The Kawasaki STX-12F Jet Ski is a three-seat beauty that delivers an exciting ride with plenty of power and acceleration. We took it for a spin along the Atlantic Coast near Key West in four-foot seas, and the boat handled the torture without creaks, groans, or cracks.
One of the standout features of this watercraft is its torque and acceleration, which is best enjoyed while standing up, flexing knees and elbows to absorb the shock. With this approach, we were able to reach mid-40s, goosing the throttle at the crest of each wave to enjoy the exhilarating hang time as we glided over the troughs.
While many boaters have been trained to think four-stroke marine engines are heavy and sluggish, the STX-12F proves them wrong. This model was one of the quickest in the fleet at the 2003 Kawasaki press introduction, nearly as quick as comparable two-stroke DI models.
Not only does the STX-12F offer great performance, but it also has a number of notable features that set it apart from the competition. First, it is the least expensive "green" four-stroke watercraft on the market at $8,499. Second, it is the lightest watercraft on the market, which allows it to exceed 55 mph with a modest 125 horsepower engine. Third, it earns the CARB three-star emissions rating, the highest possible, meaning it will be welcome on Lake Tahoe and other emissions-sensitive western waters.
The technology in the STX-12F is impressive. Kawasaki makes the hull in one solid piece, laminating stringers, engine mounts, and strengthening features into the hull rather than gluing in a stringer assembly – a third component in most watercraft hulls. Additionally, the water-jacketed exhaust system cools and quiets the engine, making this watercraft one of the quietest on the water. A direct crankshaft-to-impeller connection with no gear reduction increases torque to the impeller while keeping rpms well within redline level.
The STX-12F also boasts Smart Steering, which assists greenhorn drivers in avoidance maneuvers. The engine's electronic brain monitors both throttle position and steering position, and when it senses a sudden reduction in RPM along with a steering change, the system feeds in enough throttle to turn the craft away from danger.
Finally, the STX-12F has full instrumentation integrated into a stylish LCD panel in the dash with clear readouts and reliable waterproof construction.
Overall, the Kawasaki STX-12F Jet Ski is an excellent watercraft that is perfect for pulling water sports. With great acceleration, top speed of 55.4 mph, walk-around stability, and a flip-up ladder that is standard, this watercraft is sure to provide a great ride.
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