USED REVIEW: 2012 Malibu Wakesetter VLX


By Steven Bull

Boats are much like automobiles, in some ways. If they’re not brand-new they don’t cost quite as much. But, in most cases, they are just as valuable out on the water.

This 2012 Malibu Wakesetter VLX test boat is a perfect example of that. It only has 55 hours on the meter, but because it’s a few years old buyers can save about 25 percent off the new sticker price.

But there’s no discount on the patriotism.

The test boat is a special Canadian Edition built by Tennessee-based Malibu to honour and recognize the large tow sports market on the Canadian side of the border. It’s done so well, I’m tempted to break into a round of O Canada at any moment.

But far from some gimmicky shtick, including a big red maple leaf slapped on the side, this is a serious and fully loaded watersports machine.

The Wakesetter VLX has the electronic, touch-screen Maliview System allowing you to control everything from lights to ballast to radio. Most importantly for riders, the driver can digitally set and adjust the speed as well as the wave-shaping settings to find that perfect ride. There are pre-sets for different riding styles, or you can save your custom combination.

From wave rider to driver, this boat offers total control. The driver can easily see all the gauges from water depth, to water and air temperature as well as the traditional gauges including fuel and tachometer.

There’s even video control. On the tower a built-in, moveable camera is ready to capture the wakeboard, wake surf or any tow-sports action you’ve got.

Of course, you’ll want a good wake for that, so along with ballast tanks you can individually control this VLX’s Malibu Power Wedge. It will help you customize the size and shape of the wake. Like any good tow boat, this one turns on a dime. So, when your rider bails, you’ll be able to spin the boat around and get back beside them in no time.

And when you want to head home, hit a button to empty all ballast tanks and you’re ready to rock.

Cruising comfortably at 28 miles per hour at 3500 rpm, we were able to push the VLX to a top speed just under 38 miles per hour at 5100 rpm. So, getting home won’t take long.

Falling out of love with the comforts the boat offers, however, will take forever. From the swim platform and remote stereo controls at the stern, to the cushy sun pad in the bow, this Malibu is packed with comfort.

In the carpeted cockpit, it’s hard to tell if there are more speakers or cushions. What is clear, though, is that there’s ample storage under every seat, including an integrated, moulded cooler with drain. The custom floor lets you walk on a maple-leaf design that resembles the Canadian flag; the cushy carpeting makes it feel nice.

Behind the rear bench the large sun pad conceals more storage space, plus a hot and cold shower hose. For water skiing, there’s a hide-away ski-tow pole that secures in place with a twist. Underneath the glove box on the port side is a hydraulic latch that offers easy access to batteries and electronics.

For music, there are speakers everywhere — from the floor to the seats to the tower. If the tunes don’t warm you up after getting out of the water, there’s a heater with a warm-air hose you can tuck under your towel. A seat heater in the helm seat will help keep the driver warm. Like the heater-hose, it’s a feature that will be appreciated in spring and fall as well as on cool early June and late-August days.

But as good as this Malibu VLX looks and feels at the dock, it’s designed to be out on the water. Once out there, you’ll certainly have no trouble finding good times.

This boat is featured in the Winter 2015 issue of Boats&Places and in episode 9 of the 2015 Season of PowerBoat Television.


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Steven Bull is an Associate Producer and Host of PowerBoat Television. He grew up boating on runabouts and PWCs on the lakes around Huntsville, while his wife grew up on cruisers. It only took months after getting married for Steve to adopt that lifestyle. Together, they purchased a Sea Ray 380 Sundancer they keep at the Toronto Islands. A graduate of the University of Windsor’s business school, Steve worked in the front office of OHL and CFL teams before moving to Europe and working as a Ski Guide in the French Alps. He returned to Canada get a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University (formerly UWO). Steve’s broadcast experience ranges from the BBC World Service in England, to business reporter with NTV in Kenya, and from 2010-2014 as a multi-platform reporter and host with CBC News. In 2014, Steve combined his passion for boating with his skills as a broadcaster by joining Lifestyle Integrated where he contributes to Boats&Places Magazine,,, and of course, PowerBoat Television.