Chaparral 257 SSX

This big bowrider impresses with its sporty handling, flexible cockpit layout and luxury accouterments.

The 257 SSX is Chaparral’s “next-generation” luxury bowrider. Its vinyl-wrapped helm mixes an upscale look with real wood veneer, digital gauges and a leather steering wheel. The private head features a solid-surface countertop, sink, shower, mirror and screened port. Stowage drawers, cleverly integrated into the vertical sides of the ­in-floor ski locker, recapture valuable space that most builders ignore.

The boat’s most compelling feature is the transition lounge. This portside bench stands alone as a pedestal, slides rearward to link with the aft bench to create a comfortable chaise, or pivots 90 degrees to form — along with a side-mount table — a handy dinette. Another feature that wowed us is the aft-bench array. Upon these, crew can face forward while under way, aft while at anchor, or just lounge — click a switch and these back-to-back seats lower into dual sun pads that bracket the transom walk-through. Chaparral even had the foresight to allow the adjacent transition lounge to slide freely forward, lest someone forget to move it before lowering the bench into sun-pad mode.

Our test boat featured a 380 hp Volvo Penta 380C sterndrive tucked below its low-profile, electrically actuated engine hatch. This engine powered the 257 onto plane in 4 seconds, and pushed it to 30 mph in fewer than four more. Speed topped out at 51.5 mph.