The Response LXi stays true to Malibu’s roots as a big-idea ski-boat maker. This model makes the most of evolutionary designs to take its place alongside the absolutely best slalom boats on the planet. We aren’t just saying that. Last year, pro skier Chris Parrish was behind a Response LXi when he first broke the world slalom record, which had stood for eight years, scoring 1 1/4 at 43 off.
Most amazing, though, is that this ski boat can offer such world-class performance and still be roomy enough for a family to climb aboard. The open bow offers seating for your kids, as does the rear bench for those times when you’re cruising rather than setting yet another personal best in the slalom course.
Granted, our test team wasn’t able to get into 43 off to test these wakes at that extreme shortline, but we were there when Chris Parrish first broke the world record with a Response LXi. The wakes are so small and soft, they’re pretty much a non-factor. We did test this boat from the recreational to the more human-level tournament lengths and found whispery wakes and lack of spray right down the line. Even with only a driver on board, the wakes are basically symmetrical without the need for passenger-side ballast. Skiing behind the Response LXi spoiled us, and it’ll spoil you, too. It’s no wonder this boat is the choice of pros, as well as the official boat of high-profile tournaments such as the Malibu Open.
The Response lives up to its name in driving response. The nimble handling ranks among the best anywhere, and can be fine-tuned further by a quick turn of an Allen wrench on the adjustable rudder. We prefer to have the rudder loaded for maximum sensitivity, so the steering wheel is tight, which allows nearly surgical precision when piloting the course with a shortline skier in tow. Considering this boat holds a line like a champ and comes with standard cruise control, you can’t go wrong. Our test engine, the optional 340-horsepower Monsoon, gave us a roaring five-second, sub-140-foot hole shot to 36 mph.
Thankfully, Malibu realizes that thick, rich upholstery and carpet are just as appreciated on a ski-oriented boat as they are on a big family cruiser. That’s why this boat’s seating is just as plush and comfortable. And that smooth, steady ride so necessary for slalom success also translates into a sweet, secure ride for passengers. Credit for that goes to Malibu’s nearly unbeatable construction, which does everything possible to level and balance engine weight as well as suppress sound, vibration and rattles. Plus, there’s enough storage here with the rear trunk and center-floor storage locker to get big gear out of the way and keep the interior clear for legroom and walk-around space.
Base price: $36,900
Length: 20 ft. 6 in.
Beam: 93.5 in.
Seating capacity: 8
Fuel capacity: 41 gal.
Test Prop: Acme 13 x 12 3-blade
Test Engine: Indmar Monsoon 5.7L, 340 hp
Top Speed: 47.2 mph 5,000 rpm
Accel. To 30 mph: 4.1 sec. 92.1 ft
Accel. To 36 mph: 5 sec. 139.5 ft
Noise Levels (db): Neutral 60 D 64 R, 36 mph 90 D 91 R