The mission of the Chaparral 224 Sunesta is to create a bowrider with the agility and ride of a sportboat and the spaciousness of a deckboat. She might be considered entry level by some people because of her size, but not in terms of features, which are numerous.
Wide Tech Bow.
This adds roominess to the bow, comparable to a deckboat, while still keeping the hull of a sportboat which is drier and more comfortable than many deckboats.•
Solid Forward Bimini Supports.
This is a feature we've never seen before, as virtually all Bimini tops are supported at their forward ends by straps. Straps can be problematic and the solid stainless steel brace has an added advantage of supporting an optional isinglass windscreen. See below. And the Bimini top itself is standard.•
Ever hose down the boat at the end of the day only to have water collect under the cushions? So have we, but not so on the 224 Sunesta. There are molded channels under the cushions that route water away from them. This not only eliminates mold and mildew, it also keeps the boat cleaner.•
Too often we've seen port console doors that slam into the starboard console when opening. Typically a rubber bumper is used to prevent this from doing any damage, but it gets knocked off after the first month. On the 224 Sunesta the hinges have a built-in stop to prevent the door from hitting any obstruction.•
Extended V-Plane Running Surface.
This extends the running surface well past the outdrive collar and our tests have shown pretty conclusively that this design provides quicker times to plane, and lower planing speeds. It may also reduce bow rise on take off by several degrees. •
Kevlar Re-enforced Keel.
Chaparral is one of the few builders which protects its boats' keels with a strip of Kevlar in the keel laminate. •
Choice of Interior Colors.
The 224 Sunesta comes with a choice of black, blue, red, or yellow interior packages. •
Port and Starboard Fuel Fills.
This feature reminds us of the classic Jaguar sedan built in the 1960s and '70s that had saddle tanks and port and starboard fuel caps. But Chaparral has done the old car company one better by having both fuel fills drain into a single tank. Skippers can tie up to either side and fill up.
Other Major Features
This is typically a feature that isn't seen until we start getting into the 24’ (7.3 m) range and above.•
Cockpit Wet Bar.
Another feature that usually doesn't get utilized until the design gets larger.•
Aft Seats Convert Easily to Sun Pad.
The front/back seating at the stern easily converts to a sun pad, which is not unusual nowadays. What is unusual is how easily these seats make the transition between the two.
Since every boat owner has a slightly different mission in mind, Chaparral has wisely installed as standard all of the equipment needed without including things that not everyone will need. Two items that are not "needed" until they are needed are: 1) a second battery with a crossover switch; and, 2) an automatic engine room fire extinguishing system. We would make sure these two systems are on any boat we buy.Other optional gear depends on one's intended use. We recommend that buyers consider the
package that neatly fits onto the solid braces for the standard Bimini top. We very much like this set-up as it extends the use of the boat into the shoulder seasons as well as when a summer shower is passing over.
Owners wishing to entertain aboard should think about the
with side mount bases that can be used in the bow or the main cockpit. A
can be mounted on the stern. Everyone should also consider the
pump out Porta-Potti
with opening portlight. Those using the boat for towing sports should consider the
bow and stern shower
(pressure water is standard) and the
Our Chaparral 224 Sunesta had a LOA of 22'4" (6.81 m), a beam of 8'6" (2.59 m) and a draft of 20” (51 cm). With an empty weight of 4,000 lbs. (1,814 kg), 30 gallons (113.6 L) of fuel and two people on board we had a test weight of 4,600 lbs (2,087 kg). She holds 10 gallons (38 L) of water and total fuel capacity is 49 gallons (185 L). She is designed to hold 12 persons or 1,750 lbs. (794 kg).
With a 260-hp catalyzed MerCruiser 5.0 L MPI engine turning a 17'' pitch Mercury Enertia prop, we reached a top speed at 5120 RPM of 46.9 mph. At that speed fuel burn was 23.2 GPH giving us a range of 89 miles. Best cruise came in at 3000 RPM and 23.4 mph. That reduced the fuel burn to only 6.1 GPH which the 224 Sunesta could keep up for seven hours and 18 minutes and 169 miles while still maintaining a 10% reserve.Thanks to the extended V-Plane hull, we had a quick time to plane of only 3.8 seconds. We accelerated to 20 mph in 6.6 seconds and continued accelerating through 30 mph in 9.5 seconds. Click on the "Test Results" tab at the top of the page for all of the testing details.
