What better way for a boat manufacturer to celebrate its 25th anniversary than to launch a
brand-spankin'-new 25-footer? Stingray actually debuted several models at its 2005 dealer meeting,
but it's the 250CR (and its open-bow 250LR cousin) that serve as the boatbuilder's flagships.
While the bowrider version is self-explanatory, the 250CR isn't so clear-cut. To label the boat
as a cuddy cabin doesn't do justice to its many cruiser-like amenities, but then its zippy
sportboat-like performance and sleek profile aren't characteristic of a typical cruiser, either. So
I'm taking the liberty of calling it a pocket cruiser.
Some of its cruiser features include a cabin with a V-berth large enough to sleep two in comfort.
(A couple can sleep in the cockpit when filler cushions are in place, and an optional canvas package
encloses the entire space.) Beneath the cabin berth's center cushion is a porta-potti. Unlike most
cuddy cabins that require physically removing the portable head or dragging a filthy pumpout hose
through the cabin, the 250CR's head is equipped with a self-contained holding tank connected to a
convenient dockside pumpout. Although there's no separate enclosed head compartment, the cabin's
bifold doors can be locked for privacy.
A cruiser must have a means to store and prep food, of course. The 250CR comes with a 25-quart
carry-on cooler with dedicated storage beneath the cockpit's refreshment center on the port side of
the boat just aft of the passenger seat. The top contains a molded-in sink with pressurized water,
a small countertop and drink holders. Directly across from it, aft of the driver's seat, is another
built-in counter that contains a molded-in cooler with a removable lid. Beneath it, right where it's
needed, is a trash receptacle. There's also a portable single burner butane stove, which comes in a
nifty carrying case that stows in a recessed tray under the berth. The fact that it and the cooler
are carry-ons gives you the freedom to move your dining party to a private beach.
The 250CR is one of the Stingray models to feature an extra-large swim platform. The added room
makes it easier to don waterskis or hop on a wakeboard, or simply sit with your feet dangling in the
water as you watch the sun set. The platform also houses an integrated storage compartment so that ski
lines, gloves, snorkels and the like are within easy reach. A retractable boarding ladder recesses
beneath a flush-mounted hatch, so it's easily accessible, yet not a cause of stubbed toes.
Access from the swim platform to the self-boarding cockpit is different from most boats. To create
the greatest possible amount of cockpit seating, Stingray designed a step-through transom in lieu of
a walk-through. Passengers go over a notched-out portion of the transom rather than through it. The
seat cushion removes to reveal a solid step pad. The arrangement means there's room for a full-width
bench seat, both ends of which wrap forward to form a U-shaped lounge. A built-in socket pedestal lets
you quickly set up a table for meals and games. Or add filler cushions and the lounge becomes a massive
sunning area or berth.
The 250CR also sports Stingray's Z-plane hull, which employs lifting strakes with rounded, rather
than sharp, edges. The company says the design allows water to flow over the hull without forming
bubbles or vortices so that the propeller gets a more solid bite. The hull also incorporates a notched
transom—a proven performance-enhancing feature long used on race boats.
Stingray offers several engine options. Base power is a carbureted 220-hp Volvo Penta 5.0 with an
SX drive (MerCruiser units are also available). The boat I tested, however, was rigged with a more
potent 320-hp fuel-injected, 5.7-liter engine coupled to a Duoprop drive, which turned this pocket
cruiser into a pocket rocket. So equipped, I hit a top speed of 53.6 mph, much faster than the common
cruiser. But even when clipping along at wide-open throttle, the 250CR felt tame. The optimum cruising
speed is in the 3000 rpm range, where the boat runs about 30 mph and nets 3.7 mpg. The boat maneuvers
much like a runabout, carving tight turns on demand and jumping on plane quickly.
5.0 SX (220 hp)
|Power as Tested
||Volvo Penta 5.7 GXi
DuoProp (320 hp)
|Price as Tested
Another benefit of the 250CR is that it's trailerable. With a wet weight of 5,086 pounds (add about
1,100 pounds for a trailer), it falls well within the towing capacity of a host of SUVs and trucks.
And its beam is legally trailerable without special permits in many states, including Michigan,
Minnesota, Indiana, and Ohio.
Stingray chose to celebrate its anniversary by giving us a new pocket cruiser that has all the
essentials for extended stay and distance, plus the performance characteristics of a nimble sportboat.
And the company did it at an affordable price.