Not even a decade ago, if you had uttered the words “outboard-powered bowrider,” I would have in my mind’s eye pictured an entry-level 16-footer with a single 90 hp on the transom. Today seemingly every major boatbuilder offers an outboard version of its mega-bowrider or dayboat models, seeking to capitalize on the booming popularity of this power choice. In this increasingly crowded field, what does the Sea Ray SLX 310 OB bring to the table? Serious style and creature comforts. Not to mention a nice performance.
In lieu of sterndrives, our test SLX came powered with twin Mercury 300 Verados. While you can upgrade to 350s, the smaller engines did the job, smoothly propelling the boat to a 52 mph top speed while comfortably seating a crew of five. With Sea Ray’s standard hull form, featuring a classic V that tapers to 21 degrees at the transom, the SLX handled smoothly and predictably in lock-to-lock turns at 30 mph. All the while it handled other boat wakes and a moderate bay chop without pounding or rattling. The Verados were whisper-quiet at idle speeds, and even at wide-open throttle most of the sound registered on our decibel meter came from the ambient wind noise.
But if you’re buying this boat, you’re most likely wondering how it handles a crowd. During our test runs, we had two passengers stretched out in the bow lounge, nestled against the forward-facing backrests. Neither passenger obstructed the view from the console seating in the main cockpit, especially important at the helm. For the driver, the independent flip-up bolster made it easy to decide between standing or sitting, and the dash proved easy to read from either angle. The DTS throttle made for seamless shifting, and the optional joystick system rendered close-quarters handling a nonissue.
A well-appointed head in the port console is there if needed, and the double-wide seat rotates to form a conversation pit with the helm and the L-shaped lounge in the cockpit while at anchor. The adjustable aft sun pad is a plus for those looking to tan and lounge. And don’t forget the wet bar and aft-facing love seat behind the helm.
- Helm features double-wide bench with independent bolsters and twin cup holders in the dash, to accommodate the captain and first mate.
- Extra-wide backrests and flip-up armrests enhance comfort in the bow lounge.
- Outboard setup increases interior storage capacity versus sterndrive power.
- Outboards eat up much of the swim platform space, a trade-off for this power choice versus sterndrives.
- Aft entertainment center counter could use a fiddle to keep things from sliding off it.
The Formula 310 Bowrider ($356,630 with twin Mercury 350 Verados) is a slightly slimmer, lighter and more performance-oriented bowrider.
Price: $241,000 (with test power)
Available Power: Outboard
How We Tested
Engine: Twin 300 hp Mercury 300 Verado four-stroke outboards
Props: 151/4″ x 19″ 4-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.85:1
Fuel Load: 40 gal.
Water on Board: 0 gal.
Crew Weight: 680 lb.
Sea Ray Boats – Knoxville, Tennessee; searay.com