Four Winns 190 Horizon Review



What Americans do best is make consumable items to go. Aimed squarely at the discerning boating masses and keenly priced at $51,659 drive-away, the Four Winns 190 Horizon is a terrific example of a turnkey American trailerboat with a top-notch finish.
Bundled with safety gear and registrations by the local dealer, the package lacked nothing but the fuel, food and boating friends for a long summer's day on the water.
By virtue of its size, this 19-footer fills a niche that's a significant step up from the evergreen 18-footer class but still around the $50,000 ballpark. Importantly, the rig on trailer weighs in the order of 1800kg, which is within large family-car towing capacity. Its 2.54m beam may or may not require that you have a towing permit, however.
Straight out of the box - the boat had only just been removed from its wrapping - the 190 performed beautifully. In fact, metre-for-metre this was among the sweetest-riding Four Winns I've driven.
The first of the new 2005-model 190 Horizons in Australia, it also combines good looks and a classy finish with that smooth ride and realistic price.
While it is rolled out by a huge American marine company called Genmar, Four Winns offers a range of options from hull colours and graphics packs to cool alloy tow towers and seating so that you can optimise and individualise (at least to some degree) your pleasureboat.
For example, seating options on the 190 Horizon include that seen here (the standard layout with pedestal helm seat and back-to-back seat to port with aft jump seats) or the optional Sunsport package with double pedestal seats and a full-width aft lounge. This latter combo is preferable for the simple reason that, if you have an uneven number of crew, you can shift the odd one out on the aft lounge to keep the boat on an even keel.




Run upright, the 190 Horizon's ride was what really impressed me most. The boat didn't exhibit any of the sluggishness or bow lift apparent in some high-volume Four Winns cruisers I have driven. Rather, it ran nice and level, and it exhibited a big trim range that let you go all the way from bow-down over the chop to flying free on the aft sections.
Fitted with a standard-issue 4.3lt MPI 220hp MerCruiser motor, the hull shot straight to planing speed and cruised in a most efficient manner at low speeds. A lot of small bowriders won't do that. This one happily sat at 17.5kt (33kmh) and 2500rpm and, as such, I'd consider it a great towboat.
But such were the cruising comforts that the 190 Horizon is more than a riverboat. It felt right at home on the harbour, as it would gadding along the Gold Channels or bounding across the bay. The excellent freeboard in the bow means you can take the family with you.




Dressed in cool black with matching canvas and gleaming stainless-steel brightwork, 190 Horizon looked right at home on a big-city waterway like Sydney Harbour. The contemporary styling introduced on the 2005 models is what Four Winns calls Cross-Stream Architecture.
Hull construction comprises a full fibreglass stringer system and traditional GRP lay-up. The hull and deck are through-bolted; the floor hatches are Starboard or some other manmade material; and there seems to be scant use of timber.
The Four Winns come with a five-year structural warranty that new owners can transfer for a fee, and a two-year warranty on defects and other components. All the deck gear is stainless steel and through-bolted, while the upholstery is a very soft and subtle marine-grade vinyl called Aquaflex in matching black and white colour combinations.
The windscreen was a deep three-pane safety glass number held up with stainless-steel supports. The swim ladder was a deep-reach type, and the swim platform is an integral part of the hull. Most high-traffic areas were topped with non-skid, and the vinyl rub rail has a stainless-steel insert.
The interior design is different for 2005. There's a new dash, new helm bolster seat and new engine hatch. Selected options on the test boat included bow infill cushion, walkthrough windbreaker door, pull-up cleats for swinging fenders, a wood-grain steering wheel, cockpit and bow covers, galvanised trailer with brakes, safety equipment package and registration of the vessel and trailer.




