Malibu waited until the last day of our tests to unveil this new Malibu Wakesetter 23 XTi for us. It’s always been a standout boat with its direct-drive engine hidden in a V-drive-style interior. But we were amazed to see Malibu found a way to increase the seating with the addition of another bench, as well as improve the interior flow and add a bunch of new features.
Hull: While we're always raving about the premier fit-and-finish of a Malibu's deck, the V25 Wake hull deserves attention. Sculpted by an engineering team of longtime water-sports junkies, this hull creates mellow wakes with defined peaks as well as a solid feel through double-ups.
Ballast: The deal here isn't just that there's 900 total pounds of factory ballast when buyers opt for the 350-pound bow tank. Malibu put thought into how the rear tanks work with this seating layout and made the port-side tank 200 pounds and the starboard-side tank 350 pounds. That's because more passengers will be sitting on the port side, adding their own ballast.
Tower: Malibu's new standard Illusion XS wakeboard tower that topped the Malibu Wakesetter 23 XTi looked sharp, literally. It's as if Malibu took a saw and contorted it into a beautiful, arcing piece of wakeboarding art. For a more traditional look, Malibu offers the Titan III wakeboard tower and the smoother Illusion X wakeboard tower.
Wake shaper: You don't have to get the Wedge. The Malibu hull will run fine without it. But to be able to push down the equivalent of 1,200 more pounds into the water with a simple button at the cockpit, the Power Wedge is an upgrade we recommend.
Highlight feature: The new interior seating — no question. With the addition of the forward-facing bench in front of the engine, there are now two lounges in the Malibu Wakesetter 23 XTi. And the walkway is now placed behind the driver, so that seat can fully swivel and adjust.
The wake: Our riders found their personal sweet spot behind the Malibu Wakesetter 23 XTi at 70 feet going 21.5 mph. They liked the peak there a lot, even drawing a picture of it on the test sheet that looked like a shark fin. Double-ups were also money and easy to get into.