The new Crownline E29 XS is a thoroughly modern boat, but operating it evokes memories of driving a vintage Mustang convertible: It can flex like a muscle car, but its sporty lines give it serious sex appeal. When we pushed down the throttles, the first thing that struck us was how quickly the twin Yamaha F250s pushed 4 tons of boat onto plane — 3.8 seconds. We also marveled at the minimal bow rise; outboards move the center of gravity farther aft than sterndrive installations, and many larger boats that have been converted struggle with squatting issues coming out of the hole. The E29 XS did not. When we made hard-over turns at speed, the nimble bowrider responded gracefully with no blowout or prop slippage. Crownline would credit this boat’s performance to its F.A.S.T. Tab hull design, which includes vented chines, vortex generators, a delta pad and molded-in “fins” that help reduce drag and increase stability and efficiency. We’ll give the company credit where credit is due. The ride is sweet. We pushed the boat close to 56 mph with the twin 250s. Crownline says that with the twin 300 hp upgrade, the boat is capable of surpassing a crisp 60 mph.
Above the waterline, the E29 XS follows the most welcome day-boat trend, eschewing small and midsize cabin boats in favor of an oversize bowrider layout. All that open space for lounging and entertaining more accurately meets the needs of most people when they use their boats. In most cabin boats of this size, the space belowdecks remains woefully underused or turns into stowage space. In this layout, all the open space abovedecks will get used.
Going with outboard power only furthers the design evolution. You’ll find the Crownline E29 XS compares with the Regal 29 OBX (our 2016 Boat of the Year), which starts at $201,120 with twin Yamaha F200s. Like the Crownline, Regal’s 29 OBX incorporates a unique running surface with its FasTrac stepped hull. Sea Ray’s SDX 290 OB ($153,252 with twin Mercury 250 Verados) is another choice to consider. Like the Crownline, it carries the boat’s taper forward to expand the seating capabilities in the bow.
Though the outboard installation eats into some of the real estate reserved for a swim platform on sterndrive models, the E29 XS does a good job of maximizing the space available with swim steps to either side of the motorwell and adequate walking space between the engines and the transom sun pads. The portside swim step hides a telescoping boarding ladder. The sun pads, split by a centerline walk-through, make for a great staging area for watersports or for a full-on tanning session. The electric backrests adjust to your liking at the push of a button. The seating in the cockpit is adaptable too to create a conversation pit or rear-facing recliners. Lift the seat cushions to reveal all the stowage you could need underneath. Our test model had the standard drawer refrigerator installed underneath the portside seating.
The view from the helm is great, with excellent visibility for the flush-mount Raymarine eS98 touchscreen multifunction display that monitors engine and navigation information. Both the helm seat and the passenger seat have flip-up bolsters so the captain and first mate can sit or stand to their preferences. Our test boat came equipped with the Optimus 360 steering system, and the joystick seriously helped in close-quarters handling. A hardtop shades the cockpit; deploy the manual SureShade for complete coverage to the transom.
The port console houses a spacious and well-appointed head that has a pump-out porcelain throne with an electric flush. A raised glass sink sits atop a granite counter. Kudos to Crownline for adding a screened porthole to provide natural light and ventilation to a space that oftentimes lacks both. The builder would do well to add a grab handle down there to give anyone seated some security should the boat rock and roll while in use.
Because Crownline rounds off the bow rather than bringing it to a fine point at the stem, the forward seating is incredibly roomy. A few people can sit up front and not knock knees. Padding wraps around from console to console, so there’s a comfortable spot no matter where you sit. Recessed grab rails run along each gunwale topside to create secure handholds. Forward-facing backrests adorn each console and feature flip-down armrests. The backrest against the helm console lifts up on a sturdy gas-assist strut for easy hands-free access to the stowage space underneath. Seriously, you’ll have to work hard to find enough toys and gear to fill this boat to capacity.
Amenities? The E29 XS comes equipped with six 12-volt receptacles, a 36-quart cooler in the bow area, docking lights, a freshwater transom shower, trim tabs, anchor windlass and a Polk stereo system with 10 total speakers, to name a few. The whole package makes the Crownline E29 XS a superb aquatic entertainment platform, with the space and performance chops to satisfy many a boat owner and his crew.