With spry handling and a cozy cabin, Stingray's new 250CS mixes excitement with
kickback and comfort.
STORY BY RON ELDRIDGE
PHOTOS BY DEBBIE PACKER AND RON ELDRIDGE
You don't normally think of cruisers as exciting boats to drive. Then again, you don't often get a chance to pilot
a rig like Stingray's new 250CS. Offering a heady mix of performance and comfort, it will keep you pumped as you charge
toward distant horizons... but all the while it beckons you to pull back the throttle, slip into a quiet cove and just
chill with your friends.
It's good to have choices.
And choices are what the 250CS is all about. The rig we tested in calm water but blustery winds on South Carolina's
Lake Robinson makes a fine day boat, but a full cabin with a galley, head and sleeping accomodations for four make it
equally suited for adventuresome cruises or lazy weekends aboard.
Stingray hulls are known for performance and speed, and while this 25x8.5-footer — the company's largest-ever cruiser
— can't match the swiftness of its smaller sisters, it does a pretty fair job of shadowing them turn for turn. And
it's no slouch at the top end, either.
Packing a 280 hp Volvo Penta 5.7L Gi/DuoProp and twisting an F5 stainless propset through 1.95:1 reduction, our test
unit jumped onto plane in 4.5 seconds and topped out at 47.4 mph. Although that won't wow sportboat fans, it's darn
impressive for a midcabin cruiser. Part of its performance is due to the boat's relatively light weight, which is listed
at 5025 pounds — a good 1000 pounds (or more) lighter than most cruisers its size. Less weight translates to quicker
holeshots, faster top speeds and better fuel economy. But that's only part of the tale — Stingray's Z-plane hull is
the other half of the story, as the 250CS features two sets of strakes running from stern to stern. Strakes provide lift,
but z-plane strakes are also designed to avoid aerating the water flowing to the prop. This increases efficiency and helps
the prop maintain its bite — even in turns. In addition, Stingray's notched transom allows the drive to be mounted
higher for reduced drag.
TURN, TURN, TURN
In mid chop on Lake Robinson, the 250CS reached 30 mph in 10.8 seconds — or about 1 second faster than a cruiser of
comparable size and power we tested recently. Each had a twin-propeller drive, and there's no doubt about the benefit, as
counter-rotating props with extra blade area offer several advantages. Slow-speed handling is improved, which is
particularly handy considering that a cruiser's tall sides act like a sail — making close-quarters maneuvers tricky.
Besides aiding holeshots (think watersports), the twin-prop drives also minimize bow rise during take-off and help provide
lift when the boat is heavily loaded. Finally, they keep the hull glued to the water in turns.
In fact, the 250CS proved fun to drive, delivering nimble handling and good throttle response. Despite its agility,
this hull is not tender, meaning it doesn't lie on its side in hard turns like most cruisers do. We found this surprising,
considering it features a deep 21 degrees of transom deadrise, compared to the 16- to 18-degree V's found on many
And while we would love to tell you how well Stingray's deep-V slices through waves and knocks down spray, we simply
didn't have the conditions to properly assess these attributes. What we can tell you is that none of the boat wakes we
could find even challenged it.
We mentioned hull weight and fuel economy, so let's look at the numbers. Carrying three men and half of a load of
fuel, the Stingray averaged an impressive 2.7 mpg from planing speed through wide-open throttle. We saw our best economy
at 3500 rpm, where the boat was running 32.7 mph and delivering 3.1 mpg. This indicates a range of 189 miles, which is
a bit short-legged for a cruiser.
In fairness, the 250CS' 68-gallon tank is about average for this class — so we'll lambaste the whole lot for
having tanks that are simply too small for serious cruising. And even if you're a casual weekender and fuel docks are
readily available, who wants to spend his time on the water fueling up?
The 250CS' engine bay has plenty of room in which to climb down and swing a wrench, and also features dedicated storage
for the cocktail table. Nice touch — but our boat only had one clip to secure the pedestal. Being boat nerds, we
would prefer two clips so as to minimize any possibility of the post bouncing loose and catching a fan belt.
Directly above the bay is a curving, 55-inch long cockpit bench seat with a cushion that lifts off to reveal a
chest-style locker. Outboard of this is a lazarette; accessed from the swim-step, it provides stowage for fenders and
a receptacle for the boat's standard shorepower system. It's a great setup, as the upper portion also contains stainless
grabrails and two cupholders, plus a remote for the stereo. A transom shower is the icing on this cake.
Moving through the transom gate places you at the wetbar. Besides a storage compartment, the unit also contains a
fire extinguisher alcove in a centrally located spot — where anyone can reach it in a hurry. Two more small but
welcome touches are Koozie-size drinkholder rings (with notches to accept coffee mugs), and a 6-inch countertop cutout
that serves as a handhold.
