Monterey 197FS

This is not a sterndrive boat with an outboard afterthought. It’s optimized, by design, to carry the ponies on the transom.

Monterey 197FS
Monterey 197FS
Monterey 197FS
Monterey 197FS
Monterey 197FS
Monterey 197FS
Monterey 197FS

Outboard runabouts are making a comeback, and Monterey’s 197FS rates as one of the best.

Monterey impresses us with a commitment to design excellence. The 197FS is no exception. Its optimized chine configuration, strake placement, centers of gravity and buoyancy, and other details ensure top performance, with the ponies on the transom instead of under a sun pad. This is not a sterndrive boat with an outboard afterthought.

During our test, the 197FS proved a spirited performer, accelerating briskly and handling the diamond-shaped wake waves reflecting off the shoreline of our busy, narrow stretch of test water with the agility of a gazelle.

We also applauded its build. The ski pylon is stepped in a steel channel that’s bolted across the stringers. Stowage compartments are fiberglass lined to thwart mildew. Excellent service access resides beneath the aft lounge.

We found the cockpit roomier than comparably sized sterndrive boats, making the 197FS perfect for playing or fishing. You can order a wake tower and snazzy graphics. The optional fishing package includes a trolling motor and fishing seats, all of which stow inside the sole locker. The standard 48-quart cooler serves boaters of any ilk — which is fitting, since the 197FS does the same.