View 417_TB0408 tahoe Q4 ss

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View 417_TB0408 tahoe Q4 ss
TRACKER’S 30th ANNIVERSARY
COOKING
WITH GAS
Tahoe’s value-priced Q4 SS gets families on the water for a little home-cooked fun
> STORY AND PHOTOS BY RON ELDRIDGE
N
obody wants cheap steak; they want good steak for
cheap. Or so says Tracker Marine’s product development guru Steve Mason. And while his work may take
him all over the Tracker plant, the affable and homespun
Mason may well have tarried too long with the marketing folks,
for there’s no better assessment of Tahoe’s new Q4 Super
Sport. Selling for $16 grand, the Tahoe, asserts Mason, matches
up against anyone’s 18-footer, including the likes of Sea Ray. A
tall order? Maybe not.
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APRIL 2008
I
T R A I L E R B O AT S . C O M
The Q4 SS we tested on massive, twisting Table
Rock Lake in southern Missouri proved fun to drive,
offering snappy, responsive performance from its 135 hp
3.0L MerCruiser sterndrive. More to the point, it also
boasted unexpected, upscale touches, including a
stainless rubrail, optional Bimini top (with high-grade,
quick-release ball-and-socket fittings), and a standard
trailer with a swingaway tongue and Tracker’s
GalvaShield corrosion protection. It’s basically a
turnkey rig; all you have to do is pile your posse
aboard and you’re cooking with gas.
MEAT AND POTATOES
Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, Tracker offers
bedrock value in its Tahoe runabouts, fish ’n skis and
deck boats. The Tahoe Q4 SS, also available in an outboard model, is the smallest member of a fleet that
stretches up to 26 feet. So don’t expect it to be
tricked out with a head, wet bar or console locker.
With a length of 18 feet, 1 inch spread across 7 feet,
7 inches of beam, there just isn’t room. What we
have here is a snazzy, well-mannered
bowrider that will get you on the water
without having to torpedo your
401(k) or sink the kids’
college plans. Getting back to our
steak metaphor, it’s meat and
potatoes all the way, baby.
As Mason explains, Tahoe keeps
prices in check by streamlining
choices — a marketing trend we’re
seeing more of lately. Compared to
Interested in
many boats, the Q4 SS’ options list
hooking up with
is mercifully short.
the Q4 fish ’n ski?
“Once you’ve decided on the
Cast over to
TrailerBoats.com.
sterndrive model, for example, your
only choice in engines is whether or
not to add power steering to that 3.0L four-banger,”
he says. Hankering for a V-6? Then you’ll have to
pony up for the 19-foot Q5i.
By the way,
>web
T R A I L E R B O AT S . C O M
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53
Tahoe>q4 ss
spend the $404 on power steering. It’s
a no-brainer.
Another must-have upgrade is the
$445 drum brake system for the colorcoordinated, single-axle trailer. You’ll
want a spare tire, too — but at $175
for the factory spare, you’ll probably
be able to put your own spare and
bracket together for less. All in all,
however, Tahoe’s options prices are
super reasonable — which is not something that can be said of every boat.
HAMMER TIME
On our test runs across Table Rock,
the Q4 handled the generally benign
conditions with no trouble.
Fortunately, the good thing about the
Rock is there’s no shortage of big
boats, so you can always scare up
some nasty wakes to see how a rig is
put together. Featuring an 18-degree,
semi-V design and fiberglass stringers
that are chemically fused to the hull
for maximum
rigidity, our
boat picked
n Large multifunction gauges keep the Tahoe’s helm layout clean and simple. We commend the
console cubby that helps square away loose items, and we really liked our boat’s optional Ritchie
compass (top middle).
its way through the holes and
launched off the lips with only minor
pounding. Ride comfort in these situations is largely proportionate to
throttle position and trim, and we
found that at midrange speeds and
higher, we had to keep the drive
tucked in or the bow would float and
begin to porpoise.
Bottom line is that she’s only an
18-footer; as long as you slow down
through the rough patches, you’ll be fine.
When we dropped the hammer, the
Q4’s 135 hp MerCruiser/Alpha package stepped lively, and visibility while
seated remained unobstructed from
initial holeshot through top end. A
21-inch-pitch, three-blade aluminum
wheel spun our boat’s tach to 4800
while painting 43.3 mph across our
GPS. OK... so it’s not the kind of top
end that will have you bragging from
your barstool,
but just go
ahead and
mention how
little you paid.
Whether performing lazy S
turns or carving doughnuts,
the Tahoe
delivered
sporty handling, and
reminded us
just how nimble
n “It’s been nice
knowing ya.”
Tubing and other
watersports are a
natural attraction
aboard the Q4 SS,
which is a good fit
for families with
small children.
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T R A I L E R B O AT S . C O M
n Tahoe’s 18-footer topped out
in the mid-40s with a 135 hp
3.0L MerCruiser package, and
should manage even better in
the outboard version, which is
rated up to 150 hp.
boats with short waterlines can be.
Steering via our rigs’s nonpowered,
rack-and-pinion system felt neutral
except at higher trim settings, where
we noticed mild torque. Nothing too
uncomfortable, though. The Q4’s
helm seats do
not have flipup bolsters,
but each
swivels and
adjusts fore
and aft. More importantly, they offer
good lumbar support and cradle your
hips, providing comfort and security.
In short, the boat feels tight in turns
and rough water, and so do you.
