Rinker Captiva 216 BR

Buyers would be well served adding the Captiva 216 BR to their short list.

Optimizing the shape of the chines and strakes, plus incorporating subtle hook into the Captiva 216 BR’s bottom, Rinker scores a win for economy, efficiency and fun. Powered by the perky 220 hp MerCruiser 4.3 MPI-C Alpha stern-drive, my test boat displayed none of the tradeoffs common when builders install minimum power in an effort to keep a boat’s purchase price low.

The boat planed in less than four seconds, never exceeded 4 degrees of inclination and, with full fuel and a crew of two, kissed the 50 mph mark. It tracked precisely enough to satiate a slalom skier and tight enough to thrill the pants off those being towed on a tube. Boating's test database shows that these numbers are equivalent to those of similar-size boats powered by 260 hp engines. Though the numbers may be tough to match with the whole family aboard, the test boat's performance made me confident that the Captiva 216 BR will deliver on Rinker's more-smiles-per-gallon mantra.

Stepping off and stepping back, the Captiva 216 BR presented an attractive stance. The boat is big-shouldered, its maximum beam more forward than many, yet it retains sleekness and balance of line. It’ll draw comment whether tethered to a dock or hooked up behind a tow vehicle.

The cockpit is inviting, and there are flat, nonskid spots from which to board side-to, in addition to a walkway that provides access from the platform. You won’t notice the walkway at first, but lifting the starboard side of the full-width sun pad cushion reveals it. Neat.

A “cab-forward” design, the Captiva 216 BR delivers enough room in the cockpit for a spotter in the companion chair to spin around without knocking knees with those seated aft. Yet the bow lounge allowed this 6-foot-1-inch boat tester to kick back. Breaking out my fine-tooth comb, I noticed that there are multiple ways to access stowage compartments — which makes getting at gear easier — and that a strict regimen of through-bolting forms sturdy connections. Service access proved excellent. Cost-conscious or not, runabout buyers would be well served adding this boat to their short list.

Comparable models: Monterey 204 FS, Sea Ray 210 SLX