Stingray 225

Less sugar, more spice.

If a bowrider is claimed to be faster, more efficient, and less expensive than its competitors, plus it handles like a dream, you'd be first in line for a sea trial, right? After my test of Stingray's 225LR, I say get in line. Powered by a 300-hp Volvo Penta 5.7 Gi DuoProp stern drive, my tester hit an impressive 58 mph. Most boats this size and weight, comparably powered, struggle to top 52 mph. Also, at 33 mph, the 225LR burned only 8 gph, delivering better than 4 mpg. In other words, the 225LR goes nearly 10 mph faster than its competitors while delivering the same efficiency. What does this mean for you? The 225LR offers a 200-mile range, better known as several Saturdays tearing up the lake without stopping for fuel. Some of this can be attributed to its low weight: at 3,364 pounds, the 225LR weighs several hundred pounds less than many 22' bowriders. Its transom is also notched, allowing the drive to be mounted higher for less drag. But credit must also go to Stingray's patented Z-plane hull.

You already know what most boat bottoms look like. Viewed from astern, each side is an angled panel running from keel to chine. Protruding from each panel are strakes, usually two per side. The flat horizontal surfaces of the strakes provide lift; their vertical sides improve tracking.

However, a Z-plane hull doesn't have protruding strakes. Instead, its hull panels are faceted. Each side of the hull bottom, between the keel and chine, consists of three panels, each a little narrower than the one above. The lower edge of one panel forms a corner, sort of like roof shingles, with the panel below it. Basically, the chines are recessed rather than protruding from the hull surface. One result, says Stingray, is cleaner water delivered to the prop, which makes the boat's speed and efficiency climb.

Stingray also claims that the Z-plane design delivers smoother handling in turns. There must be something to it. As I pushed the 225LR through the routine U-turns I use while testing, it cut dangerous curves with a style and grace that no competitor I have driven has ever delivered. The 225LR handles hairpin turns with impunity.

This isn't the glitziest boat you can buy, and because of that, it's not too pricey. But such features as a fiberglass stringer system, lined stowage compartments, and durable Nomex-backed upholstery seating ensure it's not cheap. Lastly, I liked the windshield side-vent windows, a feature that used to be common but is too often forgotten by boatbuilders today.