Like a crow, we’re attracted to shiny things. Which is why Crownline boats have always caught our eye. Abundant stainless steel, polished to a mirror finish, has always been a Crownline styling signature. And sure enough, from the engine-bay vents to the windshield header, the new 270 SS was gleaming in the morning sun when we walked down the dock for our test. A 27-foot bowrider used to seem really big, but these days it’s almost midsize, and the field is crowded. Crownline seeks separation with a host of luxury features and its patented-and-proven F.A.S.T. Tab running surface.
The current bowrider-design focus is on building versatility into the transom area — a simple sun pad over the engine no longer cuts the mustard with boat-show crowds. Crownline makes a good “social swim” effort on the 270 SS. There’s a deep pad over a motor box that doubles as a seat bottom serving the cockpit and the transom, thanks to a pivoting backrest powered by an electric motor. Lowered all the way inboard, the backrest becomes the final section of a good-size, flat lounge. Other transom features include a pair of speakers for the audio system, a really stout (polished stainless steel) boarding ladder, a transom shower and a wet-gear stowage bin. A pull-out cord feeds an optional battery charger ($540) that would be really handy if the boat is used intermittently. The platform surface is covered with soft mat material.
It’s hard to find a straight edge in the cockpit, as the port and starboard seat bases have polygon bases mounted on the fiberglass sole, and curved backrests shaped to promote comfort and position passengers for conversation. Bottom cushions are hinged and supported with stainless-steel struts (sorry, not polished) and have a lipped edge to keep water out of the stowage areas below. A 25-quart cooler is stashed within the starboard seat base. This entire seat can be deleted and replaced with an optional entertainment console that incorporates a sink (polished stainless, naturally) set in a countertop with either stowage or a refrigerator below. Each bucket seat has a gleaming stainless-steel insert on the back.
The polished stainless-steel sink in the head compartment is standard, as is a portable lavatory. The boat we tested was the first off the line for a photo shoot and was not equipped with a stowage bin that will be built into the head door on production examples. We expect to find a huge ski locker in a runabout this size, and the 270 SS has got one. An extra detail is a shallow stowage drawer under the deck that can be pulled over the ski-locker opening, which might be deep enough to hold some PFDs, or certainly lines and assorted small gear items.
There’s more ergonomic seating in the bow where the bottom cushions are contoured hot-tub style to support the back and legs when a passenger is facing forward. There’s a hatch in front of the windshield that covers a large mesh bag designed to hold two big fenders. Another 25-quart cooler fits below the forward bow seat.
The 270 SS is equipped with the full complement of Crownline’s running-surface features, including “vortex generators” at the aft hull corners said to solve stern wander at no-wake speeds, and vented chines to reduce drag and improve efficiency at speed. The vents are guarded by the finlike F.A.S.T. Tabs, which are designed to keep those vents from producing handling quirks. It all seems to work. The 270 SS glides along on plane for some distance after the throttle is chopped, an indication that the vents do indeed introduce enough air under the running surface to reduce drag. For a boat its size, the 270 SS also feels especially agile in turns.
Propelled by a 300 hp MerCruiser 350 MAG/Bravo Three power train, the 270 SS planed smartly with minimal bow rise, but top speed was a modest 45 mph. This boat will be an ideal candidate for the new 350 hp MerCruiser 6.2-liter engine when it comes on line. The 430 hp 8.2-liter MerCruiser is the top option but adds $20,000 to the base price. A long list of options, including several upholstery choices, audio upgrades, multiple hull graphic designs, and towers and arches, make it possible to really personalize the 270 SS, which is a throwback in these days of strict packaging. The polished stainless steel is always standard.