Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Yamaha EX Comparison [Video]

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The Kawasaki STX 160 and the Yamaha EX are the two most affordable Japanese jet skis in the marketplace. The Yamaha is known for its agile attitude, low running costs, and outstanding durability, while the Kawasaki built its reputation for its high performance, large capacities, and great rough water handling.

If you want to compare these skis head-to-head, you’ve come to the right place.

We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know into this Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Yamaha EX comparison post!

Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Yamaha EX

By the Numbers

Although they are classed in different categories, the Kawasaki STX 160 and the Yamaha EX act as competitors in the PWC marketplace.

The latter is marketed in the “Rec-Lite” line, which includes the smallest and most affordable PWCs.

Surprisingly, Kawasaki jet skis aren’t represented in this segment at all, since the entry-level STX 160 is classed as a Recreation model.

This is no coincidence since compared to the Yamaha the Kawasaki is bigger, heavier, and far more powerful.

Regarding power sources, the Yamaha EX enjoys the reliable TR-1 Yamaha marine engine. This 4-stroke, 1049cc, naturally-aspirated, fuel-injected triple generates a moderate performance of 100 HP.

This power mill is planted in a tiny EX hull, measuring 123.2 inches in length, and 44.5 inches in width, and features a moderate-V shape. The dry weight of the base Yamaha EX is only 578 pounds which converts to a 667-pound curb weight.

In contrast, the Kawasaki STX 160 is built on a larger and heavier deep-V fiberglass platform, measuring 124.1 inches in length and 46.5 inches in width. This hull was inherited from the predecessor STX-15F but the model got a new top deck and name for the 2022 model year.

The power source of the STX 160 is a 4-stroke, 1498cc, naturally-aspirated, fuel-injected, 4-cylinder Kawasaki marine engine rated at 160 HP.

It’s a fun fact that both of these engines were derived from the motorcycle industry; the award-winning Yamaha TR-1 engine is inherited from the R1 motorcycle line, while the 1498cc Kawasaki marine engine is derived from the Ninja ZX-R motorcycle series.

However, both of these units were heavily redesigned and reconfigured for marine use. They come with an open-loop cooling system and a direct drive system, featuring a special reduction gear.

Just like any other stock jet ski, both the STX 160 and the EX are engineered with an axial-flow, single-stage jet pump housing a three-blade metal impeller.

Due to having a larger fiberglass hull and 4-cylinder engine, the Kawasaki is significantly heavier, weighing 726 pounds dry, and 864 pounds fully loaded.

One of the main advantages of this large platform is its impressive capacities, which include a total storage capacity of 35 gallons and a fuel capacity of 20.6 gallons.

What’s more, the STX 160 comes with four different storage units, including a bow storage, a glovebox, an under-seat storage bin, and a small wet storage.

In contrast, the Yamaha EX can only carry 13.2 gallons of fuel and 7.7 gallons of cargo out of the box.

Features

Both the Kawasaki STX 160 and the base Yamaha EX come with a wide range of innovative features as standard, including:

Differences?

The biggest difference between the Yamaha EX and the Kawasaki STX 160 is that the latter is a more advanced model that comes standard with more innovative features, including:

  • Reboarding step
  • Dual mirrors
  • Integrated cup holders
  • Wet storage
  • Dual rear grab handle
  • Large LCD gauge

Unfortunately, the base Yamaha EX lacks all of these important features and only has a standard mechanical reverse. If you are looking for a more featured ski, you should take a look at higher-level EX models.

For example, the Yamaha EX Deluxe comes standard with dual mirrors, a reboarding step, and the innovative RiDE brake and reverse system.

The high-end WaveRunner in this breed is the EX Limited, which is basically an EX Deluxe with a sound system and a unique paint job.

Like the Yamaha, the Kawasaki is also available with more bells and whistles, if you don’t mind the higher price.

The more advanced 160LX comes standard with comfort handle grips, electronic cruise control, and a special top deck design.

The flagship model in the STX line is the 160LX, which comes standard with a luxury seat, a JETSOUND Bluetooth audio system, and a  unique design featuring a premium paint job, graphics, and two-toned mats.

But to the greatest regret of Kawasaki fans, each STX 160 is only available with a mechanical reverse.

Performance and Handling

When it comes to handling, it’s safe to say that the Kawasaki STX 160 and the Yamaha EX are in two completely different worlds.

The latter is a small lightweight Rec-Lite sk, which is very nimble and agile. It’s very easy to operate and even offers playful rides for experienced riders.

Thanks to its fuel-efficient, small-displacement engine and simple features the EX is very reliable and cheap to operate. Also, you can even tow it with a small car.

Drawbacks?

Although the EX is officially rated for three people, it can hardly carry three adults. This machine is more of a solo jet ski, which can only comfortably carry a kid or small adult passenger.

With three adults onboard the EX becomes very tippy and hard to operate.

It also has poor rough water handling due to its light weight and moderate-V hull configuration. The top speed of this machine is only 50-52 mph under ideal conditions.

Unlike its tiny competitor, the STX 160 enjoys a deep-V hull design, ensuring sharp cornering and great handling on choppy waters. It can also cover long distances with ease.

It’s powered by a larger, 4-cylinder engine, producing fast acceleration and a top speed of 61-62 mph. Not bad for a naturally-aspirated ski!

Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Yamaha EX Comparison Chart

For your convenience, we’ve compiled the key specs of these skis into this Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Yamaha EX comparison chart:

SpecsSTX 160(Base) EX
BrandKawasakiYamaha
CategoryRecreationRec-Lite
Displacement (cc)14981049
Cylinders43
SuperchargedNoNo
Brake NoNo
ReverseYesYes
HP160100
Length (in)124.1123.2
Width (in)46.544.5
Dry Weight (lbs)726578
Curb Weight (lbs)864667
Fuel Capacity (gal)20.613.2
Storage Capacity (gal)357.7
Weight Capacity (lbs)496496
Rider capacity33

This chart is for informational purposes only! For exact specifications, please refer to the factory manual.

Conclusion

Compared to the Yamaha EX, the Kawasaki STX 160 is a much quicker and more aggressive ski. It’s built on a heavy deep-V platform, which handles the chop quite well, while its 160 HP power mill delivers a great punch.

In contrast, the EX comes with a smaller moderate-V hull and a 100 HP engine, which has higher reliability, and lower running costs.

Both of these models have their pros and cons, which are as follows:

Pros of the Yamaha EX:

Pros of the Kawasaki STX 160:

  • Deep-V hull design
  • Better rough water performance
  • Higher fun factor
  • More engine power (160 vs. 100 HP)
  • Faster acceleration and top speed (50 vs. 62 mph)
  • Larger storage capacity (35 vs. 7.7 gallons)
  • Larger fuel capacity (20.6 vs. 13.2 gallons)
  • It can actually carry 3 adult riders
  • More features (reboarding step, wet storage, dual grab handles, mirrors, cup holders, etc.)

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