Bass Boats - Ranger Boats

Bass Boats - Ranger Boats


Ranger’s new

188VS brings a prolevel


bass boat into the



Story and Photos

by Bruce W. Smith

Bad is good — and the Ranger 188VS,

the largest of the VS series, is one bad

boat for the money. I found that out

during my first day behind its helm on Bull

Shoals Lake just a few miles from Ranger

Boats’ factory.

There’s something about this 18-foot, 8-

inch boat’s attitude that makes you feel good

sitting behind the helm or standing at the bow.

The newest and largest Ranger entry into

the “value-priced,” pro-level tournament

bass boats isn’t the quickest platform on the

water, but it doesn’t have to be to prove itself

worthy of accolades.

When I first set foot aboard the 188VS, it

was early morning. To my surprise, Randy

Hopper, president of Ranger Boats, and

Forrest Wood, Ranger’s founder, were already

on the water in another boat. But the Ranger

bass boat they were in as they motored away

from the ramp was the very one you see in

some of Ranger’s ads that show the dynamic

duo fishing from a boat with big sections cut

from the hull — and the water level in the

boat is above the seat bottoms.

Of course, one of the Ranger selling points

is the upright floatation and extreme stability

designed into each fishing platform. On

this morning, Hopper and Wood were actually

headed out for a photo session demonstrating

those aspects when I arrived for my

own test session with the new 188VS.

nice response to the trim resulting in a high

bow angle at wide-open throttle. The 188VS’

bow attack angle and nimbleness across the

water make you feel like you are going a lot

faster than the GPS indicates.

Of course, those very same attributes lead

to a boat that takes a little driver skill and concentration

once the 188VS pops up on the pad

and you trim it to eek out those last couple

mph — or encounter boat wakes where it

pays to get the bow down.

■ Rod and dry storage are bountiful aboard the Ranger 188VS. Note the built-in rod organizer in the

port rod locker.

Seeing them fishing and motoring around

the lake in a boat that you’d swear would sink

at any second reinforced one of the points

common to all Ranger boats: They are built

well beyond industry standards and Coast

Guard requirements. That’s both good and

bad, depending on your perspective.

The good part is that Ranger’s boats are built

stout using the very best materials, from the

thick-walled storage compartments and highgrade

carpet to the resins, materials and the

bonding adhesives used to build the boat itself.

That makes for a boat that is going to hold up to

the most severe use for years while providing a

solid, safe and well-designed fishing platform.

On the downside, because Rangers are built

stout, they weigh more than many of their competitors’

boats, which oftentimes makes Flippin’s

finest a tad slower when it comes to

speed numbers.

Those who buy Rangers already know all

that and would prefer owning a boat that has

earned a strong reputation within the industry

for fit, finish and fishability. The Ranger

188VS dual-console looks like it’s going to continue

that reputation.

place) directly to the hull, fill the voids with

floatation foam, and the result is basically a

one-piece boat.

The 188VS’ solid hull negates the sound of

water slap and vibration, which, in turn, gives

you a very real sense that you are running in a

much bigger, heavier boat.

But it handles more like a sports car. The

wide 921/2-inch beam, coupled with Sea Star

Pro hydraulic steering, and the short hull make

it easy to slip in and out of tight areas or to maneuver

in the crowded waters around the boat

ramp at day’s end. This boat would feel right at

home on small impoundments, reservoirs, lakes

or on any river short of the lower Mississippi.

Out on the open water, those familiar with

older Rangers will find the 188VS very similar

in handling to the old 350V, which exhibited a


Speaking of wringing out the new Ranger, we

couldn’t resist doing that repeatedly because,

well, it was just plain fun.

Our test boat was rigged with an Evinrude

E-Tec 150 propped with a 22-inch-pitch Raker.

The 188VS is rated for up to 175 hp, which I’d

recommend for those with a need for speed

— or at least the need to see 60 mph.

The 150 ’Rude responds quickly and smoothly

to throttle demands, and with the little Raker

on the business end, it popped the Ranger to

30 mph in 8 seconds. That’s a fairly quick

holeshot for a boat that weighs somewhere in

the neighborhood of 2600 pounds with two

bubbas aboard.

Fuel economy is just as impressive. Evinrude

is big on promoting the fuel-efficiency of

the E-Tec technology. During our tests, the 150

E-Tec averaged 3.4 mpg from the time it rolled

on plane until it reached top end. The best fuel

number we saw was 4 mpg at 3000 rpm (29.9

mph), which gives the 188VS a cruising range

of nearly 140 miles on its 38-gallon fuel tank.

The performance disappointment came at

the top end; we could only get the 150 E-Tec

to turn 5200 rpm, which resulted in a top

speed of 54.8 mph. We were expecting a top

speed in the high 50s.


Ranger builds its bass boats with the notion

that the less flex between hull and deck cap

the better. To that end, they use a process

called “pulltrusion” to make the fiberglass

composite material used in the floor, transom

and deck. The pulltrusion composite is closer

in strength to steel than fiberglass. Plus, they

put stress-directed fiberglass in the strakes

instead of putty and use one-piece fiberglass

stringers to further stiffen the hull.

