Monterey 305 SS Boat Test

The 305 SS is a sporty and luxurious day boat, with a high level of fit and finish.

February 27, 2019

When boating enthusiasts get a load of this new outboard-powered Monterey 305 SS, it might just might create a frenzy.

First, the 305 SS sets a new table for the horsepower gourmands, offering clean, quiet, easy-to-maintain propulsion in a hull and cockpit design that saves weight and maximizes crew comfort and convenience. Second, particularly in the case of Mercury’s new V-8 outboards, the 305 SS pampers the skipper with silky-smooth steering and crisp maneuverability, and rewards each nudge of the throttle with aggressive acceleration. Also available with the Mercury power is joystick steering and the unique ability to manage exhaust porting to give your motors a whisper-quiet Verado purr, or a throaty performance rumble and a little more unstately excitement. And then there’s the adaptive steering with sensors that measure the load on the motor as you feed in rudder, telling the four-stroke outboard to throttle up to maintain a smooth, steady turn. Few skippers can do it as well as these motors can.

Monterey 305 SS Boat Test
LOA: 29’0″ | Beam: 9’0″ | Draft (max): 2’8″ | Displacement (approx.): 7,200 lb. (with power) | Transom Deadrise: 21 degrees | Bridge Clearance: 8’9″ | Fuel Capacity: 100 gal. | Max Horsepower: 600 | Available Power: Mercury Verado outboards | More Information: Bill Doster

This boat, like some runabout outboards, is sister to an earlier sterndrive launch. But not all such morphs are successful. Sterndrive power’s mass impacts the center of gravity, and simply ­removing it and bolting on outboards can create a Romanesque proboscis that rides bow-down, punching into seas with little or no grace and offering little of the outboard’s advantages.


But Monterey worked hard to manage the position of accommodations in the cockpit and at the transom, balancing the boat and at the same time giving boaters something besides just massive ­stowage in the former engine compartment.

Sure, there’s a cavernous compartment below what was the engine hatch — you could stow a fully inflated tow tube in there. A freshwater tank keeps the shower on the transom, and sink and head are supplied for all-day comfort. Plus, batteries, pumps and plumbing have never been easier to access for maintenance; simply touch the electric switch to raise that hatch.

Monterey 305 SS Boat Test
Passenger comfort is maximized with a multifunction aft seating module. Courtesy Monterey Boats

Space-saving outboard power further ­accommodates passenger comfort with a multifunction aft seating module. Flip the aft cockpit seat back over flat to make a spacious sun pad. Recline it slightly to make an aft-facing lounge. The components and hardware are of durable, highly polished stainless steel for good looks, and they’re easy to operate. That goes for the aft rumble seat too. Pull it out, prop it up on its integrated stand, and enjoy the view of your kids swimming from a two-person settee. When it’s time to pull up stakes, squeeze a latch under the aft settee and it pops up, revealing a storage compartment to contain wet mooring lines and fenders. It comes up without protest on its own gas-assist shocks.


Also rare on outboard conversions is a convenient transom platform. The outboards usually bisect the platform, making it difficult to get from port to stern. Not here — walk with confidence to access shore power, water or waste ports.

Monterey 305 SS Boat Test
Our tester featured both a new Mercury VesselView touchscreen, and a Raymarine Axiom chart plotter and sonar unit. Courtesy Monterey Boats

It is amazing how much boating fun is had behind the helm seat — not in it. But the 305 keeps the inspiration going for the crew too. Sure, the captain gets an adjustable bucket seat facing a newly styled dashboard. Our tester featured both a new Mercury VesselView touchscreen, and a Raymarine Axiom chart plotter and sonar unit. You can bling that up with radar, Sirius satellite weather, and even — if you’re willing to take your hands off the helm — an autopilot.

There’s a Fusion Audio source unit at the dash, and JL speakers are liberally spread about the cockpit, powered by an amp and subwoofer JL “bazooka” speakers on the electric retractable radar arch. Yes, the ­super-solid arch slides upward or downward at the touch of a button.

Monterey 305 SS Boat Test
Bow seating is deep, firmly padded to cushion riders. Courtesy Monterey Boats

Bow seating is deep, firmly padded to cushion riders in the toughest chop, though so smooth was the 305’s passage over doubled-­up wakes, we could’ve sat on plywood. Armrests fold down to give port and starboard riders forward-facing thrones with armrests for right and left hands, storage galore beneath, and plenty of space for four or more to enjoy the first-class seats.

Check out the Mercury V8 outboards that power this boat!

If you think we were impressed with Monterey’s performance and accommodations, forgive us while we lavish even more praise on its upholstery and hull appointments. Inside, the vinyl is of several different textures — colors complementary to the hull stripes, and stitching so complex and sporty-looking, it took extremely skilled upholsterers to pull it off.

Monterey 305 SS Boat Test
A freshwater tank keeps the shower on the transom, and sink and head are supplied for all-day comfort. Courtesy Monterey Boats

Outside, the sleek hull shape is visually streamlined with tasteful striping, a contrasting hull bottom color — optional treatments all, but worth it for the visual excitement — and complementary polished stainless-steel trim, louvered vents and monogrammed hardware.

The entire profile is surprisingly sleek. Even the polished stainless-steel windlass and plow anchor blend into the lines, just like the powerful outboards, inviting the international boating community to embrace the new Monterey 305 SS with its highly demanded outboard power.

High Points

  • Digital switches proved easy to operate and allowed us to program custom operations.
  • Electric lift on the optional radar arch makes for convenient passage beneath bridges.
  • Gas-assist shocks on the aft hatch make wet stowage of fenders and lines easy.

Low Points

  • Front seat bolsters would’ve been more comfortable if they had thicker padding.
  • Windlass area lacks a washdown for rinsing the anchor.

Price: $174,011 (with black 250 hp outboards)

Available Power: Outboard

Monterey 305 SS Boat Test
Monterey 305 SS Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

How We Tested
Engines: Twin Mercury V-8 250 hp
Drive/Props: Outboard/Rev 4 21″ pitch stainless-steel
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 65 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.

More Information
Monterey Boats – Williston, Florida; 352-528-2628;


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