Sea Ray 175 Sport

A key reason why Sea Ray has such a big name in boating is that the company is in tune with the whole experience of owning a boat. That means using it, towing it, maintaining it -- the A to Z of boating. They want the experience to be positive, no matter the size of the boat. That's the overriding difference between the 175 Sport and so many small bowriders that obviously focus on price point.

What we think: A key reason why Sea Ray has such a big name in boating is that the company is in tune with the whole experience of owning a boat. That means using it, towing it, maintaining it -- the A to Z of boating. They want the experience to be positive, no matter the size of the boat. That's the overriding difference between the 175 Sport and so many small bowriders that obviously focus on price point.

Storage is often an issue with a boat this size. The 175 Sport has an in-floor compartment that follows the lines of the deck to gain more volume, and the hatch opens (and stays open) with a nice gas-assist strut. Storage also runs underneath the stern seat, but the nicest compartments are under each corner of the sun pad. All compartments are either finished fiberglass or carpeted, which says a lot about the attention to detail in the boat overall.

Our test boat was set up with the new-for-2008 sun pad version. This would be our choice, too, as the sun pad (big for a small bowrider) is a natural place to hang out over the integrated swim platform. It also gives the boat a curved stern seat with high freeboard -- perfect for little passengers. Our tallest testers appreciated the hollowed driver's console, which opens legroom and helps push the windshield away from the face. We gave in to the temptation to drive the boat in sharp maneuvers. The boat is so much fun to drive that we'd be careful to avoid "creativity" at the wheel when passengers are on board.

Who should buy it: Families getting into boat ownership for the positive experience of being on the water. Excess options should not be a motivating point, nor should numerical speed, as the boat feels faster than it is.

Vital Stats * Length: 17'6" * Beam: 7' * Dry Weight: 2,100 lb. * Seating/Weight Capacity: 7/900 lb. * Fuel Capacity: 21 gal. * Max HP: 135 * MSRP: (test boat w/ MerCruiser 3.0): $23,490 * NMMA certified: Yes

Power Picks
MerCruiser 3.0 (base boat) $20,379

Also Consider...
185 Sport
Length: 19'8"
Beam: 7'3"
Max HP: 220
You gain two feet of real estate, some in the interior and even more with the standard extended swim platform.

195 Sport
Length: 20'2"
Beam: 7'6"
Max HP: 260
Still has the easy maneuverability of a sport boat, but with more features and more power options for more flexibility of use.

  • Test Drive
  • Test Engine: MerCruiser 3.0 Alpha
  • Test Prop: 19-pitch aluminum
  • Test Load: People (190 lb.); Fuel (21 gal.)
  • Top Speed: 42.6 mph @ 5,000 rpm
  • Time to Plane: 3.3 sec.
  • Time to 30 mph: 8.5 sec.
  • Minimum Planing Speed: 17.5 mph @ 2,600 rpm