Monterey 254 FSX

Show and Go. Room to fill, power to thrill.

It's only 25', yet this bowrider makes promises it can keep. Not only is there seating for a crowd, there's stowage for their gear as well. Not only is the boat fast, but its mass and waterline length let you use all that power in a chop. Not only is it designed for a day on the water, but its large fuel capacity, enclosed head, and complete wetbar make day-long jaunts a pleasure. The boat? Monterey's 254 FSX. Part of Monterey's FS series, the 254 FSX includes such goodies as pull-up cleats, a stainless-steel trimmed windshield, hull graphics, dual batteries, and a thumping audio system.

The 254 FSX I tested housed a 375-hp MerCruiser 496 MAG MPI DTS Bravo Three stern drive beneath its hatch, which gave it enough oomph to prove that this new Monterey qualifies as a sportboat. Power through 40-mph turns. Hop the wake and pass that sluggish motoryacht. Jam the throttle and the 254 FSX goes. Top speed on test day kissed 54 mph, with two crew, three-quarters fuel, and a full complement of gear.

To accommodate the gear that most folks bring aboard, there's seat stowage, console stowage, a ski locker in the sole, and a huge locker under the aft lounge that's accessed through a strut-assisted hatch on the transom. This space will eat skis, wakeboards, fishing poles, whatever. Like the other stowage lockers, it's padded with Dri-Deck, and because it's on the transom, you won't have to move crew around when you want to pull out a toy.

Cool features include vertically mounted table pedestals. Instead of deck-mounted pedestals, the J-shaped ones mount on the seat bases. This arrangement provides more foot room with the table in place and gives the self-bailing fiberglass cockpit a cleaner look.

Other amenities are equally elegant. The head vanity, wetbar, and neat "end table" serving the aft lounge all have solid-surface faux stone. The head's hatch is finished on both sides. The transom seating converts from sunpad to bench to recliner. Also, check out the smart way that Monterey installed a big-block engine in an 8'6"-wide boat while retaining excellent serviceability. Wow.