Jump to content

Welcome to TheMalibuCrew!

As a guest, you are welcome to poke around and view the majority of the content that we have to offer, but in order to post, search, contact members, and get full use out of the website you will need to Register for an Account. It's free and it's easy, so don't hesitate to join the TheMalibuCrew Family today!

Sign in to follow this  
rand49er

Pros and Cons: '96 Echelon LX vs '98 Sunsetter V Drive

Recommended Posts

rand49er

Sold my '89 Euro f3 a few years ago, and now my wife say it's okay to get another one. As background, my wife would just like to cruise around a bit, while our seven-year-old son will be first tubing and will be skiing within a year or less with wakeboaring right behind, I'm sure. Personally, I love to ski, myself, and I have friends who also like to ski. I'm looking at two boats at the moment; one is a '96 Echelon LX with a Monsoon engine, GPS, etc with about 450 hours in near-mint condition, and the other is a '98 Sunsetter V-drive with about 514 hours also in very good condition. The Sunsetter's seating layout is better for our family and a couple of friends, but I do not want to be compromised as far as skiing is concerned since I do not have first-hand experience with a V-drive configuration.

So, I appeal to everyone here's greater experience and knowledge. What are the pros and cons of these two boats?

Thanks.

Edited by rand49er

Share this post


Link to post
Wakes

Two nice boats to choose from. If skiing is a priority and it sounds like it is then it is my opinion that the Echelon is the way to go. But this comes at a cost and the biggest one is interior space. The rear seat is useless as you ski because the rope is back there so you are limited to the open bow and the spotters chair unless you add some of your own seating beside the motor. Another downside is the wake wont be quite as good for other sports. For a 7 year old I think you will be ok for a couple years but if he takes to wakeboarding rather than skiing then you will be loading your boat up with ballast as he gets better to get a nicer wake and those bags take up more room yet. The sunsetter has a really nice layout but the vdrive version isn't going to have nearly as good of a wake to ski behind. I've never skied behind one but I imagine it will be similar to a standard I/O as far as the wake is concerned.

Share this post


Link to post
rand49er

Thanks for your quick reply. Yesterday, I was really convinced the Echelon was the one. Then, I saw the Sunsetter and REALLY liked the seating layout ... and that's the way I'm leaning now.

But, just to be completely clear, you're saying the Sunsetter would have a better wake for boarding, but also a bigger wake to the detriment of skiing? Hm-m ...

Maybe I should get the Sunsetter now, then get a newer "something" in a few years. I like that plan, actually. Nothing's forever, they say.

Thanks, Wakes ...

Share this post


Link to post
SkiingPT

Are skiing courses or are you a recreational skier? I went through the same process last fall and went with a sunscape. I went from an I/O and the wake was much better with the v-drive. My son is 11 and started wakeboarding this year. The sunscape has the wedge which is fine for now. I would recommend drive both boats and ride behind them if you can this time of year. The v-drive layout is nice for family and friends. Good luck and enjoy your boat.

Share this post


Link to post
Malibudude

I've slalomed behind both so if slaloming is the primary sport the Echelon is certainly the better choice. If you are looking for a more well rounded boat the Sunsetter is more versatile. You will sacrifice the skiing wake between the two models but the Susetter isn't exactly any slouch either. The wake will be larger and harder. The gunwales on the Sunsetter will be higher and the seats higher off the floor. Make sure the Computron dash fully works in the Echelon IIRC they still used it in '96.

Skiing - Echelon

Wakeboarding/suring comfort - Sunsetter

Share this post


Link to post
rand49er

Ha ha! Too old to ski a course. No, I'm just a recreational skier. Really nice to hear that the V-drive has a much better wake than an I/O. Would love to drive 'em. Unfortunately, the boats would have to have ice skates to drive them right now. Most water around here has been solid for two months, now. Gonna be another month and a half easy before the ice breaks up. Probably 2 to 3 months before most boats will be getting backed down ramps and into the lakes nearby. And, thanks for you confirmation of the V-drive layout for family and friends ... I was thinking the same thing.

Share this post


Link to post
rand49er
...

Skiing - Echelon

Wakeboarding/suring comfort - Sunsetter

Guess that means there's no perfect boat that works for all.

They want more for the Sunsetter (it's newer, of course they do), but I'm thinking that's the way to go.

Sure glad I joined this site. This place and you guys with your knowledge and willingness to help are all great! THANKS!

Share this post


Link to post
Malibudude

Guess that means there's no perfect boat that works for all.

They want more for the Sunsetter (it's newer, of course they do), but I'm thinking that's the way to go.

Sure glad I joined this site. This place and you guys with your knowledge and willingness to help are all great! THANKS!

