Sea-Doo Explorer Pro 170: Extended Sea Trial Review

My roots are in sailing where six knots is a good turn of speed so when I was invited on a 150-mile ride on a personal watercraft (PWC) averaging well over 30 mph, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But after two days on Sea-Doo’s new Explorer Pro 170, I admit, I may be hooked.

Sea Doo Pro Explorer 170 in Fernandina Beach FL

Above: A trailer loaded with Sea Doo Pro Explorer 170s arrives in Fernandina Beach, FL ahead of the extended 2022 sea trial trip. Photo by Laila Elise for Boat Trader.

The Course: A Route Based On Ponce de Leon

We set off from Fernandina Beach on our way to St. Augustine down the Intercoastal Waterway in northern Florida. Tim McKercher of Look Marketing had scouted the route and planned a trip loosely based on the explorations of Ponce de Leon. We stayed mostly on the “inside” although we did make a few miles on open water in the Atlantic which really made us appreciate the comparative calm of the ICW.

Sea Doo Pro Explorer 170 Sea Trial Adventure Squad

Above: The adventure squad for the 2023 Sea Doo Pro Explorer 170 extended sea trial. Photo by Zuzana Prochazka for Boat Trader.

We started with a quick jaunt into Georgia to see wild horses on Cumberland Island and then turned south toward Huguenot Memorial Park where we unloaded the six machines and made lunch. Multiple coolers produced fresh swordfish, shrimp and chicken that were cooked into tacos on the grill which we had also ported over. There was no roughing it.

We were on plane most of the time when we didn’t need to curb our wake around bridges or residential areas. The Explorer Pro handled everything in stride including strong currents. Pushing under a bridge in a particularly sporty current, I was doing 4 mph at 3600 rpm. There was plenty more power in the machine to be sure but the rushing water was notable.

Hull Design & Performance Numbers

The Explorer Pro 170 is new – in parts. Sea-Doo’s Fish Pro series was re-concepted so the new Explorer model has the same deep V ST3 hull and Rotax 1630 ACE 170-hp naturally aspirated engine. This is a fuel-sipping motor with plenty of range as well as torque so you can load it with gear or even tow a tube or wakeboard.

Sea Doo Explorer Pro 170

Above: A 2023 Sea Doo Explorer Pro 170. Photo by Sea Doo.

It’s a big boat – and yes, that’s what PWCs of this size and caliber have become. The hull is stable and predictable but also nimble. I stood on the gunnel on one side and rocked but it was having none of my silliness and stayed upright and solid. On the other hand, when I needed to dodge something in front of me, a quick turn of the handlebars and a goose of the engine and the ski responded immediately.

New Features From Sea Doo

Two features set the Explorer Pro apart from other Sea-Doo models. First is the windshield which is unusual on a PWC and was brought over from Ski-Doo snowmobiles. When distance riding, the wind is fatiguing but after 75 miles, we didn’t feel in the least bit battered and that’s because the windshield creates a bubble that sends air and spray right over the rider. That’s a lifesaver that extends your adventures in both time and geography. You can ride in places like Alaska or late into the season like November in the lower 48. There’s an integrated wind deflector that allows a stream of air to flow when opened to cool off or you can stand up for the full effect. The whole windshield is designed to pop down and forward in case of an emergency where the rider would fly forward and into it.

Zuzana Prochazka on Sea Doo Pro Explorer 170

Above: 100-ton master captain Zuzana Prochazka onboard a 2023 Sea Doo Pro Explorer 170. Photo via Zuzana Prochazka for Boat Trader.

The second addition is a bow rail that comes in handy when pulling the Explorer Pro up onto a beach or over to a dock. It’s also a good place to tie an anchor or a line that’s taken to a tree ashore. (A note here – although this rail is a vast improvement over the smooth slippery hulls of a PWC, it does take some muscle to get this boat launched off a beach if the tide has gone out some.)

Standout Features: A PWC Packed With Convenience

The Explorer Pro is packed with comfort and convenience features. The integrated direct-access storage has been designed so you can open it while seated instead of having to stand up and lean forward. There’s also a watertight glovebox that holds keys, sunscreen and your phone that can be charged via the USB port and paired with the 100W waterproof, premium audio system.

An extra inch has been added to the seat so it’s a very cushy ride and the ergonomic footwells are angled for more comfort. They’re also great when you sit sidesaddle at rest. The handlebars can be tilted and extended back with a quick release mechanism for when you want to ride standing up. No tools needed. The grips have palm rests to relieve the stress on your wrists and if you ride often in cold weather, you can even add the optional heated grips to keep your hands toasty.

Handling And Operation

The learning curve on riding a PWC of this size is quite flat. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of it, even when docking. There’s cruise control for all speeds including trolling and also Eco mode that governs the engine at 32 mph.