With a 16-degree bow rise on acceleration, the 224 Sunesta causes no loss of visibility to the horizon. Visibility is also good through the windshield from both the cruise and no-wake speeds. Bringing the outdrive trim to the ¼ mark on the gauge will get her into a 5-degree bow high attitude where she runs best. Any further trim will produce operator induced oscillation. Also, the prop will ventilate if anything other than a slight turn is initiated so be sure to bring the trim back down before turning hard. When taking power off, she’ll settle back into the water stern first, again with no loss of visibility ahead of the bow. Turns are an area where I have sometimes found cause to pick on Chaparral boats, but not so with the 224 Sunesta. She turned as if on rails and showed no signs of chine walk or tendency to fall off the turn. With 2-½ turns from lock-to-lock, she’s quite responsive to the helm. Even with the 5.0L engine she was agile and showed the signs of an excellent watersports platform for the family. All in all she’s a pleasure to operate and comfortable to be in.
Chaparral makes several engines available for the 224 from both MerCruiser and Volvo Penta. Those options range from a 225-hp Volvo Penta 5.0 L engine to a 320-hp 6.2 L engine from MerCruiser and a 320-hp 5.7 L engine from Volvo Penta. We tested the boat with a 260-hp 5.0 L MerCruiser, but a 270-hp 5.0 L engine is also available from Volvo Penta.
The full beam swim platform comes out 2’ (.6 m) from the transom. In the center of the transom is a stainless grab handle with the tow point in the middle. To the port side is the optional stereo remote that is integrated with the transom trim switch ($1,377, with Preferred Package). Just above is the optional transom shower ($405). Fuel fills are to both port and starboard. There's an option for adding a swim platform logo mat ($338). To the starboard side is a recessed three-step reboarding ladder. Two pull-up cleats are in the corners of the swim platform as part of the Preferred Package upgrade ($1,377).
There is an aft-facing rumble seat at the swim platform measuring 2'11" (.9 m) wide that makes an excellent spot to relax at any time the 224 Sunesta is not underway. It is a back-to-back seat, lined up against a forward facing seat in the cockpit. As we've come to expect, the seats convert to a sun pad but Chaparral has an interesting take on how this setup works. Simply pulling forward on the seat causes the two to lie flat. So far nothing new… but lift the strap in the center and gas assist struts take over to effortlessly and automatically return the sun pad to back-to-back seating. It's a very clever setup. Lift the forward seat and it turns into a chaise lounge.
The cockpit is down a 10” (25.4 cm) step through a walkthrough measuring 14” (35.6 cm) wide. There is a white acrylic gate framed in stainless steel, and I'd like to see the gate be see-through so that the view of the swim platform isn't blocked from the helm. The deck on our test boat was fitted with the optional snap-in carpet ($672).
To the starboard side is a standard refreshment center with a single basin sink recessed into the hard surface counter. A pullout sprayer adds convenience. A trash receptacle is next to the sink. Below is a stainless grab handle and a door leading to the storage inside that includes a mount for the optional water toy inflator ($132) and the battery switch. Just behind the refreshment center is a step leading to the nonskid caprail for boarding the 224 Sunesta from a fixed pier.
L-shaped seating is to port with storage under the corner seat and a standard 25 quart (23.6 L) cooler under the forward seat. A side-mount pedestal base will accommodate the optional pedestal table ($417) with a second base located at the bow.
The engine compartment is accessed by pulling a stainless steel grab handle to lift the aft seat. Two gas assist struts support the hatch in the open position. The installation was tight but still roomy enough to allow for servicing the engine and certainly for daily engine checks. Access to the cockpit remains open with the hatch lifted. While looking inside I noticed that Chaparral has gone to aluminum fuel tanks with a diurnal venting system to prevent fumes from entering the atmosphere.
