On some cruisers, the captain sits alone at the helm, an island unto himself, while the rest of the passengers mingle in the cockpit aft. In such layouts, the captain doesn't get to join in the fun. This is exactly why the designers of the Maxum 2500 Sun Cruiser deliberately focused the cockpit forward by positioning a large L-shaped lounge to port of the helm. Not only does this "conversation pit" keep the captain included, it also allows passengers to see where they're going. Locating the wetbar behind the helm seat keeps the activity up front, too.
The Crownline 262 CR ($53,443 with a 260-hp MerCruiser Bravo Three), by comparison, has a lounge that runs along the port side, divided by a built-in cooler. In this layout everyone must twist 45 degrees to see ahead. But the cockpit is more open, and the two-person helm seat swivels so the driver can join the fun when on the hook. Another choice is the Chaparral Signature 260 ($52,058 with a 260-hp MerCruiser Bravo Three), which has an L-shaped layout similar to the 2500 Sun Cruiser's.
The 2500 Sun Cruiser has other features that make it notable among trailerable cruisers. One is the hot and cold freshwater shower on the swim platform. Another is recessed lighting wherever the cabin sole level changes. Also, the canvas snaps are filled with silicone, providing a clean look and preventing water intrusion via the threads of their fasteners. The sliding cabin door has an automatic latch - no more flipping down the latch with your foot. Belowdecks, the cabin is nicely appointed, with 6' of headroom, a well-done galley, and a finished head.
As always, some things could be better. For one, the stern cleats are too far forward on each side so crossed aft docklines in a slip will chafe the hull. Also, add a grabhandle on the wetbar - an area where people will no doubt loiter - and some screens on the cabin ports. And upgrade the plastic through-hulls with chrome-over-bronze, as on the Signature 260.
On the water, the 2500 Sun Cruiser has good midrange acceleration, important for rough-water work. It also holds plane at 2200 rpm and 10 mph (with the tabs down and drive in), giving you a comfortable ride and control at slow speeds.
LAST WORD. A trailerable cruiser with a captain-friendly layout.
Displacement (lbs., approx.)....5,800
Minimum cockpit depth..2'2"
Max. cabin headroom..6'0"
Fuel capacity (gal.)...74
Water capacity (gal.)...20
Price (w/standard power) ..........$54,495
Price (w/test power) ..........$57,495
STANDARD POWER: Single 240-hp MerCruiser 5.0L EFI Alpha V-8 gasoline stern drive.
OPTIONAL POWER: Single MerCruiser stern drive to 260 hp.
TEST BOAT POWER: Single 260-hp MerCruiser 5.7L EFI Bravo Three V-8 gasoline stern drive with 350 cid, 4.00" bore x 3.48" stroke, swinging a 15 1/2" x 24" and 14 1/4" x 24" three-bladed ss propset through a 2:1 reduction.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Anchor roller; retractable 3-step transom ladder; VHF; compass; 12-volt accessory outlet; depthsounder; snap-in cockpit carpet; AM/FM/CD stereo w/4 speakers; flip-up helm bolster; hot and cold transom shower; refrigerator; microwave; windshield wiper; 6-gal. water heater; shorepower w/50' cable; Bimini top; remote oil filter; trim tabs.