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The new 2020 Kawasaki SXT-160 was probably one of the most important developments from Kawasaki in recent years, aside from the renewed SX-R 1500.

Currently, the STX-160 series replaces the legendary STX-15F, which is already 17 years old. This means Kawasaki surprised the market with three unique, new models: the STX-160, the STX-160X, and the STX-160LX.

Surprisingly, you can still find the 15F in the Kawasaki’s fleet, so this model is also available in the 2020 line.

If you’d like to discover and compare these new models, then this post is for you!  We, at JetDrift, have done all the research and gathered for you the available specs, pictures, and test videos into this Kawasaki STX-160 review!

2020 Kawasaki STX-160 Review

Design and Dimensions

Although the new STX-160 looks nice, we have bad news for those who were expecting a brand new Jet Ski designed from scratch.

To put it simply, the STX-160 is an STX-15F with a redesigned top deck and a couple of new features.

It means that the main components like the FRP (gel-coat finished, fiber-reinforced plastic) hull, sponsons, ride plate, intake grate also remain unchanged from its predecessor, the STX-15F.

The pump and the engine are also the same, so all STX-160 models are powered with the 1.498cc, 4-stroke, 4 cylinder DOHC non-supercharged engine, which is cooled with open-loop cooling and produces around 160 HP.

It’s an interesting fact that Kawasaki uses the same power source in the SX-R 1500 stand up Jet Ski as well.

Returning to the STX-160 series, the design of the new top deck looks modern, massive and sporty, as it shares some similarities to the Kawasaki ULTRA series.

If we check the dimensions, they’re pretty close to the 15F, but the length of the hull has increased by 1.3”, so it’s already 124.1” long. The width didn’t change, it’s 46.5” just like the STX-15F. But while the biggest difference is in height, as the new models are noticeably taller (45.4”), this means an increase of 4.1”.

When it comes to weight, Kawasaki Jet Skis are always tricky as this manufacturer lists the curb weights, while the competitors usually only list the dry weights. But if we know the fuel and oil capacities, we can calculate the net (dry) weight easily for each Jet Ski model.

Based on these specs, the STX-160 and the STX-160X dry weight is around 726 pounds, while its advertised curb weight is 864 pounds.  The LX version is slightly heavier and arrives with 739 pounds of dry and 878 pounds of net weight.

ModelSTX 160STX 160XSTX 160LXSTX-15F
MSRP$9 599$9 999$11 699$9 699
Performance (HP)160160160160
Displacement (cc)1498149814981498
SuperchargedNoNoNoNo
Cylinders4444
Net Weight (Lbs)726726739732
Curb Weight (Lbs)864 864 878 844
Storage Capacity (Gal.)35,035,035,023,5
Rider capacity (Lbs)3333
Fuel Capacity (Gal)20,620,620,616,4
Power to Curb weight ratio HP/Lbs0,190,190,180,19
Length (")124,1124,1124,1122,8
Width (")46,546,546,546,5
Height (")45,445,445,443,1
ReverseYesYesYesYes
BrakeNoNoNoNo

Capacities

Speaking of capacities, all new STX models have a seat for three riders and the weight capacity also remains the same, 496 pounds.

The new design also means bigger storage compartments which consist of three separate units.

The front storage offers 30.1 gallons, while the rear storage holds 4.4 gallons of capacity. Although this small unit doesn’t have a lid, since it’s located under the seat, it remains relatively dry during the rides.

The good news is that this model already has a small but waterproof glovebox. The bad news is that it’s extremely small, less than 0.4 gallons.

It’s a mystery why it’s made so small as there’s plenty of unused room in the hull to have made it bigger. What’s more, it’s quite deep and narrow, so it’s fine for smartphones, but you can hardly store in it any bigger items. If you’d like to charge your phone or action camera on the water, a USB port could be installed in it as an option.

With this tiny glovebox, the total storage capacity of all of the STX-160 models is 35 gallons.

Additionally, Kawasaki designed a little (0.5 gallons) wet storage at the back of the watercraft (behind the seats). This could be a perfect place for your dock lines or tow ropes!

