If you are in the market for a 24’
sportboat then you owe it to yourself to take a look at both the Chaparral 236SSi
and 236 SSX. The two most obvious differences are that the SSX model has a head
in the port console and “L”-shaped seating with a transom walk-thru gate and the
SSi model is the more conventional layout, sans head. But there are some other subtitle
differences as well. To help us sort them out, we have asked Capt. Steve to bring
his critical eye to help us. Both look good to us and Chaparral’s fit and finish
is among the best in the industry, but Capt. Steve can always be counted on to point
out the relative distinctions.
Capt. Steve Says…
The Chaparral 236 SSi Sportboat.
The Chaparral 236 SSX Sportdeck.
First, let’s look at some of the major elements
which are the same on both of these models. Take a look at the swim platform, for
that is the same on both models. Increasingly these days builders have realized that the swim platform can be the most exciting venue on the boat.
Chaparral has turned it into a great place to cool off in the water and hang out
by adding a cooler compartment in the port side of the platform.
Notice the swim ladder. It’s at the starboard quarter of the rounded platform, well
away from the sharp edges of the outdrive, away from the towline, and clear of anyone
that will be walking out the
center walk-through to assist you on the SSI and from
the port gate on the SSX. If only the ladder had four rungs instead of the boating
industry-standard three, we would be happier.
Note that the props and skeg are safely covered
by the swim platform.
We like the optional rubberized mat covering you can add to the swim platform on
both models. This material has been used on the decks of Europe’s most expensive
racing sailboats for 30 years and we highly recommend it.
It is the best non-skid
material and is attractive. But most important of all, the swim platform – which
is standard – extends beyond the stern drive propeller even when the lower unit
is in the raised position. This is an important safety factor and all sportboats
should be built like this.
The forward area of both boats is essentially the same with the exception of the
bow beach ladder which the SSi has as standard (and has four rungs). Both boats
have foam insulated lockers that can be used as coolers which drain overboard. The
backrests in the SSX are at a slightly canted angle which makes for comfortable
lounging and also makes extra room in the port console for the head in the SSX.
Both boats are pretty
much the same in the bow. The forward locker is insulated to make an ice chest which
When a company is so good at the human equation,
why are their seat cushions hinged on the inboard side? This means you pull the
far side of the cushion up and open it towards you. Now you have a vertical cushion
to reach over making it that much harder to reach the bottom of the compartment.
Yes, it’s a little thing, but that’s the kind of thing I’m paid to find. This is
an easy fix.
The helm of the 236SSX.
We like the black non-glare dash and the division of the toggle switches into three
groups. That keeps them where we can remember them. We would put the horn toggle
Now we come to the parts of the boat that are different. Let’s start at the helm.
Pictures of both helms are here and if you will look closely you will see that they
quite different. Two big things pop out: the black non-glare dash on
the SSX is the way to go, and note the ample armrest of the SSi and its lower throttle
location. With this set up, the helmsman can rest his forearm and elbow comfortably
on the cushion and have better control of minor throttle adjustments. Also, for
southpaws, since their right arm is usually inherently not as precisely trained
as is the left arm, the arm rest provides welcome support for minute throttle adjustments.
If you are a lefty, go for the SSi.
Check out the square gauges…
a Chaparral exclusive. We love
the size of that armrest. That makes micro adjustments
to the throttle a snap. The compass is in the right spot too, right in the operator’s
line of sight. The wood steering wheel is optional. We’d rather see the 12-volt
outlet on the other side of the panel, since anything that’s plugged into it will
probably be in the compartment under the throttle.
The helm lights have a dimmer knob to tone
them down at night on both models. Power steering is standard, as is the engine
emergency kill switch. We like the aircraft-style four-gauges-in-one even though
this is a single engine boat. By putting four gauges in one unit right in front
of the skipper his eyes can quickly make a clockwise circuit every so often. The
SSi has a very nice optional mahogany wood steering wheel with protective covering
when not in use.
The SSX has a large head
which can also double as a
Of course the big difference in these boats is the head in the SSX which is located
in the companion console. Chaparral has cut away the top of the door to make entering
easier. A Porta-Potti, opening port light with screen and lighting is standard in
the SSX head. We like the head and think that it greatly increases the utility of
the boat. The SSX comes with a cockpit table standard, and you should note the wide
hinged hatch in the cockpit sole for wakeboards, skis and other stuff. This hatch
is wider in the SSX version, so if you have wakeboards, you need to take measurements.
We like this optional
table available on the SSi. Is that a stud piercing in the blonde’s naval? (We know,
we’re so yesterday!)
The “L”-shaped seating in the SSX makes way for the transom walk-thru which we like,
but of course to have that you give up a seating position or two as found in the
SSi “U”-shaped arrangement. We like the sink and small counter that Chaparral has
installed just abaft the companion seat in the SSX model, using space that would
otherwise be wasted.
If you are tired of getting down on your hands and knees to figure out where the
helm and companion seat adjustments are, then you will want to go for the optional
premium bucket seats with “Exclusive” seat controls in the arms of the seat – for
both swivel and fore and aft adjustments. Another option we like is the optional
transom shower available only on the SSX. The pressure water system is standard
for the sink.
We have mentioned a few options along the way, but both the SSi and SSX offer a
laundry list of options and they are not the same. (Nor is their standard equipment
list the same.) For example, there is a beautifully-styled white powder coated aluminum
arch for towing -- and whatever else you want to put on it -- available on the SSX.
Before buying either of these boats one should take a good look at the options because
there are some interesting possibilities on both boats.
Chaparral is smart enough to realize that buyers of this boat aren’t going to want
to just go for a ride; they want to go for a ride! So rather than start
their package offerings with a 5.0L engine, to keep the price down, and jack you
with more powerful engines that everyone would need, Chaparral cuts right to the
chase. Their engine options are five 5.7L and one 6.2L on the SSI. You can choose
either MerCruiser or Volvo both of which top out at 320HP. You can also have your
choice of single prop or dual props on the SSi.
On the SSX you have six engine options starting with three 5.7L 300-hp engines
configurations, one 6.2L 320-hp option, and two 8.1L 375-hp options. All six come with dual props,
either Duo Prop from Volvo Penta, or Bravo III from Mercury.
Specs and Prices
The Chaparral 236SSi has a LOA of 24’ 1” and a beam of 8’ 6”. Dry weight is approx.
4,350 lbs and she holds 55 gallons of fuel. Chaparral prices the standard 236SSi
at $50,883 with the 5.7L Volvo 5.7L Gi MPI 300-hp SX engine. The SSX with the Duo
Prop 5.7L Gi MPI 300-hp Volvo Penta rig is $56,300.
Everyone prefers the easier handling and maneuvering that is provided by the dual
prop lower unit, so it is just a matter of price and the relative merits of the
SSX and SSi layout for your application. We recommend that you go see the boats
for yourself and discover which one you feel more comfortable in.
Visit the builder’s website