COOL TOUCHES
Helm instrumentation includes two
oversize, multifunction gauges, which
n A drained locker under the stern seat can be used for wet or dry storage.
The bow lockers also drain, and feature lift-off lids with stainless catches.
T R A I L E R B O AT S . C O M
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55
Tahoe>q4 ss
EED
SP
T
OP
61
3000
23.2
4.4
5.3
95
3500
28.2
5.3
5.3
95
4000
33.2
6.9
4.8
86
4500
39.6
9.7
4.1
73
4800 (WOT) 43.3
11.6
3.7
66
EED
OP
T
EED
SP
EED
SP
Based on 90% fuel capacity
SP
T
OP
T
OP
3.4
ISIN G
Tahoe, Dept. TBM, 2500 E. Kearney St., Springfield,
MO 65803; 417/873-5900; tahoesportboats.com
MerCruiser, Dept. TBM, P.O. Box 1959, Fond du Lac,
WI 54936; 800/MERCURY; mercurymarine.com
ES
IL
M
3.5
E/
11.8
PG
61
2500
G
93
3.4
N
RA
5.2
2.3
PH
1.1
7.9
/M
EL
FU
5.7
2000
G
1500
PH
97
/
EL
FU
5.4
/M
0.9
M
RP
E/
IN
ES
IL
M
4.9
D
EE
G
E/
PG
1
1000
1
U
SP
EN
G
UM
73
74
91
102
N
RA
IM
43.3
/M
EL
FU
ISIN G
ISIN G
PH
G
T R A I L E R B O AT S . C O M
U
UM
PH
I
IM
/
EL
FU
APRIL 2008
TOP SPEED (mph)
SOUND MEASUREMENTS (dBa)
Idle at Helm (900 rpm)
Idle at Transom (900 rpm)
Cruise at Helm (3500 rpm)
WOT at Helm (4800 rpm)
/M
UM
3.0L MerCruiser/Alpha
135
I-4
3.0L (181 cid)
635 lbs.
2.0:1
4400-4800
1
14 ⁄4x21” aluminum 3-blade
TEST RESULTS
M
RP
E/
58
ENGINE AS TESTED
Make
Horsepower
Number of Cylinders
Displacement
Weight
Gear Ratio
WOT RPM Range
Propellers
D
EE
CR
U
NOTABLE OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT
Stainless-frame Bimini top; Richie compass
CR
IM
Yes
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
Color-matched single-axle trailer; nonskid
deck; Sirius-capable AM/FM/CD stereo with
MP3 jack; adjustable bucket seats; integrated
swimstep
IN
ISIN G
$15,995
$16,690
18’ 1”
7’ 7”
16º
2697 lbs.
17”
20 gals.
135
NMMA Certified
SP
CR
U
Base Price (w/ 3.0L MerCruiser, trailer)
Price as Tested
Length
Beam
Deadrise at Transom
Weight (incl. trailer)
Draft (drive up)
Fuel Capacity
Maximum Horsepower
G
UM
TAHOE Q4 SUPER SPORT
CR
IM
SPECIFICATIONS
EN
holding sunscreen, iPods and such),
and an optional Ritchie compass (a
steal at $70). Positioned as one of the
uppermost gauges, it’s directly within
the driver’s line of sight — right where
it should be.
The Sirius-ready Jensen AM/FM/CD
stereo includes an MP3 jack, and
pumps tunes through two speakers
located near the rear seats. Besides a
small sunpad atop the engine box, the
noteworthy thing back here is the selfdraining wet/dry locker under the
center seat. It’s the perfect place to
stash wetsuits, dripping ski lines or
yappy little dogs. Tahoe’s nonskid sole
houses a ski locker, and the deck
drains to the bilge via scuppers in the
aft cockpit — two features you’ll
n The ski locker isn’t the roomiest we’ve seen
appreciate when watersports are the
and may not accept wakeboards with high-wrap
activity du jour.
bindings, but that’s understandable — you’re only
working with 18 feet of boat here.
Although the boat’s pod-shaped,
bowrider backrests are a tad firm and
don’t offer much in the way of lowerwe found easy to read on the fly.
back support, we applaud the lift-off
Our only suggestion for improvement
seat cushions that provide access to
would be to use a somewhat less
insulated lockers below. Nothing
ref lective dash fascia, because we
unusual, you say? Perhaps... until
experienced some instrument glare
Mason points out the unexpected:
off the windshield. Two things we
The Q4 features stainless press-in fitreally liked were the handy catchall
tings to hold the cushions securely in
basins on the helm and passenger
place. Another cool touch is a foreconsoles (which are ideal for
peak cushion that unsnaps to
reveal a boarding step. Both
are welcome additions.
All told, the Tahoe Q4 SS is a
basic but richly featured
bowrider at an uncommonly
Spry handling and surprising
attractive price. Whether you’re
acceleration
just starting out in boating, getting back into the sport after an
Instrument glare off windshield is
absence, or simply downsizing
distracting
to a smaller, more manageable
craft, one taste of the Q4 and
Bucket seats cradle hips for
you’ll be hungry for more. And
supportive, secure feel
no worries about barbecuing
alongside the Joneses, either —
Bow backrest cushions need
because with the Tahoe’s goodbetter lower-back support
looking lines and jazzy color
schemes, this dish serves up
Corrosion-protected trailer is
plenty of sizzle to go with that
standard
full-flavored steak.

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