Sea Ray 230 SLX

You'll love the 230 SLX because of its luxurious ride and tight handling.

If you’re buying a boat strictly for big wakes or slalom tracking, you’re going to buy an inboard tow boat. But Sea Ray’s brand-new 230 SLX is a luxury bowrider that offers you an option: It’s a wake-enhancing integration called Active Trim Control, or ATC ($5,846). It’s for boaters addicted to a runabout’s softer ride and the handling characteristics of a sterndrive who also want a craft with respectable tow-sports capabilities.

My test proved that Sea Ray’s 230 SLX with ATC combines the sterndrive benefits with damned good wakes. For cruising, the ATC tabs, hinged along the keel and spreading from keel to chine, tuck up flush with the running surface. In that position, the 230 presents wave-cleaving deadrise to the water, delivering the soft runabout ride. Deployed, the outboard tab edges drop level with the keel to flatten the effective deadrise, putting up crisply edged wakes. ATC also allows the 230 to plane into the very low teens, and when I punched the throttle, it leapt forward with stunningly minimal bow rise.

Tigé uses its convex TAPS tab system on its RZ4 to shape wakes on the boat. However, its tab is centered at the keel and stops the rockered hull from squatting on its transom (driving stronger wakes) and shifting to a wake-flattening level attitude that skiers like.

ATC was piggybacked on Lenco’s Auto Glide System to also offer cruising advantages. Accelerate and trim the drive up to your favorite running attitude. Then engage the Auto Glide boat control system. It holds that attitude regardless of wind or shifting crew. ATC reduces heel in turns as well, increasing passenger comfort. Lenco’s fast-acting electric rams respond quickly to large or small changes in load or conditions. All we noticed was flatter turning and a steadier ride.

While the big news about the 230 SLX is ATC, inside, Sea Ray has taken a page from the Cobalt 232 playbook and refined upholstery and contours to a crisper, more luxury-car look and feel that have succeeded for its toughest competitor. A clean nonskid sole can be softened with snap-in carpet. An optional ($308) SeaDek surface customizes the swim platform. At the transom is a walk-through for easy access to the cockpit and its aft interior lounge. The sun pad converts to an aft-facing lounge. A trailer is standard equipment.

The true test of a good boat is how much you love to run it. You’ll love the 230 SLX a lot because its fuel-efficient 5.0-liter engine won’t discourage you, even from turning the key to experience the wakes.

Comparable model: Chaparral 224 Xtreme