The 23-foot length is the sweet spot for a lot of wakeboard and ski boat buyers looking for remarkable interior space yet who aren’t ready for the biggest boats in this guide. The Sunscape 23 LSV is especially sweet for those reasons as well as the fact that, with this wakeboard boat, Malibu has strived to preserve smaller-boat handling and versatile water-sports wakes. We think the company has pulled it off.
Just as impressive as what we saw in our tests is what you can’t see: Malibu’s incredible construction, including expertly applied fiberglass, specially mounted engine and sound-dampening material. The total package is a boat loaded with features, big on space and high on performance.
We’ll admit, since our skiing and wakeboarding testers have tournament-level skills, we’re often biased toward those super high-end wakes. But we shouldn’t forget that for many boat buyers, these wakes will be spectacular. V-drives are inherently excellent at generating big wakeboard wakes, with this V25 Diamond hull further enhancing their shape. Of course, we’d opt for the tower, Power Wedge, and rear and center ballast tanks to boost these wakes to the advanced level. Skiers who find plenty of thrills at 15 off, speeds around 30 and 32 mph, will find a table warranting casual open-water cuts. If you’re into water sports just for the weekend fun of it, the Sunscape 23 LSV should be on your boat-shopping short list.
Out on our test drive, we had to remind ourselves a few times that this Sunscape 23 LSV was such a big V-drive machine — 23 feet with a 100-inch beam, to be exact. Malibu has done all it can to fool us into thinking this is a smaller direct-drive. Special Gorilla fins under the hull plunge into the water for enhanced turning and stable tracking. The hull design itself promotes balanced handling as it slices through the water. The new Precision Pro Speed Control, a standard feature, means that out of the box this boat will hold speed even if you’re a driving newby. All in all, the driving is smooth, easy and consistent for a boat this size.
Being in Malibu’s luxury line, the Sunscape 23 LSV prides itself on its comforts, and it should. Based on space alone, the wraparound lounge is a winner. Any one of our testers could practically lie down fully extended on the passenger-side bench — and fall asleep nestled on that thick, plush, padded upholstery. Beyond that, there’s the wide sun pad, the open bow, the observer’s seat with the same luxury feel. Malibu sprinkles the interior with sparkling accents like the new billet dash insert, Italian-designed throttle knob and billet Malibu emblems. Even the oversized cup holders are stainless steel. That all makes the Sunscape 23 LSV a head-turner even when it’s standing still.
Base price: $49,400
Length: 23 ft.
Beam: 100 in.
Seating capacity: 14
Fuel capacity: 55 gal.
Test Prop: Acme 13.5 x 17.5 4-blade
Test Engine: Indmar Hammerhead 383 6.2L, 400 hp
Top Speed: 47 mph 5,200 rpm
Accel. To 30 mph: 5.1 sec. 119.5 ft.
Accel. To 36 mph: 6.6 sec. 189.4 ft.
Noise Levels (db): Neutral 63 D 61 R, 36 mph 88 D 90 R