Boat Buyer's Guide 2014
Author: Alan Jones
When most people hear the name of the boat brand Cruisers, they naturally think of luxurious yachts, since Cruisers has been building them for 60 years. But two years ago, it began building trailerable boats side by side with vessels such as the 540 Sports Coupe. While the 208 Sport Series might be the smallest member of this storied builder’s lineup, Cruisers applies a yacht-like mentality to the build of each boat, and as a result you see some unexpected details, such as the standard automatic halon fire-suppression system. While the boat molds for the Sport Series lineup were obtained from the highly regarded Azure brand (a former division of Bennington), Cruisers engineers have made them their own with yacht-like fiberglass layups and high-end materials.
We tested the 208 on a blustery day on Green Bay, and after slamming over some 2-footers, we found it to have a satisfyingly solid feel. Although it has a moderate 18 degrees of deadrise, the sharper entry of this near 21-footer eased the punishment. Powered by a 270 hp Volvo Penta 5.0L V-8 — the max for this boat — the 208’s performance was sporty. On plane in 3.3 seconds, it reached 30 mph in 7.8 seconds and hit a top speed of 52.4 mph.
The 208 feels larger than its LOA thanks to the huge, uniquely-shaped extended swim platform, which has a recessed boarding ladder to starboard, far away from the outdrive for safety. There’s plenty of real estate back there to secure a huge towable tube for the trip out to the kid-towing zone. Entry into the cockpit is via a walkthrough on the starboard side that’s revealed by flipping up the cushion on the full-size stern sunpad that also serves as a backrest when lounging.
The 208 features an SS seating arrangement that gives you a stern bench with an Igloo cooler underneath along with two open-back bucket seats. The two-tone Latte and Coffee upholstery on our test boat is a blend of stout marine vinyl accented with a diamond-pleated fabric-like vinyl called Silvertex over Dri-Fast foam, all of which are also found on the high-end 328 model. Up front you have comfortable, kid-friendly bowrider seats that sit ensconced beneath plenty of freeboard. Seat bottoms hinge all the way open from the rear for easy access to storage.