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Bass Boats - Ranger Boats

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BAD ATTITUDE


<strong>Ranger</strong>’s new<br />

188VS brings a prolevel<br />

tournament<br />

bass boat into the<br />

“value-packaged”<br />

18-footers<br />

Story and Photos<br />

by Bruce W. Smith<br />

Bad is good — and the <strong>Ranger</strong> 188VS,<br />

the largest of the VS series, is one bad<br />

boat for the money. I found that out<br />

during my first day behind its helm on Bull<br />

Shoals Lake just a few miles from <strong>Ranger</strong><br />

<strong>Boats</strong>’ factory.<br />

There’s something about this 18-foot, 8-<br />

inch boat’s attitude that makes you feel good<br />

sitting behind the helm or standing at the bow.<br />

The newest and largest <strong>Ranger</strong> entry into<br />

the “value-priced,” pro-level tournament<br />

bass boats isn’t the quickest platform on the<br />

water, but it doesn’t have to be to prove itself<br />

worthy of accolades.<br />

When I first set foot aboard the 188VS, it<br />

was early morning. To my surprise, Randy<br />

Hopper, president of <strong>Ranger</strong> <strong>Boats</strong>, and<br />

Forrest Wood, <strong>Ranger</strong>’s founder, were already<br />

on the water in another boat. But the <strong>Ranger</strong><br />

bass boat they were in as they motored away<br />

from the ramp was the very one you see in<br />

some of <strong>Ranger</strong>’s ads that show the dynamic<br />

duo fishing from a boat with big sections cut<br />

from the hull — and the water level in the<br />

boat is above the seat bottoms.<br />

Of course, one of the <strong>Ranger</strong> selling points<br />

is the upright floatation and extreme stability<br />

designed into each fishing platform. On<br />

this morning, Hopper and Wood were actually<br />

headed out for a photo session demonstrating<br />

those aspects when I arrived for my<br />

own test session with the new 188VS.


nice response to the trim resulting in a high<br />

bow angle at wide-open throttle. The 188VS’<br />

bow attack angle and nimbleness across the<br />

water make you feel like you are going a lot<br />

faster than the GPS indicates.<br />

Of course, those very same attributes lead<br />

to a boat that takes a little driver skill and concentration<br />

once the 188VS pops up on the pad<br />

and you trim it to eek out those last couple<br />

mph — or encounter boat wakes where it<br />

pays to get the bow down.<br />

■ Rod and dry storage are bountiful aboard the <strong>Ranger</strong> 188VS. Note the built-in rod organizer in the<br />