Add in structural bonding agents that cement

the deck cap (which is molded with the

storage boxes and other compartments in

38 April 2006

■ The driver console is nicely laid out, including placement of the Lowrance X-135 depthfinder and

the array of toggle switches that control boat power. Legroom at the helm is enough to keep over-sixfooters

in the comfort zone.

Ranger 188VS DC

Base Price: $31,112

Price As Tested: $31,112

Top Speed:

54.8 mph

0-to-30 mph:

8.0 seconds



Console Type:


Length: 18’ 8”

Beam: 7’ 9”

Hull Weight:.

1575 lbs.

Rigged Weight: .

2280 lbs.

Trailered Weight:

3075 lbs.

Fuel Capacity:

38 gals.

Livewell Capacity:

24 gals.

Maximum Horsepower: 175

Standard Equipment: Teleflex hydraulic steering;

24-volt Minn Kota trolling motor; on-board Pro-

Charger 15x2; Lowrance X-135; ProStow tackle organizer;

rod storage system; power pedestal seats;

tandem-axle Ranger Trail trailer with swingaway

tongue; recirculated/aerated livewell system; stainless

steel hardware

Optional Equipment as Tested: None

Engine Tested: Evinrude E-Tec 150

Type: EFI 2-stroke V-6


2.6L (158 cid)

Weight (per mfg.):

418 lbs.

Recommended WOT RPM: 4500-5500

Gear Ratio: 1.86:1


22” Raker stainless 3-blade





■ The recessed footwell for the Minn Kota 24-

volt trolling motor adds to angler comfort on the

bow. The 188VS is a very stable fishing platform.

Ranger said our test boat was set up properly

and that there wasn’t anything left on the

table. Still, Evinrude lists the 150 E-Tec operating

range as 4500-5500 rpm, with peak horsepower

coming at 5250. That puts our engine’s

rpm on the low end of the power curve. We

also noted a slight “miss” in the engine during

the WOT runs that couldn’t be cured. So, don’t

be surprised if a similarly rigged 188VS ends up

being quicker than the one we tested.

■ Evinrude’s 150 E-Tec is ideal on the new

Ranger if you are trying to keep weight down

and fuel economy up.

The 188VS’ fishing stability is second to

none. We spent a couple of hours annoying

Bull Shoals bass off windy points and in protected

coves. No matter where my Ranger pro

partner, Jim “Big Daddy” Nolan, or I moved on

the deck, the little Ranger stayed rock steady.

It also seemed to hold straight against crosswinds,

which made fishing those windy points

a lot easier behind the power of the 24-volt

Minn Kota.

Weather Conditions:

Air Temperature:


Water Temperature: 75.4F


3 mph crosswind

Water Conditions:



Engine Speed Fuel Range 1

(rpm) (mph) (gph) (mpg) (miles)

1000 4.7 2.2 2.1 73

1500 6.4 3.1 2.1 71

2000 8.2 5.1 1.6 55

2500 9.7 6.7 1.4 50

3000 2 29.9 7.5 4.0 136

3500 34.9 9.7 3.6 123

4000 42.1 12.0 3.5 120

4500 47.2 13.4 3.5 120

5000 53.4 15.8 3.4 116

5200 54.8 16.3 3.4 115


Based on 90% fuel capacity


Optimum cruise speed

Ranger Boats

Dept BWB

P.O. Box 179

Flippin, AR 72634



From a basic layout standpoint, the new

Ranger is no different from any other midsize

bass boat. What is different is that the 188VS

feels more like a 20-footer as far as fishing

room and interior spaciousness. Legroom is

more than abundant under the consoles, even

for those well north of 6 feet.

There’s also abundant room in the dual rod

lockers: the port accommodating 7-inch, 6-

foot rods in the built-in rod storage system;

the starboard handling 7-foot rods or a lot of

mixed gear and tackle. The box lids are big,

and gas struts assist you when opening them

and keeping them open.

Your backseater can keep his rods handy by

strapping them down on the angled rod holder

alongside his seat. More gear, tackle and

snacks/drinks can be stored in four other compartments

located fore and aft of the cockpit.

40 April 2006

■ The rear deck is typical of an 18-foot bass boat. Every inch available under the deck is put to good

use. Livewell lids are insulated to keep water temps cooler during the heat of summer.

When you are lucky — or good — enough to

bring a fish to deck, which Big Daddy Nolan is on

both counts, the 188VS has a pro-level, divided

livewell to keep them feisty and happy until


No doubt the newest addition to the Ranger

VS line is going to catch the favor of a lot of

pros looking for a smaller package that delivers

the same level of overall performance of

a bigger platform.

Smaller boats cost less to use both on the

water and to trailer; they’re easier to keep

garaged (Ranger Trail trailers have swingaway

tongues), and they’re a little easier on the

bank account. Still, at $31K, the new Ranger

isn’t cheap. The upside is Rangers hold their

resale value very well, so when it comes time

to sell, you are still smiling.

That’s the beauty of the Ranger 188VS —

you smile a lot. BWB

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