Bingo you'll always give on something to have a crossover boat.... It it was me I'd seriously consider a Sunsetter LXI great crossover boat, a bit more suited to slalom and being on the diamond hull performs very well, size wise is great but performs well for both slalom and wakeboarding w/ the wedge and a 500lbs sac up front. Before you thank us we'll spend every last cent you have......Tongue.gif

Share this post


Link to post
martinarcher

My uncle has a 99' Sunsetter LXI and it is one sweet crossover boat. Thumbup.gif I love the extra space the rear trunk of the LXI gives. It swallows up boards.

Like MDude said, it can whip up a pretty nice wake for wakeboarding which my cousin enjoys, but will still allow my uncle to get on the slalom ski and enjoy himself.

Share this post


Link to post
rand49er

Is there anything about the V-drive itself that's ... well, how do I say it ... idiosyncratic?

Share this post


Link to post
Wakes

A lot of people on this site get nice wakes out of the ski boats (direct drives) by sticking a wedge on or adding ballast. So don't think you are doomed to a puny wake with the Echelon I happen to think the boat is pretty versatile. It just doesn't have as much room in it. My place is on the water so I don't usually take big crews out as people chill on the beach. But if you are going to be going out for a day on the water with another family just be sure you know your space requirements.

Share this post


Link to post
DONTW8

I agree with Malibudude and MartinArcher. A great compromise is a Sunsetter Direct Drive. Someone else can chime in but the best years are the 1998's through 2001's I think.

One of my crew has a 1991 Sunsetter that we use a lot when we get a good crowd. We are water skiers that spent 9 days of 21 total trailer sailor days on the course last year at Billy Chinook.

The wake behind my old Spyder, Dennis Mastercraft Prostar 197, and Terry's Response LX are all better than the Sunsetter but not appreciably so. Dave's Malibu V-Drive is only used for wakeboarding never for skiing because it's just not as fun. We have cruised Lake Billy with 8 on board comfortably and we have a ski course dock we can offload passengers onto.

Lots of Sunsetter direct drives were made so you can find one very easily.

Share this post


Link to post
NorCaliBu
I agree with Malibudude and MartinArcher. A great compromise is a Sunsetter Direct Drive. Someone else can chime in but the best years are the 1998's through 2001's I think.

1999 - 2004 Sunsetter LXi...probably the best crossover boat ever made by any manufacturer. Direct Drive with the diamond hull. Thumbup.gif

A drive direct will give you a good enough wakeboard wake to get your kid boarding and will actually be easier for them as the wake is smaller and less intimidating. They won't outgrow a direct drives capabilities until they are well into their teen years, if ever. I've skied behind a v-drive with the slalom (diamond) hull and let's just say that it's not ideal. No.gif Tough to edge change right after the second wake when you're still in the air. :Doh::lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Malibudude

Keep in mind the '02 Sunsetter was also for one year on the diamond hull, so that's an option as well. Best advice is to load the the boat the way you'd normally hit the lake and ski behind it, depending upon where you are at may make that difficult. CA may have it's wackadoos at least we can ski all year round.

Share this post


Link to post
NorCaliBu
...CA may have it's wackadoos at least we can ski all year round.

:unsure: M-dude apparently has a new favorite word. Yes.gif

I prefer to call them liberal morons. More descriptive and to the point.

Share this post


Link to post
rand49er

Keep in mind the '02 Sunsetter was also for one year on the diamond hull, so that's an option as well. Best advice is to load the the boat the way you'd normally hit the lake and ski behind it, depending upon where you are at may make that difficult. CA may have it's wackadoos at least we can ski all year round.

A SE Mich Malibu dealer has a diabetes fundraiser every year in early December on a local lake. For contributing to the fundraiser (the amount isn't specified, but I believe they try to accommodate everyone who donates), they will take you for a spin skiing on the lake. Mind you, ice typically starts forming about that time of year around here, so they offer participants a dry suit to wear. Been trying to get an old buddy of mine to go there with me, but so far he says, "No way!"

:unsure: M-dude apparently has a new favorite word. Yes.gif

I prefer to call them liberal morons. More descriptive and to the point.

Maybe more descriptive, but definitely redundant.

Share this post


Link to post
Malibudude

:unsure: M-dude apparently has a new favorite word. Yes.gif

I prefer to call them liberal morons. More descriptive and to the point.

Has nothing to do w/ any political party, as they ALL suck in CA, or mindset rather just well wackadoo....Crazy.gif

Share this post


Link to post
rand49er

What about the V drive itself? Does that boat accelerate from a stop "normally?" Does it still lift out of the water horizontally with the surface of the water like "normal" boats?

In the traditional configuration with the motor amidships, the center of mass is more centered. With the motor at the stern and the center of mass now shifted toward the stern a bit, how is handling affected? Is turning in a V drive a bit more lethargic? Or, does it just rotate about a point further astern with the same rotational speed?

Thanks in advance.