The new STX-160 arrives with 20.6 gallons of fuel capacity, which is 4.2 gallons bigger compared to its predecessor. With this new tank, the 2020 STX-160 offers the greatest fuel capacity in its category. (And the same capacity as the Kawasaki ULTRA series.)

Beyond the larger gas tank, the filler cap was also moved under the hood; this not only makes the design cleaner, but protects the cap from water spray as well.

The Kawasaki STX-160 features a little wet storage

The Kawasaki STX-160 features a little wet storage

Kawasaki STX-160 Features and Accessories

Seats

The design of the new two-piece seats varies from model to model, and was completely redesigned from scratch. The STX-160 has a simpler grey saddle, however, it’s still much more ergonomic than its predecessor.

The STX-160X got a more stylish, two-tone seat, while the LX got a more luxurious saddle with great lower back support. It fits with the style perfectly because the design continues on the sides of the seat. You can also find 4.4 gallons of storage under the hinged rear seat.

Additionally, there’s a locking arm under this seat to support while you access the storage.

Swim platform

Thanks to this extra size and the new deck, the rear platform is lower and more spacious, so the foldable re-boarding step fits completely to the design.

Moreover, the new deck has a second handle under the rear seat for easier re-boarding. All great features, especially if you’re considering wakeboarding or tubing.

Dashboard

A new, bigger digital dashboard is a standard feature on all STX-160 models, which shows the actual and historical speed, RPM, fuel gauge and fuel consumption, temperatures, engine hours, a clock and a lot of other useful information that may interest many riders.

When you check the screen, keep in mind that this model uses a small paddle wheel to measure the speed, which is still the industry-standard in this category. Although this unit is less accurate than the GPS-based speedometers in some high-end PWC, it does the job quite well.

Besides the dash, there are two cup holders for your beverages or bottled water in front of you. It’s a nice addition, but it’s questionable how efficient they are if you ride on rough water!

Audio system

It won’t be a complete Kawasaki STX-160 review if we failed to mention the new Bluetooth audio system.

The STX-160 LX didn’t just get a better design; it’s equipped with the premium integrated JETSOUND system, which offer AUX, USB and Bluetooth connectivity. It features an amplifier and the two 60W speakers which are mounted below the mirrors.

You can find the controller unit in front of you on the handlebar and the AUX and USB ports in the (waterproof) storage.

This audio system comes exclusively with the LX, and is not available for the other two models even for an extra price. But don’t worry, look at what are your other options.

Cruise controls

Keeping safety in mind, the STX-160 series is released with two keys. One standard key for full-power and the other for the SLO mode (Smart Learning Operation). This key is known as the “learning key” or “slow key”, which can cut the top speed by around 30%.

This could be a welcom feature for rental companies, as some of them tend to offer skis with learning keys.

But if you have children or want to lend your ski for inexperienced riders (which is not recommended) you can also make good use of this learning key.

Beyond safety concerns, you can maximize your fuel mileage with the reduced performance. Unfortunately, you can’t find any ECO mode if you use the regular key, but a small indicator on the screen informs you if you’re cruising with the “best cruise” (most fuel economy) speed.

When it comes to the cruise controls, the good news is that this comes with all STX-160 models as standard. You can simply maintain a steady speed, or the system allows you to change your speed easily with buttons. It’s a really good feature, especially on long jet ski tours.

You can also set the no-wake speed (5 mph) easily with only one touch so you can operate safely in various zones and don’t have to worry about tickets anymore. These features have been available on many competitor models for a long time, so it’s welcomed on the new jet ski series.

The new smart steering system helps you to control the jet ski if you release the throttle at high speed.

The Kawasaki STX-160 top speed is around 60 mph

The Kawasaki STX-160 top speed is around 60 mph

Mirrors

The STX-160 series doesn’t only have a pair of mirrors, but they’re bigger than the average factory-installed PWC mirrors. Because of this, they offer better vision, which ultimately leads to higher safety on the water.

Braking system

Drawbacks? After all the positives, we have to mention the braking system – or rather its absence.

Although both Yamaha and Sea-Doo have released their electronic braking systems many years ago, Kawasaki has still not upgraded.

Because of this, surprisingly, the new 2020 STX-160 series is released without any braking system. Instead, it only features a big, regular reverse lever mounted on the central console (moved to the left side), instead of the “industry standard” left handlebar.

