Malibu calls its Sunsetter line the “family performance” models. We’d call this Sunsetter LXi an exceptional example of walking the fine line between “family” and “performance.”
On the one hand, this wakeboard and ski boat has the space for parents and kids to spread out, whether in the open bow, or on the observer’s seat or the contoured rear bench. It’s a foot longer and more than 4 inches wider than the Response LXi. Yet it also appeals to slalom-course skiers, who can practice or compete at tournament levels with these wakes. That performance proves especially versatile when you opt for a tower, center ballast and the Power Wedge to tap the wakeboarding potential of the Sunsetter LXi.
The Sunsetter LXi is a great fit for skiers fairly serious about the course, if not likely to set any records in it. If your slalom skills put you at line lengths like those of many skiers — 15 off through 32 off — these wakes will work very well for you as you hone your skiing. Sure, we’d say you’re trading off some of the softness and size and lack of bump at 22 off provided by the Response LXi in order to get more deck space with this slightly bigger Sunsetter LXi. Its hull is the V25 Diamond, which isn’t quite as world-class ski specific as the Response’s SV23 Diamond. But the Sunsetter LXi remains one of the top family ski boats, with a balance of slalom performance and kid-friendly space that is truly outstanding.
The Sunsetter LXi excels at handling for a lot of reasons, starting with Malibu’s impressive focus on creating an extremely balanced boat. It’s not just that the engine is specially mounted to promote level distribution of weight and load, but the entire boat is engineered for steady, stable driving, whether just one person is in it or a whole family. It stayed on a line whether we took it through the course or outfitted it for wakeboarding. The standard brass tracking fins, adjustable rudder and new Precision Pro Speed Control help ensure that the handling is a deal maker on that first test drive.
There’s something about the vibe we sense every time we step into a Malibu that makes us feel good. It’s not just that we literally feel good when we plop down on the thick, soft vinyl of the observer’s seat or the padded, swiveling driver’s chair. It’s that Malibu has focused on every detail — from how the carpet flows up to the seats and into the storage compartments to how storage lids lie perfectly flat — so we know we’re surrounded by top-flight quality.
Base price: $39,100
Length: 21 ft. 6 in.
Beam: 98 in.
Seating capacity: 12
Fuel capacity: 46 gal.
Test Prop: Acme 13 x 12 3-blade
Test Engine: Indmar Hammerhead 383 6.2L, 400 hp
Top Speed: 46 mph 5,100 rpm
Accel. To 30 mph: 4.9 sec. 116.5 ft.
Accel. To 36 mph: 6.1 sec. 196.5 ft.
Noise Levels (db): Neutral 68 D 65 R, 36 mph 82 D 91 R