When the world's largest boat company decides to introduce a new challenger to its best-selling sportboat, it is not something to be taken lightly. But, like Andre Agassi returning a smash or Sammy Sosa sending one out of the park, they make it look effortless.
Unlike many supposedly "new" boats that are actually a decades-old hull with a different color scheme and a change in upholstery color, the Sea Ray 185 Bow Rider is entirely new for 2001. Best of all, it includes a surprising array of standard equipment, a choice of seating arrangements, a
powerful standard engine, and even a trailer.
This is, of course, a bowrider and there's not much to be said about innovation when it comes to the layout. There is wrap-around seating in front of the walk-through windshield and the usual runabout-sized cockpit behind the windshield for those who don't want wind or spray in their faces.
The standard seating has a swivel bucket seat for the driver, a passenger side back-to-back reclining lounger, and aft hi-lo jump seats. Two other seating choices include either twin buckets forward with an aft bench seat that doubles as a sun pad, or twin back-to-backs (that can be made into sun loungers) with a jump seat on each side of the engine box.
When it comes to standard equipment, Sea Ray has already checked off many of the usual options and included them as part of the package, making this essentially a turnkey boat that needs only the Coast Guard required gear and your choice of water skis or wakeboards.
Included is a Clarion AM/FM digital cassette stereo with waterproof speakers, a built-in insulated ice chest in the passenger dash, and a neatly designed convertible top that has its own dedicated stowage compartment so it can be hidden when not needed.
There's spacious stowage under the floor for water toys and, to make using them easy, an extra-deep three-step stainless-steel swim ladder off the transom platform.
The standard engine is a MerCruiser 4.3L Alpha One MCM, which is a 262-cubic-inch V-6 putting out 190-horsepower using high-flow cylinder heads to give plenty of punch without requiring a V-8. This is one of MerCruiser's "hassle-free" engines that has a number of features for easier maintenance and longer life. A one-piece serpentine belt not only simplifies servicing but reduces engine noise. Roller cams are more fuel efficient and provide better performance, and all the service points are color coded. Custom backlit instrumentation is set in a soft-touch dash with audible engine alarms, and the 185 has power steering, tilt and trim.
When it came to handling, the 185 was smooth and offered no unpleasant surprises. With the standard engine and two people aboard, top speed was in the 45 mph range, (Sea Ray estimates 43 to 47 mph depending on load), which is fast enough for most recreational boaters. Cruising speed in the low 3,000 rpm range was approximately 32 mph. That should be comfortable in most sea conditions, as well as fuel efficient.
Construction is solid without being high-tech, with an integral fiberglass floor system, vinylester resin (for blister protection), and all stainless-steel hardware with sturdy backing plates.
The 185 package also includes a custom painted trailer with
free-backing hydraulic surge brakes, bearing protection, and a swing-away tongue so the boat can be stored in a normal-sized garage.
All in all, the 185 Bow Rider is a slick package that should have a street price in the low $20,000 range, making it as affordable as it is complete.
For more information:
Sea Ray Boats
2600 Sea Ray Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37914