Edited by rand49er

Share this post


Link to post
Malibudude

The v-drive takes longer to up on plane than a DD but the out of the hole feeling isn't any different but that's dependent mainly on the prop selection. It can be changed. The Malibu V-drives are quite nimble especially '04 and later w/ the gorilla fins and don't feel lethargic. The diamond hull can be ordered w/ a vdrive with the VTX being the best of them for slaloming. Again why type of skiing you plan on makes a big difference, serious about skiing I wouldn't get a vdrive. It's easier to make a bigger wakeby adding ballast/wedge than make a boat lighter for slaloming. The Sunsetter LXI especially bridges the gap of a great slalom boat, up to intermediate wakeboard boat, not so much on the whole surfing thing but offers great space, wider hull than the Susetter and longer w/ an 18 cu. ft. trunk. Vdrives will handle better in rough water and the layout if that is what your looking for.

Share this post


Link to post
martinarcher

The direct drive boats will always get the nod as far as handling performance on the water. The Skiers/Echelons/Responses/Sunsetters all handle like Ferrari's on the water. Rockon.gif

With that said the V-Drives certainly aren't lethargic or poor on performance, like you said they just don't have the engine mass centered on the hull. The weight of the engine shifted toward the transom is why you get the better wake out of the box on the V-Drive boats.

Here's a little vid of V-Drive performance.

Share this post


Link to post
rand49er

Nice vid. Yeah, that comes close to answering some of my concerns. Definitely a little compromise with the V drive, but seems within acceptable limits considering the breadth of likes and dislikes of my wife (who'd like to be in a floating living room) and my younger son (who's just beginning to experience watersports).

Excellent!

Edited by rand49er

Share this post


Link to post
martinarcher

Nice vid. Yeah, that comes close to answering some of my concerns. Definitely a little compromise with the V drive, but seems within acceptable limits considering the breadth of likes and dislikes of my wife (who'd like to be in a floating living room) and my younger son (who's just beginning to experience watersports).

Excellent!

Cool. Glad it helped. Keep us posted on what you end up picking and post up some pics once you bring it home. Rockon.gif

Share this post


Link to post
wakeboy

As someone who has owned a Direct Drive, 94 flightcraft, and now owns a V-Drive, 08 VLX, I can tell you about my opinions.

First off, I am one of those guys that is happy with what I have. I am not looking over at what everyone else has and thinking about how I am missing out. We skied, slalomed, kneeboarded, tubed, wakeskated, and wakeboarded behind my DD and eventually added a monster tower on to it when we started getting good. Our DD planed instantly, handled like a dream, had a closed bow and we would stick people on the floor while towing if we had too many people. No one ever complained, but I also have a house on the lake so if someone didn't want to be cramped on the boat we dropped them off on the dock and they could watch from the shore with beer in hand. Let me tell you everyone loved the boat and we got plenty high enough wakeboarding, my brother was landing backflips with ease and the only extra weight was determined by how many people we put on the boat, no sacs.

Now I own a VLX v-drive and I have noticed the differences. I have a ton more room and comfort. I live on the lake but still it is nice to be able to fit 10+ people comfortably in my boat. My boat isn't as nimble on the water as a DD but it is still plenty nimble. My boat doesn't plane as quickly but it still planes quickly enough. I still ski recreatioinally like you and I have never had a problem with my wake, but I am no pro. The bigger wake for wakeboarding is defeintly noticable and great for me and the younger crowd.

Recreationally you can do anything in any boat. Comfort wise I would 100% go with a V-drive. Driving wise, DD is sharper handler but a V-drive is a more comfortable ride in rough water, something your wife and son might appreciate. A Family/Entertaining Guests boat would go to the V-drive while not leaving you short on anything really important unless you are a serious skier.

Share this post


Link to post
ecj

I have a Sunsetter VLX and love the layout. I ski/surf. I also was coming off an I/O and the wake is much better for skiing than the I/O was. My buddy has a Sunsetter LXi (DD)on a diamond hull, and I have to say his wake is definitely better for skiing. As someone earlier said the Sunsetter LXi is probably one of the best crossover boats, and he has a lot of room with the rear trunk... but the layout on the V-drive is really family friendly. Obviously the ski wake gets better on the VLX with speed, at 34 it is acceptable for us. (You need to buy a V-drive and convince a buddy to buy a DD!) I'm sure instead of helping I've confused the issue more, good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
wakeboy

The one thing that I hear a lot is people are leaning towards a DD because they feel the wake will be better for skiing, but then they go and test drive them both and fall in love with the V-drive, mainly the layout and the fact that the wake isn't as big at skiing speeds as one would assume, since it is the layout of choice for wakeboarding.

It is all about figuring out your needs before making the choice. If you are a recreational skier you may still want something that benefits skiing. Or you may not care at all and would prefer more room inside for a young child and his friends. Either way I bet you are thrilled to death with your purchase because those are two great boats.

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...