port rod locker.<br />

Seeing them fishing and motoring around<br />

the lake in a boat that you’d swear would sink<br />

at any second reinforced one of the points<br />

common to all <strong>Ranger</strong> boats: They are built<br />

well beyond industry standards and Coast<br />

Guard requirements. That’s both good and<br />

bad, depending on your perspective.<br />

The good part is that <strong>Ranger</strong>’s boats are built<br />

stout using the very best materials, from the<br />

thick-walled storage compartments and highgrade<br />

carpet to the resins, materials and the<br />

bonding adhesives used to build the boat itself.<br />

That makes for a boat that is going to hold up to<br />

the most severe use for years while providing a<br />

solid, safe and well-designed fishing platform.<br />

On the downside, because <strong>Ranger</strong>s are built<br />

stout, they weigh more than many of their competitors’<br />

boats, which oftentimes makes Flippin’s<br />

finest a tad slower when it comes to<br />

speed numbers.<br />

Those who buy <strong>Ranger</strong>s already know all<br />

that and would prefer owning a boat that has<br />

earned a strong reputation within the industry<br />

for fit, finish and fishability. The <strong>Ranger</strong><br />

188VS dual-console looks like it’s going to continue<br />

that reputation.<br />

place) directly to the hull, fill the voids with<br />

floatation foam, and the result is basically a<br />

one-piece boat.<br />

The 188VS’ solid hull negates the sound of<br />

water slap and vibration, which, in turn, gives<br />

you a very real sense that you are running in a<br />

much bigger, heavier boat.<br />

But it handles more like a sports car. The<br />

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

Pro hydraulic steering, and the short hull make<br />

it easy to slip in and out of tight areas or to maneuver<br />

in the crowded waters around the boat<br />

ramp at day’s end. This boat would feel right at<br />

home on small impoundments, reservoirs, lakes<br />

or on any river short of the lower Mississippi.<br />

Out on the open water, those familiar with<br />

older <strong>Ranger</strong>s will find the 188VS very similar<br />

in handling to the old 350V, which exhibited a<br />

A TRUE PERFORMER<br />

Speaking of wringing out the new <strong>Ranger</strong>, we<br />

couldn’t resist doing that repeatedly because,<br />

well, it was just plain fun.<br />

Our test boat was rigged with an Evinrude<br />

E-Tec 150 propped with a 22-inch-pitch Raker.<br />

The 188VS is rated for up to 175 hp, which I’d<br />

recommend for those with a need for speed<br />

— or at least the need to see 60 mph.<br />

The 150 ’Rude responds quickly and smoothly<br />

to throttle demands, and with the little Raker<br />

on the business end, it popped the <strong>Ranger</strong> to<br />

30 mph in 8 seconds. That’s a fairly quick<br />

holeshot for a boat that weighs somewhere in<br />

the neighborhood of 2600 pounds with two<br />

bubbas aboard.<br />

Fuel economy is just as impressive. Evinrude<br />

is big on promoting the fuel-efficiency of<br />

the E-Tec technology. During our tests, the 150<br />

E-Tec averaged 3.4 mpg from the time it rolled<br />

on plane until it reached top end. The best fuel<br />

number we saw was 4 mpg at 3000 rpm (29.9<br />

mph), which gives the 188VS a cruising range<br />

of nearly 140 miles on its 38-gallon fuel tank.<br />

The performance disappointment came at<br />

the top end; we could only get the 150 E-Tec<br />

to turn 5200 rpm, which resulted in a top<br />

speed of 54.8 mph. We were expecting a top<br />

speed in the high 50s.<br />

ONE TOUGH HULL<br />

<strong>Ranger</strong> builds its bass boats with the notion<br />

that the less flex between hull and deck cap<br />

the better. To that end, they use a process<br />

called “pulltrusion” to make the fiberglass<br />

composite material used in the floor, transom<br />

and deck. The pulltrusion composite is closer<br />

in strength to steel than fiberglass. Plus, they<br />

put stress-directed fiberglass in the strakes<br />

instead of putty and use one-piece fiberglass<br />

stringers to further stiffen the hull.<br />

Add in structural bonding agents that cement<br />

the deck cap (which is molded with the<br />

storage boxes and other compartments in<br />

38 April 2006 <strong>Bass</strong>AndWalleye<strong>Boats</strong>.com<br />

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

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

in the comfort zone.


