Stingray’s 198LX carries on the brand’s tradition of getting more speed out of less horsepower. With a powerful MerCruiser 4.3 engine, our test boat peaked at an impressive 58.2 mph, planed in three seconds flat, and reached 30 mph in 7.4 seconds. These numbers are “wow” numbers for a boat with an overall length under 20 feet. Credit Stingray’s Z-plane hull design. It trades conventional strakes for overlapping planes, stacked atop each other like the slats in a Venetian blind. As the boat accelerates, these horizontal sections act as planing surfaces. Once the boat is at speed, they transition to spray releasers. Stingray notes the design delivers a smoother flow of water to the prop. It also works in conjunction with another Stingray trademark, a notched transom. The latter allows the drive to be mounted higher, reducing drag. A slightly deeper entry and sharpened keel give the hull similar thrills as it cranks its way through a sharp, snappy turn. It’s like driving a zippy sports car that really grips the road. You know the difference between that and a boring sedan.
Though the LX resembles a bowrider, Stingray calls it a Sport Deck. The difference? A little extra width in both the bow and main cockpit. The LX also trades out carpet over marine ply for a fiberglass liner with snap-in carpeting. At the bow, a combination locker stows the tucked-away boarding ladder and anchor under a nonslip hatch. So your beach boarding needs are met. A similar hatch under the next step into the cockpit reveals an insulated cooler. Twin parallel lounges span both port and starboard sides, with padded coaming bolsters above and carpeted stowage below. In the main cockpit, our test boat was outfitted with twin optional bucket seats behind the consoles, plus an aft bench and a sun pad.
Like many bowriders, the LX caters to a lot of masters. Those into water sports will appreciate the in-floor ski locker and low seat adjacent to the extended swim platform. It’s a good spot to sit and gear up, and the wet compartment below is great for tow ropes. So the sports enthusiasts in the family are more than adequately covered.
More into visiting coves and relaxing on the hook? A covered three-step ladder on the transom swim platform eases getting in and out of the water. Cup holders, an optional transom stereo remote and a cooler below the transom walk-through are all conveniently within reach, so kick back and enjoy.
*Proven Z-plane hull extracts high-end performance out of a more affordable power option.
*Sport Deck configuration gives more beam width in both bow and main cockpits.
*Extended swim platform and aft configuration cater equally to water sports and cove crowds.
Dry Weight: 2,662 lb.
Seating/Weight Capacity: 9/1,450 lb.
Fuel Capacity: 34 gal.
How We Tested
Engine: MerCruiser 4.3
Drive/Prop: Alpha One/Laser II 137/8″ x 21″ 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.62:1
Fuel Load: 8 gal.
Crew Weight: 320 lb.
$23,555 (with MerCruiser 4.3 TKS)
Hartsville, South Carolina; 843-383-4507; stingrayboats.com