When I found out our UK reviewer Alex Smith had shot a First Look Video of the Sea Ray 19 SPX, I was downright jealous. Not because he found it while perusing the Cannes Boat Show in the south of France, while I was stuck behind my desk. And not because he beat me to the scoop on a new Sea Ray. No, I was jealous because spending time aboard this boat is pure, unadulterated fun.
This is what boating is supposed to be all about, right? Enjoying some rec time on the water, pulling around the kids on a tow-toy, or just zipping across the bay doing S-turns. And we all know that the 19 SPX is going to be a comparatively solid boat, since it’s a Sea Ray. This is one of the best-known builders around, with a long-standing reputation for strong hulls, plush seating, and... blah, blah, blah—you’ve heard it all before, and if you’re an experienced boater, chances are you’re seen it for yourself at one time or another.
But the 19 SPX still has a surprise or two up its sleeve.
Surprise number one: the price tag. Sea Ray MSRPs the 19 SPX at well under $30,000, and even if you jazz it up by boosting the 3.0L (135 HP) stern drive to a 4.3L (190 or 220 HP) powerplant, the price still doesn’t break $32,000. This includes the boat, engine, trailer, AND dealer prep and destination charges, which most builders conveniently leave out of the price tag. Thank you, Sea Ray, for giving us an honest number where most companies fudge things a bit.
Rather have an outboard on the transom? There’s been a market shift in this direction lately (read Outboard Engines on Bowriders: Match Made in Heaven? to learn more). Good thing Sea Ray builds the 19 SPX in both stern-drive and outboard versions. The 19 SPX OB has a 150 HP Mercury four-stroke, and the “real” price still stays under $30,000.
Surprise number two: the cockpit seating. Like its larger sibling, the Sea Ray 21 SPX, the 19-footer has a standard aft bench... which transitions to a very unusual passenger’s area. Instead of the expected forward-facing seat, there’s a convertible seating arrangement that can face forward, transition into a center-facing double seat, or become an aft-facing full-length lounge. (You can get a good look at how the arrangement works in that First Look video, from 0:44 to 0:57).
In the bow, seating is pretty much as you’d expect: two forward-facing lounger seats are complemented by a backrest on the center section, so it can be used as an aft-facing seat. This works fine while the boat is at rest, but don’t plan on sitting there while you’re running through any kind of seas. To maximize space up forward Sea Ray didn’t include an anchor locker, which means you’ll have to stow an anchor under one of the seats. It’s a trade-off that’s not to my personal taste, but many day-boaters don’t anchor often and probably won’t mind.
I ran a 19 SPX outfitted with the 190 HP 4.3L stern-drive, and for a 19 foot bowrider, performance was thoroughly jazzy. Cruising speeds were in the mid to upper 30s, and trimmed out at top-end I hit 48.3 MPH. Remember those S-turns I was talking about earlier? And how I said running this boat was pure, unadulterated fun? Try it for yourself, and I’ll bet money you won't stop grinning.
One other note about the 4.3L stern-drive rig: to my mind, it felt like it handled the seas a bit better than the outboard version (which I also took for a spin, on the same day, in the same conditions). I’m chalking that up to the different weight (the outboard version is about 230 pounds lighter) and how that weight is distributed in the boat. That’s not to say the outboard didn’t handle the waves well—it did—but there is a subtle difference that could be important to some folks.
A few other key points: the integrated cooler compartment under the aft bench is insulated, and there’s a second “lunch” cooler under the step to the swim platform, which is a smart use of otherwise dead space. Wakeboards and water skis stow in a compartment under the deck, which swings open on a gas-assist strut. And the standard stereo (which is wisely concealed from splashes and spray in the passenger’s side glove box) has Bluetooth.
|Fuel capacity||30 gal.|
Okay Alex, I’ll forgive you this time. Yeah, you got to go to France. Sure, you got the scoop. But thanks to a day of running the Sea Ray 19 SPX, I got to have all the fun.
Other Choices: The small bowrider marketplace is quite crowded, so there are lots of options. Shoppers will want to check out boats like the Four Winns Horizon 190 Bowrider, the Cruisers Sport Series 208, the Rinker Captiva 196 BR (also available with either an outboard or a stern drive,) the Stingray 198 LX, and the Monterey 184 FS.
For more information, visit Sea Ray.
See Sea Ray 19 SPX listings.