Got 2-foot-itis? Eye up Scout’s newest 355 LXF. It packs all the amenities of its larger siblings at an easier-to-handle size and price.
Our tester was rigged for performance, using three Mercury Verado 350 outboards to reach an exhilarating top speed of 66 mph. Punching the throttle, we jumped on plane and passed the 30 mph mark in just 6.8 seconds. Range with the standard 310-gallon fuel cell is 336 miles at a best-cruise speed just shy of 40 mph, where the triple 350s burned fuel at 32.6 gph, netting an efficiency of 1.2 mpg.
Per our pre-trial seminar from Scout CEO Steve Potts, the 355 was born from customer feedback, asking for the features from the larger 380 and 420 models. Since Potts doesn’t like the idea of jamming big-boat features into smaller hulls not designed to handle them, he ordered a complete redesign. While the dual-step hull was retained, everything else was changed to accommodate boat-owner input.
And what were those desires? Scout owners clamored for the addition of a Seakeeper 3 gyrostabilizer, which requires room amidships and care in installation for proper hull balance due to its heft. Potts and crew redesigned the stringer grid system and relocated the fuel cells and batteries to ensure that the 355 possessed proper center of gravity for fast oceangoing runs. If the Seakeeper option is not chosen, a huge cooler is installed instead.
Like all Scout luxury center-consoles we’ve tested, this is a high-performance fin chaser at heart but feels right at home as a dinner-cruise vessel, yacht tender, or island-hopping play boat. Our test in the Charleston Harbor gave us foot-high wind chop along with steep wakes from passing cruisers. The 355 gave it right back, ripping through harbor traffic. Cornering delivered a pronounced, confident heel under tight control. The double-stepped running surface produced speeds approaching 70 mph with three aboard, which gave a fleet-of-feet sensation even in a large hull. Spray is deflected downward by the hard chines and Carolina bow flare. The hull frees up quickly, releasing faster for less wetted surface; higher efficiency is the result, especially in calm water.
The wide center console mimics those aboard the 380 and 420 models, and it offers a heated, triple helm seat. The setup includes a new leaning-post design for better comfort and position. The T-top perches atop sculpted extruded supports, like all Scout boats. Up on the roof, a solar panel keeps the standard AGM batteries charging, even under the load of the Seakeeper and all the other cool electronic accessories. Those accessories include a standard high-resolution bow camera.
Scout builds in a high-level combination of pure fishing function with luxury touches and quality. The construction part of that begins with the 355 LXF’s resin-infused hull and deck. Epoxy is used for the hull lamination, while polyester resin is used for the deck. This provides maximum weight savings and strength. There is no wood core or transom plywood to rot. When you look underneath, it’s a pleasure to see that all fasteners are through-bolted with no wood screws to vibrate out.
The deck and interior layout follows the Scout luxury center-console formula: At the bow, behind the standard concealed anchor windlass, there’s a relaxation station to rival that aboard any luxury bowrider. Center-facing cushions surround the (optional) electronically operated party table that can be set higher for dining or lowered and covered with (standard) cushions to form a huge recessed sun deck. Forward of the center-console windshield, there’s a reclined double lounge. Cavernous dry stowage abounds; even the bow cushions tuck away without hassle.
The console is all-digital, with a wide touchscreen featuring e-connectivity so you can operate pertinent functions at the dash or with your smartphone. Redundant “traditional” switches provide backup. The Verados’ horses are kept in line with Mercury’s power steering and digital throttle/shift controls, as well as optional Mercury autopilot, joystick and Skyhook controls.
Through the portside cabin door, the belowdecks amenities proved comfortable and accommodating for a cozy couple overnight. The twin queen berth fits tall folks comfortably, and a full galley and entertainment center are standard. Air conditioning is available.
Abovedecks, Scout’s sculpted recessed grab rail encircles the cockpit, providing a secure handhold. Plenty of rod stowage resides under the gunwales. Fish stowage at the transom is 60 gallons, along with a circulating baitwell. A walk-through transom door allows access to the full-width transom bracket/platform with its Armstrong dive ladder.
In the 35-foot center-console market, Cobia’s 344CC starts at $244,889 with twin Yamaha 350 V-8s; with triple F300s, it sells for around $285,000. Boston Whaler’s 350 Outrage mimics the Scout in size and weight, and rigged with triple 300 Verados, it starts at $389,785; with 350s, it tabs at just over $404,000. Pursuit’s S328 measures out at just under 35 feet, starts at $315,495 with twin Yamaha F300s, and tips the scales at just over 12,000 pounds rigged and ready.
- Double-stepped high-performance hull provides fun top speeds with good mileage and crisp handling.
- Scout’s clean rigging and execution mean trouble-free operation and maintenance for many years of ownership.
- Standard bow camera is a cool tech-head feature but really should be standard on all big centers like this; it’s invaluable for seeing just ahead and surely can prevent mishaps by enhancing forward visibility.
- Seakeeper 3DC gyro really tames rolling seas but is listed as a $50,000 option.
- How can you fish in such a luxurious craft? Keeping the 355 clean-as-new will flummox many owners; it’s so beautiful, you won’t want to sully it with fish blood.
Price: $357,540 (base)
Available Power: Outboard
How We Tested
Engines: Triple Mercury 350 hp Verado FourStroke outboards
Drive/Prop: Mercury Revolution 4 14.625″ x 20″ (outer engines); 22″ (center engine)
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 100 gal.
Water Load: 10 gal.
Crew Weight: 600 lb.
Scout Boats – Summerville, South Carolina; 843-821-0068; scoutboats.com