Variable Trim System (VST) & Intelligent Breaking

Also included is VTS (Variable Trim System) and Sea-Doo’s iBR (Intelligent Brake & Reverse) bucket reversing system that lets you stop and back up which was a groundbreaking innovation the company won an award for several years ago. Another tech breakthrough was the iDF (Intelligent Debris Free) pump system that allows you to clear clogged intakes with the push of a button without having to get in the water and under the boat.

Gauges And Displays

Ride information is provided on a 7.8-inch color LCD display and includes RPM, speed, clock, fuel level, engine hours, fuel consumption and more. Our Explorer Pros were also equipped with 7-inch Garmin touchscreen MFDs with GPS and a fishfinder with an in-hull transducer so we could have caught our dinner rather than opting for a restaurant.

BRP Go App – Record And Share

Finally, you can enhance your connectivity with the BRP Go app that lets you record a ride and share it or finds friends with the same app in the area. Also included for added convenience when loading and unloading is a rear boarding ladder that makes getting out of the water easy, plus a wide-angle rearview mirror allows for better spatial awareness (plus there is the all-important cup holder).

LinQ system

The key to adventure riding is being able to carry lots of stuff. The integrated bin storage is voluminous and suffices for a day on the water but if you’re carrying a tent, tarp, stove, cooler, cooking items, additional fuel and extra drinking water, you need a way to stow it and that’s where Sea-Doo’s award-winning LinQ system comes in.

LinQ is an accessory quick-attach system that requires no tools and it takes only a second to attach or detach a variety of storage solutions including a fuel caddy, a 13.5-gallon cooler, a 4.2-gallon cooler, stackable cargo boxes, a 5-gallon thermal box, a retractable ski pylon and a massive 25-gallon waterproof bag that has straps so it can also be worn as a backpack and comes standard. The whole LinQ system starts with a large removable accessory plate aft of the seat, but the Explorer Pro also has an extended cargo deck which is another 11 inches where to add more clip-on gear.

It’s this cargo system that adds so much versatility to the Explorer Pro and expands what you can do with it. Some of it, like the fuel caddy, can be used on Sea-Doo’s sister line of snowmobiles so if you participate in both sports, you can save some cash.

By The Numbers: Fuel Burn And Speed Stats

We rode 150 miles in two days primarily sightseeing on day one and then zipping back in under three hours on day two. The Explorer Pro is 12 feet long (with the extended platform) and weighs 860 pounds without gear or fuel so well over 1,000 pounds the way we were loaded. We used 2/3 of the 18.5-gallon fuel tank to ride 75 miles and could have easily made 90 miles on that one tank. We also carried a 4.5-gallon jerrycan that wasn’t needed since we refueled before returning. Up to five jerrycans can be added via the LinQ system for a total of 22.5 additional gallons in which case the range is around 200 miles.

The average speed on Eco mode was 33 mph but the top speed reached against a light breeze on flat water (with gear) was 57 mph at 7700 rpm. There’s a 600-pound weight capacity for up to three riders and 26 gallons of integrated storage (not counting anything attached via the LinQ system).

There are 61 million camping households in the US which is just about double what it was eight years ago and nine million of those are new to camping, most since the pandemic, so Sea-Doo saw an opportunity to provide these people with a new way to explore and live their passion. Of course, you don’t have to camp while you’re adventure riding. You can do as we did and ride point-to-point with hotels and marinas and cover unlimited miles along the way. In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ride the length of the ICW or do the Great Loop and then fly back for the tow vehicle. Now, that’s an adventure.

The Explorer Pro is highly customizable so you can add as many features as you like. Pricing starts at $16,999 with a fully loaded version coming in at $20,999.

Ride On: A Fitting Tagline

Sea-Doo’s tagline for this model is “Ride On” and that describes the overall concept well. There’s basically nowhere you can’t go and no gear you can’t carry on the Explorer Pro. Depending on conditions, with one jerrycan you can arguably cover 110 miles and still have plenty of space for camping, hiking, photo or other gear. Two riders can easily go on multi-day adventures while river riding or island hopping in hot or cold climates, but if you’re going to buy one, buy two, so everyone has their own because they’re that much fun.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from 150 miles on a PWC but after seeing what all can be done with these skis, you can consider this sailor converted.

View Sea Doo Pro Explorer 170 PWCs for sale on Boat Trader today

View all Sea Doos for sale on Boat Trader now

Written by: Zuzana Prochazka

Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.

Related

sea doo fishpro pwc
Sea Doo FishPro PWC Review
Category: Reviews
If you like PWCs and you also enjoy fishing, check out the Sea Doo FishPro.