Crownline 340 CR

Top That! The secret of success.

Few boat categories are as crowded, or as competitive, as the one occupied by 35' express cruisers such as Crownline's 340 CR. Many of the competitors include diva offerings from Chaparral, Cruisers Yachts, Formula, Regal, Rinker, and Sea Ray. My test proved the 340 CR not only competes with these boats but beats them on some counts.

The 340 CR's standard hardtop is one highlight. Some of the other boats don't even offer one. Those that do offer it as an option for about 18 thou. The convenience and luxury of a standard hardtop is tough to beat. I mean, when was the last time you saw an express cruiser with all its canvas down?

The 340 CR also treats you to a sapele (a mahogany-like hardwood) cabin sole and a swim platform inlaid with teak, both standard. These are options aboard some of the competing cruisers, while others include a standard partial wood sole, typically in the galley, or a platform covered in teak-look synthetic matting.

The mechanical and electrical rigging of the 340 CR rivals the best in class. For example, the standard genset's exhaust hose is supported above the waterline by a padded stainless-steel clamp. I've seen too many installations where only a sure-to-fail tiewrap secures that hose. Also, every seacock is within easy reach. The tank sender was readily serviceable. I found all electrical connections sealed, with wiring colored according to ABYC recommendations. In front of the engines is a platform that makes routine maintenance easy.

Twin 300-hp MerCruiser 350 MAG SeaCore DTS Axius stern drives gave my test boat several advantages. The SeaCore engines and drives thwart corrosion better than standard powerplants. Digital throttle and shift provides effortless shifting, auto synchronization, and unsurpassed engine protection. The Axius joystick system ($23,077) provides docking prowess that rivals that of twin inboard engines, without sacrificing the speed and efficiency of stern drives. My tester topped out at 43.3 mph and achieved 1 mpg efficiency at 30 mph.