Four Winns SL222

See why we think the new SL222 is the best reason yet why the bowrider-versus-deck-boat debate might be a thing of the past.

November 8, 2008

The stat line says 22 feet 7 inches in length, with an 8-foot-6-inch beam. It’s a bowrider, with passenger seating for 10 and, with a 300 hp engine, a top speed in the ballpark of 50 mph. How many times have we seen all of the above numbers from a boat test? The numbers in this case are not only deceiving, they’re an injustice.

Four Winns introduced its first split-chine boat, the SL262, in mid-2007. The exaggerated chines under the bow made the boat look like a tri-hull at first glance. When we tested it, however, those sponsons never touched the water. They were developed to support a higher sheerline, thus allowing the deck to meet the hull at its widest point and remain there all the way up the gunwales. In other words, it’s wide from the bottom up instead of flaring out.

The theory worked fine on the 26-foot boat. But it is here on the all-new SL222 where we think the whole idea takes its best shape. We don’t have the interior square footage of every 22-foot boat on the market, but we’re willing to argue that the SL222 blows them all away when it comes to floor space. The stern seat is wider than we find on 22- to 23-foot bowriders. The forward-most bow seat is wide enough for three people to sit next to the anchor locker, facing aft — it also can house an optional portable toilet. Drivers are not any narrower or shorter than they were 40 years ago, so the helm seat is 26 inches wide with a longer bottom for leg support. The sun pad, swim platform and walking spaces all benefit from an extra 6-8 inches of usable lateral space.


While they were reworking the whole foundation of the 22-foot sport boat, Four Winns also considered how boaters’ behaviors are changing in this fuel-conscious era. They went with a living-room setup in the cockpit, with angular components and sloped backrests. There’s a simple elegance even in the dash, which instead of a gauge cluster has three large readouts and room for a GPS to monitor fuel flow. The SL222 has one of the most inviting transom hangouts we’ve seen, with stereo speakers, the wide platform and a dedicated seat molded in next to the sun pad. The whole idea is that you can be boating while sitting still.

When we did fire up the Volvo 5.7 Gi, we found something about Four Winns that hasn’t changed: turning ability. The boat came around quick and solid on a blustery day of whitecaps — our passengers sat on their cold hands instead of locking down on the safety handles. The Duoprop is a good investment for frequent wakeboarding, as it makes retrieving a rider easier.

OK, we topped out at 48-plus mph and clocked the SL222 to 30 mph at eight seconds. But in this boat and in this day of $90 fill-ups, those are just more insignificant numbers.


Notable Features
• The transom seat next to the sun pad hinges out for access to a deep storage compartment. Skis and boards can be stowed without entering the cockpit.
• The SL series boats have a dedicated compartment on the corner of the transom with a long pullout net — great for 10 pairs of shoes.
• The SL222 is too small for a practical head in the port console, so that space is instead used for a glove box that pulls out like a kitchen drawer.
• In-floor storage is deep and wide because of the overall hull design.

At A Glance…
Four Winns’ new approach to building sport boats literally started from the bottom and worked its way throughout the SL222.

Vital Stats
Length Overall: 22’7″
Beam: 8’6″
Dry Weight: 4,470 lb.
People/Weight Capacity: 10/1,800 lb.
Fuel Capacity: 50 gal.
Maximum HP: 320
MSRP (w/Volvo 5.7GI/DP): $58,438


Test Drive
Test Engine: Volvo 5.7 GIDP, 300 HP
Test Prop: F5
Test Load: People (390 lb.), Fuel (50 gal.)
Most Economical Cruise Speed: 25 MPH
Top Speed: 48.2 mph @ 5,000 rpm
Time to Plane: 4.0 sec.
Time to 30 MPH: 8.0 sec.


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