Starcraft put together a genuine “family truckster” of a rig in this MDX 201 IO deck boat, without the geeky looks of the Griswolds’ ride. To the contrary, the MDX 201 has sleek and incredibly sporty lines that are not normally associated with a family platform. Its performance reflected its style. Fitted with a MerCruiser 4.5-liter V-6 engine and time-tested Alpha One sterndrive, the 201 gave a lively but family-friendly (read: easy to pilot) performance. With an 18-inch-pitch four-blade Mercury Black Max aluminum propeller, our boat hit a maximum 43 mph at 4,700 rpm — a good turn of speed with 33 gallons of fuel and crew totaling 400 pounds. We suspect performance won’t suffer much even with triple that load, thanks to the MDX’s wide hull footprint.
At a best cruise speed of nearly 27 mph, the boat’s Mercury power plant was turning just 3,000 rpm and sipping from the tank at 6 gph, translating to 4.3 mpg. With a 44-gallon tank, that calculates to a 171-mile range, leaving 10 percent of the fuel in reserve — more than enough for a full day of family sightseeing, cruising and watersports. There is comfort in knowing you can run all day without running dry.
The MDX features a full cockpit fiberglass inner liner that’s easy to clean and maintain. The hull construction features 24-ounce woven-roving fiberglass with 6-inch overlap for strength, along with a fully integrated fiberglass interlocking stringer system — no wood to rot. As a result, Starcraft offers a lifetime hull warranty with six-year anti-gelcoat blister warranty.
The interior layout invites family gatherings. Wraparound lounger couches encircle the forward space, interrupted amidships only on the starboard side by the pilot’s console. The driver’s bucket seat is wide and comfortable to settle in. The dash features traditional analog instruments and a tilt steering wheel. A stereo with Bluetooth connection is standard.
Behind the driver, the cushioned space wraps around at the transom and steps up to a fully padded vinyl sun deck that covers the engine. Get ready to get your tan on. Behind that, the transom deck gives enough room for watersports without adding a lot of unused space. A telescoping three-step stainless-steel swim ladder hides under a hatch on the swim platform to starboard, so boarding the boat is as easy as jumping off to swim or tube.
* Wide-open layout, long center-facing couches and hidden sterndrive power plant add up to big spaces.
* Fuel-sipping MerCruiser V-6 200 hp sterndrive won’t drive you to the fuel dock for frequent fill-ups.
* Full inner-liner cockpit reduces dirt/mildew buildup.
How We Tested
Engine: Mercury MerCruiser 200 hp V-6 4.5 L inboard
Drive/Prop: MerCruiser Alpha One/Mercury Black Max 14½” x 18″ 4-blade aluminum
Gear Ratio: 1.81:1
Fuel Load: 33 gal.
Crew Weight: 400 lb.
$36,099 (as tested)
Starcraft Marine New Paris, Indiana; 866-772-4538; starcraftmarine.com