Not having brakes also means that Kawasaki jet skis still can’t offer the same precise maneuverability at lower speeds like the competitor models equipped with iBR and RiDE brake and reverse systems, which can be operated easily from the handlebars.

The lack of braking system has surprised the market and seems to be a serious disadvantage compared to the competing models.

2020 Kawasaki STX 160 Top Speed and Riding Experience

Thanks to its (relatively) lighter weight, powerful engine, and maneuverable hull, riding the STX-160 means a lot of fun. It’s so easy to ride that it’s recommended even for beginners, but even serious riders will also find it exciting.

On the other hand, if you want to ride it on rough water, you should be prepared for more physical exercise compared to the flagship models. But even if you ride it hard, the special splash deflectors reduce the spraying water efficiently.

The new STX-160 got a slimmer handlebar which is quite sensitive and which can be a little surprising at first touch. The X and LX models also got redesigned hand grips and throttle lever for a better riding experience.

Sadly, you still can’t adjust the position of the handlebar or trim on this jet ski.

The featured ETV (Electronic Throttle Valve) means that there’s no mechanical connection (a.k.a. cable) between the throttle and the engine anymore. With this feature, you can control the engine more precisely, and its responses will be fast and strict.

One of the main advantages of this new model is the more convenient, higher riding position.

Thanks to the redesigned platform, you can sit in a more natural position on the saddle with more room for your knees. Additionally, even though the seating position is higher, you still feel you are close to the water.

When it comes to the 2020 Kawasaki STX-160’s top speed, it’s safe to say that you can expect 60-62 mph depending on the total weight and the weather conditions.

2020 Kawasaki STX 160 Price Tags

Speaking of the 2020 Kawasaki STX-160 price tags, the good news is that Kawasaki tried to keep the prices down, especially in the case of the entry-level model. This means the basic STX-160 is available for $9,599, which is $100 cheaper than the predecessor SXT-15F.

If we compare the price tags of all 2020 PWC models, it’s clear that the STX-160 is currently the cheapest Kawasaki jet ski on the market!

If you’re looking for the more equipped models, the SXT-160X costs $9,999, while you can expect to pay $11,699 for the high-end LX model.

These prices don’t include the taxes, registration fees and the trailer, of course.

Kawasaki STX-160 prices range from $9.599 to $11.699

Kawasaki STX-160 prices range from $9.599 to $11.699

Conclusion

Kawasaki did a really good job and completely redesigned the platform of the 17 years old STX line.

Although the main parts like the hull, engine, pump, sponsons, ride plate and intake grate are still the same as in the STX-15F, the STX-160 series looks like a brand new line.

The new platform is higher and more ergonomic, so it offers a convenient, natural riding position. Beyond the fresh design, the new models also have many new features like the extended rear platform, larger 35 gallon storage compartment, 20.6 gallon fuel tank, new handgrips, Bluetooth audio system and many others.

The big drawback is that unlike competitor Sea-Doo and Yamaha models, the new STX-160 series arrives without any braking system. They’re still manufactured with a regular reverse lever, which looks quite outdated nowadays, as the competitors discontinued their breaking systems many years ago.

The new STX series contains 3 different models; the basic STX-160 is available for $9,599, the STX-160X costs $9,999, while you can purchase the luxury model, the LX for $11,699. Surprisingly, the predecessor STX-15F is still available in the Kawasaki’s fleet, with the price tag of $9,699.

This was our short 2020 Kawasaki STX-160 review.  We hope you find it interesting and useful!

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Related Articles:

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Sources:

https://www.kawasaki.com/Products/2020-Jet-Ski-STX160
https://watercraftjournal.com/a-fresh-new-face-2020-kawasaki-stx-160x-jetski-video/
https://www.tfloffroad.com/2020/02/2020-kawasaki-jet-ski-stx-160-review-best-value-on-the-water/
https://www.personalwatercraft.com/blog/2019/10/updated-stx160-highlights-2020-kawasaki-jet-ski-lineup.html
https://www.boatsales.com.au/editorial/details/kawasaki-stx160-an-all-new-entry-level-jet-ski-launched-120987/

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