Chaparral Boats 21 SSi Boat Test

This 2020 model from Chaparral proves an able sterndrive-powered bowrider.

Chaparral Boats 21 SSi Running Shot
LOA: 21'0" | Beam: 8'4" | Draft: 1'3" | Displacement: 3,100 lb. (dry with power) | Transom Deadrise: 20 degrees | Bridge Clearance: 8'2" (with arch) | Max Headroom: NA | Fuel Capacity: 40 gal. | Max Horsepower: 250 | Available Power: Single sterndrives from Mercury and Volvo Penta | More Information: chaparralboats.comCourtesy Chaparral Boats

Chaparral is expanding and improving its well-­appointed SSi series of runabouts, reinforcing the company’s commitment to recruiting new boaters by offering a well-engineered, well-built series of boats at a moderate price. The sterndrive-powered 21 SSi proved that ethos during our day running it.

We tested the 21 SSi with the 240 hp Volvo ­Penta SX drive, and achieved a top speed of about 47 mph and snapped onto plane in under 4 seconds. The power steering and super-­smooth throttle and shift enhanced the sporty feel of the responsive hull. If you are into sterndrives, and most inland boaters are, the 240 was the ­ideal horsepower. However, Chaparral also offers the 21 SSi in an outboard ­configuration. We ­tested that one with a 200 hp Yamaha and brought it onto plane quickly, reaching a top speed of 45 mph. In both models, the boat crushed doubled-up wakes without rattling hatches or teeth. Turns were graceful, and only the most ­aggressive turns caused a little ­slippage.

Coastal boaters are apt to prefer the outboard for its full-tilting motor and easy flushing system. Parents will appreciate the sterndrive for its unbroken swim platform that makes a popular hang-out spot when the boat is anchored or on the sandbar. To enhance the sterndrive’s popularity to salty boaters, our 21 SSi was equipped with a closed-cooled engine, ­giving added corrosion protection to the ­sterndrives.

The SSi brings all of the impressive luxury for which Chaparral is known: a glossy gelcoat, generous use of polished stainless steel in hardware such as grab rails, ­hinges, latches and drains, and more. And the SSi matches its style with performance.

While many boatbuilders have abandoned the middle-­class boater, instead focusing on the established, well-heeled boater, ­Chaparral’s commitment to the SSi series speaks of its commitment to recruiting new boaters with value grounded in high-­quality style and good ­performance.

High Points

  • Snap-in SeaDek is a handsome and practical sole covering.
  • Coaming compartments add practical stowage and look stylish.
  • Wind dam extends comfort in cool-weather boating.

Low Points

  • Deeper brow over the gauges would make them more readable in direct sun.
  • Better divider between the engine and side compartments would improve storage.
  • Four-step ladder would improve boarding ease, whether it's in the water or on the trailer.

Toughest Competitor
Monterey's M20 ($43,742 comparably equipped NAP with tower) is 2 inches shorter and boasts the same maximum horsepower of 250. It will carry 11 people in comfortable style. Both offer optional wakeboard towers and come equipped with quality stereos.

Price: $37,795 (starting; with trailer)

Available Power: Sterndrive

Chaparral Boats 21 SSi Performance Data
Chaparral Boats 21 SSi Certified Test ResultsBoating Magazine

How We Tested
Engine: 240 hp Volvo Penta SX drive
Drive/Prop: 14.5" x 19" 3-blade aluminum
Gear Ratio: 1.97: 1
Fuel Load: 30 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.

Chaparral Boats - Nashville, Georgia; 727-595-2956; chaparralboats.com