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Monterey 255 SS OB Boat Test

We test a luxury outboard-powered bowrider.

October 27, 2020
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The outboard revolution continues with Monterey’s latest thoroughbred in its stable, the 255 SS OB. The performance of Yamaha’s 4.2-liter V-6 powerplant is the perfect matchup of power, performance and reliability for Monterey’s luxury 255 SS.

Monterey 255 SS OB running across the lake
LOA: 25’8″ | Beam: 8’6″ | Draft (max): 2’11” | Displacement (approx.): 5,500 lb. | Transom Deadrise: 20 degrees | Bridge Clearance: 8’0″ (with tower) | Fuel Capacity: 65 gal. | Max Horsepower: 350 | Available Power: Single Mercury and Yamaha outboards to 350 hp Garrett Cortese

The 255 SS OB may seem like simply an outboard revision of Monterey’s popular 258 sterndrive, but it’s actually much more than a bolt-on engine in the transom. Hull changes adapt the 255′s center of gravity, lift and stability to enhance the outboard’s performance. We tested the 255 SS in relatively tight quarters on the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs, and the boat not only accelerated well and hit a rewarding top speed, more importantly, it held its midrange power for predictable performance turns. We confidently performed 180-degree turns in the narrow channel, and at speed limits dictated by manatee-avoidance rules, time and again.

Monterey’s reputation for durable construction comes from decades of consistent leadership and a steady workforce in its home town of Williston, Florida. Craftsmanship is improved by experienced workers, and each model comes off the line conforming to the expectations of the owner.

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Monterey 255 SS OB helm
The well-appointed helm offers great visibility. Garrett Cortese

Monterey doesn’t just focus on performance, though. Style is what contributes to pride in ownership, and Monterey excels there too. The 255 SS is built with a worldly appeal that belies its small-town origin and is exemplified in the international maritime signal flags on the brand plate.

International in appeal, the seating is BMW-firm but Cadillac-comfortable. Upholstery is often overlooked as a predominant element in a boat, but without it, in spite of the 255′s beautiful lines, it would just be another mode of transportation. Monterey’s selection of supple, UV- and mildew-protected upholstery is proof that it recognizes the importance of a well-finished cockpit. Crisp corners and straight stitching bely the cushions’ ability to conform to seated crew, enhancing the exciting ride with comfort and security.

Monterey 255 SS OB bow seating
Bow seating is deep and surrounded by polished, oval stainless-steel grab rails. Garrett Cortese

Polyurethane grab rails are stainless-steel-trimmed and handy to any of the 15 passengers the 255 is rated for. Coaming panels feature inset storage compartments (handy for dock lines, sunscreen and towels), stainless-steel cup holders and stereo speakers. You can find these storage areas in the port and starboard cockpit coamings, as well as both sides of the bow seating.

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Bow seating is deep too, and the area is surrounded by polished, oval stainless-steel grab rails. Storage underneath the seats has drainage mats and empties to the bilge should moisture enter. The center bow cushion hides a molded-in compartment that can be used for a cooler or rope locker. The nonskid surface of the bow anchor locker offers secure boarding and also boasts a beach boarding ladder.

The wind dam is easy to overlook because the hinged door nests into the helm console. But when deployed, it seals the cockpit from the elements—a welcome feature in cool-weather boating.

Monterey 255 SS OB cockpit seating
An L-shaped lounge wraps from the portside console to the starboard-side stern boarding door. Garrett Cortese

Convertible-seating features in the cockpit offer several combinations of enjoyable luxury. An L-shaped lounge wraps from the portside console to the starboard-side stern boarding door. Three convertible features enhance the vessel’s versatile entertainment qualities. The front passenger seatback can optionally be tilted forward to create an aft-facing recliner lounge. The transom seatback also swings fore and aft. In its primary position, it offers comfortable forward-facing seating for three. Tilt it forward, and it offers those three passengers aft-facing lounge seating. Fold it fully forward, and the area is a large sun pad with just enough incline to the swinging cushion to make it comfortable for sunning on one’s back or belly. Finally, lift the center pad in the sun pad, and it props up to make a dual aft-facing rumble seat ideal for keeping an eye on the sunset or kids swimming off the transom platform.

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The transom platform itself bears mentioning. While most boatbuilders bolt one on to a sterndrive version, then hang an outboard on it, Monterey developed an integrated platform to accept the motor without disrupting the beauty of the boat. The top and bottom of the platform are molded into the deck and hull, respectively, and when the deck and hull are joined, the platform is solidly included with connection points so hidden, it flows almost organically from the cockpit.

Monterey 255 SS OB transom platform
The aft platform area features comfortable seating and plenty of room. Garrett Cortese

A boarding ladder is hidden under a hatch on the platform, and it’s reachable from the water, adding both convenience and safety. Further, the ladder faces starboard on the side of the platform, keeping bare feet away from the prop when reboarding.

Many runabout and sportboat builders are just catching up to the outboard revolution, and 25-footers are scarce. But Chaparral makes the 250 Suncoast ($97,450 similarly equipped). It handles a crew of 14, and its optional tower folds down electrically. You can have both boats for a lower price point with more basic equipment, but once you go north of $75,000, we’d suggest maxing out the options list.

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Monterey 255 SS OB head
The head is tucked into the port console. Garrett Cortese

Yes, the outboard revolution in runabouts is real, but with Monterey, it’s the constant evolution that continues to redefine family-fun machines.

High Points

  • Stern boarding ladder faces sideways, away from the outboard, to avoid contact while reboarding.
  • Bow boarding ladder adds a reboarding option for use on the beach or sandbar.
  • Rumble seat on the aft sun pad is comfortable when at anchor.

Low Points

  • Higher fuel capacity would cut trips to the marina for gas, but also cut into belowdecks storage.
  • Storage access on the starboard-bow seatback is eliminated—a departure from other SS models.

Price: $103,844 (base with test power)

Available Power: Outboard

Monterey 255 SS OB performance data
Monterey 255 SS OB Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

How We Tested

Engine: 300 hp Yamaha outboard

Drive/Prop: Outboard/Yamaha Saltwater Series II SDS 15 1/2″ x 17″ pitch 3-blade stainless steel

Gear Ratio: 1.75:1

Fuel Load: 50 gal.

Water on Board: 0 gal.

Crew Weight: 450 lb.

Monterey Boats – Williston, Florida; 352-528-2628; montereyboats.com

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