Opposite, a small, built-in cooler that drains overboard is integrated into a countertop that separates the two
portside seats. Stingray positions itself as a value-conscious brand, and a nod to price-point thinking is clear in the
choice of countertops. The topside counters are a plastic material, while the cabin galley uses a one-piece fiberglass
design. No Corian here.
TAKE A LOAD OFF
To port, we found an angled seat that's perfectly positioned for socializing with people at either end of the boat, plus
a 36-inch-long loveseat that's cheated slightly to face the driver. It's clever social engineering — and if there's
a downside to this arrangement, it's that sitting sideways isn't always the most comfortable position when the water
Stingray's helm layout features a direct-reading Ritchie compass at the top, and the skipper enjoys a large footrest
at the bottom. In between, you'll find top-loaded instruments (for easy, heads-up viewing), and a second tier containing
circuit-breaker-protected switches, trim tab controls, a stylish Dino steering wheel with tilt, and the pièce de
résistance, a panel where you can flush-mount electronics. There's also room above the wheel to flush-mount a
To help you dial in the perfect fit, the adjustable helm chair has a slider feature, as well as a flip-up bolster —
both of which will serve you well should you choose to drive while standing. We would prefer to see a slightly taller
windshield, however — both for better wind protection while standing and also because the frame can interfere with
your line of sight while seated.
Accessed by a sliding door, the cabin companionway wouldn't warrant mention except for two things: The overhead is
sloped to create additonal headroom; and you can brace yourself using a grabrail that doubles as a windshield support.
Now that's multi-tasking we can get our hands around.
|Base Price (w/Merc 5.0L Alpha)||$48,885|
|Price as tested||$59,369|
|Deadrise at Transom||21°|
|Draft (engine down)||35"|
|Fuel Capacity||68 gals.|
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
110-volt electrical system; cockpit filler cushions; transom shower; cockpit
table; compass; tilt steering with Dino wheel; Kenwood CD stereo with dash remote
NOTABLE OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT
Trim tabs; snap-in carpet; dual battery system with isolator; Volvo remote
|ENGINE AS TESTED|
|Make||Volvo 5.7L Gi/DuoProp|
|Number of Cylinders||V-8|
|Displacement||5.7L (350 cid)|
|WOT RPM Range||5000|
|Propellers||DuoProp F5 SS|
|TOP SPEED (mph)||47.4|
|SOUND MEASUREMENTS (dBa)|
|Idle at Helm (600 rpm)||66|
|Idle at Transom (600 rpm)||71|
|Cruise at Helm (3500 rpm)||80|
|WOT at Helm (4840 rpm)||91|
|* Range based on 90% fuel capacity.|
HONEY, I'M HOME
Stepping into the cabin leads you to the galley, which is a handsome unit featuring light oak cabinetry accented by a
beefy stainless grabrail. It's equipped with a sink, single-burner electric stove, built-in microwave oven, and a reefer.
The countertop is surrounded by a fiddled edge to keep items from rolling off, and the back portion slopes down to create
a nook that keeps kitchen gear in place. There's even a built-in silverware tray. It's a slick setup.
We also liked the tall entrance to the 250CS' midcabin berth, as well as the upper locker that's situated near the
stereo. The 12-volt distribution panel is also in this area, so you don't have to step far into the cabin to power up the
systems. Should you need to come all the way inside, you'll find 5 feet, 9.5 inches of headroom at the galley... adequate,
although we're sure taller folks would appreciate a couple more inches.
While we had our tape measure handy, we checked the berths, too. Served by a screened porthole, the midberth stretches
7 feet in length by 4 feet, 4 inches across, but its 3-inch-thick mattress is best appreciated by those who prefer firm
Located forward of the head compartment — which contains a vanity, shower and a Jabsco porcelain head — is a
convertible dinette. When the V-berth is made up, the sleeping area mesaures 6 feet, 4 inches at its longest point and
just over 5 feet at its shortest point (which is on the port side near the galley). Package trays on either side help
keep loose items squared away, and directional lighting lends a nice touch.
All told, the 250CS' cabin is just as inviting as the boat's topside layout: Both practically beg you to slip off your
flip-flops and kick back in comfort. With all the amenities needed for entertaining for a day, a weekend or even longer,
Stingray's new trailerable cruiser opens up lots of possibilities. And when you fire up her engine and lay down the
throttle, she won't disappoint you, either. So whether you want to thrill your crew, or just chill with your crew, the
250CS has what it takes.
by Ron Eldridge
Trailer Boats Magazine