With spry handling and a cozy cabin, Stingray's new 250CS mixes excitement with kickback and comfort.

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.

In keeping with Stingray's penchant for speed, the new 250CS shows respectable top end with a small-block V-8. The helm offers room to flush-mount a chartplotter and VHF.

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 competitors' boats.

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?


Galley conveniences include a fiddled countertop and well-positioned grabrail. The convertible dinette table drops down to serve as the base for the V-berth filler cushions; in the dining position, its elliptical shape makes it easy to slide into the seats. The topside wetbar features a covered sink, courtesy lights, and a slide-out cooler.
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.

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 turns rough.

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 VHF.

The 250CS's aft berth is spacious, and its location amidships minimizes any motion caused by waves.

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 Transom21°
Weight5025 lbs.
Draft (engine down)35"
Fuel Capacity68 gals.
Max Horsepower320
110-volt electrical system; cockpit filler cushions; transom shower; cockpit table; compass; tilt steering with Dino wheel; Kenwood CD stereo with dash remote

Trim tabs; snap-in carpet; dual battery system with isolator; Volvo remote trim/tilt switch
MakeVolvo 5.7L Gi/DuoProp
Number of CylindersV-8
Displacement5.7L (350 cid)
Weight1040 lbs.
Gear Ratio1.95:1
WOT RPM Range5000
PropellersDuoProp F5 SS
TOP SPEED (mph)47.4
0-30 mph
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.

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 beds.

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
May 2007


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