Optional dual batteries ($431) are over to the port side. While secured properly they were missing terminal covers. Deck drains lead into the bilge, but on all models after this one, the drains will lead directly overboard. This means owners of the 224 Sunesta who keep their boat at a marina or on a mooring must opt for the canvas mooring cover ($1,015). Our test boat was also equipped with a fixed automatic fire extinguishing system ($500).
The port console has a door shaded gray to reduce glare. The door is held closed, and kept from vibrating, by both a rubber latch and a stainless latch/handle. The head compartment has an opening portlight with a standard Porta-Potti. Options for this compartment include a cabinet sink and head upgrade ($511) or a pump-out Porta-Potti ($494).
Sole storage is located between the two forward seats. The hatch is hinged from the front and opens from the rear. It’s held open by a gas assist strut and padding is underneath. The opening is guttered to channel water to a drain that leads into the bilge. The compartment is 1'8" (.5 m) deep and 6’ (1.8 m) long.
The helm console is gray and black, designed to reduce glare, and the layout is textbook Chaparral. Rocker switches are to either side of the black vinyl dash and gauges are square with chrome bezels. A large storage compartment is located in the center of the panel but access to the compartment is very limited. But to be fair to Chaparral, that storage compartment is only taking up space that some owners will fill with the optional Garmin Echo 70S GPS ($1,338) . I still think they could do a better job with that filler panel, temporary as it may be.
To Top It Off
The standard Bimini top comes with forward isinglass windows that add another level of protection against the elements. This is a huge benefit, and one that does not require you to buy side and aft curtains. It also offers the benefit of being able to operate from the standing position in inclement weather.
The walkthrough to the bow measures 19” (48.3 cm) across. A door leading into the helm console also serves as a lower air dam under the closed windshield. The stereo is just above the console access and Chaparral went with a premium sound system as standard with an upgraded system that includes an amp and subwoofer offered as an option ($1,380).
The bow is quite roomy thanks to the Wide Tech technology that incorporates a pickle-fork bow and deck. It features comfortable contoured seats with storage underneath. The forward seat cushion lifts to reveal a built-in insulated cooler that drains overboard, and a flip out stainless support for the optional bow filler cushion ($308). Just below is the second side-mount base for the optional pedestal table ($417).
Fully forward, the second optional shower ($405 for bow and transom) is located in the port deck right next to the four step concealed beach reboarding ladder. Forward of the ladder is a stainless plate that rotates to expose the combined nav light.
Base price for the Chaparral 224 Sunesta is $65,429 when powered by the 270-hp Volvo Penta V-8. 14 additional engine choices are available from Mercury and Volvo Penta up to 320-hp. Additionally, three option packages are offered; the Preferred Package ($1,377) includes a digital depth gauge, transom tilt switch, stereo remote, docking lights, 8 pull-up cleats, stainless steel speaker covers, a bow scuff plate, and galvanized anchor. Additional packages include the Deluxe Package ($4,192) and the Elite Package ($7,109). Watersports enthusiasts may want to consider the tow arch with board racks ($1,462). Fully loaded with the base engine, the 224 Sunesta runs about $73,000.
I think that Chaparral has done a good job of capturing the best aspects of both deckboats and bowriders and incorporated them into the 224 Sunesta. She has a lot of quality features, as well as thoughtful touches that make the difference between enjoying a day on the water in a well-executed boat and trying to enjoy the day while putting up with little things not done right. She has plenty of engine choices to dial in the performance that owners will be looking for, although I think that the standard engine package will serve most owners quite well. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder but the design team at Chaparral is in the groove as far as my nautical eye is concerned. Attractive styling is more than just the icing on the cake. To a large degree it is the cake, and the folks at Chaparral know that.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Chaparral 224 Sunesta (2013-) is 46.9 mph (75.5 kph), burning 23.20 gallons per hour (gph) or 87.81 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Chaparral 224 Sunesta (2013-) is 23.4 mph (37.7 kph), and the boat gets 3.83 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.63 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 169 miles (271.98 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 260-hp MerCruiser 5.0 L MPI Catalyst.
Standard and Optional Features
|Carpet: Cockpit||Optional Snap-in|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
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