We still have a hard time believing this number: $45,722. That's the base price for the 265. Add about five grand in features and you'll be looking at the express cruiser we tested — designed to accommodate a family of four overnight.
Stepping down three entry steps to the cabin, this tester crouched in anticipation of cramped quarters. No need — we had 6'3" of headroom. Couple that with the long side windows that invite in light, and the berth is surprisingly livable. We stayed here longer than usual because the air conditioning made it 20 degrees cooler than the 92-degree outdoor temp at our Florida test site. To port is a full galley with burners, fridge, sink and storage for pots and pans; on the starboard side is a one-piece molded head unit that can be used to shower and, using the 110-volt outlets, primp.
The only feature we didn't see was a hanging locker, meaning the boat is intended more for overnights than for long weekends. Other than that, the cabin has all the makings of a second home, so the boat payments can be used as a tax advantage in April.
Whereas many builders of pocket cruisers are targeting couples, the 265 is more of a family cruiser. The designers left the gunwales high all around the cockpit but trimmed the width to open it up. The width also allows the steps to be extra-wide on the console up to the bow deck.
Bayliner cut some costs by keeping the helm station simple, yet our test boat still had remotes for the sound system, windlass and spotlight, plus an optional Navman VHF. The optional aluminum radar arch overhead is less costly for Bayliner to include than fiberglass, but it's thoughtfully prewired to make it easy to add electronics.
At the transom we found the hookups for shorepower and fresh water. We could have taken a hot shower, cooked a meal and relaxed in the air-conditioned cabin, all for just a little more than $50,000. The base price is shy of $46,000. It's still hard to believe.
• Mid berth has an AC vent and storage shelf
• Aft lounge seat is on a hinged stanchion that allows the whole unit to be raised to access the engine
• Refreshment center has a molded sink and a hatch that converts to a cutting board
• Port seat is an adjustable lounger for one or a love seat for two
• Courtesy lights in cabin are on three separate switches
• Microwave is on a shelf opposite the galley in the cabin
Test Engine: MerCruiser 5.0 MPI, Bravo 3
Test Prop: 22-pitch
Test Load: People (390 lb.); Fuel (33 gal.)
Top Speed: 43.2 MPH @ 5,100 RPM
Time to Plane: 7.3 sec
Time to 30 MPH: 14.3 sec.
Min. Plane: 19.5 MPH @ 2,900 RPM, 76 db
RPM MPH SOUND LEVEL
Idle 3.9 59 db
1,000 5.7 69 db
1,500 7.6 69 db
2,000 9.1 72 db
2,500 13.6 77 db
3,000 21.0 77 db
3,500 27.3 78 db
4,000 32.5 79 db
4,500 38.1 79 db
5,000 42.2 86 db
5,100 43.2 88 db