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Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Yamaha VX Comparison [Video]

Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Yamaha VX Comparison [Video]

The Kawasaki STX 160 and the Yamaha VX are two competing Recreation jet skis in the marketplace. The Yamaha gained its reputation for durability and low running costs, while the Kawasaki is known for its greater capacities, lively attitude, and high-performance engine.

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 VX comparison post!

Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Yamaha VX

By the Numbers

When it comes to the Recreation or “mid-size” jet ski category, the main competitors are arguably the Sea-Doo GTI, Kawasaki STX 160, and Yamaha VX.

The latter is the no. 1 choice of jet ski rental companies, and with good reason.

Powered by the reliable TR-1 Yamaha marine engine, the VX is known as one of the most reliable jet skis in the marketplace. Its 1049cc naturally-aspirated, fuel-injected triple power source produces a moderate 125 HP out of the box.

This engine is nestled in the proven Yamaha VX hull, measuring 132.7 inches in length and 48.8 inches in width. The dry weight of the base Yamaha VX is 719 pounds, which translates to a curb weight of 841 pounds.

In contrast, the rival Kawasaki STX 160 is built on a smaller deep-V hull, measuring 124.1 inches in length and 46.5 inches in width. This platform was inherited from the predecessor STX-15F but the STX 160 series has an all-new top deck.

Under the hood, you can find a 4-stroke, naturally-aspirated, fuel-injected, 1489cc, 4-cylinder Kawasaki engine rated at 160 HP.

It’s a fun fact that both skis inherited their engines from their motorcycle relatives; the Yamaha TR-1 engine is derived from the R1 motorcycle, while the 1492cc Kawasaki engine is borrowed from the Ninja ZX-R series.

Of course, both of these units had to be heavily modified for marine use. They got industry-standard open-loop cooling and a direct drive system, featuring a special gear reduction system.

Just like on any other jet ski, the VX and the STX 160 transfer engine power towards an axial-flow, single-stage jet pump.

Although the Kawasaki is slightly smaller, its standard fiberglass hull and larger 4-cylinder engine make it heavier than the Yamaha. This ski weighs 726 pounds dry, and 864 pounds fully loaded.

Regarding capacities, the VX can carry 30.1 gallons of storage and 18.5 gallons of gas, while the Kawasaki comes with the largest fuel tank in its class, rated at 20.6 gallons.

It also has an impressive, 35-gallon storage capacity split into a standard bow storage, a glovebox, a removable under-seat storage bin, and a tiny wet storage.


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

  • 2-piece seat for 3 riders
  • Sponsons
  • Bow storage compartment
  • Glovebox
  • Under-seat storage
  • Dual mirrors
  • Tow hook
  • Mooring cleats
  • Reboarding step
  • Reverse
  • And more

It’s safe to say that the biggest difference between the Yamaha VX and the Kawasaki STX 160 is that the latter lacks an advanced electric brake and reverse system. While the VX enjoys the Yamaha-exclusive RiDE system, the STX 160 is exclusively available with a mechanical reverse.

This means that the Yamaha offers higher safety, much more precise handling, and a neutral “gear.”As a rule of thumb, each Yamaha VX model comes standard with the RiDE brake and reverse system, except the entry-level VX-C. This machine is designed with rental companies in mind, so it only comes with a mechanical reverse and with the most basic of features.

Its more featured brothers, the base VX Deluxe and the VX Cruiser come with more bells and whistles like a sound system and a unique color scheme.

As we’ve discussed, the Kawasaki lacks a brake system and is only equipped with a mechanical reverse. On the other hand, its top deck houses many innovative features including dual rear grab handles, wet storage, and cup holders.

Like the VX, the STX 160 is also marketed in more featured configurations, including the STX 160X and the 160LX.

The former comes standard with adjustable electronic cruise control, a comfort handle grip, and a premium painted top deck.

The flagship ski in this breed is the 160LX, which enjoys a JETSOUND Bluetooth audio system, a luxury seat, and a custom design, featuring a premium paint job, graphics, and two-toned deck mats.

Performance and Handling

When it comes to performance and handling, it’s safe to say that the Yamaha VX and the Kawasaki STX 160 are very different skis.

The latter is powered by a much bigger engine, ensuring a faster acceleration and top speed. This higher performance combined with a smaller body translates to a higher fun factor.

Its deep-V hull design has great cornering abilities and cuts through the chop with ease. Therefore, the STX 160 handles much better on rough waters and can cover longer distances.In terms of performance numbers, the VX can hit 52-53 mph while the STX 160 can hit 61-62 mph along with class-leading acceleration.

Not bad from a naturally-aspirated ski!

Unlike the Kawasaki, the VX is built on a flatter, semi-V hull, offering a less exciting riding experience. Also, it doesn’t handle as well on choppy waters.

Although the Yamaha offers significantly less engine power, it has higher durability and reliability.

Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Yamaha VX Comparison Chart

For your convenience, we’ve compiled the key specs of these skis into this Kawasaki STX 160 vs. Yamaha VX comparison chart:
SpecsSTX 160VX
Displacement (cc)14981049
Length (in)124.1132.7
Width (in)46.548.8
Dry Weight (lbs)726719
Curb Weight (lbs)864841
Fuel Capacity (gal)20.618.5
Storage Capacity (gal)3530.1
Weight Capacity (lbs)496530
Rider capacity33
This chart is for informational purposes only! For exact specifications, please refer to the factory manual.


Compared to the Yamaha VX, the Kawasaki STX 160 is a much quicker ski, featuring a 160 HP engine. It’s built on a deep-V hull, which handles rough waters fairly well.

In contrast, the VX comes with a 125 HP triple 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 VX:

Pros of the Kawasaki STX 160:

  • Deep-V hull design
  • Better rough water performance
  • Higher fun factor
  • More engine power (160 vs. 125 HP)
  • Faster acceleration and top speed
  • Larger storage capacity (35 vs. 30.1 gallons)
  • Larger fuel capacity (20.6 vs. 18.5 gallons)
  • More innovative features (wet storage, dual grab handles, cup holders, etc.)