Some boats are built for fishing, some for cruising and some for watersports. Stingray's recently redesigned
220SX sport cuddy, on the other hand, is built for wide-open throttle. Oh sure, we tested the boat at the usual
range of rpm. Yet, only one number will hold meaning to buyers of this boat — top speed. Although I have
a reputation for being conservative on speed, even I couldn't hold back while driving this 21 1/2-footer. That's
because this boat seems to love an all-out, straight-line run, particularly when she's trimmed well and lifted
high. Pop open the exhaust, and she emits a vicious roar to match her velocity. But, we need to slow down here.
Before we reveal the top speed, let's talk a little about the boat itself, for the 220SX has a number of features
that are not readily apparent at first glance.
Despite its sleek, low-profile bow, the 220SX sports a cabin with enough amenities to qualify this boat for
second-home tax deduction. Open the bi-fold door and step inside the cozy cuddy, and you'll find a portable
marine head, freshwater sink, butane stove and twin bench seats that convert into an extension of the forward
V-berth. We're not saying it's a cruiser, but two adults can easily overnight in this boat, and stow gear in the
mesh pockets that line the cabin walls. A round, smoked glass bow hatch — with a screen — lets in
plenty of light and/or fresh air. There's also adjustable cabin lighting for after dark. The cockpit is certainly
not roomy, but will comfortably seat five adults while underway — with two in the swiveling bucket seats
and three on the aft bench.
Once you find a quiet cove, there's room to safely stretch out on the aft sunpad, or use the integral swim
platform for a refreshing dip. A folding, stainless boarding ladder makes it easy to climb back aboard.
To help keep the cockpit uncluttered and as open as possible, the standard sport Bimini stows away in the
super-sano engine compartment, which features a full liner and upholstered coaming pads on both sides. Tucked
in the engine bay of our test boat was a 320 hp MerCruiser MX 6.2L MPI — a $5731 upgrade from the 260 hp
MerCruiser 5.7L MPI/Alpha 1. Access to the small-block V-8 is wide open, thanks in part to the big engine
hatch/sunpad that lifts high on twin gas-assist struts.
For additional storage, you'll find deep side trays on both sides of the cockpit, and there's a built-in
ice chest below the cockpit sole amidships.
Tech Editor Jim Barron contends that Stingray builds some of the most efficient hulls in the boat business,
and a big part of this is the company's patented Z-Plane concept. Developed 14 years ago, the Z-Plane design
uses reverse surfaces — what Stingray calls "ZP strakes" — to reduce hull turbulence and feed
cleaner water to the prop. The notched transom of the Z-Plane hull allows the drive to be mounted higher for
So how does this all translate into performance? To find out, we took the 220SX out on Lake Robinson, near
Stingray's headquarters in Hartsville, South Carolina. In terms of the driving impression, this boat is a
thoroughbred. As indicated earlier, once underway, she wants to get up and race. While trimming out, the hull
feels progressively lighter. There's a touch of chine walk at the top end, but it's nothing to be concerned
Climbing out of the hole, however, is a different story. Turning a 21-inch Mercury Laser II stainless
three-blade prop on a Bravo 1 drive, the 220SX took a bit longer than I expected to reach 30 mph — an
average of nearly 8 seconds — and the bow rose dramatically before laying over.
High-speed handling is best described as fun. No, the 220SX does not seem to be riding on rails as do other
Stingray models, such as the new 220DR deck boat, which we also tested. The SX carves the water, and when you
bring her over hard at high speed, hang on. You can literally spin her out, if you want.
We did not find much but flat water during our day of testing on Lake Robinson, so we could not make a fair
assessment of the boat's rough-water capability. We pounded through a good number of wakes, however, and would
suggest that you avoid nasty seas with this craft. As we said before, this boat is built for speed.
So, lets address the key question here: How fast can this 3407-pound boat run? With the optional Corsa
Captains Call ($1772) transom-exhaust open, we posted a top speed of 65 mph at 5100 rpm. That was running with
a 3-knot breeze, two adult males, test gear, safety equipment and three-quarters of a tank (29 gallons) of fuel.
With through-hub exhaust, we achieved a top speed of 64.1 mph at 5000 rpm. Air temperatures hovered in the low
For a point of comparison, in October 2000, we tested Stingray's 220LX bowrider with a 280 hp Volvo Penta
5.7L GSi/SX. Weighing in at 3205 pounds, it posted a top speed of 60.1 mph at 4400 rpm. Also, in July of last
year, we tested Merc's MX6.2L MPI/Bravo 3 in a Sea Ray 220 Sundeck and achieved a top speed of 52.1 mph.
If our test boat were a sports car, it would be cop-magnet. Not only was it loud to the ears (99 decibels at
the helm at full throttle with open exhaust), it was loud in color. It came with the optional solid-yellow deck
and hull ($1069), as well as the standard racing graphics package, with white, yellow and gray upholstery to
match. The hull carries a five-year limited warranty, with a three-year blister protection plan.
The helm is racy, too, with a cool wraparound dash, well-positioned white-face gauges and tilt Dino steering
wheel. There's also a Ritchie compass mounted atop the dash. On the port side is a glove box for stashing small
items, a convenient "sissy bar" for holding on, and the control console for the standard Kenwood AM/FM/CD
Both bucket seats are fully adjustable and feature flip-up bolsters for a bit more elevation while driving.
The cockpit sole forward of each seat angles upward so the driver and co-pilot can better brace themselves.
For 2003, Stingray is pioneering a new type of windshield from Water Bonnet. There are two innovative
features, the first being a new system for connecting enclosure snaps. Instead of the conventional metal clips
for the snaps, there are plastic tabs that slide in a track in the windshield frame. Once the snap is screwed
into the tab, the plastic expands and locks in place. This is a vast improvement over the clips, which often
slide out of position or fall off.
The second innovation is the ability to cosmetically repair the aluminum frame if it gets scratched —
as you know it will. The finish is designed to match Rust-Oleums Silver Metallic paint — available at
virtually any hardware or home improvement store.
With a base price of slightly more than $30K, the 220SX is fairly affordable. However, the MX6.2 powerplant
pushes the cost up nearly $6K. Adding up all the options, our boat came in at around $40K, excluding dealer
prep, freight, taxes and a trailer. That's a fairly hefty price tag for a 21 1/2-foot boat, albeit one that
will do 65 mph.
To give you an idea of what other 21 1/2-foot sport cuddies are selling for, the base price on Monterey's
218 LSC is $32,110, but that's with a 190 hp MerCruiser 4.3L/Alpha. A Maxum 2100SC has a base MSRP of $29,772
with a 220 hp MerCruiser 5.0L/Alpha.
In the end, the 220SX will appeal to those who like wide-open throttle and lots of attention. You will
definitely attract a crowd and more than a few people who want to take a ride in your flashy, new 220SX. Just
make sure they hang on, because this Stingray is a throttle rocket.
Trailer Boats Magazine