Sea Ray 175 Sport

Vitamin D. Couldn't you use a little sun?

Sea Ray builds boats as long as 70' with staterooms so large that they can fit a small runabout inside them. But such boats aren't right for the guy who wants to buy that runabout and trailer it down to the lake. Don't worry, Sea Ray has him covered, too, with its 175 Sport.

The entry-level bowrider is built with the idea of introducing people to boating and to a company's boats. A price point is established that won't create the intense sticker shock of a bigger boat packed with amenities. Not surprisingly, it's a category dominated by low price tags -- from the Bayliner 175 (built by a sister company to Sea Ray), which sells for a$11,620 with a 135-hp MerCruiser to the Glastron MX 175 ($14,789 with a 135-hp MerCruiser) to the Stingray 180 LS ($17,196 with a 135-hp Volvo). The 175 Sport resides on the higher end of the spectrum, topping $20,000.

Included in that price tag are standards that appear on the options list of some of the other boats, including a CD player, lockable glovebox, and power-assist steering. One thing that isn't offered on the 175 Sport is a choice of power: The 135-hp MerCruiser 3.0L Alpha One stern drive is the only motor offered. But that engine provides solid performance numbers. With two adults onboard and a full 21 gallons of fuel, the 175 Sport planed in 4.5 seconds and hit 30 mph in fewer than 10. It could hold plane at 13 mph and 2300 rpm. It should provide enough power for tubers and boarders. At the helm the driver has a good line of sight to all gauges, and both he and the passenger have molded-in footrests under the consoles.

Even with the small 3.0L engine installed, the engine compartment is fairly tight, although all the basics are accessible. Carpeted stowage bins sit on either side of the compartment. And the 6'3"-by-3' sunpad resting atop the engine hatch is a great spot for catching a few rays. The bow cockpit is another good spot to get your tan on, as there's enough room for two adults to stretch out and soak up the sun. The transom bench seats three, so along with the bucket seats, the comfortable passenger load stands at seven. Overall, the 175 Sport is an all-around solid entry-level bowrider that makes a smart choice as a first boat.