In the bow I spotted stainless-steel grabrails in place of plastic grab handles, lined storage lockers under the seats, and a centre under-seat locker designed to stow the anchor and short length of chain and rope.
When trying on the seats for size, I found the padded backrests were nice and supportive and that additional dry storage pockets were concealed behind these hinged foam panels.
You can create a forward sunpad or playpen for the nippers up front by clipping a stainless-steel cross member into place as a support for the bow infill cushion. Other times, like winter, you can close the optional door to the bow and block the breeze.
Amidships, the 190 Horizon boasts a very generous rubber-lined storage area for the watertoys and wet items that invariably accompany these boats in summer. The lid lifts on gas struts.
While the full-length sidepockets lose points for not having a decent retaining lip and thereby providing additional storage for things like paddles or fishing rods, they each have three drinkholders and a clip for the anchor light pole. There are smaller storage pockets for personals higher up the sides.
The aft seat swabs are designed to be relocated alongside the padded engine lid to create a sunpad. Vinyl covers behind the seat bases grant access to batteries and that steering-fluid reservoir. The boat had clip-in dune-coloured cockpit carpet and a good spread of courtesy lights in what I consider a wide cockpit.
Remove the engine box, which is held in place with rubber toggles, and you can get to all parts of the V6 MerCruiser. However, fuel capacity of 132lt isn't awfully generous for a full day's long-range cruising on the bay or harbour with some watersports and high-speed runs thrown in.
On a positive note, this was an exceptionally quiet and smooth engine installation and, as such, one of most user-friendly boats in its league. That low running noise comes from the sound insulation lining the engine bay, as well as the inherently smooth V6 motor. Engine options include a 5.0lt 260hp MPI V8, but I can't see past this boat and motor pairing.




I was impressed by the fact that the co-pilot's back-to-back seat slides, as this style of seat often doesn't have an adjustor. Ahead of the co-pilot was the Clarion marine stereo, with a remote across at the helm and a token in-dash icebox.
The lid for the icebox was terribly flimsy and unbecoming of this boat's overall finish and quality.
On the skipper's side, the helm bolster seat does a great job of keeping you contained. A neat new feature is a small lock-up compartment for stowing personals at the helm. The mock burlwood dash was a low-glare number with groovy new engine gauges, a depthsounder and trim gauge for the Alpha One leg.
With three adults in 12kt of summer breeze, the boat exhibited a very level ride and held a low-speed plane of 8-9kt (15-16kmh) at 2200rpm. Social cruising and skiing was clocked at 21.5kt (41kmh) and 2800rpm, and a fast cruise comes in at 25kt (48kmh) and 3000rpm.
Top speed of the day was 42.2kt (80kmh). This rig should reach to the benchmark for a sporty bowrider of 50mph given time and a motor that's been broken in. All the while, handling was viceless and the hull was smooth.
While there was nothing revolutionary about the 2005-model Four Winns 190 Horizon, it's a really nice summer package. Kept undercover and cared for, the black hull and motor, plush upholstery and gleaming stainless-steel fittings will look and play the part until at least the next boat to go takes your fancy.




* Superb performance, efficiency, smooth and quiet ride
* A real family pleaser
* Beamy and spacious 19-footer in a niche with limited opposition
* Smart styling and excellent finish
* Good brand name making inroads into the market in recent years




* Lid for the icebox/glovebox ahead of the co-pilot was flimsy
* Engine-box fasteners needed a pre-delivery check
* Fuel capacity is on the shy side
* Black hull will show the scratches and salt splatter
* Seating layout made it difficult to share a three-person load and run the boat on an even keel. Aft lounge would be better




Specifications: Four Winns Horizon 190




Price as tested: $51,659 w/ 220hp MerCruiser 4.3 MPI, select options, safety gear and registrations
Options fitted: Bow fill-in cushion, walkthrough door, pull-up cleats, wood-grain steering wheel, cockpit and forward cover, galvanised trailer with brakes, safety equipment package and regos
Priced from: About $49,950




Material: GRP hull and stringers and vinylester resin
Length (overall): 5.98m
Beam: 2.52m
Draft: 0.79m
Deadrise: 19°
Weight: About 1360kg hull and motor only




Rec/max hp: 220/260
Fuel: 132lt
Water: n/a
Passengers: 635kg max capacity
Accommodation: Camp on deck




Make/model: 4.3 MPI Mercruiser
Type: Injected V6 petrol four-stroke
Rated hp: 220 @ 4400-4800rpm
Displacement: 4.3lt
Weight: About 390kg
Drive (make/ratio): Alpha One
Props: S/S counter-rotating




7Seas Motor Cruisers, d'Albora Marinas, The Spit, Mosman, NSW, tel (02) 9960 1999. Also contact Boatarama Cruiser Sales Gold Coast, tel (07) 5537 5955; Fleet Marine, Dandenong South, tel (03) 9768 2774; or visit



Originally published in TrailerBoat #189

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