What we think: As the largest model in Sea Ray's Sundeck line, the 290 is a prime example of the latest thinking in day boats. With nearly 30 feet to work with, the designers have incorporated everything a group of family and friends needs to spend a day on the water in comfort.
The open layout provides unfettered access, from the forward boarding ladder back to the extended swim platform on the transom. As might be expected with a boat this size, in-deck storage lockers are huge, and the passenger console opens to reveal a realistically sized head compartment, which has an opening porthole and can be fitted with a VacuFlush toilet and holding tank. Even more impressive is the compact cabin forward of the helm, which can convert to a full berth or provide a changing space with standing headroom. Order the gas grill and 12-volt refrigerator to complete the built-in wet bar and you have all the comforts of home.
Comfort is just half of the 290's appeal. Crack the throttle and this boat becomes a whole lot more than a floating pleasure patio. We found the hull to be remarkably stable under way, even while reaching speeds of nearly 50 mph with the 496 Magnum 375 hp engine. A 425 hp HO version is also available.
With crisp handling reminiscent of a smaller boat, and stable tracking that is minimally affected by weight shifts or chop, the 290 Sundeck is a boat that's as enjoyable to drive as it is to enjoy when hosting a party at rest.
Who should buy it: Boaters operating on big lakes or in coastal regions, or anyone who wants a day boat with a full range of creature comforts along with a solid dose of performance and a bit of style.
Vital Stats * Length: 29'6" * Beam: 9'1" * Dry Weight: 6,044 lb. * Fuel Capacity: 93 gal. * Water Capacity: 24 gal. * Max HP: 425 * MSRP (test boat w/ MerCruiser 496 Magnum, 375 hp): $100,641 * NMMA certified: Yes
* MerCruiser 496 Magnum 375 hp (base boat, no options) $92,872
* MerCruiser 496 Magnum HO 425 hp $101,179
Max HP: 375
Still in the luxury day-boat category, the 260 comes with a 350 hp engine, Bravo III and digital throttle and shift.
Max HP: 320
One of the most popular deck boats on the market takes advantage of in-between size and Sea Ray's top-notch dealer network.
Notable Features * Smart Craft diagnostic electronics are standard * Generous 93-gallon fuel and 24-gallon water capacities * Versatile cockpit seating options * Consoles house two surprisingly roomy cabins * Six-speaker Clarion sound system with remotes comes standard * Wet bar can accommodate fridge and grill
Test Drive * Test Engine: Mercury 150XL Verado-L4 * Test Prop: 14.5 x 17 stainless steel * Test Load: 350 lb. * Top Speed: 45.7 mph @ 6,300 rpm * Time to Plane: 3.1 sec. * Time to 30 mph: 6.2 sec. * Minimum Planing Speed: 18 mph @ 3,200 rpm