It’s difficult to make a stern-drive boat, like the new Monterey M4, into something that works for watersports. Yet the rewards for doing so for a boat builder—and for the customer—are obvious.

monterey m4

Yes, the Monterey M4 is a stern drive boat, but it'll serve well for watersports lovers.

Stern drives can be trimmed out, which results in higher cruising and top speeds. The drives also can be used to tailor the wakes. The challenge lies in designing a boat that climbs on plane quickly, yet stays on plane at low wakeboarding speeds with a rider in tow.

That was what Monterey set out to do with its M Series of boats, and the M4 is the entry level into that lineup—although this is by no means an entry-level boat. The M4 is a choice for people of some means, but it still costs less than many high-end wakeboard boats. Base MSRP is $75,615. That doesn’t get you a wakeboarding tower or board racks, which could be considered must-have equipment. By the time you add these items, the price comes to $81,038. The base price includes MerCruiser’s new 250 HP 4.5-liter V6 engine. A 300-horse V8 will run about four grand more, but the base engine should be sufficient. Other nice options are available, such as snap-in carpeting and canvas packages, but the tower and board racks are what you really need.

What’s nice about the M4 is how many standard features it comes with, some of which would be options on other models. For example, it comes with a removable dinette table with stanchions for mounting it in the bow and cockpit. Those stanchions are fitted to the sides of the bench seats, which means fewer stubbed toes with or without the table in place. The M4 also comes with a transom shower and a wet bar with a concealed sink, collapsing spigot, and a waste receptacle underneath.

The head compartment with synthetic wood flooring also is standard and comes with a portable MSD. In terms of instrumentation, the M4’s list of standard features includes a depthfinder, a compass, tilt steering, and lighted weatherproof switches, all set in a dash pod Buck Rogers would feel comfortable with.

Naturally the M4 has generous swim platforms fore and aft, each fitted with a recessed, telescoping swim ladder. The aft ladder is mounted to the side of the add-on swim platform, which is great for keeping kids feet away from the propeller.


The M4 has a bodacious swim platform, with a side boarding ladder.

Perhaps the coolest interior feature is the innovative aft lounge seat. It is built with fore- and aft-facing benches. However, it also folds out to create a chaise longue wide enough for two. It’s a pretty brilliant design.

The bow area is nice and wide, with wide cushions and gently angled backrests. There’s a filler cushion available as an option, but seating is so ample up there, you really don’t need it.

One thing that is surprising in the specs, especially when you consider the boat’s low planning speeds, is that the hull has 20 degrees of deadrise. That’s a fair amount for what will be primarily a freshwater boat, and it means it will be able to cleave through lake chop and deliver a soft ride on the way home. And because it’s a stern drive, you can trim it up, pin the throttles, and get home faster than an inboard could ever hope to carry you.

Other Choices: Those in search of a stern drive watersports boat will also be looking at  boats like the Larson LXi 238, the Cobalt R3, and the Cruisers Sport Series 238. If you're inclined more towards wake surfing, the new Four Winns TS222, with Volvo Penta's Forward Drive, may also be of interest.

For more information, visit Monterey.

See listings for Monterey bowriders.
Draft (max)3'8"
Deadrise20 degrees
Displacement4,500 lbs
Fuel capacity50 gal.

Written by: Brett Becker
Brett Becker is a freelance writer and photographer who has covered the marine industry for 15 years. In addition to covering the ski boat and runabout markets for, he regularly writes and shoots for Based in Ventura, Calif., Becker holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in mass communication from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.