Boat Buyer's Guide 2013
Author: Alan Jones
For 2013, Ranger took the winningest bass boat in history and reinvented it from the waterline up. Our test boat features the Carbon Anniversary Package, which commemorates Ranger’s 45th year of producing boats at its home in Flippin, Ark. Clad in Viper Silver metallic paint on the deck and the sides of the hull, along with a steering wheel and jack plate emblazoned with red anodized metalwork, the boat is a bold visual statement. Red LED lighting throughout the boat is cool and preserves night vision. This special hull uses a carbon fiber laminate for added strength and light weight.
Based on input from Ranger’s pro staff, the angler’s “office” up front has been transformed into an ergonomically superior and well-organized workspace. At the bow, there’s room for a flush-mounted 8-inch electronic display that’s unobstructed by the Minn Kota 24v Fourtrex 80’s trolling motor cables, which have been neatly tucked away. Tool holders around the recessed trolling-motor foot pedal eliminate clutter.
To keep stored gear from resembling a science experiment in damp, dark storage compartments, Ranger designers invented the Power Ventilation Rod Storage system to circulate air from a blower and keep gear dry. With storage for up to 20 rods as long as 8 feet, 6 inches in the centerline and port-side boxes, you’ll always have the right rod rigged and ready to go. The new livewell is 20 percent larger than before and features transparent splash guards.
The helm setup of the Z520C has room for a 10-inch flush-mounted electronics display, such as the Lowrance HDS10 on our test boat, which is positioned right in front of the driver’s view for easy reading. The Z-branded matching consoles are visually striking and tall enough to provide good protection on our cool morning run on Table Rock Lake in Kimberling City, Mo. Powered by a Mercury Pro XS 250 and controlled by a Hot Foot gas pedal, the Z520C launched on plane in 3.2 seconds and reached 30 mph in 6.8 seconds. Trimming it up, we put the pedal to the metal and hit 72.4 mph while maintaining perfect control as we glided smoothly over a slight chop. At the end of the day, flip one switch to shut down all current draw on the batteries.