With the new Crownline E 285 XS, you get a spacious and sporty dayboat that you can still trailer to your local lake. This NMMA yacht-certified vessel has deck-boat-like bow seating and an even roomier cockpit, thanks to the outboard power on the transom, so there’s plenty of space to lounge, entertain, or bring a group of friends out for a long cruise. It’s also a boat that, when you hit the throttles, has the ability to get up and go.
The creature comforts start at the helm, with a comfy bucket seat with a flip-up bolster and a well-done inset dash where you can find the standard flush-mounted Raymarine 7-inch touchscreen multifunction display. Whether sitting or standing, I experienced no loss of sight from the helm while climbing onto plane or banking into turns. (Much of that can be attributed to the Crownline’s running surface, which I’ll cover in a bit.) A matching bucket seat is set in front of the port console, which houses a head that features an electric flush toilet and a freshwater sink with a shower nozzle. The raised glass bowl looks stylish on the real granite counter, and a vented port allows natural light to illuminate and air to circulate belowdecks.
Moving aft, a J-shaped lounge wraps along the portside inwale and the transom. The electronically actuated transom backrest is especially noteworthy because it can be adjusted so passengers can face forward underway or aft while at rest, or it can even fully recline to create a sun pad. Access to the swim platform is through a gated walkway to the starboard-side. While the outboard motorwell cuts into the platform space — a trade-off to ditching sterndrive power — the starboard swim ladder is angled away from the props, and the platform is still walkable from starboard to port.
Looking to host a full crew? The entertainment center behind the helm comes standard with both an electric grill and a small pocket refrigerator. It also features a genuine granite countertop, a freshwater sink, twin cup holders, a storage drawer and cabinet, and a beefy stainless-steel grab handle that any passenger will appreciate when the seas kick up.
Up in the bow, Crownline employs what it calls hot-tub seating, spacious and deep with plenty of legroom for people to sit in circular conversation. The builder brings the beam forward to achieve this, with a flattened bow swim platform reminiscent of a deck boat’s, rather than a pointy stem. The high freeboard and extended stainless-steel grab rails enhance the bow seating’s safety. Forward-facing backrests with flip-down armrests on the front of each console amp up the relaxation factor. Add in the standard Kicker KMC 10 stereo along with the eight WetSounds speakers and you’ve got the ingredients for a fun day on the water.
All of these standard features are great but don’t really matter if the boat has subpar performance. Not an issue aboard the E 285 XS. Our test model featured a 350 hp Mercury Verado that pushed the boat onto plane in just 3.3 seconds en route to reaching 30 mph in just 7.4 seconds. With full fuel and a crew of three, we reached a top speed of 52.5 mph at 6,000 rpm. Under different test conditions, Mercury’s technicians reached a top speed of 54 mph at 6,290 rpm. The E 285 XS displayed minimal bow rise out of the hole and kept a level running attitude while on plane. We were also able to make sharp hard-over turns at 30 mph without blowing out the prop or slipping.
Crownline attributes performance of the E 285 XS to its F.A.S.T. Tab hull design. The aft Delta pad provides lift out of the hole, and the vented chines and vortex generators help reduce drag, thus increasing stability and efficiency. Molded-in fins on the running surface help keep the boat on track while carving or executing turns, hence the F.A.S.T. acronym, which stands for “fin-assisted safe turn.”
Many builders known for runabouts powered by sterndrives have bolstered their lineups with outboard-powered choices. While the list is extensive, competitors include the Sea Ray SDX 270 OB, which also has a wide and deep bow cockpit, and starts at $115,824 with a Mercury 350 Verado. Monterey Boats offers its smaller M-65 for $94,731 with a Mercury 300 Verado, but as of press time had a discounted starting price of $72,166.
One factor to note about the Crownline E 285 XS is that a lot of equipment found as options on other boats, from the pump-out head, to the grill and refrigerator, to the electrically folding sport arch, come standard.
- Electronically adjustable backrest on the transom bench reclines all the way to a full sun pad.
- Three-battery bank system with inverter ensures there’s always one dedicated to starting the engine, whether the grill or the stereo is running.
- Deep, spacious bow cockpit is comfortable and secure.
- Portside net stowage bin on our test model was poorly installed. Make sure it’s done right on the production models.
- Why don’t builders install fiddle rails on their countertops anymore?
Price: $129,369 (with test power)
Available Power: Outboard
How We Tested
Engines: 350 hp Mercury 350 Verado outboard
Prop: Enertia 15 1/4″ x 18″ 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 75 gal.
Crew Weight: 480 lb.
Crownline Boats – West Frankfort, Illinois; 618-937-6426; crownline.com
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