Boat Test Monday: Qwest LS 7518 XRE Cruise

Published online: Mar 11, 2013 Boat Test Monday Brady L. Kay
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Our First Impression

According to Qwest, this particular model is its most popular because of the versatility, and we can easily see why. Life is a compromise, and that's why we love this 7518 XRE Cruise that is part of the Qwest Luxury Series. For those who love to fish, there is a great area in the stern. For those who just want to relax and cruise, this compact `toon has you covered as well.

Consumer Test

On the exterior, a new charcoal color wall skin combination really grabs your attention from a distance. It only adds to the attractiveness of this 18-footer that looks just as nice on the inside. The price of this model suggests entry level, but the quality, however, does not. Even the fiberglass helm station feels like it belongs on a much higher-priced boat. Included in the long list of standard features is a JBL stereo system with Infinity speakers, Humminbird 385 GPS color fish finder, plus a 12-volt and MP3 jack. And on top of all that, the comfy captain's chair slides, swivels and reclines, giving the driver the best seat onboard.

The three-tone tan, brown and grey vinyl is very inviting and the seats are as comfortable as they look. There is even one chaise lounge in the bow that gives you a great place to stretch out. Below the seats is basic framed storage and the seat boxes up off the floor with half-inch spacers so there is room for air to flow to keep this storage ventilated.

In the stern is a great fishing setup, complete with four rod holders, a measuring station, two swiveling fishing chairs and built in to the back of the rear bench seat are trays for your tackle storage. Proving this is a well-thought-out area, there is even a vinyl floor that perfectly sections off this area from the rest of the carpeted boat. And to complete the fishing package, just below the L-shaped lounge across from the helm is a nice aerated livewell. 

Inspection Test

Two 23-inch diameter pontoons are the base for this boat. Each has a full-length keel and the weld quality is exceptional. The cross-members are bolted to the plywood deck and are on 22-inch centers overall and doubled up near the transom. There is a full aluminum splash skin, and the undercarriage construction is very tidy, including the well-protected wiring, earning this `toon high marks for craftsmanship.

Up top there is nearly 10 feet of usable deck space from inside the gate to the rear bench seat. This compact pontoon is extremely well-built, and what it gives up in size you get in quality. We consider it to be a safe, family pontoon that was designed and built by those who take pride in their work.

Performance Test

Made for cruising, the Evinrude 60 E-TEC is a great match for this 18-footer. At full throttle we reached a top speed of 23 miles per hour, and she leaned slightly in the sharp corners. This Qwest is a fun boat to drive and it would be even better if we had some fishing poles with us.

Who Should Buy It

The Shootout score is a little misleading because overall performance is factored into the total. But as far as value and quality construction, this pontoon exceeds where larger boats fall short. For those trying to decide between a cruising model and a fishing `toon, this Qwest is a great compromise. Because of its size it will be easy to trailer, and because of its layout it will appeal to a lot of people.

Number of Occupants             9

Price As Tested With Power   $18.5K

Maximum Speed:                    23.0 mph

Wild Ponies:                            60hp

No. of Gates                           3

0-10 MPH                               4.2 seconds               

Ladder Measurement:             3' 2" deep      

Why we love this boat.The versatility of having a great fishing station combined with a well-built cruising model is going to make this a very attractive option for those looking for the ultimate compromise.

Just being picky. The engine throttle is mounted to the side panel next to the captain's chair and it's a little lower that we're used to seeing. 

 NOTABLE STANDARDS

Deluxe fiberglass helm with Humminbird 385 GPS color fish finder with Uni-Map capabilities, wood grain dash with full instrumentation, JBL stereo system with Infinity speakers, stainless steel trim and hardware package, 7' bimini top and boot, custom 22-ounce carpet, luxurious soft-touch upholstery with integrated arm rests, unique plastic seat bases with proper ventilation and storage, rear fishing station, portable cup holder, round table, custom 3D-style graphics and chrome logos, riser trim with Qwest logo, Deutsch waterproof connectors, quick-release bimini hardware, navigation lights, windshield, courtesy light, robust rear entry ladder.

 OPTIONS ON TEST BOAT

Partial vinyl flooring and docking lights.

 

VITAL STATS

LOA                            18' 6"

Beam                           7' 5"

Hull Design                 Two Pontoons

Dry Weight                 1,325 lbs.

Fuel Capacity              12 Gallons

 

TEST DRIVE

Engine                         Evinrude E60 DSL II

Cylinder Type             2 cylinder (inline)

Cubic-inch Displacement/Horsepower           52.7ci/60hp    

Lower Unit Gear Ratio           2.67:1

Propeller                      14 X 14 SS

 

RPM      vs.     SPEED     vs. D-A    

900                  2.4 mph           78.5                

1000                2.9 mph           78.5    

1500                4.4 mph           85.5

2000                5.4 mph           86                               

2500                6.9 mph           80       

3000                8.6 mph           87.5    

3500                10.3 mph         91.5                            

4000                13.3 mph         92.5    

4500                15.7 mph         88       

5000                19.2 mph         92

5500                21.5 mph         92

5900                23.0 mph         93


St. LouisMich.

Phone: 989-681-0037

Website: www.compactpontoons.com

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