The Bayliner 205 tracked straight, turned crisply and reached 51 mph.

The Bayliner 205 tracked straight, turned crisply and reached 51 mph.

When the Mars Pathfinder landed on the red planet in 1996, it seemed like everyone in America — including us — briefly reconnected with his or her sense of discovery again. Within a few months, though, that glow had faded.

Mere moments after we hopped aboard the Bayliner 205 for our test ride, our thirst to explore new worlds made a triumphant return — and we couldn't help but think that if we had a 205 of our very own, that glow would never have to fade.

Our enthusiasm for exploring was only further enhanced by the fact that we were testing the 205 on Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene. With its cold, clear waters and breathtaking natural beauty, the lake is one of our favorite boating playgrounds.

Floyd Duncan, an assembly lead for Bayliner, was our escort for the cruise. We had two adults and a little over half a tank of fuel on board. The lake is at an elevation of approximately 2,100 feet.

A 220 hp 5.0L MerCruiser Alpha I stern drive is standard, but our test boat had the slightly more powerful 250 hp 5.7L MerCruiser Alpha I stern drive, which is one of three optional engine packages.

The most powerful package available is a 260 hp 5.0L MPI MerCruiser Alpha I stern drive, but we found the 5.7L more than capable. According to Bayliner's own figures, the more powerful 260 hp engine increases top speed by only about 1 mph — and it sucks up more fuel in the process — so the 5.7L seems like the best option.

On the lake that day, we hit a top speed of 51 mph (at 4,500 rpm) — which is very close to Bayliner's stated top speed of 52 mph. Cruising speed is approximately 37 mph (at 3,500 rpm).

The 205 tracked straight, and there was no hint of listing. We also noticed no shuddering during our ride. Turns were smooth, with no galloping, and the ride was very dry.

Explore the Possibilities

The 205 has a very straightforward layout. The bow seating area can comfortably seat two to three people, depending on their sizes, and the mooring cleats are located in just the right spots.

The wrap-around windshield has an opening center section that allows for easy access to the main cockpit, and the boat's 8-foot beam gives it a larger amount of interior space than you'd expect from the usual 20-footer. In fact, Bayliner claims the boat has the largest cockpit in its class.

The helm seat and passenger seat are each half of a set of opposite-facing seats — often called sleeper seats — that flatten to become a sunpad. The back end of the boat has two jump seats divided by a bulging engine compartment, but the entire area can be converted to a third (giant) sunpad.

Onboard stowage is plentiful. In addition to stowage inside both consoles, there's stowage space under most of the seating (excluding the sleeper seats) and under the deck (where there's enough room for skis and/or wakeboards).

The port console has a locking glove box, and the starboard console — surprise, surprise (that's sarcasm, folks) — has the helm controls. Although it probably won't shock you to see the helm located at the starboard console, it might shock you to find that a speedometer, a tachometer, a voltmeter, and fuel, oil pressure, temperature and trim gauges are all included as standard features. The helm also has tilt steering, a 12v accessory outlet and a steering wheel with a padded grip.

Other standard features include a Bimini top with a boot, a stainless steel ski tow ring, a bilge blower for forced air ventilation, plenty of beverage holders and an AM/FM/CD stereo system with two weatherproof speakers. A tower and a swim platform are both available as options, as are a fiberglass cockpit liner and a carpet runner for the deck.

A galvanized or painted single-axle trailer is included as standard equipment, but you can opt out of it if you wish. A galvanized or painted tandem-axle trailer is available as an option, and a tongue jack is standard on all trailers.

For its 2003 models, Bayliner has gone back to basics — and it has done so gracefully. There are no more Capris, Cieras or Rendezvous; instead, you get a simple number after the Bayliner name.

Although Bayliner has taken a basic approach, that doesn't mean it has skimped on the details. It simply means that that there is a place for everything, and everything is in its place. The 205 has a classic look and feel that makes it conventional yet relevant to today.

Bayliner 205 Specifications
Draft (max3'1"
Dry weight (w/base engine)3,100 pounds
Fuel capacity35 gallons
Maximum power260 hp
Base price (w/5.7L MerCruiser Alpha I stern drive)$24,360

Model5.7L MerCruiser Alpha I stern drive
Propshaft horsepower250
Displacement350 c.i.d.
Bore and stroke4.0" x 3.48 ?
Gear ratio1.62:1
Compression ratio9.4:1
Maximum engine speed4,400-48,00 rpm
Weight946 pounds

Top speed52 mph
Cruising speed37 mph
Miles per gallon at 37-mph cruising speed3.08
Estimated fuel cost for 100 miles$48.70
Range at 37-mph cruising speed97 miles

(Estimated fuel cost based on a fuel price of $1.50 per gallon.)

Standard Features

Bimini top with boot, AM/FM/CD stereo system with two weatherproof speakers, ski/wakeboard storage, speedometer, tachometer, voltmeter, fuel gauge, oil pressure gauge, temperature gauge, trim gauge, single-axle painted or galvanized trailer.


Sport seating (exchange), fiberglass cockpit liner/carpet runner, tower and swim platform.

For More Information

Bayliner Marine Corp.
P.O. Box 9029
Everett, WA 98206;
800) 443-9119