REVIEW: CRUISE CRAFT EXPLORER 625 HARDTOP

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH


Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 01 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 01
Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 02 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 02
Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 03 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 03
Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 04 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 04
Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 06 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 06
Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 07 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 07
Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 16 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 16
Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 18 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 18
Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 20 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 20
Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 21 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 21
Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 22 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 22
Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 26 Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT 26

You can’t beat the practicality of a hardtop. We test this theory in our review of the new Cruise Craft Explorer 625 Hardtop (HT).

With the success of the big Cruise Craft Explorer 685 Hardtop, the pressure has been on this Queensland-based fibreglass boat builder to produce more hardtop fishing boats and other variations. The latest Cruise Craft boat to transform into a hardtop is the Cruise Craft Explorer 625. What a difference a hardtop makes to the look and protection onboard.

 

CRUISE CRAFT BOATS

Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT

There are a number of key factors to consider in the design when it comes to hardtops, in particular maintaining the aesthetics to suit the boat. As well, the hardtop should be: of a top-quality build strength that is not too heavy to affect the ride; as aerodynamic as possible to reduce unnecessary resistance; insulated and have the correct ventilation; and, able to maintain clear visibility with minimal blind spots. It’s time consuming, costs a whack, but when you get a cracker end result it’s well worth it – and Cruise Craft have.

 

DESIGN

Cruise Craft fishing boats are popular throughout the country and are easily identifiable on the water. Instead of producing one style of hardtop, Cruise Craft boats has gone one step further and offers the option of a hardtop with glass sides and screen, or a hardtop with clears in place of the glass. This is a great idea as the hardtop with glass option won’t suit everybody, especially those from up north who experience high temperatures on the water. With clears you can open it up for ventilation, while still having a rigid structure above for protection and mounting of gear. For those not interested in hardtops, there are still the standard bimini options available as well.

The Cruise Craft 625HT test boat had the full-glass option and with winter in full swing and a rough day on the water it was most welcoming. Vision was good to the front and sides, there was no restriction on internal space, it has a solid build, looks awesome and felt warmer too. Besides looks, I like the fact that there is less movement than on a standard bimini, as well as it having areas where extra accessories can be mounted, such as compact stereos and speakers, as well as lighting and other gadgets. It’s a great design and works exceptionally well.

The balance of the layout on the Cruise Craft Explorer 625 is a combination of open space with plenty of fishing options. They include large livewells, fancy baitboards, big moulded sidepockets with inbuilt rod-racks, under-seat icebox options, removable carpets, rear seating, good storage, comfortable cabin and so much more to suit those big days offshore and family boating alike.

 

OUTBOARD ENGINE COMPARISON

Yamaha Outboard on Cruise Craft Explorer

In the past the larger Cruise Crafts were fitted with V6 four-stroke Yamaha outboard motors up to 300hp. The last year has seen some significant development on the motor side, Yamaha releasing the 200hp inline four-cylinder four-stroke outboard to start off with, and most recently the 175hp four-cylinder. These motors are already proving extremely popular – as well as weight advantages the performance is amazing, as is the economy for their sizes. The benefit? Where certain boats were only rated to 150hp due to weight, they now can run the 200hp Yamaha.

I had the chance to test the Cruise Craft 625 Explorer HT with both the latest Yamaha 175hp and the Yamaha 200hp four-stroke outboard engines – the 175 being based on the 200.
To be honest it wasn’t an astronomical difference. A slight difference on the torque curve and a tiny bit less on the top end when you do proper speed trials might be noticeable. Overall the performance is exceptional considering the size of the engine, but if I had to choose I would probably still opt for the 200hp, just to have that little bit more.

The Yamaha 200hp outboard has more than enough guts to whack the Cruise Craft 625 onto the plane without effort. In comparison with the V6 motors the four-cyinder seems to have a unique power tone to it, a sort of crackle as it winds up the revs – and I quite like it. Combined with the 625’s hull shape, the motor runs sweet and on the plane at just under 3000rpm where fuel consumption is a modest 12.5 to 17lt/h depending on conditions. Gone are the days of emptying the wallet at the fuel bowser after each trip.

 

HANDLING AND RIDE

Turning Cruise Craft Explorer 625HT

Ideal cruise speeds on the Cruise Craft 625 are between 3500 and 4500rpm, ranging between 18.8 and 24kts. Again fuel consumption is good considering the size of the boat and motor: 19.4lt/h at 18.8kts and 34lt/h at 27kts. Wide open throttle on the 200hp produces an impressive 39kts at 5800rpm, which is more than enough on the top end for me. Overall, it’s a very impressive boat-motor combination.

As per all Cruise Craft boats, the ride is consistent with above-average stability, comfort and handling throughout the rev range. In rough conditions I found the sweet spot to be anything between 18 to 25kts, which is good as it’s the most comfortable and economical speed to travel at on most boats of this size.

The ride is dry and with the assistance of trim-tabs you can fine tune the ride to suit the conditions. The bay was as rough as guts on test day, the boat flogged in all directions to the chop … and I didn’t go near the wiper switch to clean the screen – pretty good going I reckon. Basically sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

 

THE VERDICT

Cruise Craft Explorer 625 HT cockpit

The Cruise Craft 625 Explorer Hardtop is a classic all-rounder and one that’s geared to suit the serious offshore fisherman, but which works just as well as a family boat. She’s a bit smaller than the Cruise Craft 685 but that makes it easier to tow and store, and it is still packed with heaps of features and space to keep everybody happy on the water. If a Cruise Craft 625 is still a bit big don’t fret, as Cruise Craft has just released the 595 Explorer Hardtop – and that is a head-spinner of note!  Watch this space.

 

HIGHS

• Protection from the elements on rough days

• Unrestricted vision through screen, plus wiper

• Space, fishability and finishes

 

LOWS

• Personally, I prefer a bit more angle to the dash

 

CRUISE CRAFT EXPLORER 625HT SEA TRIALS

Single 200hp Yamaha F200 GETX outboard motor.

RPM

SPEED (kts)

FUEL BURN (lt/h)

1500

5.4

4.7

2500

8.9

12.6

3500

18.9

19.4

4500

27.1

34.0

5500

35.4

64.0

5800

39.5

75.0

*Sea-trial data supplied by the author.

 

CRUISE CRAFT EXPLORER 625HT SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE AS TESTED

$108,003

               

OPTIONS FITTED

Lowrance HDS 12 GPS-sounder combo, trim tabs, custom Cruise Craft trailer, windlass anchor, plumbed livewell, deckwash, baitboard, rear lounge, padded coamings, two-tone colour, under-seat iceboxes, bunk infill and tiger spotlights

 

PRICED FROM

$91,898 w/ Yamaha F150 outboard motor            

 

GENERAL

TYPE Planing monohull

MATERIAL FRP

LENGTH 6.45m overall   

BEAM 2.45m

WEIGHT 2250kg (Targa model)

DEADRISE 20°

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE (NIGHT) 6           

REC MAX HP 200              

FUEL 232lt

               

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Yamaha F200 GETX outboard motor

TYPE Inline four-stroke petrol outboard

RATED HP 200

WEIGHT 227kg  

DISPLACEMENT 2785cc

GEAR RATIO 1.86:1         

PROPELLER Reliance 17in stainless steel

               

MANUFACTURED BY

CRUISECRAFT BOATS

1308 Lytton Road,

Hemmant, QLD, 4174

PHONE (07) 3390 4877

EMAIL info@cruisecraft.com.au

WEB cruisecraft.com.au

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #455, July / August 2014. Why not subscribe today?

Find Cruise Craft boats for sale.

 

 


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