Boat Tests

November 4, 2014

Sea Ray 230 SLX: a highly versatile model

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In the Sea Ray sport boat family, the five models in the SLX line aim to provide all the conveniences for pleasure boating and water sports while offering greater luxury and sophistication. At slightly more than 23 feet long, our test model, a 230 SLX, is not the most impressive boat in the lineup, but its size and price place it in an extremely popular bracket.

There’s a lot of selection in this category, and Sea Ray is counting on its reputation and quality to set it apart. From the outside, the 230 SLX’s design is both sporty and elegant. Its sleek lines, two-toned hull, wakeboard tower and numerous chrome accessories add to its prestige.

Toward the stern, the broad swim platform is a great spot to relax and comes in handy for water sports. Its layout makes it the perfect place to board and a built-in passageway provides easy access to the cockpit. There's no need to walk on chairs or step over anybody! Meanwhile, the retractable wakeboard tower not only adds to the boat's style, it functions as a sports tower for attaching tow sport cables. It can also hold your wakeboard and waterski racks.

Close attention to detail
With its bowrider setup, the 230 SLX can comfortably carry up to 11 people, which is a big advantage when you have a lot of guests. Two swivelling bucket seats are reserved for the captain and mate, while an L-shaped bench completes the cockpit's layout. This time, it’s hard to find fault with the quality of materials or attention to detail, which was not always true of certain older models. Soft material on the sides and the helm console is a welcome addition. You feel like you're getting value for your money.

Finally, there are quite a few practical storage spaces, a number of cup-holders located throughout and LED lights for impeccable night lighting.

The DRS system: improved stability
Because Sea Ray is part of Brunswick Corporation, which also owns Mercury, no Volvo engines are offered.The standard engine is a 250hp Mercruiser 4.5L V8 paired with a Bravo III sterndrive. You can get a little more power with the 5.0L V8, but while you're upgrading the standard engine, you'd be better off choosing the most powerful option: the 300hp 350 MAG. This is definitely the best engine for this model because in the boating world more power means better handling rather than higher fuel consumption.

The optional DRS (Dynamic Running Surface) system is proving to be Sea Ray's biggest innovation this year. Large triangular planes built into the aft section of the hull modify the running surface, constantly maximizing acceleration and automatically keeping the boat at optimal trim. They are very useful for water sports, as they help the boat plane at lower speed and change the wake shape as required. This system combines several features all by itself.

The Sea Ray 230 SLX won't disappoint you. We appreciated its performance on the water, attention to detail and the quality of the materials used. However, although its base price is appealing, you must be careful when reading up on the various options, because that price can go up quickly. The total cost for our test model would be $95,000, which is a high price to pay for a boat of this size.

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