Mercury’s 6.2-liter 350-horsepower sterndrive and Crownline’s 280 SS make an outstanding team. The deep-V hull coupled with Mercury power steering and digital throttle and shift make driving the 280 SS a dream. It accelerated quickly, reaching an exciting top speed in excess of 50 miles per hour with such smooth, confident control, your grandmother would be happy skippering it.
That was our first impression as we slid the throttle forward on the water in -Tampa Bay. Our second impression was how solidly the boat is built. On the best days, Tampa Bay is a choppy mess with plenty of rec boats stirring it up, commercial ships making it worse, and relentless wind ensuring all that turbulence is as bad as possible. But the 280 slid through it like a hot knife through butter.
The dash is laid out like a luxury car with a Garmin GPSMap for a head-up display reporting every bit of engine data the V-8 block makes available. Then, analog gauges on either side of it complete a fighter-pilot-cockpit look, and a coaming bolster by the throttle makes skippering it an armchair affair.
The radar arch is electric and retractable, and an integrated Bimini provides shade over the spacious cockpit seating.
The aft lounge can form a forward--facing couch or you can lay down the -seatback to create a sun lounge wide enough for at least two people. A jump seat behind the helm bucket has a backrest on top and a cooler pocket underneath. Added refreshment comes from a drop-in cooler in the cockpit sole.
A passenger bucket seat behind the portside console swivels like the -captain’s chair to join the aft seating in a -circular conversation pit interrupted only by a transom walk-through. We liked the tough foam-mat surface on the walk-through and large swim platform for its comfort and good looks. Ahead of the passenger bucket seat, the console opens like a James Bond bookcase and reveals a large changing room—our tester was equipped with a flushing head and freshwater sink, and was ventilated and lit by a port light.
Power, comfort and luxury come together perfectly on the Crownline 280 SS.