<strong>Ranger</strong> 188VS DC<br />

Base Price: $31,112<br />

Price As Tested: $31,112<br />

Top Speed:<br />

54.8 mph<br />

0-to-30 mph:<br />

8.0 seconds<br />

Construction:<br />

Fiberglass/composite<br />

Console Type:<br />

Dual<br />

Length: 18’ 8”<br />

Beam: 7’ 9”<br />

Hull Weight:.<br />

1575 lbs.<br />

Rigged Weight: .<br />

2280 lbs.<br />

Trailered Weight:<br />

3075 lbs.<br />

Fuel Capacity:<br />

38 gals.<br />

Livewell Capacity:<br />

24 gals.<br />

Maximum Horsepower: 175<br />

Standard Equipment: Teleflex hydraulic steering;<br />

24-volt Minn Kota trolling motor; on-board Pro-<br />

Charger 15x2; Lowrance X-135; ProStow tackle organizer;<br />

rod storage system; power pedestal seats;<br />

tandem-axle <strong>Ranger</strong> Trail trailer with swingaway<br />

tongue; recirculated/aerated livewell system; stainless<br />

steel hardware<br />

Optional Equipment as Tested: None<br />

Engine Tested: Evinrude E-Tec 150<br />

Type: EFI 2-stroke V-6<br />

Displacement:<br />

2.6L (158 cid)<br />

Weight (per mfg.):<br />

418 lbs.<br />

Recommended WOT RPM: 4500-5500<br />

Gear Ratio: 1.86:1<br />

Propeller:<br />

22” Raker stainless 3-blade<br />

Jackplate:<br />

None<br />

Setback:<br />

None<br />

■ The recessed footwell for the Minn Kota 24-<br />

volt trolling motor adds to angler comfort on the<br />

bow. The 188VS is a very stable fishing platform.<br />

<strong>Ranger</strong> said our test boat was set up properly<br />

and that there wasn’t anything left on the<br />

table. Still, Evinrude lists the 150 E-Tec operating<br />

range as 4500-5500 rpm, with peak horsepower<br />

coming at 5250. That puts our engine’s<br />

rpm on the low end of the power curve. We<br />

also noted a slight “miss” in the engine during<br />

the WOT runs that couldn’t be cured. So, don’t<br />

be surprised if a similarly rigged 188VS ends up<br />

being quicker than the one we tested.<br />

■ Evinrude’s 150 E-Tec is ideal on the new<br />

<strong>Ranger</strong> if you are trying to keep weight down<br />

and fuel economy up.<br />

The 188VS’ fishing stability is second to<br />

none. We spent a couple of hours annoying<br />

Bull Shoals bass off windy points and in protected<br />

coves. No matter where my <strong>Ranger</strong> pro<br />

partner, Jim “Big Daddy” Nolan, or I moved on<br />

the deck, the little <strong>Ranger</strong> stayed rock steady.<br />

It also seemed to hold straight against crosswinds,<br />

which made fishing those windy points<br />

a lot easier behind the power of the 24-volt<br />

Minn Kota.<br />

Weather Conditions:<br />

Air Temperature:<br />

60F<br />

Water Temperature: 75.4F<br />

Wind:<br />

3 mph crosswind<br />

Water Conditions:<br />

Rippled<br />

TEST RESULTS<br />

Engine Speed Fuel Range 1<br />

(rpm) (mph) (gph) (mpg) (miles)<br />

1000 4.7 2.2 2.1 73<br />

1500 6.4 3.1 2.1 71<br />

2000 8.2 5.1 1.6 55<br />

2500 9.7 6.7 1.4 50<br />

3000 2 29.9 7.5 4.0 136<br />

3500 34.9 9.7 3.6 123<br />

4000 42.1 12.0 3.5 120<br />

4500 47.2 13.4 3.5 120<br />

5000 53.4 15.8 3.4 116<br />

5200 54.8 16.3 3.4 115<br />

1<br />

Based on 90% fuel capacity<br />

2<br />

Optimum cruise speed<br />

<strong>Ranger</strong> <strong>Boats</strong><br />

Dept BWB<br />

P.O. Box 179<br />

Flippin, AR 72634<br />

800/373-2628<br />

rangerboats.com<br />

DOWN TO FUNCTION<br />

From a basic layout standpoint, the new<br />

<strong>Ranger</strong> is no different from any other midsize<br />

bass boat. What is different is that the 188VS<br />

feels more like a 20-footer as far as fishing<br />

room and interior spaciousness. Legroom is<br />

more than abundant under the consoles, even<br />

for those well north of 6 feet.<br />

There’s also abundant room in the dual rod<br />

lockers: the port accommodating 7-inch, 6-<br />

foot rods in the built-in rod storage system;<br />

the starboard handling 7-foot rods or a lot of<br />

mixed gear and tackle. The box lids are big,<br />

and gas struts assist you when opening them<br />

and keeping them open.<br />

Your backseater can keep his rods handy by<br />

strapping them down on the angled rod holder<br />

alongside his seat. More gear, tackle and<br />

snacks/drinks can be stored in four other compartments<br />

located fore and aft of the cockpit.<br />

40 April 2006 <strong>Bass</strong>AndWalleye<strong>Boats</strong>.com<br />

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

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

When you are lucky — or good — enough to<br />

bring a fish to deck, which Big Daddy Nolan is on<br />

both counts, the 188VS has a pro-level, divided<br />

livewell to keep them feisty and happy until<br />

weigh-in.<br />

No doubt the newest addition to the <strong>Ranger</strong><br />

VS line is going to catch the favor of a lot of<br />

pros looking for a smaller package that delivers<br />

the same level of overall performance of<br />

a bigger platform.<br />

Smaller boats cost less to use both on the<br />

water and to trailer; they’re easier to keep<br />

garaged (<strong>Ranger</strong> Trail trailers have swingaway<br />

tongues), and they’re a little easier on the<br />

bank account. Still, at $31K, the new <strong>Ranger</strong><br />

isn’t cheap. The upside is <strong>Ranger</strong>s hold their<br />

resale value very well, so when it comes time<br />

to sell, you are still smiling.<br />

That’s the beauty of the <strong>Ranger</strong> 188VS —<br />

you smile a lot. BWB

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