The new Stingray 225RX Rally Boat looks fast, even when it is idling.
Stingray has carved out a nice niche in the marine industry by sticking to what it does best: build easily trailerable boats that are sporty, efficient, fast and affordable. The poster boy for this recipe for success is the new 225RX, a near-23-footer you can get starting at less than $40K. The smiles are free.
Over the past few years, boats with wide bow sections, such as those you find on deckboats, have become the new normal. Like a station wagon, they are highly practical, but some people miss the performance — that visceral blast of emotion that raises one’s heart rate. To stoke that innate need for speed, Stingray 225RX’s ultra-pointy bow section immediately screams performance. It’s the same effect Stingray cars have had over the years, something that gets Stingray Boats’ owner, Al Fink, going. Sure, a little passenger space is lost in a pointed bow, and tall adults have to accordion their legs a bit, but the bow section is comfortable, with 34 inches of depth from the deck up (20 inches deep above the seat bottom), which parents will like when their kids, invariably, head forward.
Another benefit of the sharp bow that’s often overlooked on deckboats is the centerline bow cleat, which helps give the anchor line an even pull when the hook is out. Tying to an offset cleat induces a wiggle-waggle motion that can be unsettling for land-based mammals. For anchor storage, there’s a Danforth locker right at the bow. But while we’re on the subject of throwback features, perhaps the best small details on the 225RX are the side window vents that have all but disappeared on cars and boats. But on blazing hot summer days, when you’re idling in a slow zone, the ability to generate a little breeze in your face is pure gold.
It’s easy to make a fast boat just by giving it a huge engine and not worrying about the higher price tag and increased fuel costs. But when a builder has Stingray’s Z-Plane Hull as its ace in the hole, it can achieve the thrill of great performance with less power and save some money in the process. Other companies offer a crazy-wide variety of power options, but Stingray engineers know the power/price sweet spot and steer buyers into the correct ballpark. For the 225RX, they determined that V-6 sterndrives from either MerCruiser or Volvo Penta, ranging from 200 to 225 hp, are the ticket for the largest boat in its three-boat Rally lineup, which are value-priced in order to get you on the water without busting the bank.
Our test boat had a Volvo Penta 4.3L MPI 225 hp engine, which doesn’t sound like a lot for a boat that’s an inch away from 23 feet long, but the Z-Plane hull’s unique strakes provide extra lift and minimize turbulence, so the prop has cleaner water for a better bite. Its time to plane was 4 seconds flat and was accomplished with minimal bowrise. It took 8.8 seconds to reach 30 mph, and its speed peaked at 49.3 mph. Buyers looking for more speed can find it further up Stingray’s food chain in the 225LS model, which has the same hull but can be equipped with up to a 300 hp V-8 from Merc or Volvo. We tested the latter, which resulted in an astounding 61 mph.
Stingray’s clean-running Z-Plane hull helps during cornering, and that ability was evident on our test run on Lake Robinson. When skiers go down, they are at their most vulnerable to other boat traffic, so having the ability to smoothly transition a boat from running in a straight line to full hard-over, to retrieve skiers rapidly, is handy. We simulated this move by turning to either side with great success. With 20 degrees of deadrise, the 225RX heels over fairly far, but its slicing ability when the lake gets a nasty chop going is exceptional. Like almost all sterndrive boats with one prop, there is some stern wander at idle, but if the driver learns not to overcorrect, it’s not really a problem.
The beauty of having a sterndrive-powered boat is the usable space in the stern. The sunpad is wide enough for two sun-worshipers, and the upholstery is Omni Nova with nano-block technology that is highly resistant to stains and mildew, so the onboard Welch’s grape juice ban might need to be revisited. Along the centerline is a removable filler cushion, so boarding guests don’t have to tread on the upholstery to board. There are small black and tan styling swooshes on the sunpad, but they’re small enough to not be solar collection hazards. The swim platform is large and makes a good place for guests to board at the dock or enter the water. The stainless steel swim steps are concealed beneath a lid to keep things tidy.
The boat is maximized for seating, with a U-lounge in the cockpit, and is rated for 10 passengers, so no real friends have to be left at the dock. The twin captain’s chairs on our test boat could be swiveled 180 degrees. During ski runs, leave the portside bucket seat reversed to give the spotter the best seat in the house. Because interior space is maximized, there’s no head compartment on the 225RX, but if this is a problem, Stingray’s 215LR Sport Deck and 250LR sportier pointy-bow models include a head.
The standard 225RX is well equipped with convenience features such as a built-in cooler that sits at the bow and has an overboard drain. There’s plenty of storage up front with seat bottoms that remove completely for total access, and there are two ways to access console storage: side doors and bowrider seatbacks that flip open. The helm includes full instrumentation and an Italian wheel, but I would have preferred one with less chrome plastic, which has a tendency to reflect the sun into the driver’s eyes. Stingray makes it really easy to set up a 225RX by bundling popular options together at an attractive price. The first bundle, called the Preferred Equipment Group, takes care of almost everything. A mere $1,240 includes a Sunbrella Bimini top, a 1,200 gpm bilge pump, a stainless steel ski tow eye, LED mood lighting, a transom outdrive tilt switch, tilt steering, an adjustable helm seat and a Bluetooth stereo with USB input. To add some flash, an extensive Stainless Steel Hardware Package is available for an extra $200. Add a wide black or red color stripe on the white hull for a reasonable $358.