boat (less things to break), a boat that easy to clean, and one that could fit in a standard 2 car garage (thank god that the sports tower folds).

                        If you want luxury with bells and whistles, look elsewhere, but if you want to get on the water with comparatively minimal effort and $ then go for it!

                        PS. The only things I don't like are 1) the water that accumulates in the compartment that holds the gas tank which you have to remember to towel out after use (easy but inconvenient) 2) the bilge doesn't come with a float switch.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I have gotten a few private messages regarding the length while trailered. My bayliner element XL is just under 21' while trailered (this is with the motor tilled up on a transom saver) I have a 22' garage and back it straight in. Of course the trailer tongue is folded which is about 1" past the bow.

                          Still love my boat.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            "Lpeeco" post=685580 wrote:
                            I purchased an Element Xl with a 115 hp this May for use in South Florida. I couldn't find many good reviews of the boat before purchase but we are thrilled with it. We have 3 kids from ages 4 - 7 and have had 4 adults and 5 small kids on the boat at one time.

                            The boat pulls a tube or skier out of the water very quickly even when its full of people. It's also great for parking at the sandbar in shallow water where bigger boats can't go.

                            We have had it out in the ocean in 2-3 ft seas at 20 - 25 mph and it handled it WAY better than I expected. It was a little wet ride but we didn't feel unsafe at anytime. The only problem in 2-3 ft seas at 25 mph is it occasionally hits a wave hard and if you have a bad back it would be a little uncomfortable.

                            If you get an element, learn the boat, its limits, and how it handles the wakes of the cruise ships going out of the port and you'll have a great boat.

                            I will say the boat, like all boats, comes with its compromises but our personal goal was to get a simple low maintenance boat (less things to break), a boat that easy to clean, and one that could fit in a standard 2 car garage (thank god that the sports tower folds).

                            If you want luxury with bells and whistles, look elsewhere, but if you want to get on the water with comparatively minimal effort and $ then go for it!

                            PS. The only things I don't like are 1) the water that accumulates in the compartment that holds the gas tank which you have to remember to towel out after use (easy but inconvenient) 2) the bilge doesn't come with a float switch.
                            What bilge pump is in your boat? My 2016 215 DB also does not have an float switch. I have this pump. http://www.attwoodmarine.com/store/p...ami-Bilge-Pump I have been shopping around for a float and found this one that is made for the above pump. http://www.attwoodmarine.com/store/p...ch---s3-series Seems simple to install and plan on doing so when the weather warms up. Here is the Product manual that shows it attached to the pump. http://www.attwoodmarine.com/userfil...3switch-08.pdf
                            2016 Bayliner 215 Deck Boat
                            Mercruiser 4.3 220 HP Alpha 1 Gen II

                            2003 SeaRay 176 SRX Bowrider
                            Mercruiser 3.0 135 HP Alpha 1 Gen II

                            1988 Sunbird 170 Bowrider
                            Evinrude 88 Special

                            1970 Salem Skiff 13.5 foot
                            1992 Johnson 40HP.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              The 2016 boats come with a $40 option for an automatic bilge pump. I'm assuming that this implies a setting for the bilge pump that I can leave on when I leave the boat on a buoy that will pump as needed (in case a summer squall dumps a lot of rain). Yes?

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