There may come a time when a family man has to make a choice between a runabout he wants and the deckboat his family needs. Runabouts are sleek and practical, but they can come up a little short in terms of space and amenities. That’s where a deckboat begins to look more attractive.

Deck boats don't have to lack the sleek lines and appealing looks that runabout boats have. Stingray's 198LX is a perfect example.

Deckboats don't have to lack the sleek lines and appealing looks that runabout boats have. Stingray's 198LX is a perfect example.

Deckboats have it in the room and stowage department, but they handle essentially the same as a garden-variety runabout. Unfortunately, however, deckboats aren’t sleek and sexy like runabout boats tend to be—they have a somewhat utilitarian look. I've always thought of them as the pontoon boat for people who just couldn’t stomach the idea of parking a pontoon boat in their yard; the lesser of two evils.

That's why Stingray’s Sport Deck line makes so much sense. Take the Stingray 198LX, for example. From the side it looks like a sleek runabout, with some nifty optional gelcoat schemes to dress it up. Look in from the top, though, and you’ll see the flared bow area and other spacious amenities typically found in deckboats. It strikes such a delicate balance that it’s a wonder so few boat companies have embraced the concept.

There's plenty of interior space on the 198LX for not only people, bit for stowing your gear away, too.

There's plenty of interior space on the 198LX, for both people and gear stowage.

The 198LX’s hull is based on the patented Z Plane design for which Stingray is known. Above the running surface, Stingray added some subtle changes that allowed for more space. The result is a boat that is still sleek and pointy, but with the increased space that stems from a more rounded bow design.

At the stern, Stingray added buttresses to either side of the stern drive that support an extended integral swim platform molded as part of the deck. It’s a much more cohesive approach than bolting on an “auxiliary” swim platform and caulking the seams.

Inside, the design cues all work together to create a harmonious interior space. As an example, the bow section gets a wide anchor locker with a telescoping ladder tucked underneath. The step up to the forward platform conceals wet stowage, or a built-in cooler with overboard drainage. The lounges are wide, with gently angled backrests and grab handles that fall naturally to the hand.

Plenty of seating space makes the 198 LX family friendly.

Plenty of seating space makes the 198 LX family friendly.

At the stern, the extended swim platform features another water entry point, wet stowage, and a generous sun pad flanked to starboard by a walk-through, with more stowage underneath. Stingray also cleverly concealed the fuel fill on the swim platform, which makes for a cleaner profile.
Draft (hull)2'8"
Deadrise19 degrees
Displacement2,662 lbs
Fuel capacity34 gal.
Water capacity6 gal.

In standard trim the 198LX has an MSRP of $30,420, but that's for a white hull and deck and a 3.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. It needs some options to boost its appeal. I’d recommend starting with a fuel-injected, 200-horsepower Volvo Penta 4.3-liter V6, which Stingray says puts the 198LX’s top speed into the high 50 mph range and adds $3,295 to the price. Stingray is fastidious about its performance numbers, so that number sounds reasonable, especially given the boat’s low 2,662-pound dry weight.

You’re also going to want some color on the hull, which adds $577 to the price. The boat will stay cleaner when it’s stored if you opt for the $751 cockpit and bow cover, and you will stay cooler under the $693 Bimini top, which is something I think should be standard on all boats. Who doesn’t want a Bimini?

So even if your family may have outgrown your runabout, you don’t necessarily have to start looking at deckboats. Stingray’s 198LX—or the seven other models in Stingray’s Sport Deck line—could be the right combination.

Other Choices: If you're on the hunt for a deckboat around the 19-foot range, also have a look at the Bayliner 190 DB. The Chaparral H2O 18 Sport is another to consider, though it's more of a traditional runabout.

View Stingray 198LX listings

For more information, visit Stingray Boats.