FREQUENTFLYERThe luxurious 19-footRanger Comanchebrings innovationalong withperformanceSTORY AND PHOTOS BYBRUCE W. SMITHIt may seem like an oxymoron to many bassanglers to say any bass boat is both sportyand luxurious. But the boys in Flippin,Arkansas, have indeed built a new model thatbrings words usually associated with Lexus,Cadillac, Mercedes, BMW and other high-endluxury sport sedans to the world of bass boats.Ranger Boats’ newest classy offering isthe Z19 Comanche, a $49,000 (as tested)package that delivers every bit of value forthe dollar in the rarified world of bass fishingplatforms for the elite.As Randy Hopper, president of RangerBoats, said while we were getting ready to hitthe water on legendary Bull Shoals Lake innorthern Arkansas, “As with other models inthe revolutionary Z-Comanche series, the Z19is engineered to continually raise the totalperformance bar even higher. This one showsour continual commitment to innovation, andhighlights a new era of technological advancementsin bass boat design.”Hopper’s words echoed true as I spent afull day fishing, testing and getting acquaintedwith the new model. The Z19 does, indeed, reflectinnovation and high-tech trends that resultin impressive fishing and running performance.
WIDE-BODY DESIGNOne of the very first impressions we gotwhile walking up to the Z19 is how much deckspace there is both fore and aft. The secondimpression is how smooth the deck iscompared to so many other bass boats onthe market.It’s amazing to think that a couple of incheshere and there can add so much working spaceto a deck. But in the case of the Z19, the boat’sultra-wide 95-inch beam and 19-foot, 6-inchlength makes it feel a lot bigger than other bassboats that are just an inch or two narrower. Addin the flush-mounted trolling motor foot control,a comfortable step-up height between cockpitand decks, and low gunwales that make flippin’and pitchin’ really easy, and a bass fisherman’scomfort level gets really high really fast.It’s immediately apparent that innovation andhigh-end technology come into play right at one’sfeet. Ranger is now utilizing what it terms a “Dri-Latch” compartment locking system, which consistsof extruded aluminum rails running thelength of both decks on the inner side of eachlocker lid. These rails are flush to the deck andhave finger lift latches that serve as the locks toeach locker lid. A slight lift of the latch and the lidpops open. Shut the lid and the lock makes acomforting “click” when it latches closed.What makes this system so much better thanthe conventional locks and latches found on otherboats — beyond the ease of use — is that thestrength of the extruded rails combined withthe tamper-resistant, deadbolt-style locks significantlyincrease security.Another benefit of this innovative lid-lockingsystem is — combined with 360-degree raisedlip-and-channellocker seals — it removes thepossibility of water pooling in conventional keylocks and funneling into the lockers. This keepsthem dry and much more resistant to mold andrust getting on tackle, gear and carpet.
■ The Z19 Comanche seats are well bolsteredand feature Soft Ride Suspension under theluxurious leather-like exterior. Note the niftyhandholds along the seat bottoms and the thincenter seat.■ Dual livewells are easily accessible with the pedestal seat in place, and feature a removabledivider and a sophisticated recirc/pump-out aeration system.The Z19 also incorporates other convenientangler features like flip-up, flush-mountedcleats on each side of the front gunwales; asoft-touch control pad in the bow panel; aplush built-in rod storage system in the portrod locker; built-in Dual Pro three-bank batterycharger in the aft midship compartment;and three batteries for the 36-volt systemplaced in individual compartments across thestern. It’s a first-class deck layout.So is the cockpit and seating. The seats areheavily bolstered in just the right places, andthey incorporate a custom-built Soft Ride Seat(SRS) system that provides a margin of backprotection when you bounce the hull overwaves. On each side of the seats are niftyclosed handgrips for added passenger securityand stability.One item of note: The center seat is a littledifferent in that the cushions are thinner, especiallythe back. This is done to make the seat■ A rod organizer in the 8-foot rod locker on theport side and a 7-foot rod locker on the starboardside keep more than enough rods handy. AProStow tackle organizer and measuring boardare also part of the Z19 package.fold flatter for a more solid step-up to the rearcasting deck.USER FRIENDLYSpeaking of stepping up, this particularRanger is not shy on legroom under theconsoles. You’d think that Hopper and Rangerfounder and bass boat pioneer, Forrest Wood■ A pair of extruded metal rails runs the lengthof both decks as part of the innovative lidlockingsystem. Lifting inset latches unlockslids via a deadbolt-style lock that heightenssecurity and nearly eliminates moistureintrusion into the lockers.— both standing well over six feet tall —were the helm models. Us short-legged typeswill find it a stretch to reach the Sea Star Prohydraulic control helm while taking advantageof the nice seatback. (Maybe the nextgeneration of Z19s will have a tilt/telescopingsteering column like the luxury vehicles.)What the Z19 Comanche shares with someluxury sports cars is a console loaded withclassic, chrome-bezeled gauges. The instrumentationis slick, with two of the upper threepods featuring smaller gauges set inside theprimary one.For example, the tachometer, which sits in62 May 2006 BassAndWalleyeBoats.comthe top center of the brushed aluminum console,has a smaller water pressure gaugetucked in the bottom left. To the right of thetach is another unit that incorporates bothtrim and fuel gauges. Beneath the upper panelis a smaller one reminiscent of a street roddash panel with a voltmeter and engine temperaturegauge.Off to the right is the solid-state touch padthat controls all of the Z19’s electrical systems.Lightly tap in your four-digit secret codeon the panel, touch the start key and hold. Aftera second the big 225 Yamaha VMax instantlykicks to life. Touching the other symbols onthe pad activates and controls everything fromthe livewell system to the bilge pumps tothree auxiliary power circuits to the twin 24-gallon fuel tanks.On the port side of the console is a state-ofthe-art,color Lowrance X-135 that is connectedto the Lowrance NET “backbone” system. Thisis a single multichannel cable — that runs bowto stern — in which any number of futureelectronic accessories can be plugged in withoutthe need for additional wiring. In fact,that’s how the second X-135 — standard in thispackage — is connected at the bow panel.FEELING CONNECTED■ An optional 36-voltMinn Kota handled thetest boat’s electrictrolling motor duties.Recessed foot controlis a nice feature, too,keeping the bow anglerin a comfortable fishingposition.
■ Classic car-style analog instrumentationgraces the console. Several of the gauges areactually two in one, making the console layoutcompact, yet very functional.The Z19 really is leading edge, and it runs outnicely. Although it measures just 19 feet, 6inches, it is rated for a 225 because of itswide beam. The model we ran was rigged withYamaha’s 3.3L VMax 225 HPDI, which hasbeen covered in-depth in past issues.As a very strong V-6 engine with a lot of midrangepulling power, the VMax loves to runnear its 6000 rpm recommended peak. Itpushed our loaded Z19 to 30 mph in 7.4 secondsand to a top speed of 69.1 mph with 400pounds of bass-chasing bubbas behind thedual consoles.At the heart of the High-Pressure Direct-Injection system are six sophisticated sensorsthat help the microcomputer optimize ignitiontiming and air/fuel mixture. After fuel is drawnthrough the fuel pump and vapor separator, itis pressurized to 1000 psi before being deliveredto the internal-opening fuel injectorsthat feed each cylinder.This outboard’s state-of-the art technologyresulted in instant starting and excellent fueleconomy for a two-stroke. We saw 3.3 mpg atwide-open throttle and 4.1 mpg at a cruisingspeed just shy of 33 mph. Those kinds of fuelnumbers give the Z19 a range between 139and 178 miles, depending on how hard youhammer the throttle.The concave-shaped skeg design of the latemodelVMax really helps the Z19’s performanceand handling. By dramatically reducingsteering torque, it enables the lower unit totrack straight during acceleration, top-endruns and deceleration.Changing weather conditions gave us theopportunity to drive the Z19 in a variety of waterconditions from slick to moderate chop, lightwind to stiff breeze. What was constantthroughout was how stable — and quiet —the hull is when slicing through the water. Thehull responds very easily to trim input, instillingdriver confidence in a variety of conditions.The quiet, solid feel can be attributed to thehigh-density urethane that is sandwiched betweenthe outer fiberglass layers and to thesteel-like “pull-trusion” fiberglass used in thetransom and floors. When it’s all tied together,■ Lowrance X-135 depthfinders at the bow andhelm are standard on the feature-laden Z19. Allelectronics can be plugged into a commonLowrance data cable that runs the length ofthe boat.the new Ranger hull is as rigid as they get.Another handling factor on the Z19 we ranis the use of a 6-inch jackplate added to thebuilt-in setback transom. The additional halffoot of setback provided by the manual jackplateenhanced the boat’s already impressiveresponsiveness and turning abilities. TheSlidematser jackplate is standard on the special-editionRanger Cup Z19 models.FEATURE-LADEN PACKAGERigged with a Yamaha VMax is just one ofmany options you could order with the Z19Comanche. But the option list is short■ Having easy access to each battery, alongwith a three-bank Dual-Pro Charger to keepthem hot, are the little items that make the Z19really angler-friendly.compared to the already long list of standardfeatures, such as a custom tandem-axleRanger Trail trailer with disc brakes, swingawaytongue, aluminum wheels, LED lightingand new Road Armor chip-resistant coating;electronics; hydraulic steering; Minn Kota 24-volt trolling motor; and recirculating, aeratedlivewell system with automatic timers andpump-out. With all these feature items, you’llhave the performance, safety and conveniencepro-level anglers demand.Although there are a number of 19-footersfaster than this Ranger, when it comes to a highendbass boat, the new Z19 Comanche is a toughact to beat in terms of its features, innovationsand pro-level fishing platform categories. Andthose count a lot more to tournament anglersthan speed alone. BWBRanger Z19 DC ComancheBase Price (w/ trailer, 200 hp): $46,450Price As Tested (w/ Yamaha 225 VMax): $49,050Top Speed:69.1 mph0-to-30 mph:7.4 secondsConstruction:Fiberglass/compositeConsole Type:DualLength: 19’ 6”Beam: 7’ 11”Hull Weight:.1650 lbs.Rigged Weight: .2475 lbs.Trailered Weight:3575 lbs.Fuel Capacity:48 gals.Livewell Capacity:24 gals.Maximum Horsepower: 225Standard Equipment as Tested: Hydraulic steering;24-volt Minn Kota trolling motor; onboard Pro-Charger; Lowrance X-135 at bow and console;ProStow tackle organizer; rod storage system; powerpedestal seats; tandem-axle Ranger Trail trailerwith swingaway tongue; recirculating livewell systemwith pump-out and venturi air; Soft Ride Seats;stainless steel propOptional Equipment as Tested: Yamaha VMax225 HPDI; Ranger Cup package (includes 36-VoltMinn Kota, special emblems and Slidemasterjackplate)Engine Tested: Yamaha VMax 225 HPDIType: DFI 2-stroke V-6Displacement:3.3L (204 cid)Weight (per mfg.):539 lbs.Recommended WOT RPM: 5000-6000Gear Ratio: 1.75:1Propeller:15 1 /8x25” Yamaha VMaxstainless 3-bladeJackplate:Slidemaster manualSetback: 6”Weather Conditions:Air Temperature:57FWater Temperature: 75.4FWind:Variable 3-5 mphWater Conditions:Light chopTEST RESULTSEngine Speed Fuel Range 1(rpm) (mph) (gph) (mpg) (miles)1000 5.2 3.1 1.7 721500 6.8 3.6 1.9 822000 7.9 5.7 1.4 602500 9.2 6.9 1.3 583000 2 32.9 8.0 4.1 1783500 36.2 9.1 4.0 1724000 42.1 10.7 3.9 1704500 48.4 12.6 3.8 1665000 57.7 15.5 3.7 1575500 67.9 19.6 3.5 1475800 (WOT) 69.1 21.1 3.3 1391Based on 90% fuel capacity2Optimum cruise speedRanger BoatsDept. BWBP.O. Box 179Flippin, AR 72634800/373-2628rangerboats.comBASS & WALLEYE